Sheikh Hasina says the money can only be disbursed as wages and allowances for the workers
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a bailout of Tk5,000 crore for export-oriented industries, in order to tackle the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's economy.
She said the money from this incentive package could only be disbursed as salaries and allowances for the employees and workers of the industries, reports UNB.
Her announcement came during a speech to the nation broadcast by Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar on Wednesday evening, on the eve of the Independence Day, amid widespread fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
Besides, she said, the Bangladesh Bank has already taken some pro-business steps. The central bank will not announce any customer as loan defaulter till next June.
Hasina mentioned that the timeframe for export earnings has been increased to six months from the existing two months. Likewise, the import payment has been increased to six months from four months.
She also said the limit of mobile banking has been increased, the payment of power, water and gas bills have been extended to June without any fine or surcharge and the payment of instalment of the NGOs has been suspended.
“The whole world is now going through uncertainty, but our government is ready to face any kind of tough situation. We’re the government of the people, we’re always with the people. I’m keeping my eyes on the situation,” she said.
Hasina said it is the time for austerity and urged people not to purchase excessive consumer goods which are not essential, and don’t hoard and let the fixed-income group people buy the needful.
“We’re self-sufficient in food production. This year we’ve bumper production of Aman crop and the government warehouses have more than 1.7 million metric tons of foodgrains,” she said.
The prime minister also said private mill owners and farmers have huge foodgrains in stock. In the current season, the country has bumper production of potato, onion, chilli and wheat.
She urged the farmers not to leave any land without cultivation. “Please move for more production.”
Hasina said the test of the humanity of human beings occurs during a disaster.
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.
‘Government’s highest priority is to save people’
Sheikh Hasina, in her over 23-minute speech said, right at the moment highest priority for the government is to save people from the virus.
The government measures included the suspension of all types of public transports, ensuring no shortage of essential goods in the markets, keeping Bangladesh Bank operations running in a limited manner, and extending timelines to realize export earnings to six months from two and to meet import expenses to six months from four.
Also, the government is prepared to accommodate 100,000 people with employment opportunities in Bhashan Char, if they want to move there, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that the government's VGD, BGF and selling rice at Tk10 per kg programs will continue too. “Medicine and healthcare services are being provided at free of cost.”
Don’t leave home if no emergency
"Do not leave home unless it's an emergency,” she urged the people.
The prime minister also requested all Muslims to offer prayers and people of other faiths to perform all religious activities at home for the time being, instead of the places of worship.
She warned that the authorities will take immediate stern action against anyone for spreading rumour over the coronavirus crisis.
Hasina said IEDCR has opened hotline numbers while doctors opened their 500 numbers. “If the coronavirus symptoms show up, please contact those numbers. The government is arranging all sorts of treatment.”
“Don’t be panicked. Panic destroys logical thinking. Your awareness will keep you, your family, and above all people of the country safe,” she said.
The prime minister also described various effective and time befitting measures of the government taken from the very beginning of coronavirus outbreak in China and noted that 6,58,981 people have been screened at different ports.
“Since January, we’ve taken massive program and preparations to tackle the infection of coronavirus. A national committee has been formed under the leadership of the Health Minister,” she said.
Besides, Hasina said, committees have been formed in city corporations, municipalities, districts, Upazilas and unions level.
She said six hospitals have been prepared for coronavirus patients in Dhaka, besides three more hospitals are being readied. Separate beds have been prepared at district and Upazila level hospitals.
The prime minister mentioned that 14,565 isolation beds have been prepared, including 10,050 in Dhaka. For institutional quarantine, 290 institutions have been prepared where 16,741 people can be given services.
Hasina said health workers have to play an important role in providing treatment to the infected people. “Sufficient materials have been supplied for their safety and enough materials have been preserved as the highest priority is given to their safety. Don’t be confused.”
As of Tuesday, she said, the stock of testing kit was 13,000 while another 30,000 will reach the country very soon. There are eight machines in Dhaka for test while work is going on to set up testing labs in seven other divisional headquarters.
“Don’t spread rumours,” she said warning of stern actions against the rumour-mongers.
The prime minister hoped that the world will be rid of this calamity very soon due to the development of science and technology and with the efforts from all.
“At this crisis moment, we’ve to be tolerant and sensitive. No one tries to take the chance, there’s no scarcity in the market,” she said.
In this connection, the Prime Minister said the supply chain is intact with the outer world and within the country.
“Don’t raise the prices of essentials illogically, don’t increase the misery of people. Steps have been taken to monitor the markets everywhere,” she warned.
‘Time to help each other’
The prime minister said a good number of people in the country have lost their jobs due to coronavirus outbreak. “We’ve to stand beside them.”
She said the low-income group will be provided assistance under the ‘Return-to-Home’ program for the homeless and landless people as there will be homes free of cost, six months food and cash assistance. “District administrations have been directed in this regard.”