Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed firm determination to free the people from their plight by supporting them amid all possible crises, and relieve them from their sorrows and ordeals.
She made the comment on Thursday while formally inaugurating the disbursement of Tk1,250 crore cash assistance through mobile financial services (MFSs) among 50 lakh poor families who have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Participating in the event through videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban, Sheikh Hasina said, "The population [of the country] is huge. I may not be able to provide that much [money to them].
"But I can at least give a small amount [of money] so that no one is deprived and we can extend support to all. We are taking these steps by keeping that in mind."
Sheikh Hasina also kicked off the distribution of stipends and tuition fees from her education assistance trust fund to undergraduate and equivalent level students in the 2019 academic year through mobile/online banking.
The prime minister said the low-income group, including the floating population, rickshaw and van-pullers, day-labourers, [ferry] dock workers, shop employees, small traders, barbers, hawkers, and workers in sectors such as construction, agriculture, private business organisations, poultry and dairy farms, and transportation have become jobless due to the nationwide shutdown amid the pandemic.
"We tried to save and manage money so that we could help them in the holy month of Ramadan," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government had undertaken many plans to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and had allocated money for this purpose.
"But the government has redirected the funds to provide much needed assistance to the poor and needy," the prime minister pointed out.
She added that the government had earlier issued ration cards to 50 lakh families so that they can buy rice at Tk10 per kg.
"We are also continuing all social safety net programmes, and we have taken a decision to provide cash support of Tk1,250 crore to 50 lakh families excluding those who are getting assistance through ration cards, VGD, VGF and other social safety net programmes," said Sheikh Hasina.
The Tk1,250 crore will be distributed among 50 lakh families through mobile financial services (MFSs) such as bKash, Rocket, Nagad and SureCash. The total fund will be disbursed from May 14 to 18, and 10 lakh people will get cash support through the MFSs every day.
Apart from these 50 lakh families, two crore people from another 50 lakh families are currently getting government assistance under the vulnerable group feeding (VGF) cards, said government sources.
Besides, a huge number of people, including freedom fighters, elderly people, widows, physically-challenged and poor women abandoned by their husbands are receiving different allowances under various social safety net programmes.
2 specialised banks to get Tk2500cr fund
The prime minister announced that the government will provide Tk2,000 crore to Karmasangsthan Bank and Tk500 crore to Probashi Kallyan Bank to help youths and expatriate Bangladeshis who have become jobless because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Tk2,000 crore fund will be given to the Karmasangsthan Bank to increase the amount of loans, so that our youth folk do not roam around unemployed. Instead they can do business by taking more credit from the bank," said Sheikh Hasina.
She added, "We founded another specialised bank named Probashi Kallyan Bank so that people can go abroad by taking loans from the bank instead of selling their properties.
"Earlier, we gave Tk400 crore to this bank, and now we are giving another Tk500 crore as many Bangladeshis returned home from abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic."
Sheikh Hasina went on to say, "They are citizens of our country and we do not want them to go through an ordeal while they are abroad. If they wish to return home, they can come back.
"That is why we have allocated the money so that they can do something here by taking loans from the bank."
In this connection, the prime minister mentioned that people are becoming self-reliant through the Palli Sanchay Bank.
Adding that the government has given financial assistance of nearly Tk10 crore to 6,865 Qawmi madrasas that have orphanages across the country ahead of the Ramadan, Sheikh Hasina announced further financial assistance for all mosques and 7,000 more Qawmi madrasas before the Eid.
She said the government will also provide financial support to underprivileged people such as Hijras [3rd gender] and Bede [gypsy] communities.
Sheikh Hasina said the government enforced the nationwide shutdown of schools, offices and public transport system since March 26 as part of the effort to stem the Covid-19 outbreak.
"But the shutdown has been relaxed for the sake of the people's livelihood," she said.