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Bangladesh unveils $500m stimulus

DHAKA, Apr 19 – Bangladesh will pump an extra 500 million dollars into the economy over the next 10 weeks to help the impoverished country weather the global economic meltdown, its finance minister said Sunday.

"To face the challenges of the global economic recession, the Bangladeshi government has prepared a 3,424-crore-taka (500-million-dollar) stimulus package to stimulate the country\’s economy," finance minister A.M.A. Muhith told reporters.

About half the money will be used in the country\’s agricultural sector, a finance ministry statement said, adding that 65 million dollars would be directed to help boost exports.

More financial help would be included in the budget for the next financial year, to be announced in June, the ministry statement said.

"The money is an emergency response that has been allocated until the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2009 to stimulate the economy immediately," finance secretary Mohammad Tareque told AFP.

The government package is less than the 877 million dollars industry leaders said last month was needed immediately for the export sector alone.

Clothing manufacture underpins Bangladesh\’s industrial activity, accounting for 80 percent of overseas sales and pulling in 11 billion dollars a year.

Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Annisul Huq said the package appeared to fall short of the amount needed to prop the export-reliant economy up.

Bangladesh\’s exports have nose-dived as orders from Europe and the US — the two markets that account for much of the country\’s overseas sales — have plummeted.

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Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations on the planet with 40 percent of its 144 million people living on less than a dollar a day.

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