Saturday, September 19, 2020 | ePaper

People are almost starving since govt failed to continue OMS support

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THE government has suspended the special open market sale (OMS) of rice introduced to help the urban poor who were forced to cut food consumption after being hit by the coronavirus crisis. Though normalcy yet to be restored and nobody has a clear idea when the economy will resume in full scale, the suspension of special OMS rice sale will bound the urban poor to starve and half starve. The decision surprised many as evidence grew that millions remained half-fed in Bangladesh as they tried to make up for the drastic fall in their income caused by the coronavirus crisis. The situation is further worsened by a devastating flood that continued to wreak havoc across Bangladesh for over a month.
The government decided to shutdown special OMS shops, through which a limited number of ration card holders could buy a kilogram of rice at a subsidized price of Tk 10, which comes amid depleting government rice stock due to poor procurement. The government failed to stock up enough rice needed to run the special OMS rice scheme and was making the poor pay for its failure. It is a classic case of management failure when hungry people roam around, though there is no shortage of food in the country. In May and June, the special OMS covered 3,302,600 people in cities and towns.
The United Nations recently said that Bangladesh needs to extend monthly temporary cash aid to 6.53 crore to the people so that they could bear their food, health, and education expenses. Economists said that the government misinterpreted the idea of urban poor as it sought to conceal its failure to help them. Bumper rice production bears no implication on the urban poor for they do not grow rice. The government must continue lending support to over one crore urban poor living in cities and towns.

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