Fearing huge losses due to the coronavirus shutdown, the shop owners in Bangladesh have demanded Tk2,500 crore financial support from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In a letter sent to the prime minister on Wednesday, the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association said the money is needed to pay wages to several lakhs of permanent and temporary employees who work at shops and markets across the country.
They also requested the government to provide the money as bank loans with easy condition, if the support cannot be given from the prime minister's relief fund.
Mohammad Helal Uddin, president of the association said, "We have closed the shops as per the government directive. We want the money to pay wages to the employees.
"The shop owners will repay the loans within six months after the situation becomes normal after overcoming the coronavirus crisis."
The shop owners said currently it has become very difficult for them to pay the shop rents. Paying wages to the employees has become even more difficult for them. If no special fund is allocated for them, lakhs of workers' lives will be in danger.
Helal told The Business Standard, "When customers stopped coming to markets amid the novel coronavirus scare, we shut down shops till March 31 to prevent the spread of the virus among the shop owners and employees."
"Then the government extended the shutdown till April 4. Now the shutdown is extended April 11," he added.
Meanwhile, the government has already announced to provide a Tk5,000 crore financial support as loans to help the export-oriented industries pay wages to their workers. The export industries can take loans from the Bangladesh Bank on 2 percent interest.