English language What the papers say

New report says Bangladesh is most vulnerable country in world

World Bank’s Groundswell report part II says Bangladesh is most vulnerable country to climate change and 13 million people may have to relocate.

Social Protection Public Expenditure Review recommends redirecting funds to poor children and to the growing number of poor people in towns and cities.

New agricultural financing scheme requires banks to use their own networks to disburse funds and not through micro-finance institutes

And Facebook, Google and Amazon deposit Value Added Tax to local tax offices for services provided in Bangladesh

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

September 16th, 2021

This week’s round up comes from:

The Daily Star and The Financial Express

This week in Bangladesh…

Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change
That sinking feeling: Bangladesh heads to COP26 in November (original image by Amit Chowdhury/Unsplash)

All is not lost if we act now! That is the message of Groundswell report.

Bangladesh would account for 37 per cent of climate displaced people in South Asia by 2050 according to the latest update of the World Bank’s Report.

So, 13 million people might have to relocate due to rising sea levels and more intense storm surges. Increased water salinity in coastal areas will impact agriculture forcing people away from climate vulnerable areas.

Bangladesh currently chairs the Climate Vulnerable Forum under a two-year term. And will champion 48 developing countries during COP26 in Glasgow in November.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending September 16th, 2021

Education, Work, and Social Security

World Bank examines Bangladesh social protection spending

Investing in early childhood helps a child grow healthier and be more productive in adult life and thus break the cycle of poverty across generations.

Aline Coudouel, World Bank Lead Economist and a co-author of the report

The World Bank recently published its Bangladesh Social Protection Public Expenditure Review.

The review presents a clear technical evaluation of social protections budgeting in Bangladesh.

It recommends redirecting funds to poor children. And to the growing number of poor people in towns and cities.

Reforming the existing social security system to reach the poorest could reduce poverty from 36 per cent to 12 per cent.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the need for a more robust, efficient, and adaptive social protection system. Going forward, well-targeted and less fragmented social protection programs that consider the demographic change, unplanned urbanization, labor market vulnerability, and frequent shocks will help the country continue with its success of poverty reduction

Dandan Chen, World Bank Operations Manager for Bangladesh and Bhutan

The launch of the report was covered widely in the Bangladesh print and online media.

Business, Economy and Trade

Quarterly GDP figures from next financial year

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) publishes figures on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually.

From July 2022, it will publish this figure every quarter. This is common practice in most countries. And reflects seasonal effects on GDP.

Both the Minister for Planning – M A Mannan, and the State Minister for Planning, Professor Shamsul Alam, support the change.

But the State Minister encouraged BBS to improve GDP reporting. He noted the 13-month delay in reporting last year’s data. This was due to the challenges of assessing the economic effects of Covid-19.

The State Minister also proposed district disaggregated GDP data. This would allow the Government to design geo-specific plans informed by economic data.

USA digital giants deposit VAT to NBR

Facebook, Google and Amazon paid a combined total of 46 million Taka (about $540,000) in Value Added Tax (VAT) to the Bangladesh national tax authority for August.

Companies registered for VAT in Bangladesh pay their dues each month to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) through their local tax office.

On a related note the Large Tax Payers’ Unit (LTU) met its annual target of 240 billion Taka (about $3 billion).

And NBR honours large tax payers

The NBR LTU honoured the 30 largest tax paying companies. The firms represent different industry categories including manufacturing, financial services, and telecoms.

The more transparency there is in managing the businesses, the easier it is for us to provide services. Then we can create a more tax-friendly environment for business.

Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Munim, NBR Chairman

The top 30 included global banks: Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC. And industrial enterprises: Chevron, British American Tobacco, Square Pharmaceuticals, and Olympic Industries among others.

Climate, Energy and Environment

Bangladesh is the world’s most vulnerable country

Climate change could displace 13 million in Bangladesh by 2050

The Groundswell report part II indicates 37 percent of all South Asian climate migrants will be from Bangladesh.

This is due to the country’s vulnerability to sea level rises, storm surges and increased salinity in coastal areas affecting agriculture.

The Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 addresses the projected impacts of climate change in Bangladesh.

But the most important message of the World Bank report is: we can act now to reduce climate change.

If countries start now to reduce greenhouse gases, close development gaps, restore vital ecosystems and help people adapt, internal climate migration could be reduced by up to 80 percent — to 44 million people by 2050.

Juergen Voegele, World Bank’s vice-president for sustainable development

The World Bank released The Groundswell report part II on Monday.

Financial Inclusion and Services for the Poor

New inclusive loan scheme for farmers affected by pandemic

The central bank launched a new 30 billion Taka (about $350 million) fund to support agriculture including poorer farmers.

Banks must make loans through their own network at rates of four per cent. Banks can borrow at one per cent from the central bank.

Last month we reported that banks were using a loophole to disburse loans to farmers through micro-finance institutes, which charged much higher rates.

Small and marginal farmers can access loans up to 200,000 Taka (about $2500) without collateral. The maximum loan is 100 million Taka (about $1.2 million)

Covid Update

Dhaka University may open its student dormitories on 5 October effectively allowing in person classes to re-start

43 per cent of Dhaka University students vaccinated to date

50 per cent vaccination rate targeted by December 2021

9.6 million doses in stock