When the government has set the price of edible oil at Tk 168 per litre, TCB is selling the same at Tk 110. Similarly, hefty discounts are available in sugar and pulses as well. Including all, people can save at least Tk 230 on a single purchase. Yet, many had to spend Tk 200 to 250 for collecting the card in Kolkonda union.
Card holders went to buy commodities from the TCB distribution centre at Pirerhat Bazar on last Monday. At the time, while they were discussing the issue of money collection, it became viral. When many of them started raising their voice against the collection of money, people of the upazila administration pacified them.
Complainers demanded legal action against those involved in this incident following an investigation.
Shantana Rani of Masterpara village said, “We didn’t get the card for free. While collecting the card, the UP member took Tk 250. So, why this hassle for collecting TCB goods! Poor people can find peace nowhere.”
Golapi Begum of Kolkonda Purbapara village said, “Mizan member of our area asked us for Tk 200 as expenditure money while delivering the card. He didn’t want to give the card without money. Being compelled we took the card in exchange of money.”
At least 20 card holders of Masterpara village accused, UP chairman and members gave them the TCB cards only after collecting Tk 200 to 250 from them. Villagers who could not provide the money didn’t get the cards.
Regarding this, Mizanur Rahman, member of 8th union parishad said being instructed by the UP chairman, members of all wards collected Tk 200 per card. This was the Chowkidari tax, not bribe. They gave the money to the chairman.
UP chairman Abdur Rouf said, “No one pays the Chowkidari tax. So, I instructed them to collect the tax while distributing TCB cards. But, now I feel it wasn’t right to collect the tax while giving away the cards.”
As per government regulation, annual holding tax of corrugated tin shed houses is supposed to be Tk 20. Owners of houses entirely made of tin are supposed to pay Tk 40 and owners of concrete brick built houses will play Tk 50 annually.
But, collecting Tk 200 to 250 from poor people comes under witch kind of tax? Action of the UP chairman and members of this union have put this initiative questionable.
Ershad Uddin, upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Gangachara said, being informed of the accusation, he enquired about it and found out that the Chowkidari tax was collected. He is yet to ask the chairman why Tk 200 was collected.
However, till now no written complaint has reached him, he added.