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Productivity in govt factories low for a lack of skilled employees

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Experts have recommended taking prudent steps to control pollution and accelerate efforts to mitigate climate change (CC) impacts, as a recent global report said Bangladesh is losing about US$6.0 billion due to lower labor productivity.

A US-based organization – The Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Centre (Arsht-Rock) – in the report also said the loss is estimated to be more than 8.0pc of its annual labor output.

This could increase to 10pc by 2050 if immediate initiatives are not taken, it stated.

The report – ‘Hot Cities, Chilled Economies – Dhaka, Bangladesh’ – assessed the social and economic impact of extreme heat in 12 cities around the world, including Dhaka.

It revealed that the labor productivity of the people in Dhaka is affected more than in any other city due to extreme heat.

Other affected cities, such as Abu Dhabi and Bangkok, are more exposed to heat stress, while Dhaka is unusually vulnerable to its effects, due to its labor-intensive economy and low rate of active cooling, according to the report.

Worker protection projects, such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent’s FbF solution, can be scaled up to provide broad-based social insurance against extreme heat for vulnerable workers.

The report also suggested investment in the built environment and nature-based solutions.

Talking to The Financial Express, Professor of Chemistry Department at Dhaka University Abdus Salam observed that both global warming and local pollutions, mainly caused by manufacturing and transport sectors, and brick making are mostly responsible for the extreme heat and temperature.

The government should take immediate action to curb all sorts of pollution in this regard. Though the country is enacting laws and taking some actions, the higher focus should be on enforcement and execution, he pointed out.

Professor Salam also said Bangladesh should look for ways to use environment-friendly sulfur fuel to a great extent to curb pollution.

He underlined the need for using eco-friendly electric vehicles and alternative fuels to reap better benefits.

Apart from Dhaka, the 11 other assessed cities were – Athens (Greece), Bangkok (Thailand), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Freetown (Sierra Leone), London (United Kingdom), Los Angeles (United States), Miami (United States), Monterrey (Mexico), New Delhi (India), Santiago (Chile), and Sydney (Australia).

The average loss across the 12 cities was $44 billion in 2020. If measures are not taken to reduce the temperature, this loss could reach $84 billion by 2050, it said.

Agreeing with the report findings, Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh An-dolon (environment movement), suggested changing the mindset of policymakers right at this moment after recognizing economic and public health impacts.

He urged the government to collaborate and coordinate with the stakeholders concerned, including technical experts, while enacting new policies and laws to reap better benefits from them.

These losses capture only direct impacts on output, but the lost wages and output also have indirect effects on the wider economy, as overall spending declines and affects the economic activities that are not exposed to heat, as per the Arsht-Rock report.

Low-income workers are especially exposed to heat – in sectors such as garment manufacturing, transport, and retail trade, and the losses already amount to around 10pc of income.

The report also stated that the losses are expected to be concentrated in sectors – such as manufacturing and logistics, which already lost $1.5 billion (BDT 132 billion, or 9.0pc of sectoral output) and $1.8 billion (BDT 158 billion or 10pc of sectoral output), respectively.

Losses in manufacturing are likely to be particularly high in sectors such as garment manufacturing or brick making, where proximity to machinery or ovens increases the temperature to which workers are exposed, the report added.

 

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Cenbank Mandates Real-Time Reporting of Willful Defaulters

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The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has issued new instructions to banks to submit data on willful defaulters to the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) database. This directive was issued on Tuesday, requiring immediate compliance from commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs).

In a circular released by the CIB of the central bank, banks have been instructed to report their June data in real-time starting July 1. The circular has been sent to top executives of banks for prompt execution.

This move follows an earlier initiative by the BB, outlined in a circular on March 12, aimed at identifying willful defaulters within the banking sector. The central bank also detailed actions to be taken against such defaulters.

According to the circular, any client who takes a loan anonymously and misuses it will be classified as a willful defaulter. Banks were directed to establish a ‘willful defaulter identification unit’ by April 9 to facilitate this identification process.

The circular further stipulates penalties for non-compliance. Banks that violate these conditions will face fines ranging from Tk 50 lakhs to Tk 1 crore. Continued violations will incur additional fines of Tk 1 lakh per day.

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Cenbank Raises Dollar Price to Tk 117

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The Bangladesh Bank has adjusted the dollar price to Tk117 from Tk110 by introducing the crawling peg exchange rate mechanism.

Under this new approach, the bank will buy and sell dollars with Tk117 as the mid rate.

This decision was reached during a meeting of the monetary policy committee on Wednesday, May 8th.

Additionally, the committee has opted to discontinue the SMART lending rate mechanism, allowing banks to set their lending rates based on dollar demand and supply, according to a circular issued after the meeting.

The crawling peg system permits a currency with a fixed exchange rate to fluctuate within a specified band of rates, combining features of both fixed and floating exchange rate regimes.

On May 5th, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder announced the adoption of a market-based interest rate and the implementation of a crawling peg system to stabilize the foreign exchange rate.

He stated that the central bank is collaborating with prominent economists and bankers to devise a contractionary monetary policy aimed at curbing inflation and restoring macroeconomic stability.

Earlier, on April 2nd, the World Bank stressed the importance of a crawling peg mechanism aligned with market-clearing exchange rates to narrow the gap between formal and informal exchange rates, as outlined in the latest Bangladesh Development Update report.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advocated for a market-based dollar rate. In January 2023, the IMF attached several conditions to a $4.7 billion loan facility over a three-and-a-half-year period. Bangladesh has received two installments of the loan by fulfilling nearly all conditions, except for the reserve requirement.

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Cenbank Dissolves National Bank Board Again

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On Sunday (May 5), the Bangladesh Bank (BB) once again dissolved the board of directors of the National Bank.

In a letter addressed to the managing director of the National Bank, the central bank announced the cancellation of the existing board of directors.

Furthermore, the banking regulator established a new board of directors and appointed Khalilur Rahman, the bank’s sponsor director, as the new chairman, according to the BB’s communication.

Mezbaul Haque, spokesperson for the Bangladesh Bank, commented on the development, stating that the action was taken to bolster the bank’s board of directors.

This move comes after a similar action in 2023 when the central bank ordered the dissolution of the National Bank’s board and formed a new one.

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