The Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has said it distributed 1.81 lakh tonnes of rice as relief among 6.92 crore people until June 22.
In a press release on Tuesday, it said the government had allocated 2.11 lakh tonnes of rice until June 22 for relief to reduce sufferings of the poor caused by the impact of Covid-19.
A total of 1.58 crore families have received relief, the release said. Thus, each family got 11.62kg rice, and each person got 2.65kg.
But experts and analysts have expressed confusion about the number of relief beneficiaries. They have also expressed concern over low per capita allocation of relief.
Dr Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office, told The Business Standard the number of beneficiaries is higher than the number of poor, which indicates that relief goes to people who are not eligible to get it.
"We have seen irregularities, graft and mismanagement in the distribution of relief. That is why per capita relief may be lower than what was declared. The amount of relief is so small that it is insufficient to maintain the livelihood of the poor."
There are some 1.73 crore extreme poor people in the country considering the 10.5 percent poverty rate according to the latest estimation of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
Several research and development institutes and economists have projected that the number of extreme poor has doubled due to adverse impacts of Covid-19. They recommended arranging livelihood support for 3.46 crore poor people, including the new poor.
Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, professor of economics at the University of Dhaka, told The Business Standard there is no consistency between the number of poor and that of beneficiaries of relief.
She said some of the eligible poor are being excluded from the relief programme and it is going to non-poor people. She recommended formulating a transparent list of beneficiaries using the national identity card.
Secretary also confused
Shah Kamal, senior secretary to the disaster management ministry, is also confused about the number of beneficiaries, but refused to comment on the matter.
He told The Business Standard each family received 10kg rice at a time and about 1.58 crore families have been benefitted from relief.
Some family have received relief three times, Kamal said.
Responding to a question about the large number of beneficiaries, he blamed the multiple counting systems.
"If a family received relief twice, we counted them as two separate families," he clarified.
How much relief is required for 6.92 crore poor?
Each poor person requires 369.91 grammes of corn a day, according to the final report of the household income and expenditure survey compiled by the BBS.
The total demand for food for 6.92 crore poor stood at 23.42 lakh tonnes for the three months since shutdown was imposed. The government is providing only 7.72 percent of the demand.
Relief in other formats
The press release said the government has allocated Tk123 crore to buy baby food and some other essentials.
Of the amount, Tk95.84 crore has been allocated as cash relief while Tk85.20 crore has been distributed.
A sum of Tk23.51 crore has been distributed as baby food from the allocation of Tk27.14 crore.
Cash relief has reached 15.90 lakh people from 53,441 families, the release added.
The first Covid-19 patient was identified in Bangladesh on March 8, and the government declared public holidays from the last week of that month. The disaster management ministry has been distributing relief ever since.