English language What the papers say

Social Inclusion is the Best Way to Eliminate Poverty

Social inclusion has declined during the pandemic says a new joint report from the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and the University of Bath

Government has approved re-opening classes in-person for university students.

Nine firms will invest $55 million to set up units in hi-tech industrial parks

China will no longer build new coal-based power projects 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 30th, 2021

This week’s round up comes from:

The Daily Star and The Dhaka Tribune

This week in Bangladesh…

social inclusion
Extreme poverty is concentrated in southern parts of Bangladesh such as Bandarban (original image by Rashed Kabir/Unsplash)

Poverty in Bangladesh is concentrated in specific geographic pockets. These areas face distinct political and economic challenges.

A new report, Extreme Poverty: The Challenges of Exclusion in Bangladesh reveals new insight into the geographic and social dimensions of poverty in Bangladesh.

The reports shifts our understanding of the East-West divide – with the West traditionally seen as the poorer half of the country.

A wider understanding of poverty shows the concentration of extreme poverty is in the North, North-West, South-West and southern parts of the country.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending September 30th, 2021

Financial and Social Inclusion and Services for the Poor

Social inclusion key to managing extreme poverty

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased levels of poverty in Bangladesh.

But social-cohesion has also declined due to the pandemic.

These were some of the conclusions of a joint study from the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and the UK University of Bath.

The Bangladesh Planning Commission sponsored the report: “Extreme Poverty: The Challenges of Inclusion in Bangladesh”

Analysis in the report extended our understanding of the geographic distribution of poverty. We often speak of the divide between the more affluent east compared to the west of the country.

But extreme poverty is concentrated in geographic pockets with distinct political and economic challenges.

The report also emphasised reforms to social protection policy and schemes in Bangladesh.

It is high time to implement universal pension benefits for all old age people as they belong to a very vulnerable group.

Binayak Sen, director-general of the BIDS

Speakers at the presentation of the report at the Planning Commission also spoke about the size of benefits.

Monthly stipends for primary school students should be at least quadrupled to 400 Taka [about $5] as the benefit can reach millions without any hassles.

Hossain Zillur Rahman, a former adviser to a caretaker government

The report recommended a task force for the eradication of extreme poverty within the planning commission.

Read the full report here.

Education, Work, and Social Security

Less than half of student body meets registration deadline

Government has approved re-opening classes in-person for university students. But only if the students have registered for their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Most students do not have an NID card, which is mandatory for registration.

So, The University Grants Commission (UGC) created a weblink for students to use their birth certificates to register. So far, few students have used the link.

But the Chair of UGC was upbeat about re-starting classes in person.

The Covid-19 infection rate has come down significantly. It is now under five percent. If universities can ensure health guidelines properly, they can resume classes upon approval of their academic councils and syndicates

Prof Kazi Shahidullah, chair – University Grants Commission

Business, Economy and Trade

Hi-tech manufacturing eco-system for Bangladesh

Nine international and national firms will invest $55 million to set up manufacturing plants.

Seven of the firms will locate at the Bangabandhu Hi-Tech City in Gazipur. Two will set up in the Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jashore.

Manufactured items will include semiconductors, digital devices, and medical equipment. The new industrial facilities will create 3,500 jobs.

Now is the right time to build a sustainable high-tech manufacturing ecosystem in Bangladesh, where hi-tech parks can play a leading role…A labor-intensive economy is not enough to survive the competition and overcome the risks of a global recession amid the Covid-19 pandemic

MA Manan, Minister for Planning

More troubles from e-commerce

Last week we wrote about the troubles with evaly.

This week it is about another online shopping trickster.

As of today Dhamaka Shopping owes 4 billion Taka (about $50 million) to customers and retailers. But it has only 100,000 Taka (about $1200) in its bank account.

It seems like the platform was set up with the intent to cheat honest customers from their money.

The business has not paid its rent nor its employees. A dissatisfied custmer went as far as filing a case against the business owners. This lead to the arrest of several of the business’ corporate managers. The owners had already fled.

Climate, Energy and Environment

China to stop investing in coal

China is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner.

China-Bangladesh Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum 2021 took place last week.

China will also support improvements in the business environment to attract more Chinese enterprises.

And China will support Bangladesh in green and low-carbon energy development.

China will no longer build new coal-based power projects in Bangladesh.

Li Jimming

The forum was virtual and highlighted that, in 2016, Bangladesh was the first country to join the Belt and Road Initiative

The meeting also included the inauguration of the seventh council of Chinese Enterprises Association in Bangladesh (Ceab).

Farmers and Agriculture

Feed millers feud with soy bean meal producers

The figures just do not add up.

Recently, the Government allowed the export of soy bean meal. Soy bean meal is a main ingredient in poultry, fish, and cattle feed.

There was an excess after allowing for domestic consumption

Now feed millers want the government to stop exports of soybean meal. They say exports have driven up domestic prices.

But soy bean meal producers say domestic demand accounts for less than half of the national supply.

Can you make sense of it?

Covid Update

Less than half of tertiary level students have registered for Covid-19 vaccinations

6.6 million people vaccinated in drive marking Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s birthday on 28 September. The target had been 7.5 million