government is set to rework the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) subsidized food program ahead of Ramadan in an effort to prevent mismanagement and misuse of the initiative.
Usually, members of low- or middle-income families are able to purchase food at subsidized prices from TCB trucks under the program. Following the rework, only holders of Family Cards will be able to avail of the facility outside Dhaka and Barisal cities.
However, about seven million people will be added to the existing three million on the TCB program list, so a total 10 million people will be eligible to receive the food.
Card holders will be provided with food through the TCB program twice during the month of Ramadan. The cards will be provided by local deputy commissioners, upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) and elected representatives such as mayors and chairmen of city corporations, municipalities and union parishads.
The card holders will receive SMS notifications informing them when they can go to buy the food. The food packages will cost Tk300-350.
“[On Wednesday] there is another meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office. High officials of the PMO, Commerce Ministry, and the deputy commissioners of every district will be present virtually. The aim of the meeting is to ensure that the TCB program is ready by April, as Ramadan is expected to start from April 2,” said Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary AHM Shafiquzzaman, who is closely involved with the TCB truck program.
Commerce Ministry officials said making cards mandatory would bring discipline to the program.
“Currently, some people purchase multiple times from different trucks and then sell the food at local markets. This will be more difficult when they get the cards,” one of the officials said.
A senior official of the Commerce Ministry told this newspaper: “Local DCs, UNOs, mayors, and chairmen will make the list of recipients across the country, except in Dhaka and Barisal cities. The high population of these cities makes it very difficult to make lists for distribution of family cards.”
A total of 200 TCB trucks will sell food packages as usual at several points of Dhaka and Barisal City Corporations.
Government sources said two separate committees would be formed to make the list of recipients. One committee will make the district- and upazila-level list, while the other will make the municipality- and union parishad-level list.
Each committee will have local representatives and TCB officials to ensure the transparency and timely implementation of the program.
The list will be made in line with the guidelines of the Disaster Management Ministry. The number of cards distributed to each district will depend on its population and wealth.
Circulars on the TCB program will be issued soon, sources said.
At a meeting chaired by Senior Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah in February, the PMO decided to provide food at subsidized prices to 3.5 million poor families, who received Tk2,500 each in