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Published:
2018-03-05 17:29:14 BdST

Full-scale OMS programme starts today


FT ONLINE

 

Without any prior announcement, the government has deferred its decision on the resumption of open market sale (OMS) of food-grains.

The OMS programme was scheduled to be launched in the city Sunday. However, the programme started only in a few districts on the day, officials said.

The officials tasked with distributing subsidized food-grains to low income group people cited technical reasons behind their failure to follow the schedule in Dhaka.

But an unexpected delay in distributing food-grains caused immense sufferings to targeted people in the capital as they found none at various OMS points.

The government launched the special OMS programme in the wake of a continuous surge in the prices of rice in the domestic market.

Coarse rice was selling at Tk 46-Tk 52, medium quality at Tk 55-Tk 62 and finer rice at Tk 65-Tk 72 a kilogramme (kg) in the capital for the last one week, according to trading sources.

State-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) recorded a 2-4 per cent hike in rice prices in a week while the current prices are 32-40 per cent higher than a year back.

Nurul Islam, a betel leaf and cigarette vendor, went to Katasur OMS shop to collect rice after he heard that the government was going to sell good quality rice at Tk 30 a kg on the day.

"I thought I could buy rice and atta (flour) at much lower prices today, but the dealers didn't start sale without any announcement earlier," said Mr Islam, who lives in Araillar Bazar in Rayer Bazar area.

Like Islam, a number of men and women were seen waiting at fixed OMS spaces since early morning on the day but they returned home empty-handed as they found no special vehicles loaded with essential items.

Ajibur Rahman, a banana seller who went to collect rice from OMS truck at Jigatola, told that the government could inform the people about the delay through electronic media on Saturday night.

The dealers could make announcement through loudspeakers in the areas where the programme would be launched, he said.

Director (supply, distribution and marketing) Parimal Chandra Sarker said the ministry's (food ministry) directions on OMS reached the offices on Thursday afternoon.

When asked, he said many dealers started the OMS in some districts. He said 177 tonnes of rice and atta were distributed on Sunday outside Dhaka.

Almost all the dealers submitted the DOs by Sunday noon and the programme will start from Monday across the country through 811 OMS trucks, he said.

He said each truck will distribute one tonne of par-boiled rice at Tk 30 a kg and one tonne of flour (atta) at Tk 17 a kg.

Md Tariq, a Dayaganj-based OMS dealer in the city, said the OMS programme failed to attract consumers during the September-October period as the government supplied imported white rice that people usually don't consume.

"But we are expecting a good response from the consumers this time as par-boiled rice will be distributed through our trucks and the staple will be Tk 15-Tk 18 cheaper per kg than that of the major markets," he said.

According to DGoF, the public rice stock increased to 1.15 million tonnes in March which was less than 0.4 million tonnes in December last.

The directorate has set a target to procure another 1.0 million tonnes of rice in the upcoming Boro harvesting season.

OMS will continue in March and it could further be extended if necessary, officials said.

Apart from OMS, the government has started distributing rice at Tk 10 a kg to targeted 5.0 million people under its FFP programme.

--RNA

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