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Dhaka Tribune

Govt launches $7.5m Covid-19 response fund for private enterprises

The CERF will support private enterprises to procure plant, equipment, materials and know-how for rapid repurposing of capacity to produce MPPE products on a sustainable basis

Update : 18 Apr 2021, 06:13 PM

The Ministry of Commerce and World Bank on Sunday unveiled a $7.5 million Covid-19 response fund to aid private enterprises in procuring plant equipment, as well as produce medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country.

As a result, local entrepreneurs will get grants for manufacturing Covid-19 protective equipment to tap the huge potentials of domestic and international markets under the Covid-19 Enterprise Response Fund (CERF).

Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi attended the virtual launching of the fund as the chief guest, while Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh Mercy Miyang Tembon joined as special guests.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Commerce Tipu Munshi said that the CERF is a very timely step by the ministry.

Mentioning that the pandemic has adversely affected the global economy including Bangladesh, he said: “We will have to take pragmatic steps to face this deadly virus.”

Tipu also said that the purpose of producing these medical safety products for Covid-19 is for not only tapping the local market, but also the international market.

He informed that the matching grants to be provided under CERF to the selective firms ranging between $50,000 to $5,00,000 is a great milestone.

“We hope our producers will take advantage of the fund to successfully face Covid-19. I believe it (CERF) will work for the interest of the people and also for the world,” the minister added.

The CERF is the fourth funding window under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project being implemented by the commerce ministry, which is in association with the World Bank.

The purpose of CERF is to support Bangladeshi businesses to repurpose and pivot their operations and build resilience in an ever-changing economic environment.

The CERF will support private enterprises to procure plant, equipment, materials and know-how for rapid repurposing of capacity to produce MPPE products on a sustainable basis. 

Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Salman F Rahman said that the government has taken various steps to face the pandemic while CERF is one of such pragmatic initiatives to build resilience of the domestic producers of such medical equipment in the ever-changing world. 

It will strengthen the government’s plan to boost the export market, he also said.

Citing that the RMGs still represent around 80% of the country’s total exports, Salman said: “We are now in a position to penetrate our other products in the global value chain. Our entrepreneurs are indomitable.”

CERF grants will be made available to private Bangladeshi firms from any industry sector, providing they are in the production or have plans to manufacture qualifying MPPE products.

It will range from $50,000 to $500,000 for supported projects. The contribution of the grant recipients will be 40% for SMEs and 50% for large enterprises.

This paves way for immense potential before Bangladesh amid the growing challenge for meeting the demand and supply of medical and PPE products at both local and international markets to fight the pandemic.

Senior Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin presided over the launching ceremony of the fund.

Jafar also urged the local entrepreneurs to come forward and thus apply for this grant on first come, first serve basis adding “Let us fight against Covid-19 and overcome it.”

“CERF will give push to integrate Bangladesh strongly in the global value chain.”

World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh Mercy Tembon said the Covid-19 has come before the world as a shock and the pandemic is hitting the poor severely.

Highlighting some salient features of the CERF supported by the World Bank, Tembon said the World Bank is committed to enhance the competitiveness of the country as well as would continue to help building a resilient economy and achieving robust growth.

The purpose of ERF is to integrate Bangladesh in the value chain of the global export market. The ERF provides grant-based incentives to firms to support exports from Bangladesh.

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