Darkness will fade away
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed optimism that the darkness of the coronavirus pandemic would fade away one day.
She said her government has already announced various stimulus packages worth Tk 95,619 crore which is 3.3 percent of the GDP.
Addressing the nation yesterday evening ahead of Pahela Baishakh 1427, Hasina announced her government's four strategic programmes, which would be implemented in three phases until 2023-24 fiscal year.
The programmes -- increasing public expenditure, introducing fiscal packages, expanding social safety net programmes and increasing supply of money -- are aimed at overcoming the possible adverse impact of Covid-19 on the national economy.
The PM said the first phase (immediate) programmes will be implemented over the next three months of the current fiscal year, while the short phase in the next fiscal year (2020-21) and the medium phase in next three fiscal years.
"The shock of the world economic recession has become a cause of concern for our economy. We don't know how long this crisis will persist and how it will affect our economy. But we are working to face the possible economic adverse impact."
State-owned Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television simultaneously broadcast the PM's address. Private television channels and radio stations also aired the speech.
In her around 16-minute speech, Hasina said the government has taken up various programmes to protect the marginal people.
In this connection, she mentioned that the government has allocated 5 lakh tonnes of rice and 1 lakh tonnes of wheat for distribution among the low-income people for free and the market price of this allocation is Tk 2,503 crore.
For the low-income people living in urban areas, the sale of rice at Tk 10 under the OMS has started and 74,000 tonnes of rice would be distributed under this programme. The government had allotted Tk 251 crore to this, the PM added.
'DON'T LOSE MORALE'
Talking about physicians, nurses and other health workers, Hasina asked them not to lose their morale during this crisis. She said the whole nation was there with them.
"Doctors, nurses and other health workers continue to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients from the frontline, ignoring the constraint of resources and the risk of death. Your profession is of such a challenge." she said.
The PM on behalf of the people of the country thanked and hailed the health workers, saying the government has already directed the authorities concerned to prepare a list of the health workers who are directly dealing with Covid-19 patients.
She said health workers would be given special honorarium as Tk 100 crore was being allocated to this end.
Hasina said a process is underway to introduce a special health insurance for physicians, nurses, other health workers, field-level administration officers, members of law enforcement agencies, Armed Forces and BGB, and other government employees directly involved in this regard.
If anyone gets contracted with Covid-19, there would be a health insurance of Tk 5-10 lakh for that person depending on the rank and position. In the case of death, one will get five times of the insurance coverage amount. The allocation of Tk 750 crore is being kept aside for the health insurance and life insurance in this regard, she said.
Noting that there was no shortage of safety equipment, Hasina said the health workers would continue providing the optimum services keeping themselves protected.
She also urged every public and private hospital authorities to keep an eye on the situation so that the general patients were in no way got deprived of healthcare services.
Referring to agriculture, the PM said the continuation of regular agricultural production would not only be enough as it would have to be boosted in this time of dire crisis. "Don't leave any piece of land uncultivated so that the country doesn't see any food crisis in future."
The premier said a fund of Tk 5,000 crore is being created to provide running capital to the agricultural sector. From this fund, loans will be disbursed at 4 percent interest rate among the small and medium farmers in agriculture, fisheries, dairy and poultry sectors. Besides, an allocation of Tk 9,500 crore is being kept as the subsidy to the agriculture sector.
'NO FOOD CRISIS NOW'
Hasina said there was no food crisis now in the country as adequate food grains are there in government warehouses and the houses of farmers.
Noting that the country had a bumper yield of Aman crops in the season, she said it is expected that there will also be a bumper production of Boro paddy in the ongoing season.
The PM said the government has imposed a ban on all outdoor programmes to celebrate Pahela Baishakh due to the deadly coronavirus.
"It has been done taking the greater public health condition into consideration," she said.
Hasina urged all not to plunge into fear and panic as it weakens human's resistance power. "Don't spread panic. We all have to face the situation with courage and the government is always beside you," she said.
She also mentioned that some vested quarters were trying to mislead people through spreading rumours which was not desirable at all at this crisis moment.
The PM asked the media outlets to publish authentic information with responsibility to support the government to face the pandemic.