May 17, 2021

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Subsidized products for online shoppers

The government marketing agency Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is slowly expanding its activities online. They started this year’s online sales activities through a webinar last Monday. Where lentils, gram, oil and sugar have been added. However, online prices have been kept at Rs 3 to Rs 6 more than the price of goods sold in trucks. However, the price of TCB’s products sold online is 12 to 33 rupees less per unit than the current market price. The cost of supply will be associated with the price of the product. However, as the price is lower than the market price, there are fears that TCB’s products sold online may go to the able-bodied instead of the poor.

In addition to Dhaka, TCB’s new online daily commodity sales program will sell four types of products through a total of eight e-commerce websites in Sirajganj and Tangail.

The websites are Chaldal.com, Swapna Online, Sabzibazar, Kezclick, Verification.com, OneStop, Poly Connection and E-Tri Tech. Of this, a total of four tons of goods have been allocated for the two districts outside Dhaka and the rest has been allocated for Dhaka. According to TCB, demand for online sales was also sought from other cities, but due to lack of demand, TCB’s products will be sold online in these three cities. When the prices of daily commodities go up in the market, the government sells the products at a lower price than the market with subsidies to control the prices of the commodities. The government subsidizes the purchase price to keep the price low. In addition to the purchase price, subsidies are provided for storage and transportation costs. According to TCB sources, the amount of this subsidy was Tk 61 crore in the last financial year. This year, TCB has bought soybean oil from the domestic market at Rs 130 per liter, which is sold to dealers at Rs 94 per liter. Dealers sell trucks at Rs 100 per liter and online cells at Rs 108 per liter. In this case the amount of subsidy is 36 rupees per liter. 180 rupees per five liters. The price of soybean oil in the market is 145 rupees per liter. In case of sugar, the amount of subsidy is 13 to 14 rupees.

TCB spokesman said. Humayun Kabir told Prothom Alo, “TCB collects products from home and abroad and sells them at low prices to control the prices of products in the market. Until now, oil was procured from the country, but as the market price of oil continues to rise, the company has plans to procure oil from the international market.

Low-income people usually crowd in front of TCB trucks because they are available at low prices. This year’s context is a bit different. The economy has been suffering from corona for the last one year, the income of the common man has decreased. From the first day of the truck sale program, which started on April 1, before the start of Ramadan, a crowd of middle-class shoppers, who had never stood in front of a truck before, bought TCB products. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals. In the end, since the product has to be bought, the relatively high income buyers enjoy at least some of the benefits.

TCB is selling products in 500 mobile trucks across the country during the holy month of Ramadan this year. At the beginning of the program, TCB said in a press release that 600 to 1,200 kg of sugar, 600 to 750 kg of lentil pulses, 1,200 to 1,500 liters of soybean oil, 300 to 1,000 kg of onion, 400 to 1,000 kg of gram per truck during Ramadan. And 100 kg of dates are being allotted.
The risk of subsidized products falling into the hands of the able-bodied
There is no way for anyone to monitor who gets the product in TCB’s online sales activities. Only rules have been laid down, every buyer can buy 5 liters of oil and 3 kg of other three types of products per week. Here a buyer means an account on a platform. In this case, if a person opens eight separate accounts on eight different online platforms, or buys more than one member of the same family, there is no monitoring system in place. When asked, e-Cab President Abdul Wahab said, “We believe no one will do that. Even if it does, its amount is not more than 1 percent. ‘
Golam Rahman, president of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said, “Care is being taken to ensure that no one makes a profit by selling TCB products in the open market.” It can be done very easily online. Moreover, poor people should have more rights to subsidized products.

Finding buyers online, offline products
TCB is selling products in 500 mobile trucks across the country during the holy month of Ramadan this year. At the beginning of the program, TCB said in a press release that 600 to 1,200 kg of sugar, 600 to 750 kg of lentil pulses, 1,200 to 1,500 liters of soybean oil, 300 to 1,000 kg of onion, 400 to 1,000 kg of gram per truck during Ramadan. And 100 kg of dates are being allotted. In contrast, each product has been allocated one and a half lakh units in the online cell. E-Cab, the online sales co-ordinator, says this is the initial allocation. TCB will allocate more online based on demand. On the one hand, while TCB is trying to reach more online shoppers, low-income people are suffering in front of trucks to buy goods at lower prices. Van driver Majnu Mia was buying goods in a long line in front of a TCB truck near Vikarunnisa Noon School in Dhaka on Monday. Asked how long he has been standing, he said he came here to buy goods without getting a truck in two places; Tao stood for about half an hour. It is difficult to get a job at this time because of Corona, he has to spend a lot of time to buy products at low prices.

A TCB dealer in Mohakhali said that in the beginning there was a lot of supply but now it has reduced the allocation.

TCB. Another dealer in Mirpur said TCB alone decides how many products will be available, there is no assessment of their demand. They sell as much as they can get.

Who are the buyers of online TCB?
The background to the launch of TCB’s online operations is last year’s curfew in Corona and the abnormal rise in onion prices. TCB has launched an online sale in collaboration with the E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (E-Cab) to reach out to service buyers. As a result, seven lakh kg of onions were sold online in eight months. This year too, TCB said it will sell products online to the middle class as the Corona situation deteriorates and people’s purchasing power decreases.

Although internet is relatively cheap in Bangladesh, internet is not readily available considering the country’s poverty rate. According to the Ministry of Commerce, only 6 percent of the country’s total Internet users are e-commerce buyers. Only 1.3% of the total population of the country shop in e-commerce.
At present e-commerce in Bangladesh is growing but its popularity is not very high. Even so, internet is not very easily available in Bangladesh. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Inclusive Internet Index-2021, buying 1 GB of internet costs 2% of the average income of the people of Bangladesh. According to this index, Bangladesh ranks 85th out of 120 countries in terms of internet purchasing power, while neighboring India ranks 20th.

In other words, even though the internet is relatively cheap in Bangladesh, considering the poverty rate of the country, the internet is not readily available. According to the Ministry of Commerce, only 6 percent of the country’s total Internet users are e-commerce buyers. Only 1.3% of the total population of the country shop in e-commerce. For this limited and reserved number of internet buyers, TCB has allotted 1.5 lakh units of soybean oil, sugar, lentils and gram, which will increase further as demand increases.

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