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Updates What the papers say

Export recovery at risk in next lockdown

Government announces next lockdown to stop spread of Covid Delta variant. Industrialists say closing factories will kill export recovery in ready-made-garment sector just as orders take off for Winter season.

Factory fire takes 52 lives. Commentators highlight different inspection standards for export- and domestic- oriented industries. And Government advisor proposes new inspection arrangements to prevent future tragedies.

Biden nominates Peter D Haas to be next United States Ambassador to Bangladesh. And acting British High Commissioner asked to account for misleading content about Bangladesh in UK report on human rights.

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:

15th July 2021

This week in Bangladesh…

Construction and fire safety in Bangladesh does not always meet national standards

Factory fire takes 52 lives. Commentators highlight different inspection standards for export- and domestic- oriented industries. And Government advisor proposes new inspection arrangements to stop future tragedies.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending 15th July 2021

Education, Labour Market and Social Security

Fire safety in factories

A fire at a juice processing factory in Dhaka took the lives of 52 people.

These lives could have been saved if the factory had standard fire safety arrangements.

Commentators suggest safety arrangements in Bangladesh’s flagship ready-made-garments factories have improved since the earlier Tazreen Fashions Fire in 2012 and the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013.

But other factories in less prominent sectors have not met the necessary safety standards.

Salman F Rahman said the Government would improve inspection and remediation arrangements for industries producing for domestic markets.

Rahman was addressing a webinar on reviving the leather sector in the aftermath of Covid 19.

Business, Trade and the Economy

Industry closed in next lockdown

Industrialists fear mandatory factory closures in next lockdown will harm the recovering ready-made-garment and knitwear sectors.

European buyers are booking orders for Winter and Christmas. Most people will have been vaccinated in many European countries and retail shops will be open.

Quay Asia described the impact of Covid-19 on the ready-made-garment industry last year.

Middle income status

Bangladesh became a middle income country in 2015. Arguably this was six years ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, Bangladesh met the criteria to graduate from Least Development Country in 2018. And will graduate as planned in 2024.

This may seem like a contradiction. But there are two different schemes for assessing a country’s economic status.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CDP) provides a useful comparison here.

Financial Services for the Poor

The Bangladesh Bank has taken a small step to close the digital divide.

Consumers can now get a bank loan of up to 70 per cent of the cost of digital device. Before this it was just 30 per cent. No collateral is necessary to apply for a loan. But getting the loan still depends of the relation of the consumer with her bank.

These days access to the internet through a smart phone or computer is essential for everyone. This can be for education, business or to use social media.

The Bangladesh Bank is the central bank of Bangladesh.

Farmers and Agriculture

The agricultural supply market is forcing farmers back to harmful chemical pesticides.

The “Safe Crop Production through Integrated Pest Management” project offered farmers bio-pesticides.

The 585 million Taka (US$ 6.9 million) project has been popular among farmers. And has also reduced the use of unsustainable chemicals.

But poor planning and weak marketing and supply has eroded earlier successes.

Covid headlines

17,000 cumulative Covid deaths crossed this week

1,000,000 cumulative cases crossed this week

29 per cent test positivity rate reported on 15 July

15 July: the lockdown from 1 July ends to facilitate Eid festivities

23 July 6am: new two week strict lockdown begins

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.

President Biden nominated Peter D Haas as US Ambassador to Bangladesh.

Haas is a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service and previously served a Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General Mumbai among many other roles.

The Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh. Ministry officials expressed concerns about the Human Rights and Democracy Report 2020.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office released the report last week.

Bangladesh believes the report inaccurately describes BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia as being under house arrest.