The Financial Express

Pandemic robs stock investors’ Eid festivity

| Updated: May 26, 2020 10:32:25

Investors monitoring stock price movements on computer screens at a brockerage house in Dhaka city. — FE/Files Investors monitoring stock price movements on computer screens at a brockerage house in Dhaka city. — FE/Files

Kamrul Hossain, a stock investor who lives at Gopibagh in Dhaka, celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr in 2019 with an enthusiastic and festive mood with his family. He bought new dresses for all six members of the family and even distributed some money to his near and dear ones.

But this year, there is no Eid joy for his family members as the fast-spreading deadly virus has cast shadow over their festivity like many other people across the world.

He has been unable to withdraw funds selling shares since the market closed on March 26 in parallel with public holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Having no other business, he now has no income as well.

“We are in dire straits and passing through a critical time amid ongoing Covid-19 crisis as I have no other income source,” Mr Hossain told the FE on Sunday.

He said that they (small investors) are the worst sufferers due to the long market closure as most of them could not withdraw funds.

“I have never seen an Eid in my lifetime like this,” he said in an emotionally choked voice.

Like Mr Hossain, many small investors are passing through a hard time and they are not in a position to celebrate Eid even in home quarantine in this critical situation as their income dried up.

Employees of many brokerage houses are also in an awful situation amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis as they did not get any salary for the month of April or any bonus for Eid due to the market closure.

The trading and settlement activities on the bourses have remained shut since March 26 as the government announced general holidays to contain the spread of deadly coronavirus.

Bangladesh is the only country in the world where stock trading has remained closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ongoing market closure is the longest since the last shutdown in 1969, when the mass upsurge took place. The market resumed in 1976, according to DSE officials.

Unlike others sectors, different stake holders of Bangladesh capital market have been severely affected since January this year, he said.

And the long market closure, at the latest, has further compounded the woes of small investors and brokerage houses.

“We are now passing through a very crucial time due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a stockbroker.

The downtrend trend of the stock market has been ongoing since 2018 and Covid-19 escalated the sufferings of the small investors and different stakeholders of the Bangladesh stock market, he said.

The small – and already afflicted – investors have no income now as share trading remains halted for around two consecutive months.

Meanwhile, trading and settlement activities on both the stock exchanges are set to resume on May 31 after a 66-day break, which officials said will continue even if the countrywide general holidays for Covid-19 extend further.


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