Tk 5,000cr export stimulus package use to be delayed

The implementation of the Tk 5,000-crore stimulus package for the country’s export-oriented industries to cope with the economic downturn due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is likely to be delayed.

Bangladesh Bank spokesman Serajul Islam said that the implementation of the stimulus package by the central bank on the basis of the guidelines from the finance ministry would take more time.

He, however, did not specify a timeframe.

The finance ministry is yet to prepare the modus operandi to use the package announced by prime minister Sheikh Hasina in her nationwide address on March 25 just before the 10-day public holiday began.

BB deputy governor SM Moniruzzaman said that they were waiting for the guidelines.

Many issues need to be settled about the financial assistance, including the areas of coverage and the payback time, since the assistance would be given as loan to affected sectors on two per cent interest.

He said that he shared the issues with Finance Division secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder on the sidelines of a meeting on Monday.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Haque in a video message expressed her gratitude to the PM for declaring the stimulus package.

She said that the apparel sector was going through a critical time and lakhs of its workers were facing the risks of losing their job due to the coronavirus pandemic across the globe, including Bangladesh.

Finance Division additional secretary Habibur Rahman said that the main feature of the package was that the loan could be used only for paying workers wage.

The fund money would be channelled through commercial banks under the BB guidance to individual workers’ accounts held with traditional banks or by app-based mobile banking services.

Bangladesh last announced a stimulus package to cushion the country’s economy in the face of the blow from the global meltdown in April 2009.

A Tk 3,424-crore aid package was announced then for the power, agriculture and export sectors in order to face the fallout of the global recession within months after the Awami League came to power.

The package, however, did not provide any cash incentive to the largest export-earning readymade garments sector and the ceramics exporters as they did not experience negative growth.

But this year, according to RMG exporters, a downturn in the country’s export earnings has started even before the impact of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed five people and infected 51 so far in the country.

The country’s export earnings fell by 4.79 per cent to $26.24 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year mainly due to the trade war between the US and China against $27.56 billion earned in the corresponding period of the last fiscal year.

The Asian Development Bank has projected that the Bangladesh economy might lose 1.10 per cent of its GDP, or $ 3.02 billion, in addition to 8.95 job losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: New Age)

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