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 22nd October 2020.
This Week in the Bangladesh English News…
…workers from multiple sectors mobilized to make demands. Girls are at more vulnerable to child marriage, and anti-rape demonstrators marched and met opposition. Plus, the latest on status of stimulus loans.
Education and Labour Market
Former workers from the state-run jute mills demonstrated on Monday. Some 1,000 workers from the closed mills blocked roads and called for the mills to be reopened. Police and protestors clashed, and police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Later, the government announced that the nearly 35,000 laid-off and retired workers will receive arrears by November. State-run jute mills were closed in July.
Some 150,000 water transport workers are striking. As a result, the unloading of much of the cargo in Chattogram port and the transport of imported goods from Chattogram using inland water routes has stopped. The striking workers have presented an 11-point plan including the stopping of extortion and robbery on rivers; the installation of necessary markers, buoys and lamps on river routes; food allowances; appointments letters; and social security.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Rubana Huq said she predicts automation will increase from 8 percent to 25 percent by 2023 in Bangladesh garment factories. And as a result, workers need to be skilled and reskilled.
Save the Children said more girls are at risk of child marriage in a new report: “Global Girlhood 2020: COVID-19 and progress in peril“. Even before Covid-19, Bangladesh had the highest national rate of adolescent pregnancy – 41 percent in the poorest household, and South Asia is expected to have the greatest increase in child marriage as a result of the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this year’s Global Hunger Index report, Bangladesh scored “serious”, and ranked 75th out of 107 countries. The report is based on undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality.
What percentage of the stimulus package loans have been disbursed? Thus far, 29 percent of the funds for small and medium enterprises and 37 percent of farm funds have been loaned. In contrast, banks have dispersed 82 percent of the Tk 33,000 crore stimulus package for large industries and the service sector. A more complete list of disbursed funds is available here.
Business, Investments, Trade and Growth
Buyers of garments are asking suppliers to provide garments at cheaper prices, according to a survey by the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University. Seventy-five suppliers from 15 countries reported being asked to make prices an average of 12 percent cheaper. “There isn’t much room to negotiate with brands,” said factory-owner Iqbal Hamid Quraishi.
Sharia-compliant government bonds will be released in December, according to a Daily Star report. Known by the name “sukuk”, these non-interest bearing government bonds will fund long-term infrastructure projects. Investors will be required to invest a minimum of Tk 10,000 and hold the bond for at least five years.
Farmers and Agriculture
The prices of many staple food items have risen dramatically in recent months, the potato included – two months ago, the potato was Tk 26 per a kg and this past week it was Tk 50. “The prices of potatoes have gone up because of the damages faced by other crops and vegetables during recent floods and excessive rains in many districts,” said the Commerce Ministry. As a result, the government fixed the cost of potatoes, first at Tk 30 and then at Tk 35 per a kg, but reporters found potatoes being sold for more in retail markets.
Tea is replacing tobacco crops in the subdistrict of Nilphamari, after a local officer started a drive to replace the health-harming cash crop. This year, the subdistrict reported tobacco, cultivated on 625 acres five years ago, was down to only 420 acres. The start up costs are high, but the Bangladesh Tea Board said they have provided tea saplings at a subsidized rate and additional training to farmers in the area.
Anti-rape protestors marched from Dhaka to Begumganj subdistrict to bring attention to their nine-point plan. The demonstrators said that the death penalty is not enough to eradicate rape. In one town, members of the march were attacked.
Durga Puja, the largest Hindu religious festival, will be celebrated on a limited scale this year, said the Puja planning authorities. The usual distributions will be less, and visitors will not be allowed to enter the temples or public halls. Instead, different programmes of the Durga Puja will be broadcast on the Facebook page of the Mahanagar Sarbajanin Puja Committee and Dhakeswari National Temple. There are some 30,000 Hindu mandapas throughout Bangladesh.
Coronavirus patients spend an average of Tk 12,000, according to a study of 101 Covid-19 patients by Bangladesh Health Watch.