RMG food ration for 2 months
The readymade garment owners will distribute rice among its workers under the government's rationing programme at a subsidised rate of Tk 18 per kg that will start from May to continue for two months.
The garment owners will buy the rice from government-owned warehouses at Tk 16.50 per kg and sell at Tk 18 per kg, said a high official at the food and disaster management ministry.
Talking to The Daily Star, Mukhlesur Rahman, secretary of the ministry said, each worker will be able to buy 20 kgs of rice per month at Tk 18 per kg after showing their service books or valid identity cards under the programme.
Tk 1.50 will be added to the purchase price of Tk 16.50 per kg rice for carriage and other expenses under the programme, he said.
He said the rationing would continue for two months--May and June--a lean season for Bangladesh. The government has a plan to launch next spell of the rationing for the garment workers in another lean season--September, October and November, he added.
The secretary said the government has a plan to launch food rationing in future for the low-paid government employees. "But this will not take place at this moment," he said.
"We have already identified the warehouses from where garment owners will be able to withdraw rice of the designated quantity," the secretary said.
Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzak will brief the leaders from Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) on March 22 at the ministry regarding operation of the programme, he said.
Rahman said presently the government warehouses have 12 lakh tonnes in stock, which is enough to continue the rationing.
The market operators and workers' leaders said the initiative will help reduce the prices of rice in the local markets, as a good number of consumers will be benefited directly and indirectly.
Welcoming the move, Nazma Akter, president of Sammilito Garment Workers' Federation, said "The low-paid garment workers would be greatly benefited from such move."
The secretary said if BGMEA and BKMEA want to start the rationing programme from April, they can do it as the ministry has already completed all the formalities.
In a query Rahman said the ministry has no plan to launch food rationing at this moment for other low-paid groups as 30 lakh readymade garment workers (RMG) will be directly benefited under the programme.
The ministry would strictly monitor the whole process of rationing to detect malpractices, he warned.
The government bought a significant quantity of rice at Tk 28 per kg, which will be subsidised for the programme, he said.
When contacted, BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy said they are identifying the spots from where the rationing will be operated.
He said it is very difficult to gather information about garment workers instantly as the factories are not located in one place while the rate of internal migration of the workers is very high in Bangladesh.
"We will sell rice among the workers with valid ID cards or service books to check any mismanagement in rice distribution," Murshedy said.
In a recent meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he suggested continuing the rationing for RMG workers for 12 months, but it is yet to be finalised, he said adding, "We are still lobbying with the government for running the rationing for 12 months."
The BGMEA leaders will meet with the prime minister very soon to make an appeal for the bailout package for the exporters in view of the financial recession, he added.