What the papers say

Trade and Investment

A weekly round up of articles about employment, the labor 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 26th October, 2017.

This week in the Bangladesh English Press…

Trade and FDI in Bangladesh have increased. While there have been a few success stories, some problems still exist.

Agriculture continues to face challenges. Some farmers have enjoyed good crop cultivation, whereas others had to bear losses. Banks have shown interest in increasing agriculture loans. This is likely to boost the sector.

Workers both within and outside Bangladesh suffered misfortunes. Unsafe working condition is a major cause. Productivity among women garments workers needs to increase.

The Government has taken good initiatives to enhance women empowerment. Such as access to bank loans, opening help centers for women entrepreneurs and increasing women’s participation in IT related jobs. The Government is also focusing on youth development and employment.

The National Board of Revenue is set to hold tax fairs, workshops and conduct studies.

Business in and outside Bangladesh

Accord and Alliance will leave Bangladesh in May 2018. Responsibilities will be handed over to the Remediation Coordination Cell. The cell will operate under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Garment factories have incurred high costs for factory remediation following observations of the two agencies.

Closure of the Kishoreganj Textile Mills Ltd after it was handed over to the private sector caused unemployment. It also violated government conditions. As a result, the Government has taken back the mill from the private sector.

Production costs for garment factories have increased. Inadequate gas supply, traffic congestion and poor power supply are the major causes. Manufacturers have to depend on air shipments to maintain delivery dates set by international buyers. Bangladeshi garment traders are falling behind competitor countries.

The Government’s initiative to establish economic zones began in 2010. Mirsarai is one of the many economic zones. Industries are set to start operation in Mirsarai in 2018. BEZA’s main target is to attract foreign investment and create job opportunities.

Earnings per share (EPS) of Islami Bank has declined. This leaves many investors worried and concerned.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) won approval to register Jamdani as a GI product on behalf of the weavers. Small and big weavers of Jamdani can now brand the traditional fabric in both local and international markets.

Sixty six weavers have already received the tag. More weavers have been asked to apply for registration.

India is one of the biggest markets for Bangladeshi Jute products. The anti-dumping duty imposed on the product by the Indian government hampers the business of the jute mills.

Bangladesh enjoyed an increase in FDI. Telecom, textile and garment, and power sector have the highest inflows. The most FDI came from Singapore followed by the UK.

Mobile phone operators have injected capital into the economy. Foreign companies have made profits and increased their reinvestment in the country.

Bangladesh can become a regional trade hub. Improved transport infrastructure can reduce the transport cost and make the country more competitive.

The ADB’s investment in upgrading the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor will boost trade. Further work will be done on road safety and making the highway user-friendly for women. The work period of the project is 10 years.

Trade with Germany has been economically beneficial for Bangladesh. But, corruption scares German investors from investing in Bangladesh.

Marks & Spencer is expected to source more garment products from Bangladesh.

Higher investments and strong intraregional trade is helping Asia to recover in world trade. ADB aims to reduce poverty in Asia through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Akij Jute Mills is about to purchase a Malaysian company. It is the seventh Bangladeshi company to invest abroad.

Dhaka University will host a two-day international conference on 30th October. Academics and professionals will discuss developing strategies to meet the challenges of global business in the years to come.

Agriculture in Bangladesh

Agriculture loan rise by 23 per cent. Growth in industrial loan disbursement has been very low. Banks are more interested in disbursing agricultural and consumer loans.

Cheap and substandard pesticides sold by traders destroyed crops of Khochabari farmers.

Farmers enjoy benefits of two-crop farming in Lalmonirhat. Higher profits for the same expenditure benefits farmers.

Mahalchhari fishermen give yearly revenues to government. But they get receive few government facilities in return.

Strong wind flattens Aman paddy. Lalmonirhat farmers are about to bear a heavy loss.

A ban on hilsha farming comes to an end. But fishermen still complain about not receiving 20 Kg rice as a part of a compensation package. The ban caused monetary loss to many fishermen. Officials confirm the rice compensation will be allotted to them soon.

Production of boro crops has seen a decline due to recent floods. But Aus and Aman crop production has increased. The price of rice has increased. This was caused by low stocks of food grains and the floods.

