TCB coverage: Govt decides to deliver to 5cr people
Amid soaring prices of daily essentials, the government has decided to deliver 61,000 tonnes of soybean oil, sugar, chickpea and lentil to five crore people through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
TCB will purchase the essentials from 18 local companies for Tk 690 crore and sell them to people at subsidised prices.
"We want to expand the activities of TCB to the union level for helping poor people," Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said while announcing the decision yesterday.
Besides, the government has decided to lower the VAT on the essentials to keep the market stable, he said.
The decisions were made at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase yesterday.
Talking to The Daily Star, finance ministry officials said the authorities have already decided to reduce the VAT on edible oil to 15 percent from 35pc. It will remain in effect till June, they said.
VAT on the other commodities will be also be lowered soon, they said.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the minister mainly blamed the Ukraine-Russia War for the price hike.
"Wars are not in our hands. In such situation, imports face hurdles and prices become dearer. Sometimes, importers also take advantage of this … That's why we have decided to deploy TCB," he said.
"We believe we will be able to tackle this situation, like the way we handled the situation after the pandemic."
Admitting that people were being severely affected by the soaring prices, he said at least one crore families would be benefitted if the essentials were delivered properly.
Currently, TCB trucks sell essentials at subsidised prices in metropolitan areas. Sometimes, the truck sale continues at the district level. The government has for the first time decided to take the trucks into unions.
Contacted, Shafiq Zaman, additional secretary of the commerce ministry, told The Daily Star that the decision was made after the Prime Minister's Office instructed to help five crore people by providing them with the commodities.
"With the help of deputy commissioners and UNOs, we have already prepared a list of one crore families. The essentials will be distributed in two phases," he said.
The phase-1 distribution is expected to begin on March 15 ahead of Ramadan. The second phase will be launched during the Holy month.
According to the decision, the TCB will buy 14,000 metric tonnes of sugar from Meghna Sugar Refined Ltd and City Sugar Industries Ltd; 10,000 metric tonnes of chickpeas from Sena Kalyan Sangstha, M/s Blue Sky Enterprise, and Ruby Food Products Ltd; 19,500 metric tonnes of lentil from Sabnam Vegetable Oil Industries Ltd, East Services Ltd, Porbo International, M/s Roy Traders, Plantigic Incorporation, Bashundhara Food and Beverage Ltd, and Basumati Distribution Ltd; and one crore 71 lakh litres of soybean oil from Sena Edible Oil Industries Ltd, Super Oil Refined Limited, Meghna Edible Oils Refinery Ltd, City Edible Oil Ltd, Basundhara Multi food Products Ltd, and Shun Shing Edible Oil Ltd.