Over 1.4 million migrant workers have lost jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic
The average family income loss between March and May hovers at around 74%, while more than 1.4 million migrant workers returned or were on their way back home due to job loss, a survey revealed on Monday.
The survey, titled "Covid-19 and National Budget 2020-2021: Rethinking Strategy for Bottom of the Pyramid" was jointly conducted by the Brac, DataSense, and Unnayan Shamannay, and unveiled through an online media briefing.
The findings and recommendations of the study were drawn from reviews of studies recently conducted by Brac, BIGD, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other national and international bodies.
The survey findings derived from data obtained from a primary survey conducted on 962 respondents randomly selected from 25 districts across the country from May 15-18.
According to the survey findings, 53.64 million were among the extreme poor population and at high risk of economic and health vulnerabilities, including those pushed down to extreme poverty by the coronavirus pandemic.
The primary survey revealed that the pandemic affected the low-income people in various ways.
It showed that 34.8% of households interviewed had at least one member who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
The average family income loss between March and May stood around 74%.
Earlier studies and reports suggested that due to lack of countrywide coordination and collaboration, food and cash support from the government could not adequately reach the poor and extreme poor.
As only 34% of households have access to smartphones and 54% have access to TV, children of the lowest economic rung mostly remain excluded from any form of education provided through digital channels, the survey mentioned.
The survey also said Bangladesh’s economy and development were at a critical juncture in the wake of Covid-19.
Financially poorest people are most affected in terms of both economy and health. At present 100.22 million people face high risk of economic and health vulnerabilities, it also said.
PPRC chairman and chairperson of Brac Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman presided over the press conference with Dr Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, present as chief guest.
KAM Morshed, senior director of Brac, moderated the media briefing.
Dr Ananya Raihan, CEO of iSocial, presented the survey report.
Dr Nazneen Ahmed, senior research fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), and Dr Imran Matin, executive director of Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), were also present as panel speakers.
Atiur Rahman said this years’ budget should be a health-focused budget.
"Economic development will stand for nothing if we cannot stay alive," he added.
He also stressed on giving importance to social protection in the upcoming budget and that a proper database must be created to ease the process.
The former central bank governor referred to the upcoming budget as a budget for survival, which should focus on the process of survival in the current situation.
Atiur also said micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) needed help as 60% of them will be out of business due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.
"We can allocate Tk20,000 crore for this sector, which needs to be refinanced by Bangladesh Bank," he suggested.
The former governor also said there was no risk of inflation yet.
PPRC chairman Hossain Zillur also said, "Instead of making new lists, it is best if existing lists can be used. Tk500 per head may be allocated as a stipend for 7.8 million primary students Instead of Tk100. That way we can ensure support reaches the right people."
"The budget needs to be reflective, open to criticism, skillful in strategy" he added.
Dr Nazneen Ahmed said: "Fuel subsidy to transport operators can also be provided so they will not be required to increase fares.
They also said the population at the bottom of the pyramid is at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
In case of the death of an earning member of the family, there is a high chance of starvation and malnutrition, especially among women and children.