THE Trading Corporation of Bangladesh’s open market sales for giving some relief to consumers during Ramadan is a welcome step. However, it should not suffer from inadequate supply as it did on the first day of its operation. According to New Age report from Tuesday, it is evident that government needs to ensure that the supply is made in accordance with the demand. While TCB sales trucks received a very good response in the capital, with many crowding the booth for OMS goods, the supply was inadequate and the scanty stocks were sold out within a few hours. Consumers in need had to return home empty-handed after standing in queues for hours. According to government sources, the TCB deployed only 187 sales trucks across the country, a supply that is not only insufficient but also ineffective to beat the price increase of commodities considered essential during Ramadan. Reportedly, only 35 sales trucks were deployed in Dhaka city and 10 trucks in Chittagong while every divisional headquarters received five and the district towns only two. Not only that, it seems, the allocation per truck is also insufficient. In order to make the programme successful, the government should immediately take steps to secure adequate supply; it all would prove to be a sham, otherwise.
The government should allocate supply as per population density and considering the history of soaring price of commodities during Ramadan. It is widely reported as a common phenomenon, every year, on before Ramadan that wholesalers and traders create an artificial crisis of commodities specifically consumed this time such as sugar, red lentil, aubergine, and green chilli and increase their prices. In most cases, it is the result of market manipulation. Some unscrupulous syndicated traders and wholesalers greedy for over-profit hoard supplies and create an artificial crisis. To tackle these ill-motivated price incerases and make essential commodities available for public at affordable prices, the TCB operation needs to be implemented successfully. The supply of specific commodities, as reported in New Age, paints a worrying picture when only 300–400 kilograms of sugar, 250–300 kilograms of red lentil, 300–400 litres of soya bean oil and 300–400 kilograms of gram are allotted per truck every day. Undoubtedly, the shortage of supply, the proper management of these open market sales remains vital to the success of this programme.
The government should, therefore, make a proper assessment of the local demand and allocate supply of quality products accordingly. Allocation per truck as well as the number of deployed sales trucks should be increased keeping to the proper assessment of local demand based on stratified population density. Equal importance should be given to ensuring proper management of this programme that will not only focus on timely supply but also be prepared to tackle the unscrupulous traders and alleged corruption in OMS supply and distribution.
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