India’s textile industry revs up, giving hope on jobs for PM Modi

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By Krishna N. Das HINDUPUR, India (Reuters) – At Texport Industries’ factories in India’s south, thousands of mostly women workers are busy converting yarn and fabrics into T-shirts, shirts, spaghetti tops and kids’ clothes for U.S. customers of Tommy Hilfiger and Kohl’s Corp. After being outpaced in recent years by neighbouring Bangladesh and then hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s garment factories are now humming near full capacity – a rare labour market bright spot for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling party as they head towards an election in 2024. “We have been so busy,… Continue reading “India’s textile industry revs up, giving hope on jobs for PM Modi”

Nagad training workshop with Postal officials held

Postal Department’s Mobile Financial Service ‘Nagad’ organised “Workshop 2022“ with the objective of providing guidance to BPO officials in conducting operations of the Bangladesh Postal Department and Nagad.

The training workshop was held on Monday in the auditorium of the Directorate of the Posts in the capital’s Agargaon.

Mustafa Jabbar, Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, was present as the Chief Guest of the training workshop, while Md. Khalilur Rahman, Secretary of Posts and Telecommunications Division was present as a special guest, along with other senior officials from the Postal Department.

Md. Siraz Uddin, Director-General of the Postal Department, presided over the workshop which was also attended by Md. Shafayet Alam, Executive Director of Nagad, Lt. Col Md. Kousar Soukat Ali (retd), Chief External Affairs Officer of Nagad and Md. Mahbub Alam, PPM, DIG (retd) among others, says a press release.

Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion, Mustafa Jabbar said, “Nowadays, Nagad has taken the position of the postal department’s money order. Nagad has gone a long way today, thanks to the hard work. I was surprised when Nagad first approached me with the concept of registering an account in a minute.”

“Many organizations have tried to compete with bKash, but none have succeeded. However, Nagad has gone far more than ‘bKash’ by bringing innovations. Tanvir and Shafayet deserve credit for this,”he added.

Khalilur Rahman said, “Nagad conducts everyday transactions of Tk 750 crore. The consumer base has grown to six crores in a very short period of time.”

Through the workshop, local BPO officials were informed about the journey and activities of Nagad from the beginning of the journey to the present, as well as detailed operations of each department and subdivision of the organization (sales, customer service, finance and accounting, innovation and technology, legal, and external affairs) and steps taken by Nagad so far to prevent fraud.

During the workshop Md. Shafayet Alam, Executive Director of Nagad highlighted the various activities of ‘Nagad’ to the participants present and addressed various questions.

Besides, BPO officials shared their important views on the Nagad and Postal department’s current and future achievements during the workshop.

Previously, training workshops were held in Chattogram, Sylhet, Khulna, Barishal, and Bogra for all top officials from the Bangladesh Postal Department’s Eastern, Northern, and Southern divisions who operate across the country. Following this, the training workshop on Mobile Financial Services Nagad was organized in Dhaka today. As of now, about 400 officials, including top officials from the Postal Department and the Post Directorate, have received an overview of Nagad through these workshops which also covered Nagad’s journey to success in attaining financial inclusion, and local and international recognitions.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Factory owners must pay workers before the Eid holidays: State Minister for Labour

Ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, the state minister for labour Begum Monnujan Sufian instructed the factory owners to pay the arrears, Eid bonus and salaries of the workers before the Eid holidays begin.

The decision was taken at a meeting at the Shram Bhaban in capital’s Bijayanagar on Monday.

According to the decision, owners are to pay Eid bonus and salary of at least 15 days of this month (April) along with arrears (if any) before the holidays of Eid-ul-Fitr begin.

The instruction is applicable to the owners of all sectors, including garments, including state-owned, private, institutional and non-institutional organisations.

She said that the workers’ Eid holiday will be given in conjunction with the government holiday. However, in case of emergency export, owners can come to the decision after discussing with the workers.

A letter would be sent to the Governor of Bangladesh Bank to keep the banks open even on holidays to facilitate the salary and bonus collection of the workers in labor-intensive areas, she added.

She urged the concerned authorities to take measures so that the workers on Eid holidays could travel without any hassle.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Gas supply to industries to remain off for 4 hrs daily from Tuesday

Gas supply to industries will remain suspended for four hours from 5 to 9 pm every day for 15 days from Tuesday.

State-owned Petrobangla issued this directive on Monday saying that all industries are requested to abide by the order on the occasion of Holy Ramadan.

Regretting for the temporary inconvenience, the Petrobangla said that the vigilance teams of the gas distribution companies will monitor the issue.

Earlier, the Petrobangla had instructed all the CNG refueling stations to keep those closed for six hours from 5 to 11 pm every day during the Holy Ramadan to facilitate gas supply to household consumers and power plants.

