The government has decided to increase the open market sales (OMS) of daily essentials as social protection for the marginal people against inflation and rising trend of Covid transmission.
The finance ministry has approved an additional three lakh tonnes of rice and one lakh tonnes of wheat in that regard beyond the regular allocation in the budget. The food department will sell the commodities among the poor people until next June.
The finance ministry allocated 1.70 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.64 tonnes of wheat for the OMS programme in this fiscal year (2021-22). As the rice price went up throughout the year, the demand for rice and wheat under the OMS programme increased among the working class and the marginal people.
Food Secretary Nazman Ara sent a letter to Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf two weeks ago seeking this additional allocation to support the low-income people.
"The additional allocation for the OMS programme that was sought has been approved. The OMS programme will start afresh from 20 January," she said.
Apart from supporting poor people, the OMS programme helps keep the market stable, she added.
According to the food ministry officials, there are 705 OMS centres in the city corporations, four labour intensive districts and other district headquarters and municipalities. There will be another 1059 OMS centres from 20 January. The total number will reach 1764 for OMS programme operation.
The government started the OMS programme in 2012. The dealers sell rice and wheat at Tk30 and Tk18 per kg respectively in the open and on a truck.
One person can buy a maximum of five kg of rice and wheat at a time.
According to the food department data, 2.45 lakh tonnes of rice and 2.12 lakh tonnes of wheat have been distributed in this FY until 13 January. The amount was only 722 tonnes of rice and 1.60 lakh wheat during the corresponding period of the previous FY.