Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday put emphasis on a vigorous, well-coordinated and worldwide response from countries, international organisations, civil society organisations and private sector to face the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The United Nations and international organizations will be at the centre of all recovery measures to be supported by G-7, G-20, OECD and international financial institutions,” she said.The Prime Minister said this in a recorded video message played at the ILO’s ‘Global Leaders’ Day’ that took place through digital platform.
She said that everything happening all around us, the promises of decent jobs for all seems hard to realise individually. “But I am convinced that together, we can do it.”
Sheikh Hasina said that coronavirus does not discriminate but its adverse impacts severely discriminates against the vulnerable, especially the migrants and women workers.
In this regard she put forward her three suggestions. These are firstly, jobs of migrant workers at the overseas markets must be retained during this crisis; secondly, in case of lay-off, compensation and other dismissal benefits must be paid in full along with ensuring their safety and health benefits; and lastly, after the pandemic, these workers would have to be recruited for reactivating the economy.
“I must here mention the huge loss of jobs of our migrant workers and the resulting shortfall in remittance. It is a great concern for us as remittance is a key component to achieve the SDGs,” she said.
Currently, she said, repatriation of these jobless migrant workers has proved to be a huge challenge. The World Bank predicted that Bangladesh will lose more than 20 percent of its earnings from remittance.”Under these circumstances, we may remember the Centenary Declaration of ILO where all of us recognized to transform our world through technological innovation, demographic shifts, climate change and globalisation.”
The Prime Minister said that the global COVID-19 pandemic that has affected nations, especially workers the most.
“This global calamity has now threatened the very base of globalization and connectivity that all of us have carefully built over the years. This is no longer just a health problem but becomes a full-fledged global economic and social crisis,” she said.
Like many other crises, Sheikh Hasina said, the LDCs and developing countries are facing the main burden although the crisis did not start with them.
During this pandemic, she said that domestic and external supply chains were severely disrupted.
“We lost export orders of billions of dollars, many of our industries were closed and millions of workers lost their jobs. Our small industries lost most of its resources and markets, and above all, our agriculture suffered huge loss due to supply chain disruption.”
She also said in this situation, Bangladesh is hosting 1.1 million forcibly evicted Rohingyas from Myanmar.
Regarding Bangladesh’s steps to face COVID-19 the Prime Minister said that when the crisis of COVID-19 began to unfold, the government immediately announced a 12.1-billion-dollar stimulus package for various sectors of economy as well as support different segments of the society. This support package is equivalent to 3.7 percent of the country’s GDP.
To support workers in export industries, she said the government has given about 1 billion dollar for paying wages of the workers.
“We provided cash and other incentives directly to more than 50 million people who lost their daily income during this pandemic,” she said.