Such directives came against the backdrop of the nagging gas crisis as consumers in many areas have been complaining that they are not getting gas supply during Ramadan for their cooking.

In the meantime, the gas supply experienced a drastic fall on April 3, on the very first day of Ramadan fallowing a technical fault at the Bibiyana gas field, the largest gas field in the country.

After 5 days, the fault was repaired and Bibiyana resumed full production on April 7, but still consumers in many areas in and outside the capital Dhaka are alleging that they are suffering from gas crisis.

The situation forced Petrobangla to issue new order to keep the gas supply suspended for four hours a day to the industries for next 15 days.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Remittance income increasing from USA, EU

Bangladesh received second highest remittance from the United States in March, which showed a change in inward remittance flow.

The remittance earning has been dominated by the Middle Eastern countries since independence. But now the situation is changing as many Bangladeshi skilled people work in the developed countries, said Md. Serajul Islam, Executive Director and Spokesperson of Bangladesh Bank (BB).

“By analyzing the earlier record of the BB, we found that the inward remittance flow is gradually increasing from the USA and European Union, outside the Middle East,” he said.

The remittance earning will get diversified becuase of freelancing job in the developed countries like the US, Canada and the EU, he said.

The BB’s remittance update shows that Bangladesh received USD $308.82 million remittance from the US in March, which is highest so far in remittance from the country in a single month.

In March Bangladesh received inward remittance of $377 million from KSA, $214.16 million-UK, $ 184.14 million-UAE, $144.48 million-Kuwait, $119.59 million-Qatar, $85.88 million- Italy, $ 81.43 million-Malaysia, $74.30 million-Oman, $57.48- Bahrain.

The central bank data shows that inward remittance inflow has increased from the US during the worst period of Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment, there are currently 12 million Bangladeshis living in different countries of the world.

Reviewing the data of the Central Bank, it is seen that the expatriates in the Middle East, America and European countries are playing a major role in remittance earning of Bangladesh.

Since independence, Bangladesh has always received major share of remittances from Saudi Arabia. This was followed by the the United Arab Emirates. The United States is now second and the United Kingdom is third. The UAE, once second, now ranks fourth.

The largest market for Bangladeshi expatriates is Saudi Arabia with around 2.2 million Bangladeshi migrants there.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Thakurgaon farmers fear crops loss after hailstorm

A hailstorm coupled with strong wind has lashed the district, damaging crops in four upazilas of Thakurgaon district.

Crops in several unions of Ranisankail, Haripur, Baliadangi, and Pirganj upazilas were destroyed as hailstones weighing approximately 300 to 400 grams fell in these areas on Sunday afternoon, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) officials said.

Ranisankail is the worst affected upazila.

Ranishankail Upazila Agriculture Officer Sanjay Debnath said hailstorm on Sunday afternoon damaged houses, paddy fields, maize fields, mango and litchi orchards and other crops in different areas of the upazila including Nekmarad Bazar, Gandgram, Jaduar, Bhabanipur, Chandanchahat, Durlavpur, Parkunda, Faridpara Rator.

Now farmers are afraid that they might have to incur heavy loss.

Enamul Master, a farmer from Bhabanipur village in Ranisankail upazila, said, “I planted maize, chilli and paddy on 30 bighas of land. Crops have been severely damaged due to the hailstorm which lasted for half an hour.”

Joynal Abedin, another farmer from Bachore Union of Ranisankail upazila, said he had a mango orchard on one acre of land and paddy, maize and other crops were grown on about 10 bighas of land. “These crops have been severely damaged due after the hailstorm .”

Agriculture Officer Sanjay Debnath said, “It is not possible to say the exact amount of loss right now. The agricultural officers are working in the field to estimate the extent of loss.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

S Korea to create decent employment for girls in Bangladesh

A new project has been undertaken to empower out-of-school adolescent girls and young women with market-driven occupational skills, transferable skills and job placements with support from the South Korean government.

On behalf of the government of Republic of Korea, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), in collaboration with UNICEF Bangladesh, completed an implementation study by Korean experts.

KOICA will provide US$ 6 million grant aid to UNICEF Bangladesh to implement this project (2022- 2025) in seven districts of Bangladesh, namely Barishal, Bhola, Mymensingh, Gazipur, Dhaka, Narayanganj and Chattogram, KOICA said on Monday.

An Implementation-survey Mission from South Korea visited Bangladesh from April 3 to 11, for designing the proposed project.

The main purpose is to empower out-of-school adolescent girls and young women with transferable and market-driven occupational skills and earning.

The need for the project has been informed by a number of factors including the urgent need to provide opportunities for skills and employment to out-of-school adolescent girls, the impact of COVID 19, weaknesses in service provisions, strategic opportunities available for scaled sustainable interventions, economic opportunities that young people can tap into and need to help Bangladesh meet its human development objectives.

