Public health crisis because of corona virus envisages throughout the world. It is an invisible and deadlier foe for humankind. At this time, the country has to choose one option between two matters- either human or economy. Since COVID-19 is an existential threat to human civilization, saving human beings is being prioritized in every country. Surely, it is significant to protect human life first then the economy. In contrast, the outbreak has given rise to the saddest economic situation and challenge.
The COVID-19 continues to affect all aspects of human being including social, economic and political. Particularly, the economic fallout of countries is being noticed in the last couple of months. It is worthy to note that in the last century, the global economy witnessed a great depression in 1930s. It is the first economic depression across the world but not the last. Similarly, the World economy had become devastated greatly in 2007/08 of the twenty-first century which is named as economic recession. It seems that probably the corona virus epidemic would surpass the previous record of economic downturn and results in an economy so much severe. IMF opines that the recession will be worse than the global financial crisis of 2008.
The unexpected corona virus outbreak will impact badly the global economy. Most of the countries are encountering hazardous situations economically as every country is detached from one country to another although several countries such as China, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, etc. handle corona virus outbreak successfully to a large extent. These countries are abnormal and anomalies.
Bangladesh is not an exception from this perspective. The pandemic is deepening day by day not only in Bangladesh but also in other countries. It should be recognized that in the beginning, the responsible person did not pay enough attention to the outbreak and not screen expatriates properly although, later, the Bangladesh government imposed the restriction on migrants or all travelers to enter the country.
The country is likely to experience an economic shock in the upcoming days. Only 15% of Bangladesh’s population earns more than $6 (500 tk.) in a day as per World Bank data. They can meet the daily livelihood, educational expenses of their children as well as save money bearing in mind about the emergency in the foreseeable future. On the contrary, the rest are 85% who make income less than $6(500 tk.). It indicates untoward, distress and miserable economic condition of the people of Bangladesh. Now question is that how these people will survive in the time of lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tremendous economic growth of Bangladesh cannot generate enormous employment opportunities. The unemployment crisis in Bangladesh is visualized at a high rate. According to BBS, the youth unemployment rate is 10.6 percent and youth (having tertiary level education) unemployment rate is 13.4 percent. The national unemployment rate is 4.2%. It is supposed that the unemployment rate is increased with higher education. The corona virus pandemic creates new massive unemployed for an uncertain period. Consequently, this unemployment rate is increasing at an alarming rate which would be an extra burden for the country.
Bangladesh economically depends on largely two R’s such as- 1. RMGs, 2. Remittance; at present, two sectors are at high risk.
The Readymade Garments Industry plays a crucial role in the Bangladesh economy. It is regarded as an economic pillar as well as a catalyst for the development of the country. The garments drive economic growth. The country export is dominated by this sector. 80% of economic growth is covered by RMGs. Around 4.1 million workers enjoy employment opportunities via the garments industry. But, due to the corona virus crisis, the sector is being threatened and risked. A large number of garments workers are now unemployed.
The Bangladesh garments industry is a beneficiary of globalization. Malfunctioning of the concept of globalization threatens RMG sectors. Lockdown around the world due to COVID-19 turns globalization into localization, global relation into the global distance as well as borderless market into the local market. It has imprisoned us at home. For this, it is not plausible to import raw materials from China and to export clothing products in Europe and America.
Sadly, European and American buyers have canceled or postponed orders abruptly. After some days, the authority has declared the closure of the apparel sector, which is also an accurate and effective decision in the containment of spreading corona virus. Consequently, these large numbers of workers have been unemployed. How will they survive during the crisis? Experts view that there has no possible duration of the crisis. Therefore, garments owners should concentrate on them for meeting their necessities. Meanwhile, the Government announced 5000 crore ($590 million) as an incentive package for RMGs as well as other export-oriented industries so that they can adjust with corona virus.
Remittance is one of the prime economic pillars and drivers in Bangladesh. The country places 3rd position in 2018 in south Asian regions considering remittances, according to data compiled by World Bank. Approximately 10 million are migrant workers who are working in foreign countries such as Middle East countries, the US, UK, and Malaysia. They continuously send foreign currency for the country, particularly for the family. Those migrant workers are merely earning member of the family in which all family members rely on their income. Their remittances have changed the fate of families.
But, in the period of the pandemic COVID-19, workers are losing out on wages since lockdown and curfew in host countries compel the expatriates to stay home. In addition, a sizeable number of expatriates have returned to the country during the crisis. A great uncertainty has seen in terms of their going back abroad. It has been ripple effects on the family. The country’s economy might be paralyzed.
Due to novel corona virus, the authority imposed the emergency restriction on tourist spots. It fell on the tourism industry and hotel business like a bolt from the blue. As a result, the people involved in the business become the worst victim of the fatal disease.
Thus, the impact of corona virus pandemic on the country’s economy is now more acute than ever. It is intensifying the ongoing problem, for example, disruption of the global and domestic supply chain, lack of production, the dearth of goods and services in the market, liquidity crisis, export, and import crisis, poverty, unemployment, remittance shortage and so on. For resolving these problems as well as restoring economic activities, the government can utilize two policies- fiscal and monetary policy. Fiscal measures incorporate stimulus or incentive packages (e.g. food distribution for the poor, financial support for the affected sectors, expansion of social safety net, exemption of taxes and fees). Monetary policy helps to increase liquidity in the financial system.
The economy of Bangladesh is largely donor based. In the post corona virus, donation or foreign aid might not be like before because of the economic disruption of developed countries. So, a combined attempt can be contained COVID-19 immediately. Public health awareness campaigns can be adopted to prevent the ferocious communicable disease. Finally, the united fight and collaborative venture need to tackle economic disruption and chaos.
The author is an undergraduate student of Department of Social Welfare and Research Institute at the University of Dhaka.