Inequality in terms of wealth between the rich and the poor has seen a significant increase. A decrease in the rate of poverty reduction is a bigger issue. Agriculture faces major challenges. Such as poor irrigation, a decline in groundwater levels, arsenic pollution, and vulnerability to natural disasters.

Government must address the root causes. Expanding the control of resources among the poor; farm sector growth; shifting landless people to more skilled areas of production; increasing investment in farm research and development; and better monetary policies should be implemented.

In order to boost stocks, government is set to import more rice from Thailand.

Development projects and new initiatives makes Barendra region successful in fruit farming.

Hazardous working conditions

Unsafe working condition takes the life of yet another construction worker.

Electrocution caused deaths of two Jessore workers.

Three workers of a ship-breaking yard are injured in Narayanganj in a fire.

Purchase of scrapped ships in Bangladesh has cost many lives. Working without protective gear and exposure to harmful toxins cause workers’ deaths. And workers’ wage in the ship-breaking industry is very low.

Workplace absence reduces workers’ productivity. If provided with proper health support and education on sexual and reproductive health, female garment workers can avoid absence from work. This will boost their productivity.

Yet another construction worker dies at a construction site.

Informal sector

Hawkers are said to be occupying the city footpaths illegally. A complaint leads the Sylhet court to issue an arrest warrant.

Women and IT

Programs like Digital Innovation Challenge for Women 2017 lays out platforms for women to participate in IT related businesses. Government is keen to see women’s involvement in the IT sector.

Government is set to host an IT job fair in Chittagong on 26th October. Graduates will get an opportunity to seek jobs in IT.

Women entrepreneurs continue to have poor access to bank loans. At a seminar organized by the Centre on Budget and Policy of Dhaka University and the Asia Foundation, speakers spoke about the importance of the issue.

The former governor of the Bangladesh Bank appealed to the finance ministry to give the money allotted for women entrepreneurs to the central bank. The money will be used as a credit guarantee scheme for women entrepreneurs. So, banks will not hesitate to provide loans to women entrepreneurs.

A tax fair was organized by NBR in Chittagong  for female taxpayers. The chairman of NBR spoke about the establishment of a help center for women entrepreneurs in Chittagong. Information related to trade activities will be provided at the center.

In an attempt to boost women empowerment, Teletalk launches its “Aparajita” package only for women users. Access to internet and talktime at lower rates are some of the benefits of the package. Two million SIM cards will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Recognition of rural women workers’ contribution was urged at a recent conference. Manusher Jonno Foundation and Karmojibi Nari were the co-organizers of the conference.

Youth and employment

Ten shortlisted social, cultural and sports organizations receives Joy Bangla Youth Award.

The need of technical and behavioral training to fight youth unemployment was discussed at the roundtable discussion. It was organized by Swisscontact and the Daily Star.

Entrepreneurs in the informal sector have to ensure the rights of their employees.

Sheikh Hasina National Youth Development Institute Act, 2017 gets the cabinet’s approval. The institute aims to create efficient manpower through necessary training and education provided to the youth.

Migrant workers in Malaysia

A few Bangladeshi migrant workers became victims of a recent landslide at a construction site in Malaysia. Workers from Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar were also among the victims. A rescue operation is being conducted to recover the trapped workers. Three foreign workers were found dead.

Meanwhile, thirty-nine Bangladeshi workers were caught by the Malaysian immigration police. They did not have proper travel documents.

Qatar is said to have signed 36 worker protection agreements with countries that send migrant labourers.

Banking and Revenue

NRB will hold tax fairs in 103 upazilas this year. This will help to complete tax-related formalities and tax submission without having to visit tax offices.

A study to measure the performance of active customs stations will be conducted by NBR. A four-day national workshop has been organized. Participants from customs, trade bodies, ports, testing institutions and plant quarantine will be present at the workshop.

Bangladesh Bank lessens penalty for commercial banks failing to meet farm loan disbursement targets.

The new financial reporting act will ensure transparency in accounting and auditing of firms. The chairman of the financial reporting council says more coordination will take place rather than regulation.

And that’s the news for the week ending 26th October, 2017.