September 20, 2021, 1:53 am
Dhaka: The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) today approved a Taka 427.30 crore project to create employments for the expatriate workers who have returned home from abroad due to the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval came from the 1st ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year (FY22) held today with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official Ganobhaban residence while concerned Ministers, State Ministers, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned attended the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that a total of 10 projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 2,575.42 crore. “Of the total project cost, Taka 2,150.42 crore will come from the Government of Bangladesh while the rest of Taka 425 crore as project assistance,” he added.
Of the approved 10 projects, seven are new while three are revised projects.
Newly appointed State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned also joined the briefing.
Mannan said the Wage Earners Welfare Board under the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment will implement the Taka 427 crore project by December 2023 under which Taka 13,500 would be provided to each of some 2 lakh expatriate workers, who have returned home due to the negative impact of COVID-19 worldwide. The World Bank will provide Taka 425 crore as loan for the project.
He said the workers will be given necessary orientation and counseling while some 23,500 selected skilled workers would be facilitated to get jobs both at home and abroad.
Commenting on the project, the Planning Minister said these expatriate workers have returned home from abroad due to various reasons and they have contributed a lot over the years towards the development of the country.
“Now time has come to pay them back and for this, support will be provided to these returnee workers so that they can be involved in respectable jobs again,” he added.
Dr Shamsul Alam said around 5 lakh expatriate workers have so far returned home while 2 lakh returnee workers would be given support under the project.
He informed that a rich database would be made under the project to ascertain the actual number of returnee workers following the impact of the pandemic and thus support would be provided to them.
Joining the briefing, Planning Commission member Sharifa Khan said that initially 2 lakh returnee workers would be included under the project and the project
coverage would be expanded further in future.
She informed that the support of Taka 13,500 to each returnee worker would help them bear their initial expenses and thus allow them to collect necessary certificates from various agencies.
Answering to a question, Sharifa said that the numbers of around 4.80 lakh returnee workers was collected from the help desk of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The project area covers 32 districts namely – Dhaka, Tangail, Kishoreganj, Narsingdi, Munshiganj, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Mymensingh, Jamalpur, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Pabna, Bogura, Naogaon, Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Barishal, Patuakhali, Kushtia, Jashore, Khulna, Feni, Noakhali, Chandpur, Chattogram, Brahmanbaria, Cox’s Bazar, Rangamati, Cumilla, Sylhet, and Sunamganj.
The project operations also include creating linkage among the technical and financial support providing agencies and the returnee workers so that they can get financial support, creating awareness among the common people including the returnee workers about the operations of Wage Earners Welfare Board through holding meetings, workshops and seminars at the district, upazila and union level.
Referring to the approval of Taka 568.93 crore project to construct three underpasses on Dhaka-Chattagram Highway and U loop at Paduarbazar intersection, Mannan said the Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned and the Roads and Highways Division to keep provision of underpasses, overpasses and U loops while building new roads and highways to ensure smooth movement of vehicles and people and thus save time.
Regarding the approval of Taka 146.87 crore project to construct Bangladesh Chancery Building at Canberra in Australia, he said the Premier asked the authorities concerned to build the chancery there as per the rules and regulations of Australia.
The Prime Minister at that time also recalled that Australia was the first among the OECD countries to recognize Bangladesh after the War of Independence.
Turning to the 3rd revision of district-wise female computer training project with an additional cost of Taka 31.82 crore, Mannan said the Premier asked the authorities concerned to bring the project operations under revenue budget so that the computer training to the females could be given in a much wider scale and in an integrated way.
About the left embankment protection work of River Padma at various places under Louhajang and Tongibari upazilas at Munshiganj district with Taka 446.12 crore, Mannan said the Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned so that the sand quarries could not mushroom here and there as such sand quarries often cause harm to embankments and riverbank structures.
The Prime Minister also suggested to the authorities concerned to keep the provision of milk processing unit at the BSCIC Food Processing Industrial Estate in Thakurgaon to be implemented with a cost of Taka 98.61 crore.
While giving approval to the 1st revision of reconstruction and rehabilitation of iron bridges in the southern part of the country with an additional cost of Taka 498.30 crore, the Premier asked the authorities concerned including the Local Government Division and the Ministry of Shipping so that the bridges are built in proper height and thus there is no hindrance in river vessel movement including goods-laden river vessels.
Planning Commission member Mst Nasima Begum said that a full-fledged pediatric cardiology and pediatric surgery unit will be installed at BSMMU with Taka 72.09 crore.
She said that the Prime Minister has lauded the initiative and she wants such full-fledged units to expand further.
Meanwhile, Dr Shamsul Alam while appearing before the post ECNEC briefing first as a state minister said that his task would be to bring dynamism in the project implementation process since implementation is a very important issue.
He also informed that the Prime Minister also put emphasis on producing herbal medicines in the country.
The other projects approved in the meeting are upgrading district highways with due standard and width, Mymensingh Zone, 1st revision with an additional cost of Taka 111.58 crore, modernization and expansion of services and research facilities of Institute of Tissue Banking and Biomaterial Research with Taka 173.80 crore.