A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labour market, skills training and workforce development.This week’s round up is drawn from The Daily Star. Here is the news for the week ending 4th February 2016.
This week in the Bangladesh English Press…
…we hear about familiar challenges in the leather and garments sectors. We consider how talented expatriate Bangladeshis could bring their expertise home. An alarming number of deaths among Bangladeshi labourers abroad is reported. And we review a mixed outlook for the labour economy.
Industry: Labour Rights, the Environment and Infrastructure
The apparel and leather products industries are the great powerhouses of Bangladesh’s economies. And both are meeting their different challenges.
Partners to the Sustainability Compact noted progress made in recent years on workplace safety reported The Daily Star.
The textile and garments sector can provide about two million jobs every year to people looking for their first job.
At the second meeting of the Sustainability Compact held in Dhaka this week Canada joined the group. The USA had joined earlier.
Bangladesh signed the Sustainability Compact with the EU in 2013 following the tragic incidents at Tazreen Fashions and Rana Plaza.
But speakers at the meeting remarked that further progress was needed on labour rights.
The textile and garments sector can provide about two million jobs every year to people looking for their first job. The President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association made this comment during the thirteenth annual textile machinery exhibition. The event started on the 28th of January in Dhaka.
Busting the myth of a cheap labour, the US Ambassador commented there were countries with less expensive workers that can’t compete with Bangladesh.
The state minister for textiles and jute inaugurated the event. He said the government is now setting up nine textile colleges and 13 textile institutes to build skills in the sector.
The event was organized by Bangladesh Textile Mills Association.
At another event the United States Ambassador said Bangladesh has a skilled workforce that delivers quality products on time. Busting the myth of a cheap labour, the Ambassador commented there were countries with less expensive workers that can’t compete with Bangladesh. A number of speakers contributed to a roundtable organized by The Daily Star and the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
And while the textile sector is modernising , leather is lagging behind.
“How long will it take?” Asks The Daily Star. The Government is helping companies relocate their tanneries to a dedicated facility in Savar. According to The Daily Star the facility is about half complete but not a single factory has moved from the current location in Hazaribagh. The relocation is a critical step in protecting the environment from the harmful chemicals used in the processing of leather hides.
The Government has set a deadline of March 1st for the move and a senior industrialist believes the relocation could be completed by the middle of the year.
The Daily Star added to the debate in an editorial criticising the pace of relocation.
But a more complex economic analysis reflects on the relationship between industry and infrastructure such as the Savar facility.
Tragedy and Potential: The Bangladeshi Expatriate
Official figures state that more than 3,000 Bangladeshi workers have died overseas in each of the last two years.
The Daily Star asks if enough is being done to support talented returnees. We all know that expatriate Bangladeshis make a significant contribution to the economy by remitting their earnings. But what about potential entrepreneurs that have new ideas and businesses they want to set up if they come back to Bangladesh?
The editorial makes two observations: There could be more opportunities for expatriates to share new ideas with universities in Bangladesh. And entrepreneurs need access to capital to bring new ideas from abroad to the local market.
But we all know that many Bangladeshi expatriates are not part of the knowledge industry. Many are engaged as simple labourers and often in harsh conditions.
Most of the workers are younger than 40 but heart attacks and strokes are leading causes of death. And that’s despite passing medicals before leaving the country.
More than 500 have died each year in work place accidents. The Ministry for Expatriates Welfare will start an investigation says The Daily Star.
News on Labour and the Economy
“Employment serves as a bridge between growth and equity,” was a key message from Sadiq Ahmed. Launching “Growth with equity: contemporary development challenges of Bangladesh” at the Policy Research Institute in Dhaka, Ahmed cited a number of policies necessary for equitable growth.
Bangladesh is still regarded as “mostly unfree” on an index of economic freedom
The International Monetery Fund revised its projection for GDP growth this year downwards from 6.5 per cent to 6.3 per cent. The Fund commended Bangladesh on its management of the economy. It said that growth will increase to 7 per cent over the medium term.
In contrast Bangladesh is still regarded as “mostly unfree” on an index of economic freedom. In the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom Bangladesh fell six places to 137 out of 186 countries. The index is published jointly by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. “Mostly unfree” is the second lowest category followed by “repressed.”
And on a final note: Salt and Rice
Farmers are shifting from aus rice cultivation to summer vegetables for higher profits agriculture officials said.
Around 55,000 marginal salt producers in Cox’s Bazaar are benefiting from a government policy introduced in 2011. The policy discourages the import of salt.
Demand for salt is being met from domestic sources and increased prices for salt is benefitting the local economy.
So that’s the news from The Daily Star for this week.