Who are misappropriating rice allocated for the poor?

Photo: Collected

The evidence of a section of ruling party leaders’ and activists’ involvement in misappropriation of rice meant for distribution to the poor across the country has raised concerns from different quarters.

Within the last few days, around dozens of reports linked to the misappropriation of rice under the vulnerable group feeding (VGF) and relief programs, were sent by media correspondents.

On Tuesday, three union parishad members were detained by police in Kazipur of Sirajganj for misappropriation in the distribution of Tk10 per kg rice meant for the poor.

On the same day, a total of three people including a union parishad member were detained by upazila administration of Singra in Natore after they were found illegally storing 13 sacks of rice, and involved in irregularities in sale of the rice.

On Monday, the district administration of Jhalakati recovered over 2.5 tons of rice provided by the government for distribution among the poor and underprivileged, which was illegally stored at the house of Monir Hossain, union parishad member of Agarbari village and general secretary of Basanda union Awami League unit.

On the same day, police in Patuakhali arrested Komlapur Union Parishad Chairman Md Monir Rahman Mridha for illegally storing 350kgs of OMS rice.

A mobile court led by Sariakandi UNO of Bogra on the same day, jailed ruling Awami League’s Kutubpur Union unit President Gaziul Huq Gazi for a month after he was found misappropriating 288 sacks of government rice.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Wednesday called for strict and unbiased enforcement of the prime minister’s pledge that no irregularity shall be tolerated in government response to the crisis related to Covid-19.

In a statement sent to the media, it said there was no alternative to ensuring the highest level of transparency and effective corruption control as a prerequisite to successful response to such a type of major crisis.

“In this extraordinary situation, although public procurement may genuinely need to be fast-tracked, all measures must be taken to ensure accountability,” a statement signed by TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said.

The prime minister has warned of stricter action against those involved in the misappropriation.

“No one will be spared for corruption and irregularities; we won’t tolerate people taking advantage of this difficult time to get rich. I am warning you in advance,” the premier said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier warned that no corruption and irregularity shall take place in this process to support the poor to help them survive during the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the country.