The government on Sunday launched Covid-19 Enterprise Response Fund (CERF) in a bid to provide grant support to producers of medical and personal protective gears to meet their growing demand.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi lunched the $17.5 million fund with an aim to tap potential of Covid-19 protective gears in local and international markets.The move comes as Covid-19 pandemic has created a huge demand for Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (MPPE) products in both home and abroad.
With the initiative, producers of personal protective equipment (PPE), their linked enterprises and diagnostic and clinical equipment makers will get financial benefit.
An eligible entrepreneur will be able to get $50,000 to the highest $5 lakh grants from the fund being run with the World Bank’s financial support.
The fund has been created under Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) of the ministry of commerce.
The grants are being given as the Export Readiness Fund (ERF) under matching grant programme of EC4J.
The SME entrepreneurs will get 60 percent grants from the fund and they have to contribute the rest 40 percent, while large industrial entrepreneurs will get 50 percent grants.PPE, diagnostic equipment, clinical care equipment, designing and technical development of MPPE products, packaging and diversifying, product designing according to buyers demand will get support from the fund.
MPPE supporting activities like research, product development, testing, certification and innovation will also get grants from the funds.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi remained present at the virtual launching of the fund as the chief guest. Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman and World Bank Country Director Mercy Miyang Tembon joined the virtual launching as special guests.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Md Jafar Uddin presided over the launching ceremony of the fund.
“Tipu said the purpose of producing these medical safety products for COVID-19 is not only for tapping the domestic market, but also the international market,” Tipu Munshi said, terming the intiative a “timely step.”
Mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the global economy including Bangladesh, he said, “We’ll have to take pragmatic steps to face this deadly virus.”
“We hope our producers will take advantage of the fund to successfully face the COVID-19. I believe it (CERF) will work for the interest of the people and also for the world,” the minister added.
Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Salman F Rahman said that the government of Bangladesh has taken various steps to face the pandemic while CERF is one of such pragmatic initiatives to build resilience of the domestic producers of such medical equipment in the ever-changing world.
“It will strengthen the government’s plan to boost the export market,” he remarked.
He hoped that this matching grants facility under window four of ERF would help the local entrepreneurs to expand their export market.
Noting that the CERF would strengthen the base of medical equipment producers in the country, the Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce said that this would give safety to people from this deadly COVID-19 virus in one hand and also facilitate exports on the other hand.
Dr Jafar also urged the local entrepreneurs to come forward and thus apply for this grant on first come, first serve basis adding “Let us fight against COVID-19 and overcome it.”
World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh Mercy Tembon said the COVID-19 has come before the world as a shock and the pandemic is hitting the poor severely.
Highlighting some salient features of the CERF supported by the World
Bank, Mercy Tembon said the World Bank is committed to enhance the competitiveness of the country as well as would continue to help building a resilient economy and achieving robust growth.
She mentioned that this CERF would boost production of medical products by the local entrepreneurs, increase domestic supply and thus increase exports.
With the rolling out of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country, the World Bank Country Director hoped that Bangladesh would bounce back better in the coming days.
She also hoped that the CERF would go a long way to the process of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. CERF grants will be made available to private Bangladeshi firms from any industry sector, providing they have or have evidenced plans to manufacture qualifying MPPE products.
Out of the total applications, about 50 applications will be accepted on competitive basis for this CERF.
Export diversification is a key priority for the Government of Bangladesh in order to continue to deliver accelerated growth, sustainable development and increased job creation for the country.
In line with this objective, the ministry of commerce is implementing the EC4J Project, supported by the World Bank.
The purpose of ERF is to integrate Bangladesh in the value chain of the global export market. The Export Readiness Fund provides grant-based incentives to firms to support exports from Bangladesh.