Poor people smile with PM’s Eid gift

Staff Correspondent

22 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Its smiles across Bangladesh for the underprivileged hard-hit by COVID-19, as they received Eid special cash gift from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by mobile financial service (MFS). 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the disbursement of Tk 12.5 billion on May 14 in cash assistance for 5 million families hit hard by the ongoing general holidays. The assistance distributed through MFS operators including BKash, Rocket, Nagad and SureCash. Suraiyya Begum, a 50-year old widow residing

in Rajshahi opened bKash account recently after her grandson informed that Prime Minister will send Eid gift directly to her.

“It’s really a milestone in our history that our prime minister has responded so quickly in our bad days with cash without middlemen, but directly to us.  Her generosity knows no bounds”, she said by mobile phone.

Eid gifts  from the Prime Minister are being disbursed through 4 mobile phone-based financial service providers (MFS) with 1.5 million families with bKash, the leading MFS operator of the country. Rocket and Sure Cash will disburse money to 10 lakh and 6 lakh families respectively.

Prime Minister’s Eid gift delivered through mobile banking channels almost without any charges is a big lift and hope for millions of poor people who are hit hard by corona virus pandemic and struggling to survive.

Rafique Sheikh, a food hawker in Pirojpur, had been struggling to manage family during the general holidays and the cash support from Prime Minister helps him to bring some food for children for Eid.

Rafique informed that he received Tk 2,500 Eid gift in his mobile phone account. “Thanks to our Prime Minister,” he said.

Here, the role of mobile financial service (MFS) operators like bKash, Rocket, Nagod and SureCash is indispensable.

As part of the ongoing fight against the corona virus pandemic, the government has imposed lock down all offices, business outlets, institutions, shops and restaurants across the country and ordered all citizens indoors.

But for Zakia Sultana, a garment worker and single mother of two, staying at home is a pipe dream.

“My fear isn’t becoming infected. My fear is my children going hungry,” she said. “ When I received my April month’s salary in my mobile account, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. 

Hundreds of thousands of low-income workers stood out in the streets demanding food and unpaid wages. Realising the fact, that the government has allocated Tk 25 billion for garment owners as salaries for workers using mobile banking system.

MFS operators disbursed Tk 40 billion among nine lakh garment workers against a slight amount of Cash Out fee-0.4 per cent per Tk 1000- compared to the existing fee of Tk 18.50 approved by regulation. This will put serious negative impact on MFS future growth.