Can middle income group scuffle with Covid-19?
The second wave may last much longer if adequate measures are not taken to combat Coronavirus. It is reported that it would be hundred times cheaper to prevent outbreaks than to suffer the gloomy consequences. So, it would be a judicious line of attack for the government to avoid the second wave instead of looking at whether the economy can put up with it or not. Therefore we have to take the following necessary measures up to the local level to deal with it.
1. The use of masks had been at a satisfactory level in the initial days. But now there is careless attitude. Therefore, government would have to raise public awareness about the benefit of putting masks and "no mask no service" policy would be lawfully executed. We may move ahead with this co-existence and we have to think about how to make this co-existence even more effective.
2. The export-oriented industries are going through suspicions and there is a need to give encouragement to the domestic sector like 'stimulus packages' or 'support packages' and it should be proportionately distributed. Again, policy relaxations and low-cost refinancing lines of credit along with the government's stimulus packages have to be injected.
3. Mobility restrictions would have to be reintroduced and traditional gatherings and social events during the winter should have to be strictly controlled, otherwise the infections could rise further.
4. Lockdowns would not be feasible options if the second wave comes about but the health protocols have to be maintained so that small and large industries can continue running. Again, the government would have to continue running its development projects aimed at poverty reduction in the rural areas following health protocols.
5. The health departments, including doctors and nurses, would have to take necessary measures up to the local level to deal with it with proper government supervision.
6. It is also necessary to raise Bangladesh's ease-of-doing-business score. Along with the need of diversifying the economy it needs a lot of endeavour to pick up the doing business indicator and infrastructural development.
7. Financial reform should need to be accelerated. For avoiding bad loans or nonperforming loans, it is necessary to reduce high borrowing costs especially for the lower and middle income earners. On the other hand, it is necessary to accelerate the development of a corporate bond market.
8. Government has to invest fully in human capital. Bangladesh must spend exponentially more on education, training, and increasing productivity. Bigger investments in human capital would turbo charge Bangladesh's development explosion.
9. Digitalization of the economy and continuing the appropriate supports like expansionary monetary and fiscal policies to help sustain the recovery of economic activities is necessary.
10. Big cities in Bangladesh have long been grappling with air pollution. Breathing in polluted air can damage lungs and could potentially push up the odds of dying from Coronavirus. Therefore, air pollution should have to be controlled.
11. The problem of Bangladesh's economic reconstruction depends upon good governance structure. Therefore, Bangladesh first needs an effective democratic system to build a good governance structure. Since democracy is essential for the continuity of growth, when democratic elements will exist, then the reconstruction activities will take place peacefully.
12. Emphasis on utilizing the topical enormous perfection in medical facilities and executing a newly advanced plan to achieve a falling curve of the infection is necessary and decentralizing the medical services should have to be ensured.
Finally, it is necessary to have help of the local government for controlling the epidemic. Concerned authorities have to go from door to door. Capacity building is necessary here up to the root level. Capacity-building cannot be achieved overnight but the authorities can employ more doctors and volunteers with increased resources to run more sophisticated measures. It will also need socio-economic assistance to motivate people to go to the isolation centre and follow the health protocols. The government must provide social and health assistance at the root level.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Economics, Hajee Mohammad Danesh Science and Technology University