Three existing modalities of training, namely, Informal Apprenticeship, Entrepreneurship training and Center-based occupational training, mostly for the informal sectors, are under consideration to address the interests of learners, demand of job markets and options to address multiple groups.

The project is also expected to make linkages with Korean corporations in Bangladesh for apprenticeships and job placements.

KOICA Bangladesh team participated in a wrap-up meeting of the implementation-survey mission with the UNICEF team, led by Veera Mendonca, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh (Officer-in-Charge).

The expert team presented the result of the survey mission in which KOICA and UNICEF both agreed on the outcomes and implementation modality of the project.

KOICA expert team had a series of discussions with all the relevant stakeholders, including Bureau of Non-Formal Education, Bangladesh Technical Education Board, BRAC and a2i, VSO Bangladesh.

The team also visited Keraniganj, Jamalpur and Mymensingh to see the existing similar projects that UNICEF is implementing with its partner organizations.

Young-Ah Doh, Country Director, KOICA Bangladesh Office, hopes that the project will strengthen the skills and employment support system to create an enabling environment for the out-of-school adolescent girls. She also said that multiple solutions will be considered to address the comprehensive need of supply and demand side that will accelerate the process of linking out-of-school adolescent girls with skills and employment.

Veera Mendonca expressed her gratitude to KOICA and its expert team for the support and assured her full cooperation for the project’s successful implementation. She hopes that this project will symbolize KOICA and UNICEF’s long standing partnerships which will provide proven solutions to empower out-of-school adolescent girls and young women with smooth transition to decent work options.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Sale of beef, mutton resumes in Sylhet after 4 days

Meat traders of Sylhet metropolitan area resumed selling beef and mutton on Monday after suspending it for four days demanding a hike in prices fixed by the local administration.

The traders called off the strike after receiving assurances from Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) mayor Ariful Haque CHowdhury on Sunday night that the prices will be fixed again, said Abdul Khalik, general secretary of the Meat Traders Co-operative Association in Sylhet.

The traders had suspended their sales from Thursday morning after SCC fixed the prices of beef at Tk 600 per kg and mutton at Tk 850 per kg.

“The traders were to be fined by conducting mobile courts if they don’t sell meat according to the fixed process. The traders would have hardly got any profit at that price so they decided to suspend the sales,” said Abdul Khalik.

Meanwhile, residents of Sylhet city complained the traders were already selling beef at more than Tk 600 before the SCC re-fixed the prices.

Juned Ahmed Chowdhury, a resident of Shahjalal area said he bought 1 kg of beef at Tk 680 from a trader in the Shahjalal area on Monday.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Despite surplus electricity, contracts of 10 rental power plants extended in four months

Despite surplus electricity generation over supply, the government in the last four months extended the contracts of a total of 10 rental power plants.

Official documents of the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase (CCPP) reveal the latest approval came on March 23 this year for extension of deals for 5 rental power plants. Earlier 4 rental power plants got the approval for contracts extension on January 5 this year and one got approval for extension on December 29 last year.

Although the deals were extended on “No Electricity, No Payment” basis, an allocation of Tk 6,564.08 crore was approved by the CCPP to pay the owners of the rental power plants for their operations.

As per the BPDB statistics, the current total electricity generation capacity now stands at 25,514 MW while the supply is about 14,000 MW meaning that the country has an installed surplus capacity of 11,500 MW.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, however, defended the extension of the rental power plants’ contracts saying that the deals were extended for “emergency necessity” to tackle the current situation.

“As there is a gas shortage, we have to run liquid-fuel based rental and quick rental power plants on full capacity to meet the demands,” he told UNB.

He also said these plants don’t oblige the government to make ‘capacity payment’ – i.e. payment for unused electricity, that was the case with some earlier contracts. “As a result, the cost of electricity from these extended rental power plants came down by 30-40 percent from the original cost,” Nasrul Hamid said.

The government documents show that of the approved 5 plants in March this year, three belong to Summit Group, one belongs to Dutch-Bangla Group and one to Orion Group.

As per the approval the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) will pay Tk 459.98 crore to Summit Group for purchase of electricity from its 40 MW furnace oil–based plant of the Khulna Power Plant, Tk 1295.42 crore to its Khulna Power Company Unit-II Ltd’s 115 MW Goalpara plant, and Tk 1157.52 crore to its Summit Narayanganj Power Limited’s 102 MW Madanganj plant.

The BPDB will pay Tk 1146.51 crore to Dutch Bangla Power & Associates Ltd’s 100 MW furnace oil-based Siddhirganj plant, and Tk 1146.51 crore to Orion Power Meghnaghat Ltd’s Meghnaghat 100 MW plant as per the approval.

