Rural infra, utility development stressed to combat COVID-19 fallout

Staff Correspondent | Published: 22:56, Jul 11,2020


The South Asian Network on Economic Modeling on Saturday said that the government should emphasise rural infrastructure and utility development to address the COVID‑19 induced crises, including reverse migration and other socio‑economic challenges in the rural areas.

Rural wages can be adversely affected, children’s education can be hampered, school drop-out rates can increase, cases of early marriage can rise and gender disparity can widen due to reverse migration caused by economic hardships in urban areas as a consequence of the outbreak.

At the eighth virtual episode of SANEM Netizen Forum on COVID-19 pandemic, SANEM executive director Selim Raihan said that a trend of reverse migration had now emerged as low‑income families were moving back to rural areas from urban areas due to job loss in manufacturing and garment industries.

They may not be able to find employment in the rural areas which will lead to various types of social challenges, he said.

Along with rural infrastructure and utility development, the Information and Communication Technology Division in cooperation with the local government can create opportunities for the youth in the rural areas in this context.

Selim said that decline in imports would affect private sector investment.

Exports and remittance will experience a downward trend in the coming days as the prospects of global economic recovery are not bright, he said.

He stressed the need for budgetary support for self-employed people as there had been a depletion of capital stock for them and they might not be able to retain their jobs.

‘Existing entrepreneurs are facing difficulties in staying on the market and opportunities for new entrepreneurs are shrinking.’

He also emphasised the necessity for a monitoring mechanism to implement the stimulus packages, particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises, amid slow disbursement of the stimulus through banks.

Microfinance institutions can be involved in disbursement of the finance, he said.

Participants at the programme also recommended austerity measures, such as salary cuts for top officials of the government and private institutions, to retain low skill jobs and ensure job security for low-income people.

SANEM research director Sayema Haque Bidisha, research fellow Mahtab Uddin, research associates Eshrat Sharmin and Fabiha Bushra Khan, among others, spoke at the programme.

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