English language What the papers say

New workers’ compensation scheme in the making

Government regulator presses for some form of workers’ compensation or national insurance scheme

Government cautiously reopens schools after 18 months of closure

Bangladesh negotiates for Global System of Preferences Plus with EU

New literacy and skills education initiatives launched totalling $2.5 billion

A weekly round up of articles about work, employment, social security, business and the economy. Here is the news for the week ending:

September 9th, 2021

This week’s round up comes from:

The Daily Star

This week in Bangladesh…

Hazards on the job: mandatory workers’ compensation schemes a must (original image by Simon Reza)

As the Bangladesh economy marches upward it begins to run into some first world problems.

Industry regulators are pushing for a national workers compensation scheme to cover accidents and death. But who is going to pay?

At the same time the Government is vying for beneficial trade terms with the EU known as GSP Plus. To qualify the Government must comply with a number of international conventions on labour rights and other governance issues.

And Bangladesh is joining the rest of the world in the struggle to regulate e-commerce.

These are the growing pains of a country as its economy expands and becomes more complex to simultaneously stimulate and regulate.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending September 9th, 2021

Education, Work, and Social Security

Staged reopening of schools starts on September 12

Covid-19 positivity rate has fallen significantly.

Government will prioritise key cohorts in back to school planning.

So, Higher Secondary Certificate, Secondary School Certificate exam candidates for 2021 and 2022 will attend classes every day .

Similarly, this year’s Primary Education Completion Examination candidates of class 5 will have daily attendance.

Students of classes 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 will have in-person classes once a week.

But the Government may shut schools again if Covid infections increase. Bangladesh does not vaccinate school children.

World Health Organization has not approved Covid vaccination for people under 18, but some countries are inoculating children aged over 12.

We are following the issue and a discussion with the WHO is underway. We will provide the vaccine if we get approval.

Zahid Maleque, Minister for Health and Family Welfare

Workers compensation insurance for all factories

The Bangladesh Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) will require all industries to provide workers compensation insurance.

Typically insurance would cover compensation for workplace accidents and death.

The IDRA is pressing the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Financial Institutions Division to implement the workers’ insurance scheme.

The recent workplace tragedy in Narayanganj resulting in the loss of 52 lives may have influenced these developments.

Other commentators are reacting to the proposals.

…insurance is a part of social security. The question is whether the insurance will be [private] or [national state] insurance. Every employee, not just [those] in a few … organisation, has to be brought under group [life and accident] insurance.

Sultan Uddin Ahmed, assistant executive director – Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies

Last week we wrote about the newly formed International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. It plans to build globally on the tremendous achievements of the former Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which expired on August 31.

Business, Economy and Trade

Bangladesh prepares for new economic status

Amendments to Bangladesh Labour Law are critical as Bangladesh transitions from Least Developed Country status.

The country must comply with key international conventions on labour rights, good governance, protection of the environment and human rights.

Compliance will allow Bangladesh access to the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus after the expiry of the GSP in 2029.

Government has formed a Sub-committee on Preferential Market Access and Trade Agreement and negotiations with the EU and other trade partners continue.

Bangladesh is gearing up to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) and amend labour laws to continue to avail duty benefits on merchandise export once it comes out of the least developed country (LDC) status,

Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Secretary – Ministry of Commerce

Financial Inclusion and Services for the Poor

Special training programme for youth, women and the poor

A new project will train 6.5 million people in areas relevant to the current economy as it emerges from the effects of the pandemic.

The project will cost 43 billion Taka (about $500 million) and will run from July 2021 to December 2026.

The Government of Bangladesh will fund 40 per cent of the project and The World Bank will provide the majority of the financial support.

Basic literacy knowledge for 50 million people planned

The Bangladesh Bureau of Non-Formal Education has formulated the Non-Formal Education Development Programme.

The programme will cost about 160 billion Taka (about $2 billion) and will work with people aged 15 years and above.

Basic literacy knowledge is the ability to write, understand and explain different issues both in writing and orally. People with basic literacy knowledge have numeracy skills and the ability to communicate.

Mohiuddin Alamgir, The Daily Star

Among the 50 million, about 5 million will also receive some sort of livelihoods skills development training.

Food, Farmers and Agriculture

From restaurant to consumer – delivery model under scrutiny

Restaurant owners complain that food delivery platforms charge too much commission and these platforms delay payments to the restaurants for the food that is delivered.

Bangladesh has around ten food delivery platforms including household name such as Foodpanda, Pathao, and Hungrynaki.

Together they deliver around 100,000 parcels of food each day mainly in Dhaka and Chattogram. The most popular items are Western fast foods such as burgers, pizzas and fried chicken and also South Asia specialties such as biriyani, khichuri and tehari.

The value of daily orders is 57 million Taka (nearly $700,000). The annual turnover of this sector is more than 20 billion Taka (about $250 million).

Jahangir Alam Shovon, general manager of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB)

Now the Government may get involved to regulate the fast growing industry.

This a new area of business in our country. So, we are holding meetings with stakeholders to formulate a policy. Some stakeholders have also demanded a policy for the sector

Hafizur Rahman, Additional Secretary – Ministry of Commerce

Covid Update

200 million doses expected to arrive by end of 2021

Government plans to administer 20 million doses per month

To date Bangladesh has received about 10 million vaccine doses of different kinds through Covax over the last 3 months, purchased 15 million does of Sinopharm from China in June, purchased 60 million doses of Sinopharm between September and November, and purchased 105 million doses of Sinopharm and Sinovac through Covax due to arrive in October.

As a strategic partner of Bangladesh, China will always remain the most reliable supplier whatever and whenever our Bangladeshi friend needs

Hualong Yan, Deputy Chief of Mission – Chinese Embassy in Dhaka