B’desh Calls For Collective Responsibility, Partnership to Fight Covid-19

There have been 131 deaths and 4,689 infections in the last 47 days; The government has announced a US$ 11.60-billion relief/stimulus package

UNB — Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday underscored the need for taking an approach of collective responsibility and partnership from every society to fight Covid-19 and its impacts on economies across the world.

“The world is perhaps facing the biggest crisis in the last 100 years. So, we need to face the crisis together. We need an approach of collective responsibility and partnership from every society,” she said.

The Prime Minister said this while delivering her inaugural remarks at a virtual conference arranged by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ‘Enhancing regional cooperation in South Asia to combat Covid-19 related impact on its economies’ in the evening.

Sheikh Hasina said it is unknown how long the pandemic will persist, but it has already affected the economies. “We need to bring economy, business and society on track, support people to get over trauma and fear, and revive vital sectors,” she said.

She said the world is already battling climate change. “Now, coronavirus is challenging our existence. At the current level of globalization, insulating one country from the rest of the world is not possible and isolation policy won’t work anymore,” she added.

“As the world goes through such a complex scenario, we’ll need different kinds of approaches,” the Prime Minister said, placing five approaches.

The world will need new thinking on human well-being, tackling inequality, supporting poor and getting back economies to pre-Covid levels as poverty and inequality within and among societies will increase rapidly, she said. “In the last one decade, we lifted half of our poor out of poverty. Many of them may now slide back.”

Sheikh Hasina also underscored the need for robust global leadership from G7, G20 and OECD. “The UN-led multilateral system should step forward. I must commend Prof Schwab for identifying infectious diseases as a key risk in the 2020 Global Risks Report. So, the forum and UN should mobilize and lead governments and global businesses on focused policy discourse. I would be happy to join any such initiative.”

Mentioning that they are already witnessing transformation in global businesses, work and manufacturing, she said in post-Covid times, new norms, standards and practices will emerge. “We’ve already seen many global brands within supply chains are not acting responsibly. So, we need to devise strategies and practical support measures so that countries like Bangladesh can adapt.”

Noting that migrant workers are passing very difficult situation, including joblessness, which is also risking South Asian economies, the Prime Minister underlined the importance of a meaningful global strategy to share the burden and responsibilities.

She said they have effectively used some of the digital tools and technologies like artificial intelligence and mobile phones to trace infections during this pandemic and put emphasis on fast developing innovative solutions in various sectors to better prepare for the future.

Her government has already announced a US$ 11.60-billion package for various sectors of the country to keep the economy moving, she said, noting that the primary focus of the package is manufacturing and service sectors, agriculture and social safety net facilities. “This support package is equivalent to 3.3 percent of the country’s GDP.”

Her government has also included 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in its overall strategy, Hasina said.

A 41-day holiday is in force bringing almost three-fourth of the country under lockdown, Sheikh Hasina said. There have been 131 deaths and 4,689 infections in the last 47 days, according to Worldometers.