The last thing we want is for people to be forced to choose between their livelihoods and their safety
With the daily death toll on the rise, the government’s decision to enforce a strict lockdown -- restrictions begin tomorrow, with the “all-out” nationwide lockdown beginning Thursday -- is perhaps necessary in order to ensure that Covid-19 does not continue to take more lives as it spreads throughout the country.
However, arguments surrounding the lockdown are oftentimes focused primarily, if not entirely, on the economy, thereby leading to policies which dehumanize the population into nothing more than contributors to economic growth and development.
While it is undoubtedly true that the economy needs to continue to run in order to sustain employment for the people, it must also be understood that there are many amongst us who are either unemployed, work in the informal economy, or work in ways which do not necessarily result in a paycheck at the end of the month.
From women who take care of their households to recent graduates struggling in the job market to hawkers and street vendors, their contributions at this point cannot be quantified, nor can their future contributions be predicted. As such, it is imperative that their situations are considered as the lockdown forces them inside.
One of the ways in which the government did a commendable job in this regard last year was through stimulus packages which allowed individuals and organizations alike to maintain the lockdown without sacrificing their income or revenue in the process.
The most recent budget has allocated Tk12,300 crore to combat Covid-19 and the subsequent economic downturn it might cause, which is good news, but it lacks direction, with no clear agenda or comprehensive guideline for how this money will be used, thereby creating a situation of confusion, delay, inefficiency, or worse, corruption.
The last thing we want is for people to be forced to choose between their livelihoods and their safety. The only way to prevent that from happening is by widening the social safety net and supporting the most vulnerable members of our society during the lockdown.