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 14th January 2021.
This Week in the Bangladesh English News…
…The Bangladesh Bank set new sustainable financing targets, and the central bank is connecting bank and mobile financial services accounts. Some university students will get loans to for online classes. And experts promote more paddy production.
Education and Labour Market
At least 732 workers died in workplace-related incidents last year, according to a study from the Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies (BILS). The BILS study tallied newspaper reports, which, in sum, revealed the transport sector was the deadliest sector with a reported 348 deaths. The construction sector reported the second highest number of deaths with 84 deaths. In addition, a total of 433 workers were reported injured: 387 men and 46 women, some 68 of which came from the fishing industry. BILS also counted nearly 600 incidents of labour unrest: 264 in the garment sector and 49 in the jute sector.
Many university students continue to struggle with online classes, according to an informal survey of students by the Daily Star. To address one of the challenges associated with online learning, public universities have compiled lists of some 41,000 students, who will be given an interest-free loan of Tk 8,000 to buy a smartphone. The University Grants Commission Secretary Ferdous Zaman said the funds were sent to universities on 15 December: “As far as I know, some students already received it, while others will get it soon.” Students also cite poor internet connectivity and difficulty doing assignments on phones as barriers to online learning.
The Bangladesh Bank issued new targets for banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs): banks and NBFIs should disburse a minimum of 15 percent of their outstanding loans to finance sustainable financing. Of the 15 percent, 2 percent should fund “green” financing. The Daily Star reports that sustainable financing is for machinery that lowers carbon emissions and green financing is to businesses involved in directly reducing pollution.
A new system to connect bank accounts, mobile financial services and other payment platforms and facilitate real-time payments will be developed by the government. The central bank has been tasked with developing the hardware for the Interoperable Digital Transaction Platform (IDTP), which is set to be launched in full later this year.
Business, Investments, Trade and Growth
A large operation to facilitate fake national ID (NID) cards has been disrupted, according to police. Much of the operation consisted of bank-related brokers and employees of the Election Commission (EC) working together to provide additional NIDs to loan defaulters so that they could apply for more loans. An anonymous official said some 1,000 people with fake NIDs have been identified, and 42 employees of the NID department of the EC have been fired. Last year, on 5 September, police arrested five people involved in providing forged NIDs.
Construction of Dhaka’s first metro line, the Dhaka MRT Line 6, is progressing, although officials recently reported conflicting opening dates. According to their predictions, the metro line could open by December 2021 or June 2022.
The head of the European Union’s Delegation to Bangladesh, Rensje Teerink, said Bangladesh will have to comply with the EU’s new human rights criteria to qualify for future trade privileges. In a second article, Teerink spoke more broadly about EU and Bangladesh relations. About the readymade garment industry, she said that she hopes the EU passes a new law mandating European companies exercise due diligence in honoring and paying for orders that have already been produced.
Farmers and Agriculture
The government instituted a 10-percent tariff on onions after farmers said imports would affect their ability to profit from the upcoming harvest of onions. In recent years, and as recently as last September, Bangladesh has repeatedly sought to import onions as domestic production has fallen short of demand.
Experts spoke about rice and government policy in a virtual dialogue host by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs. Several experts expressed concern about industry trends: Dr Nazirul Islam, director general of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, said, “We estimate a shortage of 14 lakh tonnes of rice by 2030… It must be mechanised for greater production.” Shykh Seraj, director and head of news at Channel I, said, “Many farmers are moving away from paddy to cultivating exotic crops… that may be disastrous if not monitored.”
Bangladesh has its first fully automatic dairy farm, operated by Eon Group. The farm will produce pasteurized milk and milk products, and every step of the process is fully automated, said an adviser to the farm: “We are not using our hands at all in the process.”