Nation this week
The government's borrowing from the banking sector increased by an astonishing 109 percent year-on-year to Tk 72,246 crore in FY 2019-20, which is an all-time high. The amount had been high from the start of the fiscal, crossing 90 percent of the target set for it in the budget by January itself. Revenue collection had been weak from the start. The situation seems to have gotten much worse since April after the government enforced a nationwide shutdown to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
Against the backdrop of the virus, the government borrowed an astonishing Tk 29,020 crore from banks and non-banks in the last quarter of FY20 to meet its expenditure, according to data from the central bank. Just to put that into perspective, compare that to the Tk 34,587 crore that was borrowed in the whole of 2018-19. The NBR's final figures for the fiscal are yet to be released, but they are expected to show the first year-on-year decline in decades.
The Italian government ordered the suspension of flights arriving from Bangladesh after several Bangladeshi passengers on a July 6 flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines tested positive for Covid-19 despite having documents certifying that they had tested negative and were safe to travel. The Italian government believes there could be as many as 600 "undetected" Bangladesh citizens infected with covid-19 circulating in Rome and around Italy, Lazio Region health councillor Alessio D'Amato told Rome daily newspaper Il Messaggero.
"Our experts made calculations, based on the data obtained from the sample of passengers on the special flight arriving from Dhaka on Monday, in which 13 per cent of the passengers tested positive," said D'Amato. On July 8, Italy did not allow 151 passengers. All Bangladeshis, who were on board a Qatar Airways flight from Dhaka to disembark in the country. Bangladeshi officials said they were unaware of the Italian ban at the time of the flight's departure.
Country's southern border with Greece during a routine check on re-authorities in North Macedonia (formerly Macedonia) found 211 migrants, including 144 Bangladeshis, packed into a truck near the gional road, police said. A border patrol stopped the truck near the town of Gevgelija, and found the migrants including the Bangladeshis and 67 Pakistanis. Among the rescued migrants, there were also 63 children. The truck driver, a 27-year-old Macedonian national identified by police only by his initials EP, was arrested.
The migrants were detained and transferred to a shelter transit centre in Gevgelija pending deportation back to Greece. On June 22, 64 Bangladeshi migrants were found in a truck on a highway near North Macedonia's border with Greece. Hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in their countries use Greece as a springboard to European countries.
More than two-thirds of the 50 lakh poor families hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic are yet to receive Tk 2,500 each in cash support promised to them by the government, due to the flawed list that was initially prepared for disbursement of funds. The government has managed to disburse funds among 16.16 lakh targeted people, according to a position paper prepared by the Finance Division. Another 2 lakh are expected to get it soon.
After the government put in place the countrywide shutdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it allocated Tk 1,250 crore for the 50 lakh poor families whose breadwinners have lost their jobs because of the lockdown. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the fund disbursement on May 14. After some initial uncoverings of fraud, the Finance Division found inconsistencies in information relating to almost 23 lakh would-be recipients. This prompted the PMO on June 15 to order the upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) to rectify the list.
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