'In our incentive packages, we’ve taken measures to extend financial assistance to various small businessmen by providing them with loans at low interest. But I think our private banks need to be a little more sincere in this regard'
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the private banks to be more sincere in providing loans at low interest to small business enterprises to offset the Covid-19 fallout.
“In our incentive packages, we’ve taken measures to extend financial assistance to various small businessmen by providing them with loans at low interest. But I think our private banks need to be a little more sincere in this regard,” she said while addressing a function virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.
Some 35 commercial banks under Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) provided 25,95,000 blankets to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund to help the poor during the upcoming winter.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus received the donations from top representatives of the banks at the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Prime Minister said though the beginning may be a little difficult for the banks due to cost hike, the banks will ultimately be benefited when the small enterprises are revived.
Expressing apprehension over the second wave of Covid-19, the PM said the Covid-19 situation has largely been brought under control in Bangladesh, but the resurgence in Covid infection is seen in many countries including European ones.
In this context, she stressed the need for taking cautionary measures in Bangladesh. “We need to be aware from now on. We are already taking appropriate measures in this regard and urging everyone to be a little aware about this. Protect yourselves and also others.”
She said all should be conscious so that the second wave of Covid-I9 will not leave adverse impacts on the country’s economy and hamper the livelihood of people.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country and there is scope to make massive investment there.
Noting that the country’s reserve of foreign currency is $40 billion, she said the government has a target to increase the reserve to $50 billion during the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.
The Prime Minister said she always wants Bangladesh to stand on its own two feet, be self-reliant, not to lend to anyone and to move in the world arena with dignity.
She said the government has taken a plan to carry out some development works with own finance not borrowing from the external sources rather from the local banks.
“We can do many development works ourselves without borrowing from others. Or, we can do these with loans from our local banks…. We’ve also taken measures to do at least some works with our own finance. You will know the details very soon,” she said.
Noting that the government’s goal is that no one will remain homeless and landless in the country in the Mujib Borsha, the PM asked the BAB representatives to help the homeless and landless people in their respective localities by providing them with houses.
“If there is any homeless or landless person in your area, you can give them houses,” she said adding the government has been providing houses to the homeless and landless families.
“There will be no more poverty in our country, if we all work together and work in our own areas,” she went on.
The PM said the government brought down the poverty rate to 20% in the country, but the sloth economy caused by Covid-19 hampered the pace of the poverty alleviation.
She, however, said the government will be able to make a poverty-hunger-free country and give people a beautiful life, returning to the previous pace of poverty alleviation.
Alongside ensuring food security, the government’s goal is to remove malnutrition, increase employment and revive the rural economy. “We have to increase the purchasing power and financial capacity of the people of the country, then the market for our products will be in our country,” she said.
She said Bangladesh is probably the only country in the world that has been able to keep its economy afloat from the beginning as the government took timely measures to ensure that trade and commerce run smoothly and to provide various supports including direct financial assistance to common people. So, the Coronavirus did not leave adverse impacts on the economy so much as feared earlier, she added.
Though Bangladesh could not attain the target of 8.2% GDP growth, it achieved over 5% growth in the last fiscal year whereas many developed countries could not do so. “We’ve been able to do so as we took some timely measures,” she went on.
She said the government has been able to ensure food security increasing crops production despite natural disasters amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister extended her sincere thanks for providing the blankets to the PM’s relief fund saying that the menace of cold may be severe in the upcoming winter as it has rained much this time.