PM launches disbursement of cash aid for 50 lakh families

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Dhaka, May 14: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday launched the disbursement of Taka 1,250 crore cash assistance among 50 lakh poor families hit hard amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, saying that removing the ordeals of the people of every area is her only goal.“My only goal is to remove the plight of the people of every area and I want to achieve that aim,” she said while formally inaugurating the programme through a videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning.

“There is a huge population (in the country). I may not provide so much amount (of money to them). But I could at least give a small amount (of money) so that none is deprived and we could extend support to all and we’re taking these steps keeping that in mind,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina opened the distribution of Taka 2,500 to each of the 50 lakh destitute families, affected badly due to COVID-19 outbreak, through mobile financial services (MFSs).

The prime minister also kicked off the distribution of stipend and tuition fees from her education assistance trust fund among the students of bachelor degree and its equivalent level of 2019 academic year through mobile/online banking.

The premier said everything has stalled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the life of the people who earn daily livelihoods by giving labour got stagnant.

“So, we’ve taken various measures considering their sufferings,” she said.

The prime minister said the government had undertaken many plans to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and allocated money for this purpose.

“In the interest of the people, we’ve postponed the main programmes of the Mujib Borsho and we’ve suspended some daily programmes that are not needed to be completed at this time,” she said.

The premier said the low-income group people including floating persons, rickshaw and van-pullers, day-labourers, construction workers, agriculture workers, employees of the shops, small traders, barbers, (ferry) ghat workers, workers of private business organisations, poultry and dairy farm workers, transport workers and hawkers have become jobless due to the nationwide shutdown over the pandemic.

“We tried to save and manage money so that we could help them in the month of holy Ramadan,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government had earlier issued ration cards among 50 lakh families so that they can purchase rice at Taka 10 per kg under the open market sale (OMS) programme.

“We’re also continuing social safety net programmes and we’ve taken decisions to provide cash support of Taka 1250 crore to 50 lakh families excluding those who are getting assistance through ration cards, VGD, VGF and other social safety net programmes,” she said.

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman earlier told BSS that the total fund of Taka 1,250 crore will be distributed among the 50 lakh families through the mobile financial services (MFSs) – bKash, Rocket, Nagad and SureCash.

Through this cash support, nearly two crore people will directly be benefitted as on an average four members have been counted in each of 50 lakh families, he said.

The total fund will be disbursed between May 14 and 18, and 10 lakh people will get the cash support through the MFSs every day.

About the selection of families, the state minister said their list has been prepared with the poorest 50 lakh families of the 1.25 crore vulnerable families who are now getting the government’s relief assistance.

PMO sources said the list has been made by a committee comprising district administration, upazila administration, union parishad chairmen and members, teachers and distinguished persons of the society.

They do not have to pay any fee for drawing the money as the government will bear its cost, the sources said.

Apart from these 50 lakh families, there are two crore people of 50 lakh families who are now getting government assistance under the vulnerable group feeding (VGF) cards, the sources added.

Besides, a huge number of people including freedom fighters, elderly persons, widows, the physically-challenged and women abandoned by the husbands are receiving different allowances under various social safety net programmes.