The deadline for repaying loans disbursed from last year's Covid-19 incentive package for the export sector is likely to be extended again, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal says.
He told reporters after a virtual meeting of the cabinet committee on public procurement on Saturday the Bangladesh Bank would issue a circular on this by 30 June.
The government announced the package to help export-oriented factory owners, including apparel manufacturers, pay workers' wages for three months during the 66-day general holiday. The holiday was announced to tackle the pandemic.
Banks disbursed Tk5,000 crore from the government's own funds at a 2% service charge and another Tk5,000 crore from the stimulus package for large industries and the service sector.
When the six-month grace period ended in December last year, the borrowers had to start repaying loans in 18 instalments.
The grace period was extended till 30 June at the request of apparel factory owners.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association recently appealed to the finance ministry to extend the grace period again till December.
They sought the extension as the Covid-19 situation is not normal yet though exports have returned to positive growth.
The finance minister said no decision had yet been made on the appeal but he had talked to the central bank governor about it.
The central bank is working on it, he said.
Besides, factory owners asked for incentives like last year to pay workers' wages and bonuses for the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha. The finance minister said the prime minister would decide this.
Reports by various private research institutes say Covid-19 has created two to two and a half crore new poor people, but the finance minister has not accepted the figures so far.
The multidimensional poverty index released by the General Economics Division and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics last week said there are 6.5 crore poor people in the country.
When asked whether the minister would accept this figure, he said he had not received it yet.
He said the new poor would be identified and assistance was being offered to those already identified.