PM’s announcement a bold decision: Experts

Terming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s announcement of incentive package of $8.56 billion (Tk72,750 crore) as a bold, courageous, time-befitting and an effective step to overcome the country’s overall economic shock, experts laid stress on offsetting any indulgence to undue and illegal maneuvering.

However, experts asked the all sectors, which will get the incentive at this crisis, to ensure the proper and effective utilization of money.
The all sectors must be transparent and accountable in course of their money spending, they mentioned.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday unveiled the government’s work plan to overcome the possible Coronavirus impact on the country's economy, declaring an allocation of Tk72,750 crore under a set of stimulus packages, which is nearly 2.52 percent of GDP.

Earlier, the government declared a Tk5,000 crore (emergency) incentive package for paying salaries and allowances of export-oriented industries workers and employees.

On Sunday, the Prime Minister announced four fresh financial stimulus packages of Tk67,750 crore including increasing public expenditure, formulating a stimulus package, widening the coverage of the social safety net and increasing monetary supply.

World Bank former lead economist Zahid Hussain told The Bangladesh Post that “The government has taken time befitting measures to allocate funds to overcome the possible Covid-19 impact on the country's economy.”

He suggested providing this incentives to those groups of people most affected by the current coronavirus in order to overcome the worsening national and global crisis.

In order to protect day labourers and lower earner groups, he urged the government to provide money as ‘social protection or security programme,’ extracting from other sectors in the 2019-20 fiscal year budget and ensuring right people to get this incentive.

Hussain said, “The country’s NGOs usually work with low-income people. Hence, the government can distribute its incentive funds by consulting with NGOs to ensure proper use of money.”

Senior Research Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Nazneen Ahmed said, “In the ongoing crisis triggered by coronavirus, the government should firstly ensure food and health care for needy people especially the low-income people.”

“It is not the time to benefit large enterprises and the rich people,” she said adding that, “We have to remember that, the country has limited resources.”

Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, “As much as the Prime Minsister’s pledge is encouraging, it is now incumbent upon her party leaders, activists, supporters and beneficiaries to effectively enforce it”.

The government must therefore attach top priority to mainstreaming anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in all stages and aspects of management of Corona crisis, he said.

He further said, it is also natural that in order to meet the crisis and manage its evolving socio-economic impact the government activities like public procurement and distribution need to be fast-tracked.

Iftekhar mentioned, “In spite of such obligation of speedy handling of procurement and distribution, all measures must be taken to ensure accountability and transparency.”

“Under no circumstances anyone can be allowed to indulge in undue profiteering and take advantage of this crisis for immoral and illegal enrichment,” he added.