The commerce ministry will start countrywide inspections next week to find out whether there are any anomalies in the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh’s (TCB) family card programme.
The inspectors will find out whether the family card holders are actually getting the subsidised TCB products, whether the goods are being distributed properly, and whether the beneficiaries are facing any kind of harassment.
The decision was made in an emergency meeting at the ministry on September 15. The ministry’s Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh presided over the meeting where a seven-member committee was formed.
The director general of the ministry’s Trade Organisation Wing (DTO), Md Hafizur Rahman, was made the committee’s coordinator.
The committee will give inspection instructions and also prepare an action research paper. It will then submit the action research paper to the ministry.
The meeting decided the committee would prepare a checklist before the inspections are carried out. It would brief the team that would carry out the inspections.
The meeting also decided the inspections would be carried out in turn. The inspectors must submit a report to the ministry within three working days after the inspections and data collection are complete.
The TCB has been selling subsidised products to one crore low-income families under the family card programme.
All city corporations, districts, upazilas, municipalities, and unions have the lists of the beneficiaries of TCB goods. The lists are kept in the offices of the city corporations and the deputy commissioners. The ministry recently issued an order, saying 36 deputy commerce secretaries in eight divisions of the country will conduct the inspections. Besides, their activities will be supervised by seven additional secretaries and a joint secretary of the ministry.
The TCB sells two litres of edible oil, two kilograms of lentil, and one kilogram of sugar to each family under the family card programme. It sells edible oil at Tk 110 per litre, lentil at Tk 65 per kg, and sugar at Tk 55 per kg.
Thursday’s TCB data shows edible oil was traded at Tk 185-192 per litre, lentil (medium) at Tk 120-125 per kg, and sugar at Tk 90-95 per kg in the market.
The ministry meeting said the inspectors would select at least 20-25 TCB family card holders randomly from the city corporations’ and the deputy commissioners’ lists. Each of them has to visit at least an upazila, a municipality, or a city corporation ward.
At least 39.5 per cent of the eligible households did not get TCB family cards, a study by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) said last month. It mentioned corruption, irregularities, and a lack of proper information as the key reasons behind the exclusion.
The study also said around 80.4 per cent of the respondents who did not get the family cards thought corruption and irregularities were the main causes of their exclusion.