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Dhaka Tribune

‘Saving the economy is impossible by taking a gamble with public health’

Zone-wise lockdown is better than opening up everything, Dr Ashikur Rahman says in Straight Talk

Update : 01 Jul 2020, 10:24 PM

The policy makers in Bangladesh have taken a big gamble with the public health to save the economy, which is impossible, Dr Ashikur Rahman, senior economist at Policy Research Institute (PRI), has said.

“Our policy makers estimated that our problem is not the same as in Europe and the US,” he said while speaking with Zafar Sobhan, editor of Dhaka Tribune, on the first episode of Season Three of Straight Talk on Wednesday night.

The episode was broadcast live on Dhaka Tribune Facebook page.

Ashikur Rahman asked the policy makers: “Why have you taken the gamble to save the economy? Is this the way to save the economy? That is another question.

“Bangladesh is now in the Covid-19 community transmission level and our business leaders are not investing in the country.  Middle class are not consuming not-essential items  in fear of  community transmission,” he added.

“Though our economy is open, we see only 40% to 50% activities. We have neither achieved the goal nor secured the livelihoods of people. We are slowly making death,” Ashikur added.

The economist further said that livelihoods need to be protected as much as possible in our wait for a Covid-19 vaccine

“We should also increase the number of doctors and nurses,” he added.

While replying to a question, Dr Ashikur said: “We are discouraging only the poor to test for Covid-19 by imposing fees on tests.  We compare many things with Pakistan but our Covid-19 testing is less than them”.

“It is important to prevent community transmission until a vaccine is discovered. Italy, Germany, Sri Lanka, Kerala are good examples of how to contain community transmission,” Ashikur explained.

“From the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, we framed the problem in a wrong way. We made a lot of policy mistakes did not have the clarity to deal with the problem,” the economist further added.

Ashikur said: “The country needs a safety net, a strict lockdown. But we have not done so because of our lack of clarity. As a result, we are losing many frontline workers every day.”

“I do not support the zonal lockdown system, but it is better than nothing. It is better than completely opening up,” Dr Ashikur added.

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