Dr Selim Raihan emphasised on a guideline for distributing the stimulus package, saying loan defaulters must not be included in its coverage
Financing, distribution and monitoring are the three main areas of concern regarding the government's coronavirus stimulus package, said Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem).
This is because Bangladesh has never handled such a huge stimulus package, he said.
He also said Bangladesh's stimulus package was the highest in South Asia in terms of percentage of GDP, but only its announcement was not enough.
This came as Dr Selim was addressing the third episode of "Sanem Netizen Forum on COVID-19 Pandemic" on Friday. The forum connects the Sanem team led by Dr Selim with academicians, researchers, development practitioners and students around the world online.
Dr Selim said the country could finance the stimulus package from four sources – cutting cost of unnecessary projects, loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, loans from domestic banks, and printing Money.
"Loans from the IMF and the World Bank will have to be of flexible conditions and the government must effectively negotiate for that," he said.
"While the government has already reached the annual limit on borrowing loans from the domestic banking sector, this is not a preferable option," said Dr Selim, also a professor of economics at the University of Dhaka.
Printing money is the last resort, he said.
"But it has macroeconomic consequences. If the situation requires such measures, it must be undertaken cautiously," added the academician.
He emphasised on a guideline for distributing the stimulus package, saying loan defaulters must not be included in its coverage.
Dr Selim also opined that the guideline could be developed in consultation with business leaders.
"The current pandemic has revealed the weakness of our health sector and once it is over, there is a need to raise demand for more investment in the health sector," he said.
Noting that Bangladesh has enough food for the next three to four months, he expressed concern that the distribution of food among the poor was becoming increasingly difficult as many were hoarding food.
"In this regard, weakness in government machinery is evident. To overcome these shortcomings, the private sector, the non-governmental organizatioss and the civil society have to be involved in relief package and food distribution programmes," added Dr Selim.
Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, Sanem research director and economics professor at the University of Dhaka, Sovik Mukherjee, assistant professor of economics at St Xavier's University in Kolkata, Nazrul Islam, lecturer of economics at Rabindra University, and Mohammed Shahidul Islam, deputy general manager of Rahimafrooz Bangladesh Limited, attended the online meeting among others.
The meeting was moderated by Dr Selim.