The Bangladesh Bank has instructed banks to provide essential medical equipment and protective material to doctors, nurses, ward-boys and cleaners involved in the treatment of Covid-19 patients as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Banks have to extend this support to the district level, read a circular issued by the Sustainable Finance Department of the central bank on Wednesday.
The Bangladesh Bank stated that banks can provide equipment such as PCR machines, ventilators and oxygen cylinders for treatment of Covid-19 patients from their CSR fund earmarked for the health sector.
According to a central bank instruction issued on March 22, a bank must spend 60 percent of its total CSR fund in the health sector. The remaining 30 percent and 10 percent can be spent in the education and climate change sectors respectively.
In the circular issued on Wednesday, the central bank ordered banks to ensure a 60 percent allocation of their CSR expenditure for the health sector in a bid to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2014, the Bangladesh Bank issued a guideline for all banks to carry out their CSR activities.
According to the central bank data, the country's 59 banks spent around Tk648 crore as part of CSR initiatives in 2019, which was 28 percent less than that of the previous year. The figure was Tk905 crore in 2018, and Tk744 crore the year before.
Before March 22, it was mandatory for every bank to spend a minimum 30 percent of its CSR fund in the education sector, minimum 20 percent in the health sector and minimum 10 percent in the climate risk fund.
In 2019, banks spent Tk243 crore on disaster management and Tk177 crore in the education sector, which was 37.48 percent and 27.26 percent of the CSR expenses respectively.
The health sector's CSR expenses was Tk73 crore, while the figure was Tk33 crore in the environment sector, Tk28 crore in the cultural sector, Tk1.37 crore in infrastructure, and Tk93 crore in other sectors.