Mustafizur Rahman, NewAge, July 15, 2008
The Bangladesh Rifles is not willing to deposit ‘profit money’ of Tk 4.25 crore from open market sales of rice to the government exchequer despite requests by the authorities concerned, said official sources.
‘The BDR has told the Food Directorate in writing that it has spent the money to meet the cost of transportation, handling, preservation, labourers, packing and also loss of weight. We have not accepted the explanation…The BDR is not entitled to charge all these costs as its members draw their salaries from the public fund,’ a senior official of the food and disaster management ministry told New Age on Monday.
He said that only OMS dealers were entitled to take profit and other costs for shop rent, labour costs, handling and transportation. ‘The BDR will be asked to give an account of the head-wise expenditure in line with the government’s approved rates…As per the OMS guidelines, only dealers are entitled to the margin [Tk 1/1.50 a kg] between the selling price at OMS outlets and the buying rate at delivery point.’ ‘We supplied 35,000 tonnes of rice at Tk 24/23.50 a kilogram, and the selling rate was fixed at Tk 25 a kg at the OMS outlets. For this reason, we requested the BDR to deposit the margin of Tk 1/1.5 gained after selling each kg of rice to the government fund,’ said an official of the Food Directorate.
The government provided the BDR with 35,000 tonnes of rice from the public food distribution system for open market sales at outlets in Dhaka and Khulna at the rate of Tk 25 per kg in fiscal year 2007-08 to cushion the low-income group from the soaring commodity prices and keep the rice market stable by increasing its availability.
‘We have demanded the handling and other operational costs that are given to the OMS dealers. Nothing has been done in violation of the government’s rules in this regard. We had to hire commercial vehicles for transportation and labourers for operating the OMS outlets,’ the BDR’s director-general, Major General Shakil Ahmed, told New Age on Monday.
He said the BDR had submitted its explanation for the expenditures incurred. On July, 9, 2008, a meeting of the food planning and monitoring unit, presided over by the food adviser, directed the authorities concerned to again request the BDR to give a detailed explanation of the head-wise expenditures at the government’s approved rates to prevent any audit disputes in this case, said official sources.
The director-general of the Food Directorate issued a letter to the BDR in early June, requesting its DG to submit the sum of Tk 4.25 crore, which it earned from the open market sales of rice, to the government’s fund.