Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said there might be an economic meltdown as the world is at high risk of recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She has urged the citizens to be prepared for the economic shock.
"To tackle the possible economic blow, we must prepare for it and make sure not a single person in our country remains unfed," the premier said in a video conference with the government officials of the 64 districts of the country.
She was exchanging views over the coronavirus situation across the country with field level government officials and public representatives from her official Ganabhaban residence at Dhaka.
"To face that recession we have to start our planning now. We've to take care of our economy," she said.
Economists have warned, the global economy will be affected hard in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Two-thirds of the world's population living in developing countries will face unprecedented economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and exporting nations will see a drop between $2 trillion and $3 trillion in investments from overseas, a UN trade agency report said on Tuesday.
The UN trade body has called for a $2.5 trillion rescue package for these nations.
The call came amid worldwide concerns with countries assessing the impacts and injecting billions of dollars in emergency funds to cushion the economic shock from Covid-19.
The Bangladesh government has also taken up initial plans to help the country's economy survive the shock as the country's biggest export sector faced cancellations and holding off of orders to the tune of $3 billion so far while major economic indicators are on the decline.
Special emphasis on ensuring food for the distressed
The prime minister has put special emphasis on ensuring food for the distressed people, day labourers and other marginalised people, including the disabled who have become victims of the present situation.
She asked the officials concerned to prepare a separate list of those people at ward level immediately.
But she warned officials about corruption in these activities.
"Let me tell you one thing, there must not be any type of corruption and irregularities in this programme."
"None will be spared if there are any corruption and irregularities ... we won't tolerate people taking advantage of the bad times to get rich. I'm warning you in advance," she said.
Assuring of enough food storage at hand, Sheikh Hasina said, "If we can make the best use of our manpower and fertile lands, then we will be capable of providing food for other countries after meeting our domestic demand".
In this connection, she mentioned food security as the most important matter right now.
"We've to maintain our food production and we've to look after that. Please don't leave a single inch of land fallow and no wetland without farming fish," she said.
She urged the people to face the pandemic with courage.
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The prime minister also said the government would provide all essential assistance to the farmers.
On the spot, she asked the agriculture minister to ensure all kinds of materials, including seeds, fertilisers and other essentials for the farmers.
General holidays extended till April 9
On the coronavirus, Sheikh Hasina said the government has managed to control the spread of the coronavirus through a successful mass awareness campaign.
"We have also formulated a National Preparedness Response Plan for Covid-19 according to the guidelines of the World Health Organization," the PM added.
She said the ongoing 10-day general holiday will be extended till April 9 to curb the spread of the virus. But there will be some relaxation for specific sectors, she said.
The Prime Minister said that the essential services will remain open but educational institutions will remain closed while industries and mills can operate, if they wish.
But, she said, the movement of people from one place to another should be restricted.
Celebrate Pahela Baishakh without mass gathering
The prime minister asked all to celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla New Year, digitally without creating any mass gathering in accordance with the government's "stay-at-home" guideline.
In this context, the premier said that the government has suspended all the programs of the "Mujib Year" marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the programs of the Independence Day and the historic March 7 over the Covid-19 situation and observed the programmes in different way.
Urge to keep prices of essentials stable
Sheikh Hasina said it would be inhumane if anyone hiked the prices of essential commodities taking advantage of the people's sufferings.
"We've to maintain the supply side so the prices of essentials remain stable and kept within the common people's reach. We've to ensure that," she said.
People urged not to panic over Covid-19
The premier said there is no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) by all except by health workers, nurses and physicians who are involved with providing treatment to the people infected with coronavirus.
She asked the authorities concerned to create awareness about the use of PPE.
Officials of local administrations, however, informed the prime minister that there was no crisis of PPEs at this moment.
She asked all concerned, including public representatives and officials, police and health department, to work in a coordinated manner to protect people from coronavirus.
Putting emphasis on proper diagnosis, Sheikh Hasina requested everyone not to endanger themselves and others nearby by hiding their symptoms.
In her speech, the Prime Minister urged the people not to panic over coronavirus and said the government successfully faced disasters many times in the past.
Warning against rumour-mongers
At the same time, she directed the authorities concerned to take legal actions against those who were trying to spread rumours regarding coronavirus using digital technology from home and abroad.
In this context, she urged the people not to pay attention to any kind of rumour at this moment of crisis.
Urges to take action against mosquito now
Sheikh Hasina said there is a possibility of mosquito menace starting in the summer and the monsoon and the situation may aggravate further if there is a dengue outbreak in addition to corona.
"So, you'll have to take steps from now on to protect the people from the mosquitoes," she said.
The Prime Minister asked the LGRD Minister and the Dhaka North City Corporation mayor-elect Atiqul Islam, present in the video conference, to take immediate actions to control mosquito.
"We don't want to hear the song of mosquitoes," she added.