One crore people to get special cards to buy essentials: PM


Dhaka, Mar 15: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said one crore people will get special cards to buy daily essential commodities at lower prices.

“We’ve targeted one crore people. We will give them special cards so they can buy daily essential commodities at a fair price,” she said

The premier revealed this plan while addressing the meeting with the leaders of 14-party at her official residence Ganabhaban here.

Stating that there are 38 lakh people who has already been receiving financial assistance (during the Covid-19 pandemic), she said, “More would be added to these people and finally, a total of one crore people will get this card.”

She mentioned another arrangement, saying that 50 lakh people have already a card each by which they can buy rice at only Taka 10.

Sheikh Hasina continued, “We will extend support to 50 lakh plus in total one crore people with special cards so that they can run life and livelihood by getting the daily necessities at a fair price.”

She also said that the government has enough food in stocks, adding, “Alhamdulillah, we still have 18 lakh metric tonnes of food grains in stocks and there is no problem.”

Urging the countrymen to increase crop production, the prime minister said no land in the country should be left fallow.

She said, “No one’s land should remain uncultivated rather you should produce what you can. Every area will produce even something. That is my goal so that we can meet the food demand.”

Referring to the discussion at the Cabinet meeting regarding price hike of edible oil, the Prime Minister said a directive has been given to form a task force and oversee whether oil is being hoarded somewhere.

She also said that the authorities concerned have been instructed to reduce or adjust the VAT on edible oil So that there is no problem in the month of Ramadan.

“But, if the price rises in the international market, then there is not much to do. Then you have to compromise a little bit,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said the cost of transportation has risen sharply due to the war (Russia-Ukraine) as soybean oil comes from Brazil while Palm oil from Malaysia.

Mentioning that the country is now 90 percent import-dependent on edible oil, she said, “Our scientists have already developed a few varieties of oil seeds which will grow well.”

Regarding the onion, she said, there will be no need to import it, rather it could be exported as scientists are also working on this.

“We have to reach a position where we can produce everything and meet our own needs,” she said, adding, “We are trying our best not to be dependent on anyone.”

Citing that a problem is occurring in case of LNG import due to the war, she said the government continues its effort to ensure the LNG supply. But its price might go up a little bit, she hinted.

About the readymade garment sector, the Premier said the country’s RMG sector is now getting much larger purchase orders due to troubles in other places.

Turning to the President’s dialogue over formation of Election Commission, Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, said BNP didn’t join the talks as none is in the helm of its leadership position.

“BNP didn’t join it. . . Actually how can they join it? Who would be the Prime Minister from them or who would lead them if they go to power?” she said.

Not naming BNP’s top leaders Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman, she said one person is now convicted of embezzling the money of orphans while another person has been a fugitive convicted in different cases including the 10-truck arms-haul and the August 21 grenade attack cases. He (Tarique) has been a fugitive since 2007, she added.

The Prime Minister said since she made the country “Digital Bangladesh” he (Tarique) is now taking the advantage of it staying outside the country.

“In fact, BNP has no (suitable) person to lead it from the front,” she said, alleging that they (BNP leaders) continue to make unguarded remarks.

She said without paying heed to this, her government keeps running their effort to develop the country to ensure a beautiful life for the citizens.

Sheikh Hasina said a number of electoral reform proposals placed by the AL-led 14-party combine have already been implemented. The proposals included preparation of the voter list with photographs, introduction of translucent ballot boxes and using the electronic voting machines, she mentioned.

In fact, the voting rights of the people were also ensured with the electoral reform made by them, she added.

Referring to the steps taken by her government to recognize the International Mother Language Day marking the Amar Ekushey February, make the historic speech of the Father of the Nation on March 7 as an international document and declare the Joy Bangla as the national slogan, Sheikh Hasina said, “We have the Joy Bangla slogan. We have been able to revive the spirit of independence.”