The Covid-19 pandemic has caused Bangladesh Tk 89,500 crore in GDP losses at current prices in the last fiscal year, according to a summary report of the government.
Before the pandemic, the planning ministry had projected that the country’s gross domestic product would stand at Tk 28,85,900 crore at current prices (no adjustment made for inflation) in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
But due to the highly transmissible virus that struck the country in early March, the GDP stood at Tk 27,96,400 crore, said the summary report prepared on the 8th Five-Year Plan placed at the National Economic Council meeting at the planning ministry in the capital yesterday.
“We have made the projections on the basis of several studies and by using economic models,” Shamsul Alam, member of the ministry, told The Daily Star.
The NEC approved the 8th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) at the meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. In the five-year plan, targets were set to attain 8.51 percent GDP growth and reduce the poverty rate to 15.6 percent at the end of the period.
The report painted a grim picture on losses in export earnings due to the pandemic and said the export earnings declined to $33.67 billion in the last fiscal year from the projected $45.5 billion.
It said the poverty rate would rise to 23 percent in the current fiscal year from 20.5 percent in pre-Covid times. The number of ultra-poor would rise by 12 percent from 10.5 percent in the current fiscal year, it added.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Manna said the five-year plan is focused on how to cope with coronavirus-related problems.
Shamsul said there are 244 strategies in the five-year plan to recover the socio-economic losses caused by the pandemic. Of those, five would be focused directly on the impact of Covid-19, he said.
Asked about the strategies, he said one of the five strategies would be to increase the expenditure on the health sector efficiently.
Besides, a data centre would be created on the beneficiaries of the social safety net programmes in the country, said Shamsul.
The five-year plan proposed introducing a universal healthcare system to tackle the pandemic and other challenges the health ministry is facing.
Photo credit: Collected
News source: The Daily Star