Tougher punishment if one doesn’t wear masks: Cabinet Secy

The government has planned to go for tougher punishment like raising the pecuniary fine by mobile courts to force people to wear masks to stop the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’ve asked divisional commissioners to monitor it (mask use) for another week. If the existing fine doesn’t work, motivate people in a greater way and then go for tougher punishment. The fine may be raised,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam.

He was briefing journalists after the weekly Cabinet meeting, held at the Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The PM joined the meeting virtually from her residence Ganobhaban.

At the meeting, the Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to carry out a greater campaign and force people to wear masks, said the Cabinet Secretary.

The divisional commissioners informed that several thousand people were fined throughout the country on Sunday. The mobile courts were conducted in 35 places of the capital alone on the day, he said.

If the existing punishment does not work, then the mobile courts may fine even Tk 5,000 instead of the existing amount of Tk 500 or Tk 1,000, he said adding that the number of Covid-19 patients is on the rise again in hospitals across the country.

Besides, the Cabinet gave the final approval to the draft of the Bangladesh Film Artistes Welfare Trust Bill 2020, aiming to ensure the welfare of the actors and actresses, and provide financial support to insolvent and ailing artistes.

At the meeting, the Economic Relations Division (ERD) informed the Cabinet about the foreign aid.

The amount of grant declined to 3pc of the total foreign aid Bangladesh received in 2019-20 fiscal year, which was less than 5 percent in 2018-19 fiscal, 30pc in 2009-10 fiscal and nearly 85pc in 1971-72 fiscal year, Anwarul Islam said.

On the other hand, the amount of debt increased to 97pc of the total foreign aid in 2019-20 fiscal year, which was 95pc in 2018-19 fiscal, 70pc in 2009-10 and 7pc-8pc in 1971-72 fiscal year, he said.

Bangladesh received US$ 7,121 million (US$ 7.12 billion) in foreign aid in 2019-20 fiscal year and now the cumulative amount of foreign aid stood at US$ 44,023 million which is 13.34 percent of GDP, he said adding that Bangladesh is not in the risk of foreign debt trap as the amount of foreign debt is less than 14 percent of GDP.

In 1989-90 fiscal year, the ADP size was Tk 5,103 crore and foreign aid was Tk 3,256 crore which was 63.8pc of ADP. In 2009-10, the ADP size was Tk 28,500 crore and the contribution of foreign aid to the ADP was 39.65pc, he added.

In 2018-19 fiscal, the ADP size was Tk 176,620 crore while foreign aid was Tk 51,660 crore, which is 29.25pc of ADP, he said, adding that the foreign aid declined in terms of percentage that means domestic investment went up.

The Cabinet Secretary said Bangladesh has never been a defaulter in repayment of any foreign debt.

The Cabinet was informed about the measures and future action plans taken by the Agriculture Ministry to offset the Covid-19 fallout.

At the meeting, Disaster Management and Relief Ministry placed a report on its activities taken during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: United News of Bangladesh