'We have to work on how to establish an easy and efficient procedure of aid distribution'
Speakers have stressed the need for a concrete action plan for a proper distribution of incentives, aid and relief amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
They made the call during a webinar organized by Manusher Jonno Foundation, with representatives of the government and civil society taking part, to discuss how the country’s marginal people were doing in the current crisis.
MP Aroma Dutta said: “We have to work on how to establish an easy and efficient procedure of aid distribution.
“It is the duty of public representatives to ensure that the poor and marginalized people of Bangladesh are getting the aid announced by our prime minister. The ways in which we can perform our duties properly need to be addressed.”
“Today, the middle class has become very vulnerable. To address the struggles of these people, a framework is needed. Geology based policies are necessary as the initiatives taken for Sunamganj will not work in the hill tracts.
“So, there should be a uniform and effective action plan here,” she added.
Speaking at the webinar, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, said: “Financial policy is more suitable than monetary policy. Reduction of interest for loans is a matter of monetary policy but the poor will not be benefited from this as they do not have access to bank loans. Direct financial aid is for the poor.
“10 to 20 million people, who belonged to the lower middle class, have become the new poor as a result of Covid-19.”
The Chakma Chief, Raja Devasish Roy, said: “More than 50,000 women from the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) work in garment factories. They need aid and new jobs now as they have become unemployed due to the coronavirus.
“Only a handful of people got 20kg of rice as relief from the government. Some families received nine, some received five and some people got only a kilogram of rice. Moreover, many didn’t get anything in the Chakma Circle in CHT.
‘The new poor are our guests’
Planning Minister MA Mannan, the chief guest in the discussion, said: “The new poor are our guests.”
“We are aware of those who have become the new poor due to the Covid-19 crisis. We consider them as our guests for a few months.”
The minister said that these new poor would emerge from poverty within a few months.
“It is being said that the number of new poor in the country is hovering between 30% to 40%. The number is not that high. The number has already started declining. And it will decrease more in the future,” he added.
“We are aware of corruption centering on the distribution of aid. The prime minister has made it clear that such incidents won’t be tolerated.
“I am interested in working together in a coordinated way with the various NGOs in the country,” he said.
At the beginning of the program, five individuals representing five different marginalized groups talked about their struggles and hardships and also made some recommendations on ways of making things better.
Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam, who moderated the discussion, demanded a proper distribution of incentives to the marginalized communities of the country.