Low quality of imported goods, a small profit margin and high costs of transportation are discouraging dealers from doing business with the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) in Barisal, sources said.
The state trading organisation is selling essential consumer items from June 23-July 16 to control the open market.
However, until Saturday, only 18 out of 143 appointed dealers of the Barisal region collected goods from TCB, said Ismail Majumdar, officer-in-charge of TCB Barisal.
Only dealers from Barisal city, Barguna, Patuakhali, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, and Shariatpur districts collected the goods. Although the prices of TCB goods are low, they are of poor quality, said Shelly Begum, a homemaker, on Saturday.
Other customers complained that many items were imported earlier and not stored properly.
Moreover, dealers can make a profit of only Tk3.50 per kg or litre on average from TCB goods, and that includes system loss, transportation costs and employees’ salaries.
For example, dealers have to sell sugar at Tk44 per kg against the open market rate of Tk48, and soybean oil at Tk105 (open) per litre to Tk121 (bottled) against Tk120-130.
Hemayet Hossain, a TCB dealer from Bhola, said renting a truck to carry goods from Barisal to Bhola usually costs Tk6,000 but nowadays, truck owners charge Tk8,000 to 11,000 per trip.
There are also allegations of TCB goods being sold in the black market due to lack of official monitoring.
Majumdar said black-marketing could not be checked as TCB did not have enough staff to monitor all the appointed dealers in the eight districts under its jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, Saidur Rahman Rintu, Barisal Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, claimed that one of the causes of TCB's failure to control the market was political influence in selecting dealers due to pressure from the ruling party, instead of genuine businessmen.
Shohidul Alam, deputy commissioner of Barisal, denied any politicisation in the selection process, saying dealers were chosen by a committee based on recommendations from lawmakers, local government representatives and administrative officials.