Kicking off across the country from Monday, many people have been lining up in front of the trucks
The truck sales being conducted by the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) for providing low-cost essentials to people during the Covid-19 lockdown have started attracting the middle class turned new poor this time around.
Kicking off across the country from Monday, many people have been lining up in front of the trucks, ignoring health and safety regulations amid a surge of both coronavirus infections and deaths.
Omar Ali, a pharmacy store owner, was seen standing in the long line at Azimpur amid rain.
“My economic condition has been battered by the pandemic. I cannot afford goods at regular prices from the market anymore,” he said.
He added that the government has many cash aid arrangements in place for the low-income groups but the middle-class is being ignored.
Gopal Sarkar, another consumer from New Market area, said bottled soyabean oil is being sold by the TCB trucks at Tk100 per litre, although in the market it is being sold at Tk149-156.
“Buying from here saves me a lot of money in the long run, money that I can no longer afford to spend on expensive things when cheaper options are available. Waiting in the long line is worth it,” he said.
Seeking anonymity, another customer said that he had recently lost his job at a private company.
“Prices are more reasonable here compared to the kitchen markets or corner stores near my house,” he added.
Lutfor Rahman, private service holder, said buying goods at lower prices, especially amid the fresh restrictions is an advantage for the middle class.
At Azimpur, TCB distributor Rasel Ahmed also said most of the people standing in queue were from the middle-class.
SM Nazer Hossain, vice president of the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told Dhaka Tribune: “A new group of people have joined the low-income people at TCB truck sale queues amid the pandemic — the new-poor. As many people lost their jobs or got salary cuts, to survive with their minimal earnings or savings, they are buying cheaper essential products from these trucks.”
TCB authorities should enhance their supply chain system to provide comfort for these people throughout the pandemic, he added.
According to a CAB report, the Covid-19 outbreak in March last year forced expenses to shoot up in the capital, like every other country, resulting in the cost of living going up by 6.88% — the highest in the last three years.
The number of the "new poor" in Bangladesh stood at 24.5 million, or 14.7% of total population, in March this year according to a survey by the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD).
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A survey by the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), found that 62% of people lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak, while another survey conducted by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), found 42% of the population is now poor.
Earlier, the CPD highlighted that the country has adequate food stocks.
But if food can be delivered through fair distribution, there will be no food crisis. They noted that the rich have many advantages.
There is a marginal system for the poor also however the developing middle class of Bangladesh is under pressure all the time. They are not ignored in this crucial time, as a result, there are no precise statistics of this neo poor people.
Economists opined that pandemic economic recovery will be hampered if the middle class is not protected in the long-term.
They said reducing inequality among people was a big challenge, as some got richer while others fell into poverty amid the pandemic.