The move initiated by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) ahead of Ramadan to sell five daily essentials for keeping the market under control has apparently failed to gain the desire momentum for various reasons, including ‘overpricing’ in some cases.
The TCB began selling the five daily essentials — soybean oil, sugar, red lentil, grams, and dates— on May 6 across the country for the convenience of people ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, but the response to the drive is very poor.
Asked about the high pricing, TCB officials dismissed it saying that its commodities are of high quality and the prices of same quality essentials in the markets are more than TCB’s.
They said a consumer can buy maximum 4 kgs of sugar (local), 4 kgs of lentil, 5 litres of soybean oil, 5 kgs of grams and one kg of date from TCB trucks, dealers or its sales centers.
Each litre of soybean oil, they said, is selling at Tk 85 while Tk 55 is fixed for each kg of sugar, Tk 55 for lentil, Tk 70 for gram and Tk 120 for each kg of date.
Although the state-owned trading house earlier had assured that the essentials could be available at 10 TCB sales centers, 2,784 dealers and 184 truck-mounted sale stations across the country, but many dealers are reportedly showed unwillingness to receive their respective allocated commodities due to higher prices compared to the existing market rate.
Besides, consumers are reportedly found reluctant to buy TCB’s essential commodities due to the high prices.
A number of dealers expressed their disappointment as the TCB has fixed the prices of the five essentials almost same as to other market and even some are higher than the market prices.
In Khulna city, five dealers were asked to receive their allocated essentials but three of them did not collect that alleging that the TCB prices are higher.
Dealer Shafiullah, who has been selling TCB commodities in front of Khulna DC office, told UNB that consumers do not buy sugar and grams due to the higher prices but they were buying date.
Another dealer of the city, Selim Uddin, said consumers are buying lentil and soybean oil. The price of TCB grams is Tk 70 while that of sugar is Tk 55 per kg, but the market prices of grams and sugar are Tk 62 and Tk 52 respectively.
Rabiul Islam, a schoolteacher of Khulna said, “I’ll buy essentials from local market. The TCB is supposed to rein in the businessmen but it seems that the traders are controlling them.”
Selina Akhtar, a housewife of Khulna city, said she has not bought TCB essentials due to its higher prices.
When his attention was drawn to the allegation, Rabiul Morshed, administrative officer of Khulna zone TCB, said he has already informed the higher authorities about the matter. “Hopefully, they (TCB authorities) will look into it,” he said.
Two dealers of Rajshahi divisional have received TCB’s products but they did not get the adequate response from the consumers.
Wasim Reza, a dealer of Laxmipur in the city, said the prices of TCB essentials are more than that of the existing market. “So, we aren’t getting the desired response.”
Abdul Hamid, a resident of Rajpara, said he has recently retired from government service and hardly buys TCB goods due to high prices.
The same scenario is prevailing in Rongpur divisional city as well. Though five dealers and one truck seller received TCB goods, they expressed their frustration over the lack of buyers.
Dealers Matiur Rahman of Keranipara and Gulam Mostafa of the city also said the number of buyers was negligible.
No dealer was found in their designated places in Chattagram, too. Rafiqul Islam, a resident of Boubazar, alleged that the prices of TCB commodities are little bit higher than the existing market prices.
Moinul Islam, a trader of Dewanhat of Chattogram, alleged that the TCB cannot control the market rather the traders have been controlling it.
TCB dealers Bojiy of Sylhet and Jalal of Barishal also expressed their dissatisfaction over the pricing of TCB essentials.
Contacted, TCB spokesperson Humayun Kabir denied the allegation of high pricing and the reluctance of the dealers in receiving its commodities.
He claimed that the TCB has been receiving daily sales reports from the dealers and truck sellers from across the country. “If they failed to get proper response from the consumers, how they send us daily sales report,” he wondered.