DHAKA, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's imports surged 11.83 percent to some 41 billion U.S. dollars in the first 11 months of the just concluded 2016-17 fiscal year (July 2016-June 2017) on increased importation of staple food, officials said Monday.
Quoting the Bangladesh Bank (BB) data, they said the settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual imports, stood at 40,998.48 million dollars in the July-May period compared to 36,661.44 million dollars in the same period a year earlier.
Overall import orders also surged by 13.97 percent in the July-May period, showed the BB data.
The overall import orders, officially known as fresh opening of import letters of credit (LCs), increased to 44,118.71 million dollars in July-May against 38,711.89 million dollars in the same period of the last 2016-17 fiscal year, it showed.
A BB official told Xinhua Monday that Bangladesh's imports will continue to rise as the government needs to procure food grains in large quantities due to devastating flooding in parts of Bangladesh.
"Increased importation of staple food specially in recent months continued to push up the over all import bills," said the central bank official who did not like to be named.
Officials say ongoing floods triggered by heavy seasonal rains and onrush of water from hills across the Indian borders have caused widespread damage to habitation, crops, roads and highways across vast areas of the country.
They said flash flood also struck the country's northeastern region in March, causing huge loss of winter rice.
In a bid to replenish reserves and rein in prices of rice, the Bangladeshi government in May announced importing 600,000 tons of staple food.
Also in a bid to rein the instability in prices of the staple food item in the domestic market, Bangladesh cut import duty on rice to 10 percent from 28 percent last month.
The Bangladeshi government on June 14 decided to import 250,000 tons of rice from Vietnam under a government-to-government agreement.
Price hike of food items particularly staple rice is a key concern for the Bangladeshi government as nearly 31.5 percent of its around 160 million people still live below the national poverty line and spend a large part of their incomes on food purchase. (1 U.S. dollar = 81 taka)