Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday asked the private banks to be more sincere in providing loans at a low interest rate to small business enterprises to offset the Covid-19 fallouts.
“In our incentive packages, we’ve taken measures to extend financial assistance to various small businesspeople by providing them with loans at a low interest rate. But, I think, our private banks need to be a little more sincere in this regard,” she said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a function virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.
Thirty-five commercial banks under Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) provided 25,95,000 blankets to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund to help the poor during the upcoming winter.
On behalf of the Prime Minister, Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus received the donations from top representatives of the banks at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Though the beginning may be a little bit difficult for the banks due to cost hike, the banks will ultimately be benefited when the small enterprises are revived, the Prime Minister said.
Expressing apprehension over the second wave of Covid-19, the Prime Minister said the Covid-19 situation has largely been brought under control in Bangladesh, but the resurgence in Covid infection is seen in many countries, including European ones.
In this context, she stressed the need for taking cautionary measures in Bangladesh. “We need to be aware from now on. We’re already taking appropriate measures in this regard and urging everyone to be a little bit aware about this. Protect yourselves and also others.”
She said all should be conscious so that the second wave of Covid-19 cannot leave adverse impacts on the country’s economy and hamper the livelihood of people.
Hasina said the government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country and there is a scope to make massive investment there.
Noting that the country’s foreign currency reserve is now US$ 40 billion, she said the government has a target to raise the reserve to US$ 50 billion during the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.
The Prime Minister said she always wants Bangladesh to stand on its own two feet, be self-reliant, not to lend from anyone and move in the world arena with dignity.
She said the government has taken a plan to carry out some development works with own finance not borrowing from the external sources rather from the local banks.
“We can carry out many development works by ourselves without borrowing from others. Or, we can do this with loans from our local banks…. we’ve also taken measures to do at least some work with our own finance. You’ll be able to know the details very soon,” she said.
Noting that the government’s goal is that no one will remain homeless and landless in the country in the Mujib Borsha, Hasina asked the BAB representatives to help the homeless and landless people in their respective localities by providing them with houses.
“If there’s any homeless or landless person in your area, you can give them houses,” she said adding the government has been providing houses to the homeless and landless families.
“There’ll be no more poverty in our country, if we all work together and work in our own areas,” the Prime Minister added.
She said the government brought down the poverty rate to 20 percent in the country, but the sloth came to the economy due to the Covid-19 hampered the pace of poverty alleviation.
Hasina, however, said the government will be able to make a poverty- and hunger-free country and give people a beautiful life, returning to the previous pace of poverty alleviation.
Alongside ensuring food security, the government’s goal is to remove malnutrition, increase employment and revive the rural economy. “We’ve to increase the purchasing power and financial capacity of the people of the country and then the market for our products will be in our country.”
She said Bangladesh is probably the only country in the world that has been able to keep its economy afloat from the beginning as the government took timely measures to ensure that trade and commerce run smoothly and provide various supports, including direct financial assistance to common people. So, the Coronavirus could not leave adverse impacts on the economy so much as feared earlier, she added.
Though Bangladesh could not attain the target of 8.2 percent GDP growth, it achieved over 5 percent growth in the last fiscal year whereas many developed countries could not do so. “We’ve been able to do so as we took some timely measures.”
She said the government has been able to ensure food security increasing crops production despite natural disasters amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Prime Minister extended her sincere thanks for providing the blankets to the PM’s relief fund saying that the menace of cold may be severer in the upcoming winter as there has been too much rain this time.