Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Both opening of fresh letters of credit (LCs) for imports and settlement of LCs have increased significantly in July ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, officials said on Saturday.

Opening of fresh LCs against imports, generally known as import orders, increased by 16.55 per cent during the period over the previous month of the current year, according to the central bank statistics.

The settlement of LCs, generally known as actual imports, grew by 11.35 during the period under review over the previous month of this year, they added.

“The country’s overall imports increased in the month of July to meet the growing demand of the essential items ahead of Ramadan,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told BB in Dhaka.

He also said the import trend may continue this month but it would fall after Eid festival.

During the period, opening of LCs for some essential items including sugar, edible oils, pulses and onion also rose to meet the growing demand of the essentials in the local markets, the BB officials added.

The LCs against imports worth $1.590 billion were settled in July compared to $1.428 billion in June while the import LCs worth $2.019 billion were opened in July compared to $1.732 billion in June last.

Imports of essentials including edible oil, pulses and onion increased in terms of both quantity and value in July over the previous month of this year.

During the period under review, the import of edible oil increased by 61,000 tons to 137,000 tons, pulses by 4,000 tons to 39,000 tons and onion by 12,000 tons to 71,000 tons, the BB’s data showed.

Sugar import, however, came down to 21, 000 tons in July from 51,000 tons in June last, according to the officials.

LCs for sugar were opened for 136,000 tons in July against 83,000 tons one month back that indicated the import of the food item would increase in the near future, they added.

On the other hand, the settlement of LCs for imports of edible oil increased by US$60.96 million to $117.02 million, pulses by $2.83 million to $27.25 million and onion by $3.19 million to $16.65 million.

The central bank earlier asked the commercial banks to bring down the lending rate on import financing for nine essential food items to a maximum of 12 per cent from 13 per cent earlier.

“The BB had taken the measure aiming to increase the supply of essential items for keeping the prices of the commodities at a reasonable level before and during the holy month of Ramadan,” another BB official said.

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

BBN/SS/SI/AD-15August09-11:39 pm (BST)