July 15, 2024, 4:55 am


Siyam Hoque

Published:
2020-04-19 15:58:12 BdST

Govt to use money of less important schemes to overcome COVID-19 impact: PM


FT ONLINE

Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina has said the government will use the money of the less important development projects for the welfare of the people in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

“We’ve taken many uplift schemes. But there is no need to complete the work of some of these projects, which are less important, right at this moment. By saving the money (of the schemes) we’ll use it for the wellbeing of the people hit hard by the pandemic,” she said on Saturday.

Sheikh Hasina made the remarks while taking part in the discussion on obituary reference and delivering her valedictory speech in the seventh session of the 11th Jatiya Sangsad.

 

The prime minister said her government has announced a set of stimulus packages of Tk 956.19 billion, which is 3.3 per cent of total GDP to offset the economic fallout of the COVID-19.

“We’ve prepared the packages considering the people of all classes and professions including farmers, workers, potters, blacksmiths, fishermen, day-labourers, weavers and small traders,” she said.

She said the government simultaneously announced packages for small, cottage, medium and heavy industries including garment, and credit will be given to the affected people from this at a low interest rate.

“We also took short, medium and long-term plans to deal with the impact of the pandemic,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government will issue 5.0 million more ration cards for the poor and distressed people to provide them rice at Tk 10 per kg in this perilous moment.

“With the issuance of 5.0 million ration cards the number of ration card holders will stand at 10 million meaning that at least 50 million people will get its benefits,” she said.

The prime minister said the government has already taken measures to reach foods to the house of the distressed people.

“We’ll make arrangements for reaching foods to the houses of the vulnerable people by linking them with the hotlines Insha Allah and I talked to the state minister for relief and disaster management today [Saturday] in this regard,” she said.

Mentioning again that the country has no shortage of food, the prime minister said the government has declared a Tk 50 billion incentive package for the agriculture sector to increase food production.

“Under the package, loan will be disbursed among the farmers at 4.0 per cent interest rate,” she said.

Pointing out that the harvesting of paddy is underway, Sheikh Hasina called upon the day-labourers, who now remain jobless due to the ongoing shutdown over the COVID-19 outbreak, to engage themselves in cutting paddy.

“Everybody should be involved in the work. Especially I would like to tell the students to come forward to this end … if we can harvest the paddy together properly there will not be any scarcity of food in the country by the grace of Allah,” she said.

In this regard, she reaffirmed her call to all concerned so that a small piece of land does not remain uncultivated. Referring to the forecast of many international organisations including the United Nations, the Leader of the House said the world may experience famine due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“But we’ve fertile soil and people and we’re self-reliant in food. So everybody should be engaged in producing foods whatever and wherever they can so that the country doesn’t face any crisis of food, rather we can export,” she said.

She said the government has taken various measures to ensure food security for all. “Tk 500 million cash and 90,000 MT foods have so far been distributed to 64 districts to combat the situation arising out of coronavirus,” she said.

The prime minister spelt out her government’s steps to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had taken necessary preparation from the beginning and opened a huge control room comprising with necessary health professionals to monitor the situation,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government is bearing all treatment cost of the coronavirus patients including test. “We’re making all arrangements for the treatment of the patients,” she said.

“We’ve formed a national committee and also constituted committees at the divisional, district and upazila levels to stem the outbreak of the virus,” she said.

The premier said a number of government hospitals have been prepared in Dhaka and in different divisions, districts and upazilas for treatment of the COVID-19 patients. Besides, private hospitals have been kept ready for the purpose, she said.

“We tackled many big natural disasters (in the past). But it was beyond our imagination that such a storm on health we’ll have to face,” she said.

“Actually, we had no experience to fight such a deadly disease. But after its breakout in the country, we’ve taken various steps including declaring nationwide holidays, shutting down educational institutions and mills and factories and limiting the movement of the people following the WHO guidelines,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government cancelled all programmes of the Mujib Borsho, Independence Day, Pohela Baishakh and Mujibnagar Day considering the welfare of the people.

The prime minister said the doctors, nurses, health workers, officials and employees of the administration, members of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, BGB and others are working round the clock risking their lives to contain the disease.

Earlier taking part in the discussion on the obituary reference on AL parliament member and former minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, the prime minister paid rich tributes to him.

Sheikh Hasina said Shamsur Rahman took part in all democratic movements and struggles of the country from the Language Movement to the Liberation War. “He pursued politics throughout his life for the betterment of the people and he was a strong pillar of the party,” she said.

The prime minister said the Awami League leader was always beside her since she returned home in 1981 after six years in exile.

She prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.

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