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 5th May 2016.
This week in the Bangladesh English Press…
…Bangladesh’s growth projections look optimistic, even if they come with attached concerns. Reports revealed that skills training and a better work environment could greatly improve Bangladesh’s standing as a regional leader on garments. Oil price drops reduce remittance flow back to Bangladesh. Row in Chittagong slows water transport cargo movement.
Projected growth looks optimistic
The UN is predicting steadily rising growth for Bangladesh over the coming years, hitting 7 percent next year. The optimistic projection came with a couple of caveats, including concerns over rising inequality and the slow rate of poverty reduction. Some say, including fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Debapriya Bhattacharya, that GDP growth may not actually benefit the poor.
Moody’s Investors Service has also elevated Bangladesh’s credit rating in response to stable and strong growth, and a relatively modest debt burden. Much like the UN comments, the Moody rating change comes with some notable asterisks, such as low per capita income, persistent fiscal deficits and a factious political environment which poses credit constraints. Weak infrastructure could also constrain the potential for further growth. Even though both the UN and Moody’s shared concerns over the future of the Bangladesh economy, they also both appreciated the positive steps the country is taking.
Better future with garment industry
More jobs can be created in the garments sector with better skills training and by improving social and environmental compliance, reported the World Bank. In a study released at the end of last month, the World Bank found that as wages and costs increase in China, Bangladesh is in a unique position to increase its market share of the garments export. But this position depends on increased skills training and a better work environment to achieve better growth. Promoting more women working in garments should also be a top priority for Bangladesh as it has the potential to change the social and economic dynamics of the country for the better.
Remittances shrink amidst falling oil prices
Remittances returning to Bangladesh dropped this past year as low oil prices likely hurt wages of foreign workers reported the World Bank. A study published at the end of last month showed that a drop of 7.75 percent in total remittance flows into Bangladesh is probably due to dropping oil prices which affected the economies of oil producing and exporting countries where 64 percent of Bangladeshi remittances come from. Countries such as Saudi Arabia have begun laying off their foreign workforce in favour of giving nationals work in previously migrant worker concentrated jobs, such as construction. One top-level Saudi executive noted that he would not be surprised if 1 million foreign workers had to leave the country by the end of the year.
Workplace relations conundrum in Chittagong
Imported goods stalled at Chittagong port after water transport owners refused access to light vessels workers use to unload cargo. After a strike to increase wages succeeded in convincing oversight committees last week, owners fought back by denying access to the light vessels required to offload the ships, and instead opted to operate the vehicles themselves. Very few goods could be unloaded, causing a long queue of ships to await servicing in the port. Port authorities are conflicted, either honouring the wage increase and losing business, or scrapping the deal and living with worker discontent.
And that’s the news for the week ending May 5th 2016.