“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything,’
- Albert Einstein
The government of Bangladesh seems to have no other choice but to reimpose a lockdown in order to quell the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The need for a second lockdown arises greatly due to the total mismanagement of implementation of the first one. The premature reopening of the economy has only resulted in adverse consequences.
Long periods of lockdowns have impacted the agricultural sector, business and trade, manufacturing and utilities, information and communication, hotels, transport and tourism severely. In addition, one million garments workers have lost their jobs due to the global crisis.
International remittances represented around 7% of Bangladesh’s GDP in pre-Covid days, according to the The World Economic Forum. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an acute effect on Bangladeshi migrants abroad as the majority of them live and work in countries which have imposed very strict lockdown measures. The largest percentage of Bangladeshi migrants abroad are in the Middle East and are a contributing factor to the decline in remittances to the country as there has been a decline in oil prices.
According to the World Bank, total remittances by migrant Bangladeshi workers will decrease by $14 billion in 2020. This is a 25% decrease from 2019. The decrease in monthly remittance amounts, which average from $300 to $600 monthly, will have severe adverse effects on millions of households in Bangladesh.
All this and more beg a critical question: Is the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government making sufficient efforts to ensure an accountable and transparent administration to minimize the massive spread of the pandemic?
A group of local NGOs conducted a study recently and found that every three out of five people in the country were at high risk of facing serious health and economic vulnerabilities, with job losses affecting those who are already poverty-stricken.