Economy and health: Striking a balance

13 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The surging coronavirus pandemic has thrown us in a difficult situation where we will have to choose one from two possible alternatives – health precaution and economic activities. The pandemic reality has made it almost impossible to exert equal emphasis on both of them.  Broadly speaking – whenever we embrace one, we sacrifice the other. The nature of the dilemma is such that if we opt for ensuring health protocols, we need to remain indoors leaving aside economic activities; and if we want to keep the economy vibrant, we will have to compromise health protocols. Needless to say, we cannot opt for one completely at the cost of the other; we are required to strike a balance between the two.

This is exactly the course that the government has opted for – running selected economic activities but at the same time maintaining optimum level of health protocols to contain the spread of the deadly virus. As part of a pragmatic policy, the government has decided to keep open all export-oriented industries including the readymade garment sector during the next phase of lockdown to be enforced from tomorrow. Actually there is no option other than this to keep the economy going.

It must not go unnoticed that an industry is not complete in itself; it is linked with a number of allied industries. An RMG industry cannot operate without supplies from a host of backward linkage industries. To keep an apparel industry open, therefore, means to allow supporting industries to operate. However, this obligation of keeping certain industries open brings us to a reality where we will have to run the risk of virus transmission among hundreds of thousands of workers and officers. It is no doubt a formidable challenge and we must overcome it through conscious efforts. The industry owners must ensure that health instructions are strictly followed. Every person, irrespective of rank and responsibility, must be made to adhere to the guidelines because this is not the question of individuals’ health; it pertains to public health and the overall interest of the national economy. We must come out successful.