BSS-33 Blocking people’s income way for indefinite time not possible: PM





Blocking people’s income way for indefinite time not possible: PM

DHAKA, May 24, 2020 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today hinted at further relaxation of the ongoing nationwide shutdown over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to resume economic activities, saying that it is not possible to keep blocked the way of the people’s income for an indefinite time.

In a nationwide televised address on the eve of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the prime minister also announced that all the programmes that the government launched to help the people in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak will continue until the present crisis is over.

“I and my government will stay beside you Insha Allah until the crisis goes away,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said most of the countries of the world have already been compelled to ease the lockdown over coronavirus because it is not possible to halt the way of income of the people for an indefinite time.

“It’s not possible in any way for the developing countries like Bangladesh,” she said.

The government initially declared a general holiday on March 26 for 10 days. Later, that was gradually extended till May 30 as the country kept on seeing a rise in the number of (confirmed) cases and deaths from COVID-19.

The government first allowed from April 26 reopening the garment factories that supply some of the world’s biggest clothing brands.

Since then, around 4,000 out of 7,200 factories have resumed production in different industrial belts like Dhaka, Ashulia, Savar, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Chattogram as well as various Export Processing Zones (EPZs) across the country by maintaining health codes, sources at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said.

The government also permitted opening of markets and shopping malls from 10 am to 4 pm from May 10 by maintaining health guidelines and social distancing measures.

In her nearly 15-minute speech, Sheikh Hasina extended heartfelt Eid greetings to the countrymen and requested all to enjoy the Eid happiness with family members by staying at their homes amid the pandemic.

She simultaneously urged the well-off people to stand beside the poor neighbours and villagers at this bad time.

Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecast, the prime minister said the coronavirus pandemic will not go away soon.

“But life will not remain stopped, and as long as vaccine of coronavirus will not be discovered we may have to live along with the virus … economic activities will have to be resumed for the sake of life and livelihood (of the people),” she said.

The prime minister said the entire world is now confounded due to coronavirus pandemic which put an extreme blow on the life and livelihoods alongside killing countless people across the globe.

“We had to close down everything — offices, courts, mills and factories and business organisations — except some emergency services so that the lethal virus doesn’t spread further and lakhs of people have become jobless as they lost employment,” she said.

She added: “The government has taken all-out measures for (helping) these people.”

Sheikh Hasina said the government is providing food assistance apart from cash aid, adding 1,62,867 metric tons of rice and Taka 91,47,72,000 have so far been allocated.

“We’ve given an allocation of 80,000 MT rice for selling it at Taka 10 per kilogram and issued additional 50 lakh cards this month for the destitute families through which they can buy this rice,” she said.

The premier said a total of Taka 1,250 crore was given to 50 lakh families that have lost jobs but were not included in any assistance programme, through mobile banking and each of the families received Taka 2,500.

“More than Taka 17 crore was given to the qaumi madrasa students and teachers in two phases, while Tk 122 crore two lakh and 15 thousand was provided to imams and muazzin of the mosques as financial assistance,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said special arrangements have also been made for the marginalised community of society and these programmes will continue until the situation becomes normal.

The prime minister said to reactivate the country’s economic activities and production system, the government has already announced a set of stimulus packages of Tk 1,01,117 crore which is 3.6 percent of total GDP.

“A total of 18 economic sectors including export-oriented industries, small, medium and cottage industries, agriculture, fish farming, poultry and livestock have been brought under these incentive packages,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said a total of Tk 2,500 crore was allocated to Palli Sanchay Bank, Probsahi Kalyan Bank and Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation to help the youths and expatriates who lost jobs for the pandemic.

The premier said bumper production of Boro paddy has become a blessing for the country in this perilous time. Boro paddy was cultivated on about 48 lakh hectors of land this year and harvesting is almost completed.

Sheikh Hasina congratulated and extended Eid-ul-Fitr greetings to the farmers and all concerned involved in agriculture for playing an important role in ensuring food security in this critical time.

The premier said the government has started procurement of paddy and rice so that the farmers get fair prices. “In the current season, 22.25 lakh MT food grains, two lakh MT more than the previous year, will be procured” she said.

MORE/AHJ/SH/GA/1945 hrs