What the papers say

Danger Inside the Home

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 25 June 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…there was a proposal put forth to decrease domestic violence. Many private school teachers haven’t been paid in months, but small relief may come soon. And the news about the hajj may mean financial losses for many Bangladeshi businesses.

Education and the Labour Market

Services for victims of domestic violence are faltering during the pandemic said NGOs during a webinar that followed a report about increasing violence against women from Manusher Jonno Foundation. Separately, MJF called on the religious affairs ministry and religious institutions to raise awareness in partnership with MJF because “people value information circulated from religious institutions.”

An “online” learning platform is in the works at BRAC University. The aim of the platform, named ‘buX’, is to provide learning opportunities to students wherever they are, including when they have poor internet connection.

Other private universities are also concerned with access to remote education: With schools shut and concerns about internet classes forefront, universities requested a new tax on mobile phone services not apply to students, and they suggested low-cost internet packages could be sold to students through the universities.

Financial Services

Returnee migrant workers are getting financial support from a new programme by BRAC. From a list of 16,000 workers, BRAC selected 7,250 to receive benefits, and the organisation said just over 1,500 workers have already received aid through mobile financial services.

Non-government teachers could get financial assistance from the government if one of two proposals from the prime education ministry gets approval. The proposals grant teachers not enrolled in the government Monthly Pay Order program a one-time payment of either Tk 5,000 or Tk 8,000. Schools closed March 17, and authorities at private institutions said many teachers have not received salary.

Recently, the Bangladesh Bank approved 75 companies for loans from the stimulus package. Among the companies that received approval are BSRM, GPH Ispat, Runner Automobiles and Shanta Holdings. Last month, the central bank only approved ten companies for loans.

Meanwhile, smaller businesses do not have access to government assistance according to advocates for small and medium enterprises. One expert said about 80 percent of employment in Bangladesh is through such businesses; he urged the government to disburse stimulus through local microfinance institutions.

Business, Investments, Trade and Growth

The World Bank approved $1.05 billion for response to COVID-19, economic recovery and job creation in Bangladesh. The terms allocate the money to three specific projects, with a focus on jobs for women and youth. One project aims to create 150,000 jobs—of which 40 percent in software parks and 20 percent in economic zones will be for women. A second project includes training for 100,000 youth in digital and disruptive technologies.

Additionally, the World Bank urged Bangladesh to develop a stronger legal and regulatory environment “to support the next wave of digital development”.

Advertising on Facebook in Bangladesh just became easier: Facebook designated a country-specific authorized sales partner for ads on their platform—global digital ad company Httpool is now serving Bangladeshi companies.

Saudi Arabia decided to not allow hajj pilgrims from abroad due to fear of coronavirus. The decision to ban foreigners from the pilgrimage, likely to fall on 31 July, means financial losses for private hajj agencies and Biman Bangladesh airlines. This year, some 17,000 Bangladeshis were scheduled to go with the religious affairs ministry and 123,000 had signed to travel with private agencies.

Farmers and Agriculture

Ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, some public health experts and Islamic clerics have endorsed centralizing the traditional ritual of slaughtering cattle, which is usually done at individual homes. One suggestion is for Bangladesh to enact a system similar to Saudi Arabia’s, where people pay for the government to do the ritual en masse on their behalf.

The government doubled the quantity of paddy and wheat it will buy from individual farmers. The decision comes as the government is trying to procure twice the amount of Boro paddy compared to last year’s target and the market price of Boro paddy has become more competitive with government prices.

Other News

COVID-19 Update: There are 122,660 confirmed cases and 1,582 deaths according to the website of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control, and Research. The Directorate General of Health Services is also reporting the death rate is 1.3 percent, and notably, the IEDCR said males are 77 percent of deaths and 71 percent of infections in the country.

In other virus-related news, people continue to report many hospitals are refusing patients; beds in ICU units are lacking; forty-four doctors have died of COVID-19; experts expressed concern hospitals aren’t managing PPE and infection prevention and control measures; and now fake COVID-19 certificates are for sale.

The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association received the “Rule of Law” award from Tang Prize Foundation. BELA works on issues such as river pollution, industrial pollution, illegal construction, labour welfare, reduction of plastic use and prevention of pollution from shipbreaking, and they have handled more than 250 public interest lawsuits.

The bike sharing mobile app, Jobike, has expanded to the Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara areas in Dhaka, and cost to ride is Tk 1 per minute. The service already operates in Mirpur DOHS and Cox’s Bazar, as well as at numerous public universities across the country.