English language What the papers say

New rainwater harvesting saves environment and good for business

Rainwater harvesting at factories would have positive environmental and commercial advantages

Secondary schools will re-open again on 21st February. Bangladesh has imposed the longest school closure compared to other countries.

Prime Minster signal plans for universal pension scheme for the over 60s.

Health authorities will deliver ten million doses on 26 February in a drive to reach national vaccination targets

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

February 18th, 2022

This week’s round up comes from:

The Daily Star and the The Financial Express

This week in Bangladesh…

rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting good for the environment and for business (original image by Rahabi Khan/Unsplash)

A new study finds harvested rainwater could supply up to 60% of the non-drinking water needs of a ready-made-garments or textile factory in Bangladesh.

It costs around $75,000 to set up a reservoir to hold rainfall. This financial investment would be returned over seven to ten years.

But the environmental benefits would be significant by slowing or reversing the fall in groundwater levels in and around Dhaka.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending February 18th, 2022

Education, Work, and Social Security

PM signals universal pension scheme for the over 60s

Following and election commitment, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the creation of universal pension scheme for the over 60s.

The Prime Minister was responding to a paper on the financial feasibility of the proposed scheme. The Finance Division presented the paper and The World Bank provided support to develop the analysis.

The new universal pension scheme will seek contributions from employers and employees.

Secondary schools and colleges to open but primary still waiting

The government closed schools and colleges on 17th March 2020. Schools reopened partially on 12th September 2021.

This was one of the longest school closures – 543 days – in the world.

Following a sharp rise in Covid transmission, the government again shut down all schools and colleges from 21st January 2022.

Secondary schools will now open again, under certain restrictions on 21st February.

Business, Economy and Trade

Inflation hits people on low incomes

People on low incomes face pressures from two sides.

Many have lost jobs during the pandemic. Some remain unemployed and others have less well paid and less secure jobs such as temporary positions.

In addition, inflation in 2021 rose to over 6%. Rises in food and fuel prices have hit hard.

Many on low incomes are going in to debt just to cover their everyday costs.

Companies Act due for update this year

The Government plans to revise the Companies Act of 1993.

Changes will allow local companies to invest abroad. They will also make it easier for companies to wind up.

The new Act will reflect a more modern business environment.

Revision to procurement suggests more local partnership

Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal presided over a cabinet committee on procurement this week and review proposals to amend the public procurement rules.

One proposal obliges foreign firms to form joint ventures with local bidders for government procurement.

With this proposal, the government would like to improve the capacity of local firms.

Increasingly foreign firms will contribute only to highly technical areas.

World-class dry fish industry

Cox’s Bazaar will be home to world-class dry fish processing industry.

The Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation will lead the initiative.

And there will be tax incentives for businesses investing in the initiative.

Climate, Energy and Environment

Rainwater Harvest

Factories could source 60% of water needs from the sky

A new study finds harvested rainwater could supply up to 60% of the non-drinking water needs of a ready-made-garment or textile factory.

It costs around $75,000 to set up a reservoir to hold rainfall. This financial investment would be returned over 7 to 10 years.

But the environmental benefits would be significant by slowing or reversing the fall in groundwater levels around Dhaka.

Last week we noted that Bangladesh has 157 Leadership in Environmental and Energy in Design (LEED)-certified factories. This is the highest number of any country.

Relocation of hazardous chemical industries delayed

The plans to relocate hazardous chemical warehouses and plastic factories from central Dhaka to the city outskirts have hit delays.

We frequently write about the problematic relocation of the leather processing industry and its toxic chemicals. Now we see another industry relocation with similar delays.

The relocation of chemical warehouses followed the Nimtoli fire of 2010 that killed at least 124 people. Nimtoli is an area of central Dhaka. The fire broke out after a kitchen stove ignited a store of highly inflammable chemicals.

There had been no relocation by the time of another devastating fire in Churihatta that killed 71 people in 2019.

In a survey in 2019, the Dhaka South City Corporation found 1,924 chemical warehouses in Old Dhaka most of which proposed a potential hazard.

The Government plans to create a Chemical Industrial Park on about 300 acres the outskirts of Dhaka at a cost of about $200 million.

Industries are keen to relocate but 12 years after the fire in central Dhaka there are still key roadblocks to complete the park.

Farmers and Agriculture

Rubber rebounds on local demad

Domestic demand for rubber to make tyres, footwear and medical gloves in is increasing.

Export earnings from rubber also increased by 57 per cent year-on-year to $28 million.

Rubber production rose to 43,000 tonnes last year with annual production capacity potentially twice that amount.

Bangladesh Rubber Board Chairman Sarwar Jahan feels locally produced rubber faces unequal competition with imports due to discriminatory tax arrangements.

Production will grow if the government makes a level playing field.

Timber sales reach over one hundred million dollars a year

People have been trading in timber for over 100 years. But for the last 50 years Nesarabad on the Sandya river has become a trade hub in Southwest Bangladesh.

Timber comes from mahogany, raintree and chambal. Mahoghany commands $25 per cubit foot.

At least 50,000 people are employed in the industry.

Covid Update

Reaching the unregistered

Health authorities plan to vaccinate 10 million people on 26th February.

Unregistered people will receive the 10 million doses bringing some of the most vulnerable under vaccination.

A birth certificate or national identity card is normally required to register for vaccinations. But there are millions of Bangladeshi that do not have these documents.