Nation this week
The government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to get 30 million (three crore) shots of Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, once it is finally approved for human application. The MoU was signed at the Health Ministry's conference room in Dhaka, in the presence of Health Minister Zahid Maleque and Indian High Commissioner Vikram K. Doraiswami.
"We are signing this MoU under the condition that we will take it only if it is approved by the World Health Organization," Maleque said in his speech. Under the MoU, the SII will supply the vaccines in phases -- 5 million (50 lakh) every month -- via its Bangladeshi partner in the deal, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Earlier this week, the head of the Oxford University group developing the vaccine candidate, Professor Andrew Pollard, played down the chances of it becoming available this year.
Only 8 percent of the country's workforce has so far benefitted from the stimulus packages linked to the coronavirus pandemic, the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a think tank, reported as it called for a widening of the support schemes. "The government should expand the volume of the stimulus packages to generate more jobs to help the country deal with economic hardship," CPD said, adding that the packages should be designed in a way that they can support the vulnerable people.
The think-tank came up with the recommendations at a webinar titled "Employment Implications of Stimulus Packages: Challenges for Recovery". It organised the event in collaboration with Oxfam International. The government has till now unveiled 19 stimulus packages worth Tk 113,117 crore, which is 3.74 percent of the country's gross domestic product, since the start of the pandemic and its subsequent intrusion into Bangladesh.
Most of the listed banks logged higher profits in the first nine months of 2020 despite a lower net interest income amid the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Lower provisioning was the main driver behind the higher profits. All the 30 banks listed with the Dhaka Stock Exchange declared their third quarterly earnings. The financial report of 27 lenders is available on their website.
Eighteen out of the 27 posted a year-on-year rise in profits during the January to September period. They logged 3.5 percent higher profits of Tk 4,888 crore in the nine months. Their combined net interest income, the biggest source of revenue, dropped 25 percent to Tk 10,301 crore thanks to two steps introduced by the central bank -- 9 percent interest cap in April and a payment holiday after the Covid-19 outbreak.
The World Bank projects that Bangladesh will see increased remittance flow and secure eighth position in the world in terms of inward remittances in 2020. The World Bank revealed the forecast in a report titled "COVID-19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens" published on October 29.
According to the projection, two South Asian countries -Bangladesh and Pakistan -will see increases in remittance inflow despite the pandemic.
Bangladesh will gain eight percent more remittance this year, according to the report. The total remittance flow will be USD 20 billion, WB projected. Mainly, remittance flow will pick up through official and unofficial channels due to restraints in travelling, the report said. The other South Asian country with increased remittance flow, Pakistan, will be in the sixth position with nine percent more remittances. Although, India will be the first on the list in terms of total remittance flow, it is projected to be nine percent lower than the previous year.
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