THE government’s decision, made at a meeting of the cabinet on Monday, to provide gallantry award-winning freedom fighters with two festival allowances, the gallantry award-winning freedom fighters, the freedom fighters who became wounded in the war of liberation and the family of the freedom fighters who laid down their lives in the war with the Bengali new year allowance and the freedom fighters who are alive with a Victory Day allowance is welcome. The family of the freedom fighters, who died in the war, and the others who were all ready to lay down their lives and ventured out to join the liberation war, rightly deserve such monetary help from the state. This does appear more so now, amidst an intensified round of COVID-19 infection, which has been continuing more or less since March 2020, and with Ramadan, the month of fasting for the Muslims, likely to begin in a few days with the usual associated increase in goods prices, perhaps, coinciding this time with the Bengali new year, as many have spent their savings for their daily sustenance for more than a year now in trying times when many have also lost their job and many have had their earning reduced.
The prime minister is also reported to have asked all relevant authorities to immediately take steps to contain any increase in goods prices in view of Ramadan. It is expected that the directive for the agencies involved in market management and the food supply chain does in effect work at a time when the government has ordered, so far, seven days’ lockdown, partial though, across the country to contain the growing SARS-CoV-2 infection. The government ordered such a measure, then known as ‘general holiday’, on March 26 which continued till May 30 but the measure failed to bring about desired results in the absence of government steps that should go with the ‘general holiday’ such as fund transfer and food aid for the poor, and low- and fixed-income people. This time too, people have come to be doubly constrained in that goods prices have already increased and the lockdown period is more likely to constrain the livelihood of a significant number of people, especially the poor and fixed- and low-income people who, during the general holiday of 2020, could survive by spending all their savings. The government should, therefore, start thinking of and talking about ways so that people employed in the private sector, formal and informal, do get their salaries, wages and festival allowances fully and in time.
With the economy still held back by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, people, especially the poor, and low- and fixed-income people, desperate to go out looking for work to earn their bread, and the government having already ordered a lockdown period, without the attending measures, that could stretch far beyond the now stipulated time, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that goods prices remain within the reach of ordinary people and the people employed in the private sector do get their salaries, wages and allowances in time.
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