The government has decided to provide Tk2,500 as financial aid to every pandemic-hit worker in the country's road and waterways transportation sectors as part of its effort to counter the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.
The finance ministry has already sought lists of eligible workers from district deputy commissioners across the country.
Transport workers who have already received cash aid as part of the prime minister's Eid gift will not be eligible for this financial assistance.
On condition of anonymity, a finance ministry official told The Business Standard, "The long-distance road transportation and launch services have remained shut since Bangladesh introduced the fresh lockdown. This move halted the sole income of many drivers, helpers and supervisors.
"Though buses are plying inside districts, the number of passengers they are getting is very low. Under the circumstances, the government has decided to provide financial assistance to road and waterways transportation workers."
The official continued, "The government – as the prime minister's Eid gift – provided Tk2,500 cash aid to each of the 35 lakh unemployed poor throughout this year and the last one. There are transportation workers too among those who received this aid.
"We have sought workers' lists from district deputy commissioners excluding those who already received the cash aid. After getting the list, the eligible workers will receive the cash through mobile financial services (MFS). The process might take a few more weeks to complete."
Sources at the Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation said there are around 50 lakh transportation workers in the country. Workers' organisations have been demanding financial support from the government as public transports were shut during the lockdown.
However, government sources say the number of transport workers in Bangladesh is actually much lower than the number mentioned by the federation.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBR) Survey on Private, Commercial, Mechanised and Non-mechanised Land and Water Transport 2019, there are 31.78 lakh workers in the country's road transport sector, and 28.57 lakh of them work in the public transport sector.
In this sector, 2.26 lakh people work in public buses, and the rest provide transport services through tempu, auto-rickshaw, rickshaw, van, nosimon-korimon, rent-a-car and taxicabs.
The BBS data further shows that the country has 1.74 lakh mechanised and non-mechanised public transports in the waterways sector, and 3.03 lakh people work in them.
Finance Division officials said the ministry has also sent a proposal to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, seeking financial assistance for teachers and staff of non-MPO educational institutions. The scheme proposes Tk5,000 for teachers and Tk2,500 for staff as cash aid.
The teachers and staff of non-MPO educational institutions will receive this aid as the government does not pay their salaries.
Quoting the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics, the Finance Division said 1.70 lakh teachers and staff work at non-MPO educational institutions, and the government will have to spend Tk75 crore for providing them the proposed cash aid.
Money for the aid will come from the government's Tk10,000 crore incentive package allocated to counter the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.
Teachers and staff under the same criteria had received the same amount of cash aid last year. Money for that aid came from the prime minister's relief fund.