THE government is yet to quantify the widespread devastation caused by the current flood. Guesstimates, however, abound and sectors of the economy hardest hit by the flood have meanwhile come under an assessment with rough figures on the immensity of the loss they may have to sustain. The condition of the garment industry, for example, is very precarious. It is already bracing for the post-MFA uncertainties a few months hence, and as ill luck would have it, it is again the same industry that has to bear the brunt of the flood. The knitwear-making units have estimated the magnitude of the damage that they have been put through. Their apex body, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), has put its projected loss figure at Taka 8.0 billion in terms of the lost export earnings from 750 manufacturing units affected by the deluge.
If the flood lingers, the magnitude of the damage will be higher. Similarly, the garment industry has also been equally affected and as such is also trying to assess the magnitude of the damage. Half a million garment workers are jobless as a result of the flood as 1061 garment units situated in the flood-prone areas of Dhaka and Narayanganj had to be closed down. An equivalent number of garment units are similarly threatened with closure. It is feared that some 55,000 more garment workers may become jobless in the event of further worsening of the flood situation. The textiles sector, the hosiery industry, the handloom units, the re-rolling mills, the small and medium enterprises and the cold-storages, nay most industrial sectors, have the same story of misfortune to tell. The destruction of the communications infrastructure and the agriculture that the deluge has brought in its wake is beyond comprehension. And the most distressing part of the whole story is that, it is only the severity of the ravages of the flood that such primary assessments and estimates bring to light. The cost of healing the gashing wounds inflicted on the economy and the price to be paid over the entire period until normality is restored are, in a word, inestimable. But still, the authorities will have to put their heads together to figure out what resources they have and what they would need to marshal to meet the challenges of rehabilitating the flood-hit industry.
In this context, it is necessary to know what the individual units of each sector of the affected industry need to tide over the crisis, before any bail-out strategy is planned. This is because it is important to identify the top priority areas in need of urgent interventions for salvaging. On the other hand, it would also reduce misuse and ensure economy. For resources are scarce and one has to be careful about the apportionment of the remedial packages for the victim industries. The good news is that the leading business forum of the country -- the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) -- has in the meantime swung into action to assess the damage. The government, on its part, should also employ its competent agencies to fathom the real extent of the destruction. And it is through such cross-checking with different sources and methods of evaluation that it is possible to reach a correct assessment of the situation.
The flood has affected the economy irreversibly. But that is one aspect of the tragedy that can be narrated in economic terms. The human dimension of the calamity is more horrifying. In the countryside, the enormity of the damage to the lives and properties of the peasant families and to the standing crops they had worked hard to grow, cannot be narrated in purely economic terms. Still, there is some estimate and that hovers around the figure of Taka 23 billion.