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Friday, June 5, 2020 05:34:14 AM
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Poor workers who can't get wages should be paid first

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The launching of Tk 1250 crore assistance programme to 50 lakh extremely poor families by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on May 14 came at a time when lakhs of workers have become unemployed because of shutdown of the economy. As they are jobless due to reduced economic activity they are the worst victims of shut down and lockdown. Their employers cannot pay them due to the fact that they have vastly reduced revenue generation. These workers are not being paid at least for the last two months. Large numbers of them have crowded Dhaka city saying they cannot go hungry with their children. They demand wages from the government. Some businessmen were given one trillion takas to help their businesses to restart.  But they could not ensure the wages for the workers. The allegation is criminality of politics has not allowed proper utilisation of the money so granted as loans. On the other hand it is also alleged that all the owners have not got the loans from the banks. To know the truth has not been easy.
Many owners who have business with the government have not got their unpaid bills cleared. The government is also not fully functional. Most of the officials are absent from the offices for fear of the extremely contagious coronavirus or for the government declared holiday.  But they are receiving full salaries with lucrative extras.
The newspapers are not getting advertisement bills paid. Their prayer for loans allowed to some other businesses is not a getting proper response. The government appears to favour a government without free press. No newspaper can claim that it can pay the journalists with their own income. The journalists are risking their lives to bring out the newspapers which are not already closed. They are taking the risk of their lives not for their selfish ends but to serve the public's right to information.
For the government to remain non-functional at a time when the ministers and others of the government are expected to be most vigilant to confirm that the government policies are not paper policies but being implemented properly for the good of the people is indeed most unfortunate. The present situation must not continue. The government cannot go into quarantine. They should set an example of how to maintain social distancing for economic activities to restart without risking their lives, and the lives of others.
The government knows that its party men cannot be trusted with fair distribution of any aid programme. The lists of extremely poor families have also been prepared with the help of party followers. The elected bodies are not people's elected bodies. The government has created a dishonest political circle which makes it impossible to serve people honestly.
So the government needs to careful. Announcing donations must mean help for the genuine needy ones.
Surely, the jobless industrial labourers are among the poorest ones and payment of their wages must be settled on a priority basis. They are easily identifiable. There will be less scope for political elements to play politics in their situation.

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