POST TIME: 21 March, 2020 08:16:15 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 March, 2020 09:58:28 PM
CPD seeks expansionary measures to tackle corona risks
Independent Online/UNB

CPD seeks expansionary measures to tackle corona risks

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday sought targeted expansionary measures to tackle coronavirus saying the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been sprouting a number of adverse impacts on countries as regards health hazards and economic slowdown. 

Bangladesh is already exposed to this health-threat and the country is at the risk of several economic impacts, CPD said. 

In view of this, it said, targeted expansionary measures are needed to tackle this national crisis in the areas of healthcare, trade, supply chain management, public expenditure and monetary policy.

Increased budgetary allocation will be required for COVID-19 related areas in a focused and targeted manner in view of production and distribution of medicine, improvement of health services and availability of medical instruments and support to health professionals. 

Higher demand for cash incentives in the wake of COVID-19 may put additional pressure on the budget.

Flexibility in the next budget (for FY2021) needs to be considered to cope with the potential impact of COVID-19. 

The lower-income class, particularly who are dependent on daily wages, will be the most affected group from this pandemic. 

In this case, the government may consider taking specific incentive measures for them.

These observations were shared at a virtual media briefing on “Health and Economic Risks of Corona Pandemic and Recommendations” organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) on Saturday. 

The briefing started with the keynote presentation by Dr Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, CPD.

In her presentation, Dr Khatun pointed out that poor budgetary allocation (0.9 per cent of GDP) for healthcare sector has been a longstanding problem for Bangladesh. 

Government budget for health (as a share of GDP) is considerably lower than the targets stipulated in the Seventh Five Year Plan (7FYP) and World Health Organization (WHO) benchmark as the 7FYP target for health budget was 1.12 per cent of GDP while the WHO target is 5 per cent of GDP.

Of the healthcare facilities in Bangladesh, Dr Khatun mentioned, only 5 percent have emergency transport and about 22 percent have alcohol based disinfectant facility. 

These services are significantly inadequate to tackle national crisis as regards COVID-19.

If the current trend continues, the total revenue shortfall in FY2019 may reach Tk 100,000 crore which may increase due to the economic slowdown for COVID-19 outbreak.

Ready-made garments sector, leather industry, tourism sectors are likely to have negative impact in this situation. 

The government should consider some temporary incentive package for the sector, said Dr Khatun.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow, Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Research Director and Mr Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow, CPD, were also present at the media briefing and answered questions from the media professionals who attended the event.