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Monday, October 16, 2017 10:37:06 PM
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Rohingya crisis posing big threat to national economy

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BANGLADESH economy is facing real challenge as the Rohingya crisis is deepening with the exodus of the homeless in thousands daily to demand more allocation of budgetary resources to give them shelter. It is causing destruction to local infrastructure, bringing enormous pressure on education and health care services and pushing the social order closer to breakdown.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith who is now in Washington to attend World Bank Group's annual meeting feared he may be forced to bring changes in budgetary allocations to face the growing need for financial resources to address the mounting pressure. Media reports said he has urged the World Bank leaders to make more assistance available for the purpose to cope with the basic needs of the homeless millions. But it goes without saying that the crisis may drain the national economy slowly to long term bleeding where any assistance may be insufficient to save it.  

We are indeed facing a real humanitarian crisis of unprecedented dimension and the need for more assistance from other governments and bilateral and multilateral agencies is undeniable. Growing assistance is also arriving and it is undeniably opening the way for the government to handle huge resources to spend for the homeless millions. Many fear there is a big risk that much of such resources may be grabbed or politically exploited by people without a transparent system and proper control mechanism particularly in the run up to upcoming election. We ask the authorities concern to make the system transparent and accountable to plug the loopholes.  

It is a gigantic task to feed and give shelter to over half a million Rohingya refugees since August 25 this year to join 400,000 more who took shelter in Bangladesh on previous occasions from Myanmar's Rakhine State across Bangladesh border. In some estimates out of the total 1.1 million Rohingya population 50 percent have so far taken shelter in Bangladesh while the remaining have escaped to some other countries in the region like Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Thailand.

Report said the World Bank has promised a budgetary support of US$ 270 million to Bangladesh government that includes redirecting $200 million it earlier allocated to Myanmar government to spend on welfare of Rohingya people.  The Bank is also considering assistance of about $400 million worth of funding in the form of loans and grants to reduce pressure on Bangladesh government to deal with Rohingya crisis.

We fear by all account that the Rohingya crisis may continue longer and the government should not only make bigger budgetary allocations but also chalk out long term plan how to keep enough supply of basic services to the homeless such as health care, education and sanitation. Care should also be taken that it is not going to disrupt the country's projected economic growth.

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