By: Swadesh Roy
The number of COVID-19 affected people in Bangladesh is increasing. Besides, the authority of Bangladesh is getting afraid of the rapidly increasing number of Corona cases in India. In this situation, some of the senior ministers of government are thinking about continuing the lock-down for a few more days. At the same time, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh came in a televised press conference on Sunday, 5th April 2020 where she didn’t utter any word about increasing the lock-down for more. But, she asked people to observe the Bengali New Year which is on 14th April, staying at their homes, not outside. It may be a sign of continuation of the lock-down for few more days as the ongoing declared lock-down is up to 11th April. However, her government declared for continuing lockdown up to 14 April by an executive order.
Basically, the press conference of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was regarding an economic incentive program which will act after the Corona math in the economy. In her incentive package, she announced BDT 720 Billion in the three sectors- social security, large scale industries and trading, and small and medium scale industries and
trading. Government of Bangladesh operates several social security programs, such as, giving food without price to the people of below poverty line, supplying the main food, rice at only ten takas per Kilogram for the people of the low-income group, providing monthly allowance for the widow and the elder people of the country. Along with these, the government has taken a massive program for making homes to all the homeless people of the country in this year dedicating the birth centenary of the father of the nation of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman. Prime Minister has declared BDT 220 Billion for all the social security services. Leaving BDT 220 Billion, another BDT 500 Billion is allotted for industry and business sector. In this BDT 500 Billion, large scale industries and trading will get BDT 300 Billion which will be provided as a soft loan. Large scale industrialists and traders can borrow loan from BDT 300 Billion package for their working capital. The interest rate of this soft loan will be 9%, but the borrower has to pay only 4.5% and the rest will be paid by the government.
Simultaneously, the rest amount of BDT 200 Billion will be given to the small and medium scale industrialists and traders as a soft loan. The interest rate is even softer in case of them. They will repay 4% interest, and the rest 5% will be paid by the government following the same procedure.
In her press conference, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina indicated about two major small scale agro-industries of Bangladesh which are now much affected; one is Poultry and another is Fish Farming. It is to mention that Bangladesh places fourth in producing fish in the world and self-sufficient for protein by producing Poultry Chicken. Now, Poultry Chicken is the common protein for the poor people of Bangladesh. So, Sheikh Hasina thinks that after Corona debacle, it is necessary to regain the shape of the Poultry and Fish Firming sectors. Despite that, when addressing the nation on the occasion of Independence Day (Independence Day was on 26th March but she addressed the nation on 25th March in the evening), she declared 50 Billion as a very soft loan for the garments workers. It is a matter of fact that the garments sector counts above ten Million workers and 80% of them are women. It is the hard work of these women workers for which the garments sector of Bangladesh claim number one position in South Asia and its world ranking is number three having China in the first position and Vietnam second. On the other hand, for the increase of the supply of the money in the market, Sheikh Hasina gave some directions to her Central Bank for making the banking loan policy easier so that Banks can supply more money in the market. Though, she is a little bit worried about money supply in future. But she thinks
that the supply of money in the market is a necessity after Corona crisis for rebuilding the economy and facing the recession.
Sheikh Hasina is the only chief of the government now in the South Asia, who faced the economic recession of the world in 2009. So, she has experience about how to face the recession of the economy. Most of the renowned economists of the world expressed their thought when COVID-19 affect first in the West saying the economic recession will be as like as the years 2008-2009’s recession because of the effect of the COVID-19. After observing the ferocious face of Corona, including IMF, World Bank and all the economic organizations have forecasted
that the recession will be worse than it was after the Second World War. As an experienced leader for facing economic recession, Sheikh Hasina came first in the South Asia with her recovery program for the economy from the recession after Corona math. No doubt, as a primary recovery program Sheikh Hasina declared a worthy one. But she needs to declare more programs because when the Corona crisis will be gone, then not only she and her country but also the whole world will get the proper economic calculation of the loss. The World Bank, ADB, and other development partner organizations will need to make the design on how they will assist all the countries of the world for rebuilding their economy because almost all the countries (Now 205 Countries) are affected by the COVID-19.
As a leader of a small and the highest dense populated country, Sheikh Hasina has come up with an economic recovery plan keeping the loss of Corona effect in her mind. Though, the World specialists think that including Bangladesh, Indian Sub-Continent has to face Corona crisis for more one and a half months from now. So, when Sheikh Hasina came up in a televised press conference with an economic program, she was simultaneously confronting two wars at a time. She has to fight against Corona having a dense population. In addition, a huge number of people are ignorant, not trustworthy towards science rather they believe in the dogmatic medieval concept. For this reason, she had to deploy Army to make them stay at their homes along with maintaining social distancing- the only prevention of the Coronavirus. On the other hand, she will face some multifaceted problems for executing her economic programs, such as, she provided BDT 300 Billion for the big industrialists of the country for the recovery of production of the industries, but in Bangladesh, a huge number of industrialists are
loan defaulter. It is an age old culture in Bangladesh that a huge number of industrialists and businessmen take loans from the banks but they never repay it. These culprits will once again try to take their shares from this BDT 300 Billion package.
On this note, Sheikh Hasina has to check them strictly, and to be honest, she is alone in this war. It is very tough to get someone beside her in this fight. In 2009, she got a very learned and honest Finance Minister, but after the result of the ten years, she and her learned Finance Minister couldn’t win the battle in cent percent. These crooked businessmen were successful for looting the huge amount of money from the banks. So, this time it is also tough for her to fight alone against them. Instead of that, the administration of Bangladesh is not corruption-free. Rather, many of them are involved in corruption. That’s why, she has to fight more strongly and become successful regarding her economic program to regain the economy after the Corona crisis. However, in Bangladesh, the honest people marked Sheikh Hasina as a daughter of destiny. So, what may come to her, she will win ultimately. (The writer is a Senior Journalist from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is a highest state award winning journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)