As a small country with a fragile infrastructure, Bangladesh cannot afford to take a wrong step
I teach international business at my institution, where I harp on the on the very essence “we are one” when it comes to enriching our economy through trading across border.
This way, not only do we learn new techniques and skills, but we compete in a “survival of the fittest” scenario with global competitors enhancing our learning curve. China has always been our biggest trading partner with imports of raw materials for our garments industry, machinery and electronic industry. Alongside there are big projects in the country which relies on China’s expertise and will be heavily slowed down now with the travel ban.
Giant countries like the UK and the US are also our major importers for garments industries and when these countries are affected the entire supply chain breaks down. Why? Not only are they our importers, but the UK, the US, France, and Japan contribute a large proportion to the global GDP. We live in an era of inter-connectedness, and permeability of goods and people across borders is what keeps a rising economy breathing.
So when a link in the supply chain is broken, the ripple effect is felt across all geographies. With the ongoing pandemic, impact in manufacturing, supply chain, and the capital market has taken a great hit.
Global health concerns are directly proportionately to the core survival of the economy for any country. And with the capital market looming in the unknown, the small and medium business gets affected or if prolonged might banish leading into hunger game society according to some conspiracy theorist.
Even if not so dramatic, nothing can be ascertained for sure. So what can we do as a nation?
First and foremost, it largely depends on how government deals with managing the effectiveness of our health care system during this crisis.
Optimize whatever resources we have to the utmost productive use to stem out the root cause. Discuss with policy-makers and health experts on how to efficiently and effectively deal with cases in every regain and zones of the country.
Government along with policy-makers should lay out strategic initiatives for both long-term and short-term. We do need to understand that Dhaka is not the whole of Bangladesh. There are many people in the region who are not persistent or self-motivated to watch the news but would readily give in to panic and fear of survival and its consequences.
Fear may be understood at this sudden sprung pandemic, but it needs to be in such shape or form that it can be managed. Accordingly, communication and implementation of rules and regulation needs to monitored, if needed, through legal action. It should study the models of what other countries are doing and customize according to its domestic needs.
It should regulate the supply and the prices of the much needed medical essentials -- sanitizers, masks, gloves.
Manufacturer should be monitored in maintaining the demand and supply of these items along with its prices. With Ramadan month coming up, prices and stocks of the commodities should be maintained so as not to create any shortage of supply. Some initiatives of the government are praiseworthy, however it is still a long run.
Commitment should be generated amongst the people through proper communication and information. Most of which should be practised amongst the health care givers. Once the health care issues are contained, and normalcy is restored, then the foreseeable issues of the financial crisis can be looked upon. Yet again the government should sit down with policy-makers and financial experts to lay out strategic and contingency plans. What may be applicable for the UK and the US may not be pertinent to our situation, but studying their model can be a start.
Capital markets, interest rates, and loan rates need to be revised along with ease on the taxes. We have to realize we are a small country with distinctly huge population and with a fragile infrastructure, hence we cannot afford to misstep in our decisions.
And we as a community need to work together in implementing these policies. Social distancing and hygiene maintenance is the first step. Precaution is the most effective medicine, and yet the cheapest. All is still not lost. With commitment and hope, we will battle this out.
Mahzabeen Faruque is the owner of AAVARON.