• Thursday, Aug 06, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:15 pm

'Economic revival difficult without controlling health crisis'

  • Published at 09:41 pm July 11th, 2020
Health Minister Zahid Maleque  speaks at the  inauguration ceremony of 2,000-bed isolation unit for Covid-19 patients at Bashundhara International Convention Centre (ICCB) on Sunday, May17, 2020
The 2,000-bed isolation unit for Covid-19 patients at Bashundhara International Convention Centre (ICCB) on Sunday, May 17, 2020 Focus Bangla

Lack of cooperation in enforcing public health protocol is evident

For a better economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, reining the contamination with better treatment and increased testing facilities and addressing mismanagement and corruption in the country health sector is very crucial, says Sanem.

The South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (Sanem) made the observations at a webinar on Saturday as a part of their "Sanem Netizen Forum" series of webinars.

“The overall situation in public health does not look encouraging as there has been mismanagement in the implementation of lockdown and a lack of proper information and data,” Selim Raihan, Executive Director of Sanem.

Widespread corruption must be addressed through strict measures; however, history in that regard is not encouraging either. In the current situation, it seems, the only way out is the fast discovery of a vaccine, said the economist.

He also put emphasis on strong institutions in rebuilding the country's health sector, which is very crucial for better economic recovery from the pandemic.

Unless there is a pause in the contamination in infection and vaccine in the market, it will be very tough to reopen the economy safely and make it functional, said Raihan, also a professor in the department of Economics University of Dhaka.

The country’s testing capacity has increased but the number of tests has not increased proportionately although experts have opined that daily 20,000 tests are necessary, Sanem observed.

“Although testing capacity increased, testing rates decreased. We should increase the testing rate because economic revival is very challenging without controlling the health risk," said Raihan.

While the number of tests must be increased, there can be no compromise with the standards of testing. Lack of cooperation in enforcing public health protocol is evident. This needs to be addressed immediately, he added.

Prof Raihan also mentioned in his paper that import, export, and remittance earnings faced various challenges. 

The growth of remittance was not bad in the recently concluded fiscal year, but the trend would not sustain in the upcoming days, he warned.

Now the trend of reverse migration may create economic and social challenges, warned the Sanem executive director.

He mentioned that the government announced several stimulus packages to recover the economic fallout.

"The stimulus package is bigger than those provided by our several neighboring countries but the disbursements of the packages are not satisfactory, which should get more emphasis," he noted.

Sanem Research Director Sayema Haque Bidisha said that the pressure of the urban economy would reduce due to the trend of reverse migration, but it would also adversely affect the rural economy.

Primary education will also be affected negatively, owing to the reverse migration, not to mention increase in child marriages, she added.

She said that the government should implement the stimulus package for micro and small businesses on a priority basis. 

The reverse migration trend induced by the economic hardships in urban areas entails the emergence of new socio-economic challenges in the rural areas as rural wages can be adversely affected, children’s education can be hampered, drop-out rates can increase, cases of early marriage can rise and gender disparity can widen, Sanem feared. 

To address such long term impacts on human capital, the development of rural infrastructure and utility along with decentralization is necessary, it suggested.

Austerity measures, such as a cut in salaries of top officials of government and private institutions, in order to retain low skill jobs, should be contemplated as this can ensure job security for low-income people and help them to survive, it added. .

Mentioning the pre-war situation between China and India, Sanem Research Economist Mahatab Uddin said the government should relax their policies to grab foreign direct investment that is leaving from China.

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