Open market to black market
It is disturbing to find that dealers appointed by the government to sell rice under the OMS scheme, selling a part of the food grains lifted from government godowns in the black market. This has been revealed in an on-the-spot investigation by our reporter in Rajshahi town. To say that it is a daylight robbery is perhaps an understatement, given that the purpose of the operation, among other things, is to allow the lower income groups to buy rice at an affordable rate which they otherwise find beyond their purchasing capacity in the market.
It seems quite incomprehensible that OMS dealers in Rajshai should be ripping off the government as well as the poor consumers and making profit for themselves in this manner considering the fact that what they lift from the government at 22.5 Taka per kilo and sell for between Taka 30 and 33 in the market. Each trader can lift up to four tons of rice everyday, and one can imagine the degree of undue profit the corrupt traders are making everyday. And this is even more galling because it is being done under the nose of the inspectors who have themselves allegedly become a part of the repugnant practice. And of course, they are being duly and adequately compensated by the OMS traders for their role.
OMS is an important option for the government which it uses as a mechanism to stabilise prices of essential edibles. This has been a timely step on the part of the government given the way prices of rice have spiraled in the last several months. It is also notable that more and more people are queuing up to buy rice at the OMS centers all over the country.
The government must come down heavily on the dishonest among the dealers. The inspectors, who are supposed to supervise the system, have failed to do so. They must also be taken to task for helping to distort the operation. We are sorry to see a good system at the point of becoming a channel of corruption. The black market sale will defeat the very purpose of the OMS scheme, namely arrest increase in the price of rice in the market, unless corrective measures are taken immediately. As an immediate measure mobile courts should be employed straight away to exercise oversight and weed out the errant dealers from the OMS structure.