The government has not yet issued any instruction regarding the closure of industrial units, including the ready-made garments (RMG) factories, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said on Wednesday.
Industries/factories can stay open abiding by the existing health safety guidelines, he added.
The minister was responding to questions from the newsmen after chairing a high-level emergency meeting that was attended by business leaders, among others.
"Our decision was that factories having export orders can continue their operations if they want so," he said.
"If factories do not have export orders, why should they keep their production lines running?'' he questioned.
Many export orders relating to the apparel sector have been cancelled recently, he added.
The high-level meeting, held at his secretariat chamber, took stock of the overall trade and economic situation and decided on the next course of action necessary to minimise the impacts of coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
The commerce minister said, "We are making preparations for the RMG sector as it is the most important one of the country. The government has announced a fund for the apparel sector for providing loans at a 2.0 per cent interest rate."
"We have discussed the disbursement process of the fund and how this opportunity can be utilised," he added.
He explained that a misconception has arisen about the financial package for the RMG sector, but this is not grant.
Rather, it is a loan to be given to the sector at a 2.0 per cent interest rate. The loan has to be paid back within a time period, he added.
"We will make a standard procedure within two or three days after sorting out different issues for the disbursement of the fund among workers/labourers concerned," Mr. Munshi said.
Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed, cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, National Board of Revenue (NBR) chairman Abu Hena Muhammad Rahmatul Muneem, finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder, commerce secretary Dr Md. Jafar Uddin, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Rubana Huq, BKMEA president AKM Salim Osman MP, Md Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin) MP-elect, Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) president Abdus Salam Murshedy MP, Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) president Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury (Parvez) and other stakeholders attended the meeting.
Replying to a question, Army Chief General Aziz Ahmed said the required number of army personnel will be deployed to deal with the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
"The army is working under the direction of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has compared the coronavirus pandemic to a war. We are soldiers. We are always ready to fight. We are ready to help everyone," he added.
The cabinet secretary urged the people to stay indoors and maintain social distancing as per the government's advice to keep COVID-19 at bay.
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