Family cards confuse many as Bangladeshis denied access to essential goods

Only people with card issued by public representatives were sold the essentials at a discounted rate, but many were unaware of this clause or where to obtain the cards.


People try to help a woman who lost consciousness in the heat and the pushing and shoving at the TCB outlet in Kalunagar Govt Primary School ground in Keraniganj yesterday. Holders of Family Cards thronged the outlets across the country to buy essentials at subsidised prices. Photo: Amran Hossain

March 21, 2022

DHAKA – Amid high prices of daily essentials, many in need returned empty-handed from the TCB sales points outside the capital yesterday as they did not have “family cards”.

As per a recent government decision, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) sold the essentials at subsidised prices only to those who had the cards issued by local public representatives.

Fifty-year-old Rahima Khatun, who lives in a slum in Chattogram city’s Sholashahar area, is among those who could not buy the essentials yesterday. “I did not know about the card. I thought I would get the products standing in queues like before … I also don’t know how to get the card,” she told our Chattogram correspondent.

In Chehelgazi Shishu Niketan area of Dinajpur, Roksana, another low-income person, was shocked after learning that only the card-holders were being sold the essentials. She also did not know how to get the cards.

More than a thousand people had thronged the TCB sales point in her area. Most of them had to return empty-handed as they did not have the cards.

To ease the burden of people ahead of Ramadan, starting in the first week of next month, TCB began a special drive yesterday, aiming to deliver basic commodities, including edible oil, lentil and sugar, at cheaper rates to selected 88 lakh families outside Dhaka.

Showing the “family cards”, the beneficiaries can purchase the commodities twice: once between March 20 and March 31, and then between April 3 and April 18.

Public representatives are issuing the cards, and the card distribution is being monitored by the local administration.

Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday warned of strict action if people seeking to buy the TCB items were harassed in any way.

He sounded the note of warning while inaugurating a TCB sales point in Rangpur’s Kaunia upazila.


A total of 37,000 card holders were given daily essentials under the programme on the first day in Chattogram.

Mahmud Ullah Maruf, additional deputy commissioner (general) of Chattogram, said a five-member committee headed by local representatives prepared the list.

“If anyone in need has not been included in the list yet, they can contact the local ward councillor or the union parishad office and get included in the list,” he said.

Replying to a query, he said, “We will take action if we find anyone involved in any sort of irregularities over the distribution of the family cards.”

Talking to The Daily Star, Rabiul Morshed, deputy senior executive of TCB (Khulna), said they sold essentials to 20,000 families in the region yesterday.

He hoped sales would pick up soon since 1,91,716 people in the region were expected to get the cards.

At least 27,000 people from all 13 upazilas of Dinajpur bought sugar, lentils, and soybean oil on the inaugural day yesterday.

A resident of Goyeshpur village in Pabna Sadar upazila, Mohamad Ashif expressed happiness after being able to buy the essentials at rates cheaper than in retails. “It’s a huge support,” he said.

Ashif had also received a government cash support of Tk 2,500 earlier during the pandemic.

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