Demand outstrips OMS supply

Dhaka,  Mon,  21 August 2017
Published : 19 May 2017, 00:37:12 | Updated : 19 May 2017, 09:43:35
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Hundreds go back empty-handed as OMS demand outstrips supplies

Talha Bin Habib


Hundreds of fixed and middle-income group people went home empty-handed on Thursday due to insufficient supplies of essential commodities being sold by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) through its Open Market Sale (OMS) programme in the capital.

They were frustrated as they waited for several hours in long queues, sometimes going back empty-handed, consumers alleged.  

The TCB decided to sell sugar, lentil, gram, soybean oil (cooking oil) and dates across the country under its OMS programme to counter high prices in markets.

It started selling sugar, lentil, gram and soybean oil across the country from May 15.  

The TCB will start selling dates two or three days before the start of the fasting month.

Most of the trucks selling sugar, lentil, gram and soybean oil (cooking oil) in the city on the day exhausted their allocated stocks of products much before afternoon due to rush of consumers.

Visiting different selling spots in the capital, the FE correspondent found consumers standing in long queues since 8:30 am on Thursday in front of TCB trucks. The trucks, however, start selling the commodities from 10:00 am.

The consumers have urged the government to increase the OMS supplies.

"Products of the TCB are good and their prices are competitive," Md Asgar, a consumer, told the FE after purchasing essentials from TCB-designated trucks at Dainik Bangla intersection on Thursday.

"I could not purchase sugar, lentil, gram and soybean as sales were closed at around 2:30 pm at Shapla Chattar," said Md Tayeb, a private service holder, who could not purchase the commodities even after waiting for nearly one and a half hours.

"If we get more allocation then it will be possible for us to sell commodities until afternoon," Md Shahed Ali, who supervises sales of TCB commodities at Dainik Bangla intersection, told the FE.  

Meanwhile, considering the situation, the TCB will increase supplies of products, officials said.

"We are seriously considering to increase supplies of some products - out of five - to facilitate more consumers to purchase during Ramadan," chairman of the TCB Brigadier General Abu Saleh Md Golam Ambia told the FE.

A total of 185 trucks are now selling five essential commodities across the country.

Of these, 35 are now in the capital while 10 in Chittagong, five trucks each in other divisional cities and two each in district towns.

"We have sufficient stock of dates. We will start selling dates just two or three days before the start of Ramadan," the TCB chairman said.   

A total of 2,811 TCB dealers across the country have been selling the products throughout the week except Friday.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at a meeting with traders on May 30 said that the government has taken all preparations for ensuring stability of prices during the month of Ramadan.

Following the government directives, the TCB has procured and stocked all the five items sufficiently.

A consumer could buy highest 4 kilogrammes (kgs) of sugar (local), 3 kgs of lentil, 5 litres of soybean oil, 5 kgs of gram and one kg of date from the OMS truck of TCB.

The TCB is now selling a kg of sugar at Tk 55, while lentil at Tk 80, gram at Tk 70 and dates at Tk 120  per kg respectively. Price of a litre of soybean oil is fixed at Tk 85.

The Corporation allocates 300-400kgs of sugar, 250-300kgs of lentil, 300-400kgs of gram, 20-30kgs of date and 300-400 litres of soybean oil to a dealer daily.

In the retail markets in the capital on Thursday, sugar was sold at Tk 70 a kg while gram in between Tk 85- Tk 90, and lentil in between Tk 80 and Tk 115 depending on quality.  A litre of packed bottle soybean oil was selling at Tk 105.

"We called upon businessmen not to make unethical profits during the month of Ramadan considering the consumers' interests," Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, the newly elected president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) told the FE.

    talhabinhabib@yahoo.com 
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