Govt moves to ease pandemic shock
- Cash aid to the jobless before Eid
- Additional 50 lakh ration cards for the poor
- Tk750cr allocated for frontline government employees
- Interest on bank loans suspended for two months
A set of stimulus packages amounting to about Tk1 lakh crore announced to offset pandemic fallout
Informal sector workers facing unemployment due to the ongoing coronavirus shutdown will get financial assistance under a government-announced incentive package before the forthcoming Eid-ul-Fitr.
The government has also allocated Tk750 crore as an incentive package for its employees, including health workers, civil servants and law enforcers, who are fighting the pandemic from the frontline.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced the measures while exchanging views with public representatives and government officials of eight districts under Rangpur division on the present coronavirus situation in the country through a videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence yesterday.
She said, "We want to give cash assistance ahead of the Eid to those who have lost jobs due to the nationwide shutdown … we'll do it to ensure their food security."
The premier said the government had earlier issued 50 lakh ration cards for destitute people so that they can purchase rice at Tk10 per kilogram.
"We'll now give 50 lakh more ration cards so the poor and distressed people don't suffer for want of food in this period of crisis," she added.
The premier also pointed out that the government has suspended interest on bank loans for the two months of April and May.
Many people have already taken bank loans of big or small amounts, said the prime minister, adding, "But realising loan interests from them has been suspended for two months as they have had no work and business in the last two months ."
She said the government has declared a Tk5,000 crore special stimulus package for small and medium farmers. "Besides, we're giving a subsidy of Tk9,500 crore to farmers," she said.
Referring to a set of stimulus packages of nearly Tk1 lakh crore -- 3.5 percent of the country's GDP – announced by the government to offset the economic fallouts of the coronavirus, she said, "We've declared these special packages to help business people keep up their trades and businesses," she said.
She said the government has announced a Tk100 crore stimulus package for those who are truly providing healthcare services from the frontline.
Mentioning that there is no shortage of medical equipment, she said the government is importing the equipment side by side with producing the equipment here.
"Besides, many people are donating the equipment and we're working in this way," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Dhaka Medical College (DMC) 2, a new section of the medical college, is now all prepared to provide treatment to coronavirus patients.
The government has also taken initiatives to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients at the district level, she added.
Pointing out that a number of media workers have already been infected with the virus, Sheikh Hasina requested them to perform their duties by taking proper protective measures.
The prime minister reiterated her apprehension that there might be a famine across the world due to an economic stagnation following the pandemic.
She asked all to work together to protect the country from the possible famine. "We'll also help other countries," she said.
The premier maintained that some countries have sought assistance from Bangladesh and that it has sent food assistance to them along with other materials. "Maybe we need to send more and for that we must ensure that not a single inch of our land remains without being farmed."
In this season, the premier said, the government will procure some 21 lakh metric tonnes of food grains. "We hope there will be no scarcity of food in the coming months… by the time other crops like Aush and Aman are there, we've to look to that. There will be no food crisis in Bangladesh," she assured the nation.
The Prime Minister asked the officials and others from Rangpur, known as a monga (scarce of food)-prone region, to remain alert so that monga cannot stage a comeback there.