Friday, June 14, 2024

25 lakh urban poor to get rice at ‘fair price’

The government on Monday decided to expand its social safety net programme to urban areas in the form of rice sales to the ultra poor in Dhaka and other cities at a ‘fair price’.
The decision came at a meeting of the food planning and monitoring committee at the secretariat with food and disaster management minister Abdur Razzaque in the chair. Finance minister AMA Muhith and agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury, among others, attended the meeting.
‘We have decided to distribute cards among 24.7 lakh ultra-poor families in Dhaka city, other divisional headquarters and district towns to ensure food security of the urban poor who are yet to come under any social safety net programmes of the government,’ Razzaque said after the meeting.
It would require 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice in three months for sale of the staple at Tk 22 a kilogram under the social safety net programme, he added.
Those who do not have land or permanent income source will be eligible to get the cards to be distributed from February 21 initially for three months. ‘But one must have the national identity card to get the fair price card. Preference will be given to families run by women,’ the minister said.
The meeting decided to extend the coverage of the fair price cards to all other cities across the country without reducing the rice price of OMS.
The food ministry at the meeting, however, proposed to sell low-priced rice to around seven lakh poor people in and around the Dhaka city and reduce the OMS rice price amid a rising trend in rice prices.
The finance minister and agriculture minister opposed the food ministry’s proposal to re-fix the price of OMS rice at Tk 19, said an official who attended the meeting.
Matia argued that such steps might adversely affect the food grain production while the finance minister said the government should not give any more subsidies here, said the official adding that the two ministers also disagreed with the proposal for selling rice to the ultra-poor below the OMS rate.
The food minister said that 10,000 families in each of 90 wards and 25 unions in and around the capital, 5,000 in each divisional headquarters and 10,000 in every district towns would be provided with the fair price cards to cushion the destitute against price hike of the staple.
Each card-holder would be able to buy 20 kilograms of rice a month at Tk 22 a kg.
Meanwhile, the price of fine rice further increased by Tk 1-2 a kilogram in the last couple of days while the price of coarse rice remained stable at Tk 26-27 a kilogram, according to the official record of the food ministry.
Earlier on Wednesday, the government decided to prepare a list of 4,000 poverty-hit families in every ward of Dhaka city for providing rice at low price.
The government resumed open market sales of rice in Dhaka and its adjacent areas on January 20 at Tk 22 a kilogram to keep the rice prices at affordable level.
The OMS of rice has already been extended to all other divisional headquarters – Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet, Chittagong and Rangpur.
The programme would continue until the prices of rice stabilises, the minister said adding that the operation of OMS might be extended to the upazila level also if necessary.
The ward commissioners have been asked to list the poor families in cooperation with the lawmakers in the respective localities.
‘We will ensure that the process of listing the ultra-poor families is not politicised,’ the food minister said in reply to a query.
He said the government this time was not willing to deploy Rapid Action Battalion or any other forces to control rice prices as such initiatives earlier did not work.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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