Because of coronavirus pandemic, the economy of Bangladesh has almost come to a standstill and its debilitating effects are being observed in almost all sectors. Housing and real estate sector is not an exception. It is beyond doubt one of the largest employment-generating sectors of the country. This vital sector has suffered the most in terms of immediate repercussions of COVID-19. The real estate sector is feeling this impact as evidenced by the fact that the busiest time for the country’s real estate market is seeing very limited activity. House sale has plummeted to a great extent.
In a bid to boost the country’s economy and speed up its recovery, some unconventional moves are essential during crisis period. Realising the grave situation of economy, the housing and real estate entrepreneurs have come up with some pragmatic suggestions. They have urged the government for extending the housing loan facilities at five per cent interest, currently available only to government employees, to the private-sector employees and expatriates. They have also demanded for resetting 19-B and 19-BB sections of Income Tax Ordinance-1984 allowing the investment of undisclosed money in real estate and other service sectors. Sector insiders think that encouraging investment in the housing sector would result in huge infrastructure development discouraging the money flight abroad. They have also urged the government to take stern action to stop illegal hundi trade, prevent money laundering and stop misuse of bond facilities to help economy recover from the shock.Trade-based money laundering has become a growing concern for Bangladesh. According to economic analysts, over Tk 4 trillion has been laundered from the country in 10 years in the name of export-import trade, causing serious harm to the domestic investment and the country’s international trade itself. The REHAB president opined that if the people are allowed to invest undisclosed money for the next five years, it will add value to the national gross domestic product (GDP) significantly. However, not only in housing sector, we plead for allowing undisclosed money in all other sectors to boost the country’s GDP.