Additional secretary of the Cabinet Division, Zillur Rahman Chowdhury while briefing reporters on the issue after the approval, said the government is purchasing electricity from the plants at Tk 17.529 per unit (each kilowatt hour) while under the new contract, it will purchase each unit of electricity at a reduced rate of Tk 16.40.

Cabinet body approved extension of deals with 5 rental power plants earlier.

Four of them were the 50 MW Kumargaon power plant, 50 MW Fenchuganj plant, 20 MW power plant in Bogura and 53 MW Ashuganj power plant.

Of these, the contract with Energy Prima Ltd.’s 50 MW plant in Kumargaon will get extension for another one year till December 31 in 2022 at a cost of Tk 86.52 crore while the same company’s contract for 50 MW power plant in Fenchuganj will be extended for 3 years at a cost of Tk 278.64 crore. Contract for 20 MW Bogura plant will be extended for 3 years at a cost of Tk 106.92 crore and United Energy Ltd’s contract for 53 MW Fenchuganj plant will get extension for another 5 years at a cost of Tk 451.20 crore.

The Cabinet body also approved the 40 MW Bhola gas-fired rental power plant’s agreement with BPDB for another 4 years. The BPDB will pay the Venture Energy Resources Ltd, owner of the plant, Tk 380.90 crore during the period.

The power tariff has been lowered to 3.3970 US cents (Tk 2.7176) from 3.49 US Cents (Tk 2.79) per kilowatt hour (each unit) which will save Tk 49.88 crore over the next 4 years.

Advisor of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and energy expert Shamsul Alam expressed resentment about the repeated approval of the rental power plants saying that there is no logical basis for the extension.

He said the government should have taken consumers’ opinion through public hearing at Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission before the approval.

“No approval is made for the interest of the consumers. Rather, all the approvals were given only to serve the interest of certain vested quarters,” he told UNB.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

63 percent of Americans rate U.S. economy as bad: poll

A whopping 63 percent of Americans rated the U.S. economy as bad, with 86 percent saying it was because of inflation, closely followed by gas prices at 82 percent, showed a new CBS News poll released on Sunday.

In terms of lowering gas prices, the majority of the respondents, at 65 percent, believed that the government “can do more.”

In addition, “pocketbook issues — the economy and inflation — rank as top priorities for Americans,” said the survey, noting that ” (Joe) Biden continues to get low marks on handling them.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Eid-ul-Fitr: Advance train ticket sale begins on April 23

Bangladesh Railway will start selling advance train tickets on April 23 on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Advance train tickets of April 27 will be available on April 23, Additional Director General (Operation) of Bangladesh Railway Sardar Shahadat told UNB.

The advance tickets of April 28, 29, 30 and May 1 will be available on April 24, 25, 26 and 27 respectively.

Besides, the selling of return tickets will begin from the second day of Eid-ul-Fitr, he said.

Details about the selling of advance train tickets will be known after a meeting on April 13.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

70-80 houses in Kurigram threatened by untimely Teesta erosion

About 70-80 houses at Gharialdanga union in Rajarhat upazila are under threat as untimely erosion by the Teesta River has taken a serious turn due to rise in water level in the last few days.

Six houses have already gone into the gorge of the Teesta River.

The Teesta River flows over three upazilas of Kurigram district.

Water Development Board officials are trying to prevent the erosion in only five kilometers area while about 40 kms of the left bank of the river is under erosion threat, said locals.

Erosion is now going on in many places of the remaining 35 kms areas of the river banks, they said.

Houses, Boro paddy land and trees are being devoured by the Teesta River as incessant rainfall in the last three days triggered the erosion.

About 70 to 80 families are now under threat of being homeless.

Shahidul Islam, a former member of Gharialdanga Union, said hundreds of acres of arable land, two government primary schools, a community clinic, eight mosques and a madrasa are under threat of being devoured.

At present erosion is occurring at Gatiyasam, Ramhari, Kalirhat and Medanipur villages in the union.

In the last few years, the river has devoured parts of Chatura, Mandir, Dangrarhat, Ramhari, Paramoula and Gabur Halan villages of Gharialdanga and Vidyananda Unions of Rajarhat upazila.

Chairman of Gharialdanga Union of Rajarhat Upazila Md Abdul Quddus Pramanik said ward no-6 and 7 are under extreme threat of river erosion. “We went to the Water Development Board for taking measures to prevent erosion but they said they have no budget. “

Abdullah Al Mamun, executive engineer of the Kurigram Water Development Board, said erosion has started in the unprotected areas due to the sudden rains. “A survey project has been approved but the project has not been finalised yet,” the official said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh