Bangladesh announces US$8.5bil virus bailout package

Women sitting on the ground maintaining social distance waiting to receive relief supplies provided by local police authority amid the coronavirus outbreak in Dhaka. Bangladesh on Sunday (April 5) announced an economic stimulus package worth over US$8.5bil to cushion the shock of the outbreak. - Reuters

DHAKA: Bangladesh on Sunday (April 5) announced an economic stimulus package worth over US$8.5bil to cushion the shock of the global Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

"I hope our economy will rebound," Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Sunday, adding that the country could reach close to its desired economic growth, "if the packages are implemented quickly."

She rolled out the plan in a nationwide televised speech and said special measures are needed to support industries as most of them are likely to face a slump during the lockdown.

Nearly US$3.54bil will be available for industries and service sectors, while another US$2.53bil is being set aside for small and medium-sized businesses at a concessional interest rate.

More than half of the interest will be borne by the government to save industries and guard employment, Hasina said.

The businesses will also be allowed lower interest rates for imported raw materials, as Hasina ordered a rise in the central bank's fund to US$5bil from the current US$3.5bil.

Earlier, the prime minister allocated a fund worth about US$590mil for Bangladesh's export-oriented garment industries. Owners will be allowed an interest free loan from the scheme to keep their factories running.

In addition to the stimulus, Hasina said, public expenditure will increase to feed and meet the basic needs of a huge number of daily wage labourers and people living in extreme poverty.

Bangladesh, which has so far reported 70 cases of coronavirus infection, including eight deaths, has been on lockdown since March 26. - dpa/Asian News Network
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