What the papers say

Income Inequality

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 11 June 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…new evidence shows many households have zero income and domestic violence may be on the rise. People are still reeling in the aftermath of cyclone Amphan, but elsewhere, one community shows an amazing achievement by working together.

Education and the Labour Market

A coronavirus testing laboratory for garment workers opened. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association oversaw the inauguration of the lab which can test 180 samples a day. Furthermore, at the opening ceremony, BGMEA President Rubana Huq said while they made efforts to pay workers who lost their jobs in April and May with government stimulus money, 46 garment factories have not paid April salaries to 18,000 workers.

Income earnings in 51 percent of households dropped to zero due to the pandemic according to a BRAC survey. Overall, 95 percent of people suffered income loss in recent months.

A separate report by the Centre for Policy Dialogue said poverty and income inequality will increase as a result of COVID-19.

A smartphone app named Kormo is helping some people find jobs. During the month of April, while the country was in lockdown, the supermarket chain Meena Bazar used the app to hire 400 employees.

The current recruitment cycle for public service jobs set a record for the longest cycle in recent years. In March 2017, the Ministry of Public Administration started the process of recruiting 2,024 new officers. The third round of exams lasted until February this year, and some 9,000 remaining candidates are awaiting publication of the results.

Manusher Jonno Foundation highlighted domestic violence in a report titled “Violence against Women and Children: Covid-19”. Among those surveyed, [98] percent of women were victims of domestic violence and 4,160 women and children said they were abused for the first time in their life in May.

Financial Services

Businesses said banks are not dispersing loans despite the fact they are the designated lenders for stimulus loans. In particular, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry said banks are not cooperating with micro, cottage and small industry owners.

Business, Investment, Trade and Growth

Garment orders are 45 percent lower in June compared to June last year.

The Asian Development Bank signed a deal to invest $17.7 million in a privately-owned solar plant in Bangladesh.

National airline carrier Biman has canceled all flight routes after resuming some domestic flights on 1 June. The carrier announced they will only operate chartered flights for the foreseeable future due to lack of demand. Demand was low as passengers opted for private airlines with lower priced tickets.

Online retailer Daraz announced it will invest nearly $60 million in Bangladesh by 2021. The Alibaba subsidiary aims to expand its logistics infrastructure, including warehouses and sorting centers, so it can increase its business in all 64 districts.

Farmers and Agriculture

Cyclone Amphan damaged farmers’ crops in the Barishal division. A representative of the Department of Agriculture Extension said the storm damaged at least Tk 640 million worth of crops, and chili farmers said their crops were hit hard. The farmers are seeking financial assistance from the Agriculture Ministry.

Shrimp industry organizations asked the government to secure favorable loans for the sector as the ongoing pandemic and recent cyclone damaged business.

Special trains are operating to transfer farmers’ mangoes at a reduced rate.

BRAC surveys found 88 percent of farmers have experienced financial losses because of the pandemic. On average, farmers lost Tk 200,000. Additionally, 64 percent said they knew of the government stimulus for farmers, but 79 percent said they do not know how to obtain it.

One-hundred families with 320 members, many of whom lost their jobs, organized a co-op to farm and feed all members. Started two and a half months ago with the help of the cultural organization Samageet, the group has had great success in sharing food among the families.

Other News

Half of all COVID-19 deaths were reported in the last 16 days owing to a record number of people testing positive for the virus each day. In total, a reported 1,049 have died and 78,052 have been infected.

The government revealed a zone system for implementing measures to contain the virus. Whether or not the system can work is being tested in Rajabazar in Dhaka, as the number of COVID-19 cases there brought the neighborhood into the “red zone” and under lockdown.

Corona Tracer BD became the first contact tracing app for use in Bangladesh. The smartphone app, developed by local company Shohoz, warns users when they come close to someone who has tested positive for the virus. The app is available for download on the Google Play website.