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What the papers say

Under Lockdown

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, The Financial Express, Bdnews24 and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association. Here is the news for the week ending 14 May 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…some universities continue to operate during the coronavirus lockdown. Garment factories open, albeit with health and safety audits; farmers struggle with decreasing demand and BRAC tries to increase testing for the virus.

Education and the Labour Market

The Bangladesh University Grants Commission (UGC) issued instructions for finishing the current semester online to private universities, which have been closed since March due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Previously, the UGC said that all public and private universities should hold classes online.

However, Dhaka University, the country’s largest public university, announced it will not hold classes online because many students do not have adequate internet access.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) continued auditing health and safety protocols in garment factories. As of 11 May, BGMEA said conditions in 492 of the 508 factories audited were satisfactory. Audits are happening as many factories reopened in late April.

Meanwhile, some garment workers protested prorated or withheld salary payments.

Financial Services

The central Bangladesh Bank directed banks to relax requirements for loans to cottage, micro, small and medium entrepreneurs in order to distribute loans under a Tk 20-billion stimulus package for the small-business sector.

Business, Investments, Trade and Growth

The Asian Development Bank authorized $500 million in loans for Bangladesh to respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic and another $100 million to fund public health efforts.

The ready-made garment industry continues to contend with foreign retail companies canceling orders and asking for discounts, although retailer Kmart reconsidered its request for a 30-percent discount on orders already made.

Farmers and Agriculture

Previously, the central bank announced interest-rate cuts from nine to four percent on loans for crop and grain farmers. On behalf of salt farmers, the Bangladesh Small Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) lobbied banks to also provide salt farmers loans at the lower interest rate because, according to BSCIC, salt is currently selling below the cost of production.

Similarly, egg producers are struggling as demand for eggs has decreased. The state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh reported eggs are selling about 13-percent below the price a year ago.

Other News

The Daily Star is reporting the COVID-19 shutdown will likely be extended until 30 May. The shutdown, which started 26 March, is currently scheduled to end 16 May.

BRAC announced it will set up 100 walk-in COVID-19 testing kiosks across the country. The NGO has already installed 17 kiosks in the Dhaka area.

Around 100 volunteers trained to help people infected with COVID-19 in the south-western Bagerhat district. The volunteers intend to help COVID-19 patients obtain their daily needs, including food, medicine and transportation.

And that’s the news for the week ending 14 May 2020.

1 reply on “Under Lockdown”

Good to see that BSCIC is lobbying for support to salt farmers. The salt farmers are vulnerable because it’s expensive to produce salt in Bangladesh compared to neighbouring India.

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