Nation this week
Bangladeshi expