US to stand beside Bangladesh in Corona crisis: Miller


DHAKA, April 30, 2020 (BSS) – US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller
today said that his country would stand beside Bangladesh with support to
face the crisis owing to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The US Ambassador also assured of providing assistance to Bangladesh in
the health and agriculture sectors.

The assurance came as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal talked with the
US Ambassador over phone today on the latest Coronavirus situation and about
the possible support in this regard, said an official press release.

Miller also apprised Kamal about the new schemes of the Export-Import Bank
of the United States from where Bangladesh can avail direct loan or loan
guaranty, supply chain financing guaranty, working capital guaranty and pre
delivery or pre export financing facility.

Extending thanks to the US government for its continued support to
Bangladesh in various sectors, the Finance Minister said the US has so far
provided $4.6 billion to Bangladesh as project assistance, food assistance
and commodity assistance.

He also thanked the US for providing $3.4 million to Bangladesh as
emergency assistance for facing the Novel Coronavirus.

Kamal said the economic activities of Bangladesh have almost come to a
standstill due to the countrywide general holidays owing to Coronavirus.

To offset the shock from COVID-19, he mentioned that Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina has already announced stimulus packages worth $11.6 billion which is
3.5 percent of the GDP to be utilized in expanding public expenditure,
widening the social safety nets, and also to increase the supply of money.

The Finance Minister said, “Provision has also been incorporated in the
stimulus packages to provide working capital to the affected industries,
services sector and small and cottage industries through the banking sector,”

In response, the US Ambassador lauded these timely steps of the Bangladesh
government to overcome the impact of this deadly virus.

Miller also praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for announcing this huge
amount of stimulus packages to overcome the shock of COVID-19 on the
country’s economy.

During the phone conversation, the Finance Minister sought increased US
support for tackling the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy
and also on society as well as sought increased support in the health sector,
especially in health services, and also for infrastructural development and
capacity enhancement.

Besides, Kamal also sought more US support in the form of soft term loans
to further widen the country’s social safety net programmes, for
mechanization of agriculture, heath, education, disaster management and in
humanitarian Programmes.

Kamal said Coronavirus has also launched its attack on Bangladesh like
other countries of the world while the global economy has made a halt due to
this virus which is unprecedented in recent times.

He said the developing countries of Asia would have to face the biggest
economic challenges due to COVID-19 and the most important thing now is to
ensure food security of them and also to rehabilitate the low income people.

The Finance Minister said although the US is the largest destination for
Bangladeshi export items, but the GSP facilities there for Bangladesh
remained suspended till 2013.

He said the issue of Bangladesh’s preferential market access to US
remained unresolved while such kind of access to the US market and investment
would play an important role to overcome the adverse impact of COVID-19 on
the country’s trade and economy.