Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rice prices remain high despite OMS

The open market sales (OMS) of rice have not yet contributed in lowering rice prices due to inadequate supply of rice in the areas where mostly the low-income people live.
In the wake of rising rice prices, the Department of Food on January 20 started selling rice at Tk 22 a kilogram under the OMS programme in the capital and later extended the service to Narayanganj, Gazipur and Narsingdi.
The prices of coarse rice varieties are still the same–between Tk 26 and Tk 28 a kg– as it was a month ago while prices of medium and fine varieties, which ranged between Tk 32 to Tk 44 a kg a month ago, has now jumped to Tk 36 and Tk 46 a kg.
Under the programme, the government allocated two tons of rice to each dealer and five tons to those who are vending rice in trucks. Initially, they faced weak response from people, which prompted the government to cut off the allocation by one ton.
“Now that more people know about the programme, the OMS shops are full with them,” said a food ministry official.
Abdul Baset, a rice dealer of Jatrabari in the city, said he sells a ton of rice between 12:00 noon and 1:00pm.
“Although it was difficult to sell two tons of rice at the beginning, a lot of people are now returning empty-handed everyday,” he said, adding that if he were allocated two tons of rice, it would be instantly sold as he operates in a shanty town where people there are eager to buy rice at cheaper prices.
Abdul Kader vends rice in trucks at Jatrabari. He said he sold four tons of rice by 3:00pm and the demand is ever growing.
“People like rickshaw pullers, garment workers and day labourers can only come to the OMS shops after 5:00pm. If I am allocated eight tons of rice a day, I will be able to sell it to them,” he said.
Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque said he visited a number of OMS shops and trucks in Old Dhaka yesterday and found the dealers demanding increased allocation of OMS rice.
“We shall increase the allocation to two tons for the dealers and five tons for the vendors,” said Razzaque.
People want 10 kg of rice at a time because they do not want to count extra expense for carrying five kg of rice home each time, he added.
Officials concerned said the government planned to appoint 400 dealers and 100 vendors in Dhaka City Corporation areas. But, so far 198 dealers and 80 trucks are operating in the city.
The food minister assured that the number of dealers would soon be increased.
Meanwhile, fair price cards for 25 lakh ultra poor families may defer by a week due to delay in finalising the beneficiary-list.
On February 8, the government decided to launch the fair price cards by February 21, under which listed families would get 20 kg of rice a month at Tk22 per kg.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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