What the papers say

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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 and The Financial Express. Here is the news for the week ending 28 May 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…blacklisting buyers? Bangladeshi garment suppliers push back. Japan may invest, and while farmers face the consequences of cyclone Amphan, offices are allowed to open after two months of COVID closures.

Education and the Labour Market

Some 25,000 workers from garment factories demonstrated in districts around the country on 21 May. Workers demanded 100 percent Eid bonus, May salaries and the reopening of factories. Previously, the government directed factory owners to pay the Eid bonus in two installments: one before the holiday and one after, and recently, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said about 94 percent of member factories have paid April salaries.

BGMEA also warned they will blacklist buyers that do not pay Bangladeshi suppliers. Prior to the general announcement, BGMEA confronted British billionaire Philip Day’s Edinburgh Woollen Mill group: the association admonished Day’s business for not paying for clothes shipped before 25 March. Timely payments help factory owners secure salaries for garment workers.

About 87 percent of migrant workers who have returned have no income opportunities according to a BRAC survey. Eighty four percent are uncertain about future plans and only 6 percent expressed desire to return to their work abroad. In addition, 74 percent said they are depressed and stressed. BRAC recommended the government launch a reintegration program to support those returning due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

The International Labour Organization expressed concern about youth employment during the pandemic. Following the release of a world report on COVID-19 and work, the ILO said 27 percent of Bangladeshi youth are not employed, in school or in training and global data shows the crisis is disproportionately affecting young people and women.

Financial Services

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, motivated by the severe economic impacts of the pandemic, went beyond its normal role as a lender for infrastructure projects; in an unusual move, the AIIB authorized $250 million in loans to Bangladesh to support efforts to help the poor and vulnerable.

Also the European Union and several European countries promised money to assist Bangladesh. The EU allocated some $367 million and specified another $270,000 for the Directorate General of Health Services. In addition, the French Development Agency promised $165 million.

Business, Investment, Trade and Growth

The Japan External Trade Organisation in Bangladesh asked Bangladesh to concede some benefits before Japan further invests in the country. JETRO’s requests included flights for investors and officials, reliable access to Chattogram port, permission to lay off employees and access to government stimulus packages. Previously, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry urged Japanese companies looking to move out of China to consider moving to Bangladesh.

Farmers and Agriculture

Cyclone Amphan caused losses in sectors of the agriculture industry, including fishing and mangoes. In the South and Southwest, the storm washed away shrimp from enclosures and fell mangoes from trees.

Meanwhile, many rice farmers are faring better, as the price of rice has increased compared to last year. However, there are fears buyers are stockpiling rice to profit, which could cause further hardship for consumers.

Combined harvester machines could save farmers time and labor costs said the Department of Agricultural Extension, and the government has sold machines to three farmers at 50 percent subsidized cost, Taka 1.4 million per unit. The machines enable farmers to harvest and clean one acre of paddy land for Taka 3,000 instead of the usual Taka 6,000.

Other News

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research is reporting 559 dead and 40,321 infected with COVID-19 at the time of writing. The IEDCR updates the numbers daily on their website.

Many of the COVID-related shutdown measures, in progress since 26 March, will end 30 May. The government has said government offices, private offices and airlines can resume business 31 May and some public transports will start operating.