PM Hasina announces Tk 727.5bn stimulus to cushion coronavirus impact

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a Tk 727.5 billion stimulus package to cushion the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Published : 5 April 2020, 04:53 AM
Updated : 5 April 2020, 07:59 AM

The prime minister made the announcement in a media briefing televised live from her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Sunday.

Hasina noted the potential implications of the virus on inward remittances, the stock market and low-income groups.

People with low incomes will be affected by the impact of the outbreak as economic costs will deepen in the days to come, Hasina said.

The government will increase public expenditure to keep up growth momentum and will discourage officials’ foreign visits to cut costs, she said.

Fiscal packages and low-cost loans for businesses, including small and medium enterprises, will be prioritised in an effort to limit the economic fallout from the outbreak.

Social safety net programmes will be enacted to ensure the basic needs of people living below the poverty line, said Hasina. These programmes will include the sale of rice at Tk 10 per kg and the distribution of free food and cash among affected groups.

Hasina also referred to the central bank's initiatives to increase money supply without fuelling inflation. 

The government has drawn up a Tk 300 billion loan package at 9 percent interest to aid industries and the services sector with working capital through the banks, said the prime minister. There will be a similar package of Tk 200 billion for small, medium and cottage industries. 

As part of her government’s measure to fight the economic impact of the coronavirus, Bangladesh Bank will expand its Export Development Fund or EDF from $3.5 billion to $5 billion.

The central bank will also introduce a Pre-Shipment Credit Refinance Scheme worth Tk 50 billion. 

The entire stimulus package will help keep the national economy afloat while mitigating the impact of the outbreak, according to Hasina.

The number of coronavirus cases has surged to 70, with eight people dead.

Bangladesh on Saturday confirmed nine new cases -- the biggest jump in one day in positive tests since Bangladesh reported its first virus cases on Mar 8.