Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday announced that the government would provide Tk 2,500 crore to two specialised banks to help the youths and expatriate Bangladeshis who became jobless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
She also declared that the government would give financial assistance to all mosques and 7,000 more Qawmi madrasas before the Eid-ul Fitr.
The PM made the announcements while launching the disbursement of Tk 1,250 crore cash assistance among 50 lakh low income families hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the programme through videoconferencing from the Gono Bhaban, Hasina said underprivileged people like those from the hijra (third gender) and bede (gypsy) communities would also be provided with financial help.
She also opened the distribution of stipend and tuition fees from her education assistance trust fund among the students of bachelor's degree and its equivalent courses of 2019 academic year through mobile/online banking.
The premier said the government has relaxed the nationwide Covid-19 shutdown to some extent for the sake of the people's livelihood.
"Though the infection rate might increase slightly for relaxing the restrictions, I hope we will be able to bring it under control.
"If we compare with the developed countries, our healthcare services showed adequate efficiency. That's why we have been able to keep the disease under control to a large extent," she said.
The PM said her previous government during its 1996-2001 tenure had established the Karmasangsthan Bank with an aim so that the youths become self-reliant by taking loan from this bank without any security and at a low interest rate.
"An amount of Tk 2,000 crore will be given to the bank to increase its loan amount so that our youths do not roam around remaining unemployed. Rather, they would be able to do business by taking more credit from the bank."
Hasina said expatriate Bangladeshis send huge amount of remittance to the country every year. "So, we had founded another specialised bank named Probashi Kalyan Bank so that the people can go abroad by taking loan from the bank instead of selling properties."
She said the government had earlier given Tk 400 crore to the bank. "Now we are giving another Tk 500 crore as many Bangladeshis returned home from abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic."
The PM said the government does not want the expatriates to go through ordeals by staying abroad. "If they wish to return home, they will come back and that's why we have allocated the money so that they can do something here by taking loan from the bank."
She said the government has given financial assistance of about Tk 10 crore to 6,865 Qawmi madrasas having orphanages ahead of the Ramadan.
"In the second phase, we will provide financial support to 7,000 more such madrasas ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr. We are taking these steps so that the people of any class don't remain neglected."
Hasina said the government would also provide financial assistance to all mosques before the Eid.
"We know that the mosques are run with donations from the affluent people and the mosque committees. But we also have a responsibility in this regard. We have asked the authorities to prepare a list of the mosques… we will give financial assistance to all mosques."
She said the government has appointed 2,000 doctors and 6,000 nurses so that the coronavirus-affected people get proper treatment and services.
"We'll recruit more manpower like health technologists. The health ministry has been given instructions in this regard and they will assess what types of manpower they need."
The PM said the well-off people have come forward alongside the government to extend their support to the distressed people.
Relief goods were also being distributed on behalf of the Awami League so that no one suffered for want of food and treatment, she added
She called upon the people to keep confidence and mental strength and be ready to face any situation. She urged all to follow the health guidelines properly to protect themselves from Covid-19.
Hasina thanked the health workers, including doctors and nurses, officials of the administration, members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, saying that they have been working round the clock to contain the spread of the disease, putting their lives at risk.
While inaugurating the distribution of stipend and tuition fees among students, the PM elaborated on various steps taken by her government for the development of education sector.
"We have given the highest importance to education as educated nation is required to build a poverty-free nation," she said, adding that the government has taken steps to reach education to the people's doorsteps.
Through the mobile and online banking, stipend and tuition fees of Tk 111,40,43,800 will be disbursed among 2,09674 students of bachelor's degree and its equivalent courses.
Education Minister Dipu Moni joined the video conference from her ministry, while Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Nowfel was present at the ministry.
The premier later exchanged views with the beneficiaries of the cash assistance programme from Barguna, Shariatpur, Sunamganj and Lalmoniraht.
PM's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus moderated the video conference at the Gono Bhaban.