The government has made essentials like sugar, soybean oil, pulses, potatoes and onions available at a lower cost by selling them from open trucks in Dhaka. Customers are not required to hold a family card to purchase the subsidised goods.
As many as 30 trucks will be selling the essential items in both city corporation areas from Tuesday onwards, said Tapan Kanti Ghosh, senior secretary of the commerce ministry.
Pulses will be sold at Tk 60 per kg, sugar at Tk 70 per kg, potatoes at Tk 30 per kg, onions at Tk 50 per kg and cooking oil will be sold at Tk 100 per kg, the secretary said in a press briefing on Monday.
The essentials will be sold to 9,000 families in Dhaka, the commerce secretary said. "Anyone can buy these items. We'll expand sales if we can increase the supply," he said.
“These goods will be sold to people beyond the 10 million family card holders. Each truck will contain goods enough to sell to 300 people."
Initially, the sale will be closed on weekends, said Ghosh, adding that later it would be available seven days a week. The trucks will be selling goods at different points of the city on different days.
Global economic conditions and the dollar exchange rate have pushed up the prices of essentials, the secretary believes.
He said the government took the initiative in a bid to stabilise the market. It has already imported 10,095 tonnes of potatoes and the Ministry of Agriculture provided permission to the importers for bringing 200,000 tonnes more. Also, the government allowed 250 million eggs to be imported, and 62,000 have already been imported.
“Our goal is not to import eggs, but to push down the prices. We can decrease the import when the price drops. But we'll continue to import eggs and potatoes until the market is stable."
The egg and potato import showed significant benefits, said Tapan Kanti. The prime minister's office advised selling potatoes from cold storage at Tk 27 per kg. "The potatoes will be taken out of the cold storages in the presence of a government representative."
The TCB cardholders will not get the potatoes for now, the secretary said, adding the deputy commissioners would ensure that potatoes are sold at Tk 36 per kg from Monday, as decided by the government.
He also said the government gave directives to the authorities to ensure imports of oil, sugar, pulses and potatoes are not hampered by the dollar crunch.