Rice at Tk 10 per kg needed for food safety
Abu Sazzad: Experts have underscored the need for supplying rice with low cost at a large scale among the marginal people immediately under government initiative to ensure higher productivity as well as to attain the expected level of GDP growth for the ongoing fiscal year.
Currently, the government is distributing the low cost rice in a limited scale, but, such program need to be extended for meeting the demand of the mass people.
Now, people are turning into destitute mainly for want of jobs, resulting immense sufferings to manage the minimum requirement of essentials, especially the rice.
Recently, the price hike of rice is posing threat to protect the survival existence of the marginal people.
The policy makers have become failure completely to control the rice price, experts claimed.
However, the contribution of marginal people is a must to attain the government declared 8.2 percent GDP growth for the FY 2020-21. Now, the marginal people including poor, ultra poor or even the lower middle-class are facing severe hardship to meet their daily requirements of meals due to high price of rice and lack of adequate income.
During the virus pandemic period, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared to provide per kilogram rice at Tk 10 for the poor people.
“The government will continue to sell rice at Tk 10 a kg to the low-earning people”, Hasina pledged in her electoral manifesto. Following the instruction of the Prime Minister, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) has been continuing the sale of rice at Tk 10 though the open market system (OMS), but the measure is not enough compared to the demand.
“Currently, some 50 lakh ultra poor and distressed people are getting rice at Tk 10 per kg under the government’s ration card facilities. We have taken a decision to bring 50 lakh more such people under the facilities to minimise their hardship in the current situation that has emerged due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Hasina.
Concentrating the COVID-19 pandemic, some 66 percent people in the urban areas have lost their job while such rate is 41 percent in rural areas in Bangladesh, according to a recent report of World Bank (WB). Among the urban areas, the highest 74 percent people have lost job in Dhaka, followed by 54 percent in Barisal, 63 percent in Chattogram, 59 percent in Khulna, 69 percent in Rajshahi, 58 percent in Rangpur and 66 percent in Sylhet Division.
Around 1.7 million youths in Bangladesh may lose jobs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, if the virus containment measures continue to be in force for six months, according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Global Economist Forum (GEF) President Dr Enayet Karim said that the income generation of the most people halted for the negative impact of virus pandemic. “A five feeder’s family needs at least 2.5 to 3 kilogram of rice every day, but it is becoming very tough for a family to purchase the daily requirement of rice”, he quoted.
The GEF president laid emphasise for supplying the per kilogram rice at a rate of Tk 10 to consider the present vulnerable situation in the country. “The marginal people are ready to provide labour, but they need to ensure the requirements of food for their survival as well as to ensure higher GDP in the ongoing fiscal”, he added.
He recommended the government for ensuring accountability and transparency in distributing low cost rice to mitigate the immense sufferings of the marginal people. In this connection, the government can authorise the Army members for distributing the low price rice to ensure accountability and transparency, Enayet Karim mentioned.
“If you want to ensure the contribution of the marginal people, it should be ensured in a transparent manner. As they are failing to meet the requirement of food, their productivity may decline in near future, If productivity of the marginal people decline, higher GDP growth is impossible”, he also added.
Enayet Karim, however, urged the government to keep away the political involvement to ensure the transparency of the distribution process as well as to fulfill the dream of the Prime Minister to save people from vulnerable situation like virus pandemic, flood or any natural disasters.
Badiul Alam Majumder, Secretary General of SUJAN claimed that the government had undertaken step to distribute low cost rice among the poor people during the virus pandemic period which was inadequate against the demand.
Commenting on state relief, Majumder claimed that the nation witnessed the widespread corruption and irregularities in distributing essentials and financial assistance for the marginal people. Due to lack of income generation, now, most people are facing acute financial crisis to balance income and expenditure, he mentioned.
Considering the situation, the government should distribute low cost rice among all the affected people in a transparent way to save nation from extreme disaster, he added.