'We are deeply grateful to the Honourable Prime Minister for the salary support for the workers'
The prime minister has announced a Tk 5000 crore stimulus package for export-oriented industries that has been welcomed by industry, workers, and economists alike.
They all found the government bailout move to be a timely one that comes at a time when industries are suffering due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We are deeply grateful to the Honourable Prime Minister for the salary support for the workers. The RMG sector pays Taka 4000 crore as salary every month," Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Rubana Huq told Dhaka Tribune.
Given the coronavirus pandemic situation, she fears a drop in export volume would impact the sector which would take a long time to overcome. “At a time like this her decision to support the salary of workers is a great relief. It will be very helpful,” she added.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday announced a bailout of Tk5,000 crore for export-oriented industries, in order to tackle the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the country's economy.
She said the money from this incentive package could only be disbursed as salaries and allowances for employees and workers in industries.
Her announcement came during a televised speech last night, on the eve of Independence Day, amid widespread fears about the coronavirus pandemic.
With numerous countries going into lockdown to battle the pandemic, the prime minister in her speech outlined the measures taken by her administration to contain Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus strain.
Research Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Khondaker Golam Moazzem, told Dhaka Tribune: “There were concerns from exporters about the economic fallout of the coronavirus and the prime minister in her speech has given specific direction. In the present context, it is a positive indication for people in industry as well as the economy.”
“Providing wages and bonuses for workers was a matter of concern, for which the PM has an allocation of Tk5000 crore. I think, from this fund entrepreneurs will be able to take loans as much as they need and pay workers wages and bonuses,” said the economist.
In addition, the opportunity to defer payment of electricity, gas and other utility services, will help exporters with their cash flow, he added.
However, the issue of factory closures or that of the health of workers has not been addressed, he added.
"It is a great gift from the prime minister and we are very hopeful that we will get our wages," Marufa Akter, an operator at MBM Garments told Dhaka Tribune.
Buyers cancelled orders and the owners are saying that they won't be able to pay wages in time, said Marufa.
Since the government is helping the owners, “we will now be able to survive with the salary,” she added.