Prime minister Sheikh Hasina spoke about providing 10 million (1 crore) special cards to facilitate the poor and people with limited income. Beneficiaries are supposed to get edible oil, chickpeas, lentils and sugar through this card. The month of Ramadan is starting after two weeks. Demand of these commodities will rise even further at that time.

By whom and how the list of 10 million people, promised by the prime minister, will be made? The government does not have any database. So they will have to rely on local people’s representatives and administration

The prime minister said, “We have made a target to provide ten million people with special cards, with which they will be able to buy things at fair price. The 3.8 million (38 lakh) people we are providing money to will remain, we will give it to 10 million people in addition. Apart from that, 5 million (50 lakh) people already possess a card that allows them to buy rice at Tk 10 per kg. That system has been used too.”

We welcome this announcement of the prime minister. With this the government acknowledged that only delivering daily commodities to the poor and marginal people through TCB is not solving any problems. Such a system has to be implemented that the lives of all the poor and people with low income become bearable to some extent at least.

However, the question is by whom and how the list of 10 million people, promised by the prime minister, will be made? The government does not have any database. So they will have to rely on local people’s representatives and administration. In the past, many anomalies were done regarding such lists. Excluding actual needy people, representatives had listed comparatively well-off people.

We don’t want the repetition of that again. So transparency and accountability has to be ensured in preparing the list. Another difficulty is, although public agents are familiar to almost everyone in villages, many remain unknown to them in towns. A chunk of the poor city dwellers are not listed voters of that area. They became voters at their village address for logical reasons. Yet they cannot be left out at any cost.

We will hope to see genuine poor and needy people to be listed. Though the government has initially talked about rendering this facility till June, it will be needing extension if commodity prices do not drop. Our government claims the country is on the highway of development. In such a country, the scene of people in ragged clothes scurrying behind a truck is hardly a dignified sight. A better way has to be found for disbursing assistance. But, preparing the list is the biggest challenge at the moment.

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