The government will pay an estimated Tk 2,256.7 billion as interest on loans in the next three fiscals including the current one.
Of the amount, Tk 638 billion will be paid in 2020-21, Tk 748.9 billion in 2021-22 and Tk 869.8 billion in 2022-23.
An official document showed that the government has allocated Tk 582.5 billion for paying the interest for the running fiscal on loan taken from domestic resources. The amount is Tk 680.8 billion for the next fiscal and Tk 788.9 billion for 2022-23.
For interest on loans taken from external sources, the government will pay Tk 55.3 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal, Tk 68.1 billion in 2021-22, and Tk 80.9 billion in 2022-23.
The government in 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscals paid Tk 309.7 billion, Tk 331.1 billion, Tk 353.8 billion, Tk 417.7 billion, Tk 494.6 billion and Tk 576.6 billion respectively as interest of loans.
Of the amount, Tk 294.4 billion, Tk 314.7 billion, Tk 335.4 billion, Tk 381.6 billion, Tk 460.1 billion and Tk 528 billion were paid for domestic loans for 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. Tk 15.4 billion, Tk 16.5 billion, Tk 18.4 billion, Tk 36.1 billion, Tk 34.5 billion and Tk 48.7 billion were paid for foreign loans' interest of those stipulated fiscals.
According to the document, due to the higher amount of concessional loans, Bangladesh is historically getting external financing with lower expenses. The outer financing average interest rate for the 2014-15 fiscal to 2018-19 fiscal was 1 percent while the expenditure for the interest repayment was 0.8 percent of the budget.
But due to the sliding down of grants and sliding up of loans the expenditure of interest repayment has slightly increased against external loans.
The interest rates for loans taken from external sources was 0.7 percent, 0.8 percent, 0.9 percent, 1.4 percent, 1.2 percent and 1.4 percent for 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscals respectively.
As per the document, interest rates for the same kind of loans will be 1.4 percent, 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent for 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscals.
It mentioned that the interest payment for loans taken from internal sources was downed 2.3 percent comparing 2014-15 fiscal and 2018-19 fiscal due to some government reforms.
The interest rates for 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal for the loans taken from internal sources was 10.6 percent, 10 percent, 9.3 percent, 9.2 percent, 9.4 percent and 9.1 percent respectively.
As per the document, the interest rates for the same kind of loans will be 8.6 percent, 8.6 percent and 8.8 percent for 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscals.
It stated that the internal sources remain as the main source of deficit financing for the government.
Although the interest rate against the external sources jumped slightly, the overall cost for interest payment slide down 2.2 percent comparing 2014-15 fiscal and 2018-19 fiscal.
Several hundred houses, important establishments and educational institutions have been gobbled up by the Teesta River as its bank erosion has taken a serious turn at Kashimbazar point in Gaibandha and Ulipur’s Bazra union point in Kurigram.
Locals said 300 establishments were devoured by the river in the last two weeks while 20 metres of a road went into the river, snapping communications.
The authorities concerned are yet to take any initiative to save the people and their property, locals said, adding that their human chain protest failed to draw the attention of officials.
The residents of Bazra said they are becoming homeless due to the negligence of the local administration.
“I’ve lost my houses thrice and taken shelter at my in-law’s house but it too was devoured by the river in recent erosion. Where should I go now?” asked Gafur Mia, a resident of the area.
Jarimon, a widow, said she was already struggling to maintain her family. “Where’ll I go with my disabled child now that my house is at risk of erosion?”
Mozammel Haque, a farmer, said he used to own 12 acres of land. “Erosion took away my house seven times and the river devoured my land. Now I’m left with only 30 decimals of land and my house is at the risk of erosion. I have nowhere to go if I lose what’s left,” he said.
The residents of Lakhierpara, Para Sadua, Madaripara, Kashimbazar Haat, Kashimbazar Girls High School, Nazimabad High School, Kashimabazar Senior Madrassah and two primary schools in Sundarganj upazila of Gaibandha are at risk of erosion.
Besides, 20-metre of Kashimbazar to Ulipur, Chilmari went into the river, snapping road communications. Locals feared that 2,000 families will lose their land and houses anytime if the government does not take swift steps to stop the riverbank erosion.
The residents of Kashimbazar said two-thirds of the area have already gone into the river but the local administration did not take any effective measure to stop erosion.
Some people said they contacted the local Water Development Board but the officials in Gaibandha asked them to contact the officials concerned of Kurigram as Kashimbazar spreads across the two districts.
Ariful Islam, executive engineer of Kurigram WDB, said fund crunch has disrupted the work to prevent erosion.
“Currently, eight-kilometre areas at 67 points of Barhmmaputra, Dudhkumar, Teesta and Dharla rivers under nine upazilas of the district are at the risk of erosion. Work in six-km area at 53 points is being carried out on an emergency basis to tackle the erosion,” he said.
Bangladesh is going to plunge into a ‘newer depth of debt’, both from internal and external sources, in the coming days as it is spending additional money to salvage the economy hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis.
So far, the government has announced a set of COVID-19 recovery packages worth 13.25 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 4.03 percent of the GDP, aiming to revitalise the country’s economic activities and production system.
The government has projected that the debt status of the country will be 38.3 percent of the total GDP in the 2022-23 fiscal year.
According to an official document, the amount will be Tk 15,480 billion where internal sources will contribute Tk 9597.8 billion, which is 62 percent of the amount, and external sources will contribute Tk 5882.6 billion, which is 38 percent.
The country’s debt status in 2021-22 fiscal will stand at Tk 13,531.5 billion which will be 37.8 percent of the total GDP. Of the amount, internal sources will contribute Tk 8408.6 billion, which is 62.1 percent of the amount, while external sources will contribute Tk 5122.9 billion, which is 37.9 percent.
In the current fiscal, the debt status stands at Tk 11,678.3 billion with 36.8 percent of the GDP. Internal sources are contributing Tk 7355.5 billion, which is 63 percent, and external sources are contributing Tk 4322.8 billion, which is 37 percent.
The total amount is 1.2 percent higher of the GDP from the revised debt status target of 2019-20 fiscal.
The revised status of the previous fiscal was Tk 9996.9 billion and it was 35.6 percent of the GDP. Internal sources injected Tk 6235.8 billion, which was 62.4 percent, while external sources gave Tk 3761.1 percent, which was 37.6 percent.
The amount was Tk 8419.1 billion in 2018-19 fiscal, which was 33.2 percent of the GDP. Internal sources contributed Tk 5338.1 billion (63.4 percent) and external sources Tk 3081 billion (36.6 percent).
The document mentioned that there is a possibility for significantly lower interest rates of loans worldwide during a mid-term period. It referred to the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative growth around the world for the dismal scenario.
"For the total economic recovery, it’ll take some more time," the document reads.
So, the deficit financing from outer resources would be comparatively cheap.
The document also said proper mixing of loans from internal and external resources will play an important role in reducing financing expenditure and lowering the outstanding debt status from its sliding up.
Various economic sectors, including export-oriented industries, small, medium and cottage industries, agriculture, fish farming, poultry and livestock have been brought under these incentive packages.
Among the packages, Tk 30,000 crore has been allocated for providing working capital facility to the affected industries and services sector organisations, Tk 20,000 crore stimulus package for supplying working capital to the small, including cottage industries) and medium industrial enterprises. Special fund for the export-oriented industries with Tk 5,000 crore and expanding the facilities of Export Development Fund (EDF) introduced by the Bangladesh Bank with Tk 12,750 crore.
A total of Tk 2,500 crore was allocated for Palli Sanchay Bank, Karmasangsthan Bank, Probsahi Kalyan Bank and Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation to help the youth and expatriates who lost their jobs for the pandemic.
Another amount of Tk 5,000 crore has been allocated for the farmers at only 4 percent interest to offset the fallout of the COVID-19 in agriculture and the government will waive Tk 1,840 crore bank interests of the people affected badly by the nationwide shutdown enforced to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Also read: Bangladesh economy under threat due to COVID-19: ICC,B
Manpower crisis is disrupting medical services at Aditmari, Patgram, Hatibandha and Kaliganj upazila health complexes in Lalmonirhat, forcing people to spend more money and undergo treatment at private hospitals.
Besides, their operation theaters have been shut for a long time due to the lack of skilled physicians. The poor people who come to government hospitals have to take treatment at private clinics at higher costs.
Sources said 31-bed Aditmari Upazila Health Complex was built for providing healthcare services to 300,000 people of eight unions in Aditmari upazila. Later, it was upgraded into a 50-bed hospital at a cost of Tk 5 crore after the 9th parliamentary election.
But no doctors or staff members were recruited to provide services. The posts of five junior consultants have remained vacant since the hospital was built while that of surgeons and anesthetists are also vacant.
This has led to the rusting of some costly medical equipment procured for the hospital.
Meanwhile, a medical officer skilled in surgery has recently been appointed but the lack of anesthetists is forcing the hospital authorities to keep the operation theater shut.
Sources at the hospital said all the five posts, including that of surgery, medicine, and gynecologist, remained vacant and the patients who need surgery have to be referred to other hospitals.
Recently, the hospital appointed medical officer Dr Lutfunnahar to the surgery department but the services at its Operation Theater remained suspended for lack of anesthetists.
The hospital has sent letters to the ministry seeking recruitment of consultants.
Abdul Majid, a patient from Gobordhan area in the upazila, said there are no physicians. “They referred me to another hospital. Now I’ve to spend money and undergo surgery at a private hospital. So, why did the government build a hospital spending so much money?”
In the case of pregnant mothers, people have to go through surgery at private clinics and foot the bills by selling land.
Aziar Rahman, a resident of Baura village in Patgram upazila, said: “There’s no doctor at Patgram Upazila Health Complex and the authorities concerned have referred me to Lalmonirhat Sadar hospital but I’ve completed my operation at a private clinic spending Tk 7,000.”
Lalmonirhat Civil Surgeon Dr Normilendu Roy said the operation theatres of four upazila health complexes remained shut since the beginning although all the medical equipment are available at the hospitals.
“The services are hampered due to lack of doctors. Already, letters have been sent to the ministry concerned seeking appointment of physicians but to no avail.”
A 90-year-old physically challenged senior citizen, Maju Bibi, hailing from Magura finally got government allowances after trying in vain for 40 years.
Although she has been eligible to receive the elderly allowance, widow and disability allowance as per the announcement and policy of the government, Maju Bibi did not get an allowance card even after trying for 40 years. Her husband Jabber Molla died 50 years ago.
Finally, Maju Bibi, a resident of Shir village in Digha union of Mohammadpur upazila of Magura got a widow allowance card using which she withdrew Tk 6,000 this month.
Since the death of her husband, Maju Bibi had been working as a maid in households until her physical condition deteriorated due to old age.
She had been dependent on her son Didar Molla who works as a low-income day labourer.
Didar’s wife Tahmina, 40, said that many people had tried to get Maju Bibi allowance card before but asked for money in return. “We did not get any government benefits as we could not pay.”
One of the locals, Akahid Hossain, brought the matter to the notice of Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Mizanur Rahman and Social Service Officer Zainur Rahman who then immediately arranged the allowance for Maju Bibi.
Mohammadpur UNO Mizanur Rahman said, “Officers and staff of all departments have worked day and night to provide the rightful dues of the poor people of the upazila...If anyone is left out, they will be given the benefits after proper verification and selection upon contacting me directly.”