What the papers say

Labour courts slow to resolve compensation cases

Bangladesh retains its improved status in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Local legal advisory group blasts labour courts for taking too long to resolve simple worker compensation cases.

We learn about Dhaka Bank’s contribution to the financial inclusion agenda. And Bangladesh Abstains from voting for the United Nations resolution on Myanmar.

A weekly round up of articles about work, employment, social security, business and the economy. This week’s round up comes from The Daily Star and The Business Standard. Here is the news for the week ending:

8th July 2021

This week in Bangladesh…

Tea estate workers and their employers have different ways of calculating total wage

Bangladesh retains its modestly improved status in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. A local legal advisory group blasts labour courts for taking too long to resolve simple worker compensation cases. We learn about Dhaka Bank’s contribution to the financial inclusion agenda. And Bangladesh Abstains from voting for the United Nations resolution on Myanmar

News in Bangladesh for the week ending 8th July 2021

Education, Labour Market and Social Security

Labour courts in Bangladesh take an average of 601 days to settle a workplace compensation dispute.

And the labour court of Chattogram (formerly Chittagong) takes even three and a half years to settle a case!

A dispute typically occurs when an employer fails to compensate for an injury or death as required by law.

The Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust studied 80 court cases and found:

The Bangladesh Labour Act relies too heavily on willingness rather than ability of employers to pay compensation to claimants

Taqbir Huda, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust

The amounts involved are very small: between 200,000 and 250,000 Taka ($2,360 to $2,950).

Trafficking in Persons Report released

After being on the Tier 2 Watch List from 2017 to 2019 Bangladesh retains its improved Tier 2 status – gained in 2020 – according to this year’s 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report.

The US Department of State publishes the Trafficking in Persons Report every year. The report assesses a country’s efforts to combat human trafficking.

A brew about wages

Did you know that the authorised daily wage of a tea picker in Bangladesh is just 120 Taka ($1.40)?

If you add non-cash benefits like food then the equivalent wage is 200 Taka ($2.35).

But employers have a different calculation. They add other benefits including employers’ pension contribution. And they come up with 403 Taka ($4.74) or about 8000 Taka per month.

These differences have been compounded by changes in the way annual increases are made.

Business, Trade and the Economy

The Word Trade Organization extended the deadline for Least Developed Countries to comply with international obligations designed to protect Trade Related International Property Rights.

This is known as the TRIPS Agreement.

This is the third time extension for Least Developed Countries and runs to 2034. But the Word Trade Organization did not agree to a separate request for a 12-year transition period. This transition period would grant the exemption to countries graduating from least developed status for a further 12 years.

Bangladesh met the criteria to graduate from least developed status in 2018 and will likely graduate in 2024.

Financial Services for the Poor

We only open sub-branches in the remotest parts of the country where people are yet to be brought under the formal financial umbrella. This will help expedite the financial inclusion agenda.

Emranul Haq, Managing Director – Dhaka Bank Ltd

Dhaka Bank is winning praise for its technological innovations linked to its SME loans and retail banking.

By 2025 the bank expects 40 per cent of its outstanding loan amount to consist of loans to SMEs and retail customers.

It uses innovative software automation to speed up and lower the cost of loan approvals and transactions.

Last week experts urged banks to support cottage, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

It looks like Dhaka Bank is meeting the needs of small businesses.

Covid headlines

Covid tests free of cost for July only at all public laboratories

Bangladesh has 128 RT-PCR test machines. 89 are in Dhaka.

Currently about three quarters of Covid fatalities are outside Dhaka.

Vaccine registration now open for frontline police, medical students, and residential university students

2.5 million Moderna doses arrived through Covax and 2 million Sinopharm arrived from China

Other news

State Minister for ICT, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, and High Commissioner of India, Vikram Doraiswami, inaugurated a Webinar series about startup ventures.

The conferences will share learning on startup ecosystems and potentially promote cooperation between Bangladesh and India on specific business startups.

Bangladesh abstained from voting for the UN General Assembly resolution on Myanmar.

The resolution condemns the February coup and calls for a restoration of democracy.

The failure of the international community in addressing the [Rohingya] crisis creates a sense of impunity in Myanmar.

Rabab Fatima, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Bangladesh abstained because the resolutions did not address the Rohingya crisis. In 2017 over 700,000 ethnic Rohingya’s fled across the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

Bangladesh wanted the international community to recognise the Rohingya issue in the resolution. The resolution could have addressed the conditions required for the return of the Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar.

Farmers and Agriculture

A variety of Mango – fazli – is selling at less than half price compared to last year.

The Government’s Department of Agricultural marketing had earlier assured farmers that transport of agricultural produce would continue despite the frequent lockdowns announced to control the pandemic.

In addition to ensuring that government farmers’ markets would remain open, online markets have also been set up. But most buyers and sellers are not using the online markets.