What the papers say

Regaining Ground

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 15th October 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…a report on the unemployment rate. Some garment factories report the percentage of their operating capacity. And ideas to mechanise and increase productivity in the farming sector.

Education and Labour Market

Unemployment decreased from 22 percent in July to 4 percent in September according to a phone survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Skilled and unskilled daily wage earners employed by the government will get a raise – Tk 100 more a day. In the Dhaka and Chattogram city corporations this means skilled and unskilled workers will now receive Tk 600 and Tk 575 per a day, respectively.

Financial Services

Employer contributions to a central fund to provide support workers in the garment sector decreased 14 percent in the last fiscal year. The fund was started in 2016 and has since distributed Tk 85.39 crore – Tk 79.41 crore has gone to the beneficiaries, such as heirs, of deceased workers. Last week, we wrote about how the Bangladesh Bank urged banks to make deposits to the fund.

The identities of recipients of social security allowances are being verified in 112 subdistricts. The Ministry of Social Welfare has undertaken the initiative with the national identity (NID) database maintained by the Election Commission. It allowed one man to finally enlist for an old age allowance after years of being denied by local officials. In a second case, an 82-year-old man was denied because his NID erroneously says he is 32 years old.

Business, Investments, Trade and Growth

Many small and medium garment factories remain unopened. “About 300 small factories have remained shut” according to Md Rezwan Selim, a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Of those that are opened, some are not operating at full capacity; the Daily Star talked with four factory owners who reported running at 70-80 percent capacity.

New foreign investors are interested in the leather industry, said industry insiders. The investors are from Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam, and their interest comes following government permission to tanneries inside the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate (STIE) to set up individual effluent treatment plants. Previously, the tanneries had been waiting for construction of a central effluent treatment plant, which is required in order to meet global standards to protect the environment from tannery wastewater.

Construction on the Padma bridge started again, and with the newest span the bridge is now as long as the Bangabandhu bridge: 4.8 km. Once completed, the bridge will be 6.15 km, and it will connect Dhaka with the Southwest.

Farmers and Agriculture

A 22-day ban on catching hilsa fish will go into effect on 4th November to support the 10-year effort to increase the fish population. And the outcomes are looking good according to Anisur Rahman, who is the chief scientific officer of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute in Chandpur. He said after the eggs hatch, “Even if 5 percent fry survive, the fish production will increase by around 10 percent next year.”

Can transplanter machinery save rice farmers time and money? Experts argue it can. They said transplanters will aid in the labour shortage farmers face during peak planting seasons. Moreover, the machine can ensure seeds are sown at a proper distance, a task that is difficult and time consuming to do manually.

Other News

This week, anti-rape protestors took to the streets in multiple cities and promoted multi-step plans for systematic reform. The government, in response, drafted a bill that would allow capital punishment for rapists. Some anti-rape protestors said the death penalty is not the solution. Amnesty International also weighed in, calling the death penalty a “regressive step”. 

Some 45% of people in Dhaka have Covid-19 antibodies, according to a survey by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research. Even more slum dwellers, about 74 percent, have the antibodies. “We have started developing herd immunity against the novel coronavirus,” said the institute’s Dr Ferdausi Qadri.*

*While we have started developing herd immunity, the global scientific community is not yet certain at what percentage a population has Covid-19 herd immunity, which is defined as when, on average, one infected person infects less than one person. Furthermore, a few cases of second-time infections have been documented – in its own research, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research found some participants with second-time infections.

One reply on “Regaining Ground”

It seems like studies from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and informal commentary from economists and labour market specialists are sounding a cautiously upbeat note about decreases in unemployment following the initial lay-offs after the pandemic hit. But then Bangladesh has long had a resilience to economic shock.

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