Bangladesh prioritises food production, remittances to tackle worsening crisis

Hasina and her cabinet colleagues emphasise food production as they believe the crisis in other parts of the world will linger, putting pressure on imports

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 14 Nov 2022, 04:23 PM
Updated : 14 Nov 2022, 04:23 PM

The government has identified some key areas for improvement to tackle a worsening global economic crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war amid the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The country will need to prioritise the production, stock and import of food, export of skilled manpower, increasing remittances and foreign direct investment, the cabinet agreed in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday.

The council of ministers discussed a report that warned of the crisis worsening due to a rise in interest rates by the Federal Reserve of the US, the war raging in Europe amid the recovery from the effects of the pandemic, and a fall in production in COVID-hit China.

“Global financial analyses suggest 2023 is going to be a year of crisis due to these three factors. We must be prepared for this [crisis],” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said after the meeting.

Hasina and her ministers emphasised food production the most as they believe the crisis in other parts of the world will linger, putting pressure on imports. “Although Ukraine and Russia are free to export food, [the war] will still [cause disruptions],” said Anwarul.

According to him, the rise in interest rates by the US Fed meant Bangladesh will need to pay more for imports while it will get less in terms of loans.

To put food stocks in a more comfortable position, the government has allowed the private sector to import food, the secretary said.

The National Board of Revenue has been asked to ease rules for taxes on food imports, he said.

To increase remittances, the government will take steps to export skilled manpower. “We’ll help them develop skills as per the destination country’s requirement. We’ll also ensure they get certificates from proper institutions.”

Bangladesh Bank has asked banks to stop taking fees from expatriate Bangladeshis for sending money, he said.

The cabinet also discussed ways to ease the process to invest in Bangladesh.

LAND ACQUISITION

Local media reported officials in Chattogram started acquiring land, which has not been cultivated for more than three years, for the government as part of efforts to increase food production.

But Anwarul said the reports were “rumours” and the government did not issue any such instruction.

“There is no provision that will allow the declaration of a land as Khas [government land] for not cultivating it. These are rumours.”

“Even if it happened in a few places, we’ve asked all to refrain from doing this.”

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