Enamul Hafiz Latifee reports,
The government is set to transfer Taka 2,000 in cash to each of about 40 lakh families whose breadwinners have lost jobs because of lockdown, as part of its efforts to keep the most vulnerable segment of the society at home to tackle the deadly COVID-19.
The latest scheme will cover 15 million population, said a finance ministry source.
The government has allocated Taka 760 crore for this group of people, which includes day labourers, rickshaw or van-pullers, mechanics, construction workers, newspaper hawkers, hotel workers, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her address to the nation last evening. An order has been given to prepare a list of beneficiaries and their bank account numbers.
Once the list is drawn up, the one-off cash will be sent to their accounts directly, the Prime Minister said. The city corporations and district administrations have already started preparing the list, the source said.
The government plans to disburse the fund during Ramadan, which starts in the last week of April.
It would be later decided whether the cash would be transferred through bank accounts or mobile financial service as many of them don’t have bank accounts, the source added.
The World Bank on Sunday also suggested a similar move to help the poor and those working in the informal sector to tide over the desperate situation.
A large number of people have already lost their jobs due to the ongoing economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 40-50 million people are struggling to survive their life due to the food shortage, said Ahsan H Mansur, Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, on Sunday, 12 April 2020.
Without minimum social assistance, the vulnerable and those who live a hand-to-mouth existence will have no choice but to defy orders, said Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office, earlier.
The lockdown, which would continue at least until 25 April 2020, has brought all economic activities to a halt and shut offices, businesses and industries and suspended transport movement.
Bangladesh has announced various stimulus packages worth Taka 95,619 crore, which is 3.3 percent of the GDP, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said. “We don’t know how long this crisis will last and how it will harm our economy,” she said. The import and export sectors have started to feel the heat of the pandemic. Most of the migrant workers were rendered jobless because of the lethal pathogen. This has stagnated remittance flow, according to the Prime Minister.
“We are not outside of the global system. The blow stemming from the global economic recession has become a major cause for concern for our economy too.” All agriculture-related ministries have been given instructions to accelerate farm production so that no food shortage emerges in the coming days. “We have taken steps so that there is no shortage of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and other agriculture inputs and to take them to the farmers on time,” she added.