English language What the papers say

Bangladesh: great social and economic mix in pandemic counter

Asian Development Bank revises downward its GDP growth projection for Bangladesh. But praised the country’s response to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in balancing health and livelihoods with social and economic measures.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics plans to create a National Population Register to contain key personal information for all citizens

The Ministry for Commerce is considering measures to regulate business practices in the troublesome e-commerce industry.

Parliamentary committee stands against Government plan to construct civil service training centre on protected forest land.

And the Bangabandhu Education Insurance pilot scheme starts to protect access to education for poorest children.

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

September 23rd, 2021

This week’s round up comes from:

The Daily Star and The Financial Express

This week in Bangladesh…

social and economic
Balancing women’s health and livelihoods (original image by Maruf Rahman/Pixabay)

Bangladesh has steered the path between people’s health and their livelihoods in response to the pandemic. The Asian Development Bank modestly revised its GDP growth downwards to from 7.2% to 6.8%. That is still very impressive. But praised Bangladesh for its stimulus and social protection measures to counter the global Covid-19 pandemic.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending September 23rd, 2021

Education, Work, and Social Security

One database for citizen information and social assistance payments

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) will create a National Population Register (NPR).

NPR will allocate a unique 16-digit number to every citizen.

The database will ensure proper distribution of social services and safety net programmes in the most efficient and cost-effective way,

Shahadat Hossain – director of Census Wing, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics

NPR will include name, sex, education, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, religion, duration of stay at present address, permanent address, and details of the NID, passport, mobile phone and birth registration.

At a workshop at the Ministry of Planning, Minister for Planning – M A Mannan – commented on issues of privacy.

State minister for planning noted that a strict timeline should be attached to the project to ensure completion.

The project is at a conceptual phase. The Government is still consulting stakeholders.

Business, Economy and Trade

Asian Development Bank is less upbeat about economic growth…

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) now projects Bangladesh Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow at 6.8 per cent this fiscal year, which ends on 30 June 2022.

Earlier in the year the ADB predicted growth of 7.2 per cent. The more pessimistic figures result from the lockdowns and other restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The latest estimates appear in Asian Development Outlook 2021 Update.

But the ADB praises Bangladesh’s strategy for striking a balance between health and livelihoods to avoid significant or long-term economic damage.

The government’s policies for saving lives while protecting livelihoods underpinned the recovery process in Bangladesh, making it one of the few countries in the world sustaining commendable economic growth in recent difficult times

Manmohan Parkash, country director – Asian Development Bank

…but highlights successes in social protection and financial inclusion

The ADB also commended Bangladesh for successes in financial inclusion and expanding social protection.

Prudent macroeconomic management and efficient implementation of stimulus measures and social protection programmes have helped. Continued efforts for job creation, quick vaccination, and improving domestic resource mobilisation will further accelerate the recovery process

Manmohan Parkash, country director – Asian Development Bank

Earlier ADB launched its new Country Partnership Strategy for Bangladesh covering the period from 2021 to 2025.

This five-year strategy outlines lending of $10 to $12 billion. It will support recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and ultimately support Bangladesh’s goal to become an upper-middle income country by 2031.

According to ADB, “the country partnership strategy (CPS) is ADB’s primary platform for designing operations to deliver development results.”

You can find the CPS for Bangladesh here.

Government will keep a closer watch on e-commerce

The Government is considering measures to regulate business practices in the booming e-commerce industry.

But is this closing the barn door after the horse has bolted?

These controls come after the failure of online shopping platform evaly.

Simply speaking, evaly sold products to individuals online but has failed to pay the retailers using the platform.

The Ministry of Commerce is now reviewing updating existing laws and formulating new legislation. It may also form a regulatory body to control unethical practice and poor business management.

An ongoing court case indicates that evaly has liabilities of 10 billion Taka (about $120 million).

The problems of regulating new online platforms is a hot topic. We recently highlighted issues with online food delivery services.

Climate, Energy and Environment

Parliamentary committee saves protected forest land

The Ministry of Public Administration intends to build a training institute on 700 acres of forest land in Cox’s Bazar.

The land is protected forest and officially an ecologically critical area (ECA) since 1999.

The parliamentary committee acted on a report stating that the intended location included 100 acres of orchards specifically planted as part of a larger effort to combat the effects of climate change.

…it cannot be acceptable that a government department will take the reserved forest land.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of environment, forests and climate change

The parliamentary committee has recommended the government select a different location for the training institute.

Financial Inclusion and Services for the Poor

Education insurance scheme to be free from bank service charges

Government will protect access to education for the poorest children through an innovative insurance scheme.

The Bangladesh central bank announced that Bangabandhu Education Insurance has started with the oversight of Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA).

The government communicated the details of the new insurance scheme in March this year.

Under the scheme each parent pays just 85 Taka (about $1) as an annual premium. If either parent dies their child will receive 500 Taka every month until the age of 17 years.

The insurance scheme will make financial transactions through the students’ school banking account.

There will be no bank service charge for the transactions.

Covid Update

Government plans to vaccinate children age 12 years and above

Lowest daily death rate of 26 people recorded on 20 September

Current death rate is 1.76% of recorded cases

Positivity rate has fallen to 6%