Economy bouncing back quickly from Covid-19 impact: Kaikaus

Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus on Thursday said the country’s economy is bouncing back quickly from the coronavirus (COVID-19) related impact, backed by different time-befitting policy supports of the government under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, reports BSS.

“Life and livelihood together is the policy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Immediately after the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, the government rolled out a raft measures to help boost the economy. The Prime Minister gave 31 instructions and announced 21 stimulus packages and with the government’s policy support, we are returning quickly to previous position,” he said.

The principal secretary said this while presenting the ‘Perception Survey on Livelihood-2020’, carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in the city.

Referring to the survey, Kaikaus said that the average income of the households came down by 20.24 percent in August this year due to the impact of COVID-19. The average income of a household in March this year was Taka 19,425 which came down to Taka 15,492 in August, he added.

The average monthly expenditure for each household in August this year came down by 6.14 percent compared to March this year owing to the impact of COVID-19, he said, adding that the average monthly expenditure for per household in March this year was Taka 15,403 which came down to Taka 14,119 in August.

The principal secretary said although the impact of the COVID-19 was negative on the country but the country’s agriculture sector was not affected by it.

In March, he said, 20.5 percent of the country’s population was living under poverty line but around 21.33 percent households received government assistance or relief items during the financial crisis owing to COVID-19 and out of those government assistance or relief recipient households, the average income of around 95 households in August was Taka 20,000 or less.

“This means, all low-income households or families have received government assistance or relief and moreover, some people out of the poverty line have also received the government assistance,” he added.

Kaikaus said the number of day labourers in March 2020 was 8.21 percent which came down at 4.15 percent during April to July this year due to the pandemic. The number of day labourers in September this year, however, almost returned to the pre-pandemic situation with 7.50 percent, he added.

He said the number of businessmen came down sharply during April to July this year at around 10 percent which was 17.43 percent in March this year before the COVID-19 could launch its attack in the country. With the economic recovery, the number of businessmen in the country in September last increased to around 17 percent, he added.

Kaikaus informed that the government has already disabused the special fund for the export-oriented industries with Taka 5,000 crore.

He said the highest amount of Taka 33,000 crore was allocated for providing working capital facility to the affected industries and services sector organisations and business community is receiving the incentive regularly.

He informed that the government allocated Taka 20,000 crore stimulus package for supplying working capital to the small (including cottage industries) and medium industrial enterprises and Bangladesh Bank introduced Export Development Fund (EDF) with Taka 12,750 crore.

The principal secretary said the government also announced the Pre-Shipment Credit Refinance Scheme with Taka 5,000 crore, special honourarium for the doctors, nurses and health workers with Taka 100 crore and Taka 750 crore as a compensation package for death or infection caused by COVID-19.

He also informed that free distribution of food materials with Taka 2,503 crore, selling rice at Taka 10 per kg with Taka 251 crore and distributing cash among the target-based communities with Taka 1,258 crore were also announced.

He said the government has already provided Taka 2,500 cash support to 35 lakh people.

Kaikaus said the government also announced incentive packages for expanding the coverage of allowance programme with Taka 815 crore, building houses for the homeless people with Taka 2,130 crore and Boro rice/paddy purchase operations with Taka 860 crore.

He informed that the government also announced mechanisation of agriculture works with Taka 32,220 crore, agriculture subsidy with Taka 9,500 crore and agriculture refinancing scheme with Taka 5000 crore.

Kaikaus said the government announced refinancing scheme for the low-income professional farmers and small businessmen with Taka 3000 crore. He informed that a total of Taka 2,000 crore was allocated to Palli Sanchay Bank, Karmasangsthan Bank, Probsahi Kalyan Bank and Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation to help the youths and expatriates who lost jobs for the pandemic.

He said the government provided subsidy of Taka 2000 crore for partial interest waiver of deferred loan on April-May 2020 and Taka 2000 crore for Credit Risk Sharing Scheme (CRS) for SME Sector.

He said Taka 1,132 crore was allocated for the distressed workers of the export oriented ready-made garments, leather product and shoes under the social safety net program.

Earlier, the government had enforced general holidays from March 26 to check the spread of COVID-19 and subsequently the holidays were extended for 66 days in phases. After the completion of general holidays, the wheels of the economy again have started to roll on.