Amid the growing unemployment and poverty rate during the shutdown period due to COVID-19, economists and businesses urged the government to distribute all stimulus packages properly in the affected sectors.
They also said a hazardous situation may be created in the country due to COVID-19 impact if the packages declared by the government are not distributed appropriately.
They came up with the observations at a virtual dialogue on “Responding to COVID-19: A Rapid Assessment of Stimulus Packages and Relief Measures” held on Tuesday.
CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun moderated the session while its Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem read out the finding papers. The study has been carried out as part of CPD’s flagship programme Independent Review of Bangladesh’s Development (IRBD).
Fahmida said the existing problem is affecting not only Bangladesh but also the world. Different countries announced packages for their economic sectors on condition that no worker will be laid off. And every employee will get proper salary.
“We can follow the conditions so that workers are not laid off from the factories who would take the packages facilities in our country,” she added.
The economist also said a well-planned design is needed to distribute the packages that which sectors and how the stimulus packages would be distributed here. Otherwise, a hazardous situation will be created in the country amid increasing unemployment and poverty rate.
“We have already noticed that the country’s poverty rate soared back up to 35 percent from 20 percent due to the impact of the lockdown imposed to fight COVID-19, meaning that 35 percent of the population would be living below the poverty line in Bangladesh,” she added.
Fahmida further said income disparity may go up in the country if we can’t control the existing situation.
Khondaker Golam Moazzem said the implementation of the stimulus packages is being carried on. “There are some challenges for the government to implement it properly. However, it should be overcome for the sake of the country’s economic recovery,” he added.
Dr Ahsan Habib Mansur, Executive Director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, said around 1.5 crore people have become unemployed due to the impact of coronavirus.
“The unemployed people should be given funds. It should be kept in the budget for 2020-21. The government should follow digital financing system to give the fund among the unemployed people. We have technology and infrastructure. We just need to make a good system for proper distribution,” the noted economist also said.
Md Fazlul Hoque, former president of BKMEA, said they need around six months to return to stable situation.
“Keeping factories open is now a big challenge for us amid the slow economic activities. Good day may return for garment sector of Bangladesh after five or six months as a negative image was created against China in USA and UK markets. So, we hope many customers will come to us in future. Now we have to keep open our factories, otherwise we won’t get the market,” the Managing Director of Plummy Fashions Ltd added.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, Managing Director and CEO of Mutual Trust Bank Ltd; Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, President of Central Executive Committee of National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB); China Rahman, General Secretary of Industrial Bangladesh Council (IBC), and others also spoke there.