Govt forms high-level taskforce for stimulus disbursal | The Daily Star
11:08 PM, April 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:11 PM, April 22, 2020

Govt forms high-level taskforce for stimulus disbursal

The government today formed a high-level taskforce to ensure proper disbursement of funds from the stimulus package that the prime minister announced and on setting factory reopening dates to keep the economy's wheels turning.

Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has been made the chief of the taskforce.

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The announcement came at a meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office in Dhaka.

Other members of the taskforce include AKM Salim Osman, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Sheikh Fazle Fahim, incumbent president of the FBCCI.

Rubana Huq, the president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and three former BGMEA presidents, including Siddiqur Rahman, Anwar ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez and Abdus Salam Murshedy are also members of the taskforce.

Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association and Mohammad Hatem, vice president of BKMEA has also been included in the unit, said a member of the taskforce who was present at the meeting.

Cabinet secretary, principal secretary to the prime minister, finance secretary and labour secretary of the government were also present.

In the meeting, the issue of garments factory reopening and the modalities of the disbursement of money from the government-announced bailout package -- worth Tk 72,750 crore -- was discussed.

Large units like the heavy industries in the textile sector were in doubt about availing loans from the Tk 30,000 crore announced as part of the first package, as there was no clear guideline in the circular from the finance ministry.

The taskforce said large units which have more than $100 million investment can avail a loan from the Tk 30,000 crore fund to disburse the wages of the workers, a source in the meeting told The Daily Star over phone.

The finance ministry, in their circular, referred to Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and said that they will be able to take loans from the Tk 20,000 crore announced for SMEs to pay salaries of the workers, but the document did not say anything about larger units.

The taskforce discussed the latest salary payment situation as well as some garment factories did not pay the wages for March to their workers.

The issue of laying off workers in garment factories was also discussed in the meeting.

Many garment workers had been laid-off because of a lack of work orders from international retailers and brands.

The finance ministry in a circular on April 19 said the factories which have already laid off workers will not be able to avail a loan from the Tk 5,000 crore stimulus package announced for export-oriented industries.

The taskforce also discussed how to save micro and small enterprises like grocery shops and other similar enterprises during the coronavirus outbreak, a member added.

The taskforce members said the government wants to reopen the garment factories gradually or partially, but it also needs to be ensured that a lot of workers will not gather at one place or start coming to Dhaka and its adjacent industrial belts.

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