Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The country’s overall import orders increased slightly in July over the previous month due mainly to the holy Ramadan, officials said.

“The import orders moved upward in the month of July for the growing demand of the essential items during the holy Ramadan,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said, adding that the import may decrease slightly this month.

The central bank official also said huge quantities of essentials are normally imported to meet the growing demand of consumers during the month of Ramadan.

Opening of letters of credit (LCs) against imports, generally known as import orders, increased by 4.25 per cent to US$2.772 billion in July from $2.659 billion of the previous month, according to the central bank statistics.

The settlement of LCs, generally known as actual imports, however, remained almost unchanged during the period under review over that of the previous month.

The country’s actual imports stood at $2.637 billion in July from $2.636 billion of the previous month, the BB data showed.

The central bank earlier asked the commercial banks to keep the lending rate on import financing for nine essential food items at maximum 12 per cent.

The essentials are edible oil, gram, pulses, peas, onion, spices, date, fruits and sugar.

“We’ve taken the move to help ensure smooth supply of the essential items in the local market during the holy Ramadan,” another BB official said, adding that the consumers will get the benefit of the measure.

Bankers said the country’s overall imports including essential commodities, capital machinery and power plants-related imports increased last month.

“The imports of consumer items and some essential commodities including edible oil, sugar and other food grains are likely to fall in August,” a private banker said.

BBN/SSR/AD-14Aug11-1:20 am (BST)