Sat, Mar 27, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Prices of food staples stable, agriculture council says


The price of rice in the domestic market has remained stable with no sign of impending hikes, a spokesman for the Food and Agricultural Agency under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

In an apparent effort to dismiss a report by local media, the spokesman said that rice prices have not increased and pointed out that current prices are at a similar level to the average price recorded for the past three years.

Stressing that the COA will do its best to maintain stable rice prices, the spokesman added that it would also consider releasing stock held by government authorities across the country. He called on the public not to worry about rice supplies and gave his assurances that a large amount of the rice harvested in spring will be marketed in May.

Local media have reported that the price of many staple commodities, such as rice, maize, cooking oil, petroleum and gas, has risen noticeably in recent months. It was reported that rice prices have surged by 10 percent since the beginning of this year.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Foreign Trade (BOFT) under the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced that it will allow interim imports of soybean powder and maize from China from now until May 24 to help the domestic livestock and farm industries overcome operational difficulties in the face of mounting prices of imported animal feed upon which they rely heavily.

According to a BOFT official, prices of imported animal feed in the form of maize and soybean powder have increased by 20 percent since late January, when a similar two-month long interim measure ended. The BOFT decided to permit the short-term opening in response to strong domestic demand, he noted.

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