What the papers say

Workplace Safety Loans

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 26th November 2020.

This Week in the Bangladesh English News…

…the central bank allocated funds for garment workplace safety as Covid-19 spread continues. The ILO expressed concerns about long-term unemployment for women in the garment industry. A report on global tax abuse estimates how much tax revenue Bangladesh loses. And officials said more land is needed for crop cultivation.

Education and Labour Market

Long-term unemployment in the global garment sector during the Covid-19 economic downturn will adversely affect women, even after the pandemic recedes. “Women may want to return to work, but disproportionate unpaid care and family obligations present challenges,” says an International Labour Organisation and Better Work brief, “Gendered impacts of Covid-19 on the garment sector”. In conclusion: “a strong recovery requires gender-responsive measures.”

Victims of industrial workplace accidents receive far less compensation than what the ILO convention recommends, said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of the ILO. In 2018, the amount of compensation required by law in Bangladesh was doubled, but this compensation still fails to compensate workers for future loss of earnings. However, Poutiainen said the ILO is working with the government and other stakeholders to establish a national employment injury system.

Victims of the Tazreen Fashions factory fire in 2012 were profiled in a Daily Star report. Victims of the fire have sustained protests in front of Jatiya Press Club for two months, demanding compensation, rehabilitation and medical treatment. Mosammat Rehena Begum, now 30 years old, was a sewing machine operator in the factory. The gate was locked, and she jumped from the third floor to escape the flames, then injuring her spinal cord, hand and head. She said she has received a voluntary donation, but she never received official compensation.

Committees to prevent repression of women have been established in the more than 4,500 unions in Bangladesh since 2014. The Nari Nirjaton Protirodh Committees (NNPC) are expected to include three female and three male members, one teacher, one community police officer, one local NGO representative, and one imam. Moreover, they are tasked with monthly meetings, but a Daily Star investigation concluded that many NNPCs are not operating.

Financial Services

Garment factories can take loans for improving workers’ health, safety and hygiene the Bangladesh Bank has said. The funds are supported by soft loans from the Agence Française de Développement, and garment factories and banks that show success will be eligible for grants backed by the European Union and German development banks.

Bangladesh is losing $703 million a year in tax revenue from tax abuse by multinational corporations and private individuals. Some $674 million is lost due to multinational corporations, and some $29 million is lost due to private individuals according to the latest annual global report by the Tax Justice Network. The loss in Bangladesh is equivalent to 3.5 percent of yearly total tax revenue.

Climate risk insurance is essential for coping with future climate disasters and extreme weather, said speakers at a virtual program hosted by The Daily Star, the World Food Programme and Oxfam. Speakers argued insurance can help victims overcome their losses. In fact, Bangladesh is very vulnerable to climate change; the country is experiencing larger floods and half the population works in the agriculture sector.

Business, Investments, Trade and Growth

Bangladesh continues to meet the three criteria for graduation from least-developed-country status: Gross National Income, Human Assets Index and the Economic Vulnerability Index. Moreover, the country has improved on two measurements (GNI and HAI) since its last review in 2018. In February of next year, a UN panel will do review the latest data, and depending on the results of that assessment, Bangladesh may progress to a three year transition period before official graduation.

Farmers and Agriculture

The land allocated for Boro rice cultivation should be expanded by 50,000 hectares next season said Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque: “At any cost we need to scale up Boro production in the next season.” In light of this years smaller harvests, the minister also pressed for increased production of other crops, including maize. “There is a huge possibility of maize cultivation in the southern areas. We need to take all-out efforts from now on to increase production of these crops.”

Other News

Two Bangladeshi women are included among 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world in BBC’s annual list.

Officials publicly discussed distribution of the expected Covid-19 vaccine, as there has been concern about the distribution process and the necessary cold storage. Previously, the government signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India for 30 million doses, with 5 million doses to be delivered each month. People will need two doses of the vaccination. The government has contracted with Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd. for collection and distribution of the vaccine.