Govt doubles rice allocation for poor

As part of its goal to reach the food security target by 2021, the government has doubled its rice allocation for the disadvantaged people.

Under the social safety net programme, about 22 lakh tonnes of food grains will be distributed among the ultra-poor people, the allocation was 11 tonnes last year.
The government, however, increased allocation for listed beneficiaries through reducing that of the hard-up people.

Among the listed 5 million poor people, around 7.5 million tonnes of rice will be sold at Tk 10 per kilogram. In the last fiscal year, the allocation was 3 lakh tonnes.
According to information, the allocation of rice has been reduced to 1.02 million tonnes this year from 1.65 lakh tonnes last year.

Last year, Food Ministry operated open market sales of rice among 11 lakh families through fair price cards.
This fiscal, Finance Ministry allocated Tk 1,300cr subsidy to Food Ministry for providing food grains at low prices.

According to ministry data, about 10.99 lakh metric tonnes of food grains were stored in government granaries on August 18 but in the same period last year it was 15.19 lakh tonnes.

Sources claimed that the government has emphasised a Tk-10 food friendly programme by reducing the earlier one for all.   Allocations have also been made double in this regard.
Badiul Alam Majumder, general secretary of the SUJAN, an advocacy forum of the good governance told Bangladesh Post that it’s a good initiative of the government, but it should be on the basis of transparency, not in the face.

In 2016, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had launched the food friendly programme for the ultra-poor people of the country.
Later, the government started selling rice at Tk 10 per kg through the food friendly programme in 2016 for the poor at the union level.

The food department in two phases— first in the months of March, April and second in September, October, November— distributed the rice to the five million beneficiaries.
“Under the programme each ultra-poor family would be provided with the food grains five months of the year– March, April, September, October, and November. But the initiative of the government nosedived due to higher rice prices.

Besides, massive irregularities were found in the issuing of cards for distribution of rice at Tk 10 per kilogram in different districts across the country.

Some of the beneficiaries said, most of the cards for Tk 10 per kg rice went to the politically-influenced and comparatively rich people.

There were allegations that names of some real poor people were deducted after correcting the list, according to sources.

According to sources, since the start of the programme, 2, 08,865 cards, 130 dealerships were canceled due to various irregularities. 37 criminal cases were also filed in this connection.

Meanwhile, departmental cases were also filed against two officials of the department of food and two upazila food controllers for their alleged involvement in irregularities.