Distinguished Professor Ali Riaz is quoted in a report in the Nikkei Asian Review, a leading Japanese news magazine, on the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) on Bangladeshi economy. The report titled “Bangladesh teeters on edge of poverty as COVID-19 spreads.” Coronavirus pandemic has badly affected the country’s readymade garments industry, which accounts for almost 12 percent of gross domestic product and 84 percent of exported merchandise, it has affected the inflow of remittances, the second major source of revenue. The government has announced rescue packages worth $11.6 billion.
There have been reports of misappropriation of relief materials by ruling party members. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sidelined ministers and members of parliament and assigned top civil servants to remedy issues in all the country’s 64 districts. There are both praise and criticisms of this decision. Riaz expresses doubts that the prime minister’s admonishments and interventions can “completely stop the theft.” Riaz, who is also a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think-tank, said a grave food crisis would pose a “serious challenge” to the government.