Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the private banks to supplement the government's credit programme for the small traders under its stimulus packages announced to offset the Covid-19 fallout alongside serving the distressed humanity.
"The state-owned banks have been extending support to the credit programme (for the small traders). In this case, if the private banks come forward, there is no doubt that they will be ultimately benefited once the trade and commerce starts in full swing after the present Covid-19 situation," she said.
The prime minister said this while receiving donations virtually through a videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Some 35 commercial banks under Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) provided a total of 25,95,000 pieces of blankets to the Prime Minister's Relief and Welfare Fund to help the poor during the upcoming winter season.
On behalf of the premier, her Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus received the donations.
Sheikh Hasina said there is a programme of economic support for the small traders at low interest rate under the facilities the government is providing under its incentive packages.
"However, I think that the private banks need to be more sincere to this end … as you always stand beside the people and in this case you'll also have to stand beside them," she said.
Extending thanks to the BAB for its generosity of providing this donation, the premier said the association leaders stand beside the people when any disaster takes place in the country. "We could provide more assistance to the people for their generosity," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the menace of natural disasters could be more in the country during the winter in the way it (country) experienced flood and other natural calamities.
Expressing happiness over providing winter clothes meaning blankets before the arrival of winter, the prime minister said the people will be immensely benefitted for it. "I extend my sincere thanks to the BAB for this," she said.
Mentioning that the entire world, including Bangladesh, is witnessing stalemate in everything due to the coronavirus, Sheikh Hasina praised the people of Bangladesh for their courage and mental strength in facing the situation.
In this connection, she mentioned her government's timely and proper steps to combat the Covid-19 .
Expressing apprehension over the second wave of Covid-19 , the PM said the Covid-19 situation has largely been brought under control in Bangladesh, but the resurge in Covid infection is seen in many countries, including the European ones.
In this context, she stressed the need for taking cautionary measures in Bangladesh. "We need to be aware from now on. We are already taking appropriate measures in this regard and urging everyone to be further aware of this…protect yourself and protect others."
She said all should be conscious so that the second wave of Covid cannot leave adverse impact on the country's economy and not hamper the livelihood of the people as well as the wheels of economy remain moving.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country and there is the scope to make massive investment there.
Noting that the country's foreign currency reserve is over US$40 billion, she said the government has a target to increase the reserve to $50 billion during the golden jubilee of the country's independence.
The prime minister said she always wants Bangladesh to stand on its own feet, to be self-reliant without owing to anyone and move in the world arena with dignity.
She said the government has taken a plan to carry out some development works with own finance not borrowing from the external sources rather from the local banks.
"We can do many development works ourselves without borrowing from others. Or we can do the works with a loan from our banks…. We've also taken measures to do at least some works with our own finance. You will know the details very soon," she said.
Noting that the government's goal is that no people will remain homeless and landless in the country in the Mujib Borsho, the prime minister asked the BAB representatives to help the homeless and landless people in their respective areas by providing them with houses.
"If there are any homeless or landless people in your areas, you can give them some houses," she said, adding the government has been providing houses to the homeless and landless families.
"There will be no more poverty in our country, if we all work together and work in our own areas," she continued.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has brought down the poverty rate to 20 percent in the country, but the economic slowdown caused by Covid-19 hampered the pace of the poverty alleviation.
She, however, hope that the government will be able to make a poverty-hunger-free Bangladesh and give the people a beautiful life, returning to the previous pace of poverty alleviation.
Alongside ensuring food security, the government's goal is to remove malnutrition, increase employment and revive the rural economy, added the premier.
"We have to increase the purchasing power and financial capacity of the people of the country, then the market for our products will be in our country," she said.