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BGMEA Partners with Simon Project to Improve Worker Health Data Collection

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BGMEA

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has expressed its endorsement for the Simon Project, an initiative led by the Simon Institute in London, UK, and jointly funded by Associated British Foods and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ). This project aims to gather recurring data to calculate the ratio of non-fatal accidents in Bangladesh.

The launch of the Simon Project took place at the BGMEA Complex in Dhaka, with the presence of Faruque Hassan, BGMEA President, and Javier Chercoles PhD, Director of Simon Institute. BGMEA Senior Vice President S. M. Mannan (Kochi), Vice President Shahidullah Azim, Directors Faisal Samad, Abdullah Hil Rakib, Navidul Huq, and Rajiv Chowdhury were also in attendance.

The Simon Project will establish an innovation site at the BGMEA headquarters in Dhaka and implement IT tools in 9 BGMEA medical centers. This collaborative effort will involve international and local forensic teams, including the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Dhaka Medical College, to train paramedics and doctors for collecting critical health incidence data related to minor injuries, health issues, and Covid incidence.

This data will play a crucial role in calculating insurance provisions for all RMG (Ready-Made Garment) workers, which can be funded by private insurance companies and/or the public sector. It will also aid in determining financial contributions from factories and international brands.

The Simon Project, initiated in 2022, has already started collecting data from 50 factories, gathering health incidence data for over 200,000 workers. Expanding the project to the 9 medical centers of the BGMEA will enable data collection for all RMG workers in Bangladesh. This project aligns with the BGMEA’s goal of providing social protection for all RMG workers and is complementary to the Employment Injury Scheme (EIS) supported by the ILO and GIZ.

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Economy

Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests

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WTO World trade organization

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.

This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.

Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.

Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.

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National

PM Sheikh Hasina Outlines Path to Development Through Independent Institutions

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Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized today that a nation’s path to development relies on the foundations of an independent judiciary, a robust parliament, and a capable administration. Speaking at the closing session of the two-day International Conference on ‘South Asian Constitutional Courts in the Twenty-First Century: Lessons from Bangladesh and India’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC), she highlighted the government’s commitment to judicial independence. Hasina pointed out that since assuming power, the judiciary has been separated from the administration, with a distinct budget allocation to ensure financial autonomy.

Acknowledging the past dependence of the Judiciary on the government for financial matters, the Prime Minister detailed the steps taken by her government to create an independent Election Commission. She underscored the significance of detaching the Election Commission from the Prime Minister’s Office, ensuring its complete independence and dedicated funding.

Furthermore, Sheikh Hasina mentioned a constitutional amendment, inspired by a High Court verdict, criminalizing the illegal usurpation of state power. She asserted that this inclusion safeguards the fundamental and democratic rights of the people.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s progress, Hasina announced the country’s recognition as a developing nation effective from 2026. Looking ahead, she expressed the vision of transforming Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country, known as “Golden Bangladesh,” by 2041, in line with the ideals of the nation’s founding leader, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The event also featured remarks from Chief Justice of Bangladesh, Justice Obaidul Hassan, Chief Justice of India, Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Minister for Law, Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs, Anisul Huq, and Justice M. Enayetur Rahim of the Appellate Division.

 

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Economy

Finance Minister Addresses Loan Pressure, Anticipates $3.56 Billion Payment in FY24

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finance minister abul hassan mahmood ali

Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali stated today that the government is facing pressure to repay foreign loans, but the situation is not yet dire. Responding to reporters during a press briefing after a meeting with an IMO delegation, he mentioned that foreign loan repayments are ongoing. Data from the Economic Relations Division (ERD) indicates that Bangladesh paid $2.67 billion in interest and principal on loans in fiscal year 2022-23, compared to $2.01 billion in the previous fiscal year. The increase is attributed to the end of grace periods for many loans and rising interest rates on market-based loans.

ERD’s projection suggests that Bangladesh will need to pay $3.56 billion in the upcoming fiscal year (FY24). Debt payments are expected to rise to $4.21 billion and $4.72 billion in FY25 and FY26, respectively. Minister Abul Hassan acknowledged concerns about inflation, expressing a desire to see it decrease. He noted that despite decisions taken by the new government to improve the economic situation, implementation is pending.

Returning from the IFAD conference in Italy, Minister Abul Hassan highlighted Bangladesh’s significant assistance from IFAD, totaling around $2 billion, with expectations of increased support in the future. Regarding the meeting with the IMO delegation, he mentioned ongoing assistance from the migration agency to Bangladesh in areas related to migration and beyond.

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