Govt to expand back-up

Govt to expand back-up
The government has recently provided seasonal assist with about 10 lakh people living below the poverty line in each upazila and will expand such social protection programmes to curb the undesireable effects of any future financial shock, according to Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal.

A ministry official recently informed that Kamal made these comments in a letter to David Malpass, president of the World Bank Group.

In the letter, Kamal said that the federal government had taken various measures to strengthen job creation, improve job quality, and promote inclusive usage of employment under World Bank funding.

The letter was issued in regards to a month prior to the multilateral lender's board approved a $250 million credit support for Bangladesh on March 26.

THE 3RD Programmatic Jobs Development Policy - the last in some three loans - aims to facilitate better and more inclusive job creation, enable quick recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and build resilience to future crisis.

The WB and the Bangladesh government signed the $250 million financial agreement on Thursday.

As the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the urgency to improve resilience to future shocks, the government has built on its Employment Generation Program for the Poorest (EGPP), Kamal said in the letter.

"As such, it adopted an expanded EGPP 'Plus' modality which has adaptable targeting and policies to react to a range of potential events, including natural, human, health and biological disasters," he added.

Various studies have discovered that just 50 % of the government's targeted demographic receive assistance under its back-up programmes.

The government in addition has didn't provide any assistance, financial or elsewhere, to the indigent hit by the Covid-19 fallout.

Economist Binayak Sen, director-general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told The Daily Star that such social protection programmes should be completed through coordinated efforts between government and non-government organisations.

In his letter, the finance minister also pointed out certain steps that could be used this regard.

"To strengthen our ability to respond to disasters, we have revised and published the Standing Order on Disasters (SOD) good latest global and national frameworks and development plans," he said.

"We expect that SOD will improve coordination between government and non-government organisations, which is crucial for a swift and efficient response to financial shocks."

He mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic has presented extraordinary challenges for the economy in the last year.

Due to the non permanent closure of offices, business, factories and public transport during a nationwide general holiday between March 26 and could 31 this past year, the export sector had faced an unprecedented challenge as international orders were either cancelled or put on hold.

This damaged around four million workers, mainly female, amid a short-term collapse in demand, Kamal said.

He also mentioned that Bangladesh is showing signs of recovery as mobility has returned to pre-pandemic levels, while exports are on the uptick despite the fact that Covid-19 remains a threat.

And with the recent surge in infections across the country, the federal government imposed strict restrictions on public movement on April 14. However, with Eid-ul-Fitr just around the corner, the federal government recently announced that all stores would reopen today.

Kamal's letter also mentioned the government's progress on reform programmes to support jobs and the Covid-19 recovery, including modernising the country's trade and investment environment, strengthening systems that protect workers, and bettering policies and programmes that enhance access to jobs for vulnerable people.

On the modernisation of trade and investment climate, he claimed that Bangladesh had achieved rapid progress in lowering the cost of starting a business by waiving service fees for small organizations and enacting the One-Stop Services (OSS) Act to streamline common business registration and operational processes through an individual online platform.

He said that the OSS services for 35 key regulatory services already are operational.

The government in addition has taken steps to amend the Bankruptcy Act to lessen the duration of legal proceedings and recovery from four years to one or 2 yrs while increasing recovery rates.

Legislation in this regard is to be submitted for approval by the cabinet in the coming weeks and the next submission to the Parliament.

The Customs Act (2018) issued new customs rules and directives and established a risk management unit to operationalise modern risk-based customs procedures, speeding up clearance time and freeing up space at ports.

Mentioning that the government is focused on providing support to vulnerable informal sector personnel to improve their productivity and help address the impact of Covid-19, Kamal said that adopting a fresh policy for the Livelihood Restoration Loan microfinance product managed by the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) could provide low-interest loans to informal microenterprises.

"The government is committed to making certain the collection, use and processing of any personal data for these initiatives is performed in accordance with good international practice, ensuring legitimate, appropriate, and proportionate treatment of such data," he added.

Kamal also informed about enacting the kid Daycare Act, saying the government is moving forward to establish the institutional foundations for regulations in the day-care sector.

As the government is making a concerted effort to address the impacts of Covid-19 in the near term, in addition, it believes addressing structural challenges are critical to maintaining Bangladesh's development trajectory and delivering a resilient, equitable monetary transformation to support the creation of quality jobs.

"As such, we will continue to build on the reforms supported under this programme," he added.
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