Give fresh relief to the poor
It has been a year since the Covid-19 pandemic began and instead of letting up, the situation has been getting worse recently. While the number of people infected daily hits record new heights, prices of essential commodities in the country's kitchen markets have simultaneously been rising, causing all kinds of suffering for the already beleaguered poor.
Due to all the special steps that had been taken over the past year to counter this extraordinary global threat, economies around the world, including ours, have suffered badly. According to some estimates that came out last year, the pandemic has created somewhere between 17.5 and 20 million new poor in the country—that figure is likely higher now. And, according to a UNDP study, the poverty rate in the urban areas of Bangladesh increased three-fold during the crisis period, mainly due to a massive number of people in cities and towns losing their jobs or experiencing a reduction in their salaries.
Given that this was the reality even before the most recent wave of Covid-19 jolted the nation, one can only guess how much the poor are suffering now. Add to that the rising prices of soybean oil, onions, rice, lentil, sugar, garlic, potato, chicken and many other commodities, and you have a situation where people are having to go without certain food items like meat for months, while others are struggling to simply feed themselves at all.
In this dire time, the government urgently needs to come up with special targeted measures to help the poor. By now, all the aid given to the poor through the government's previous stimulus package must have been spent by them in order to just survive the last few months. Now that things are looking down again, the government must urgently respond to the situation and provide fresh relief to the poor at the earliest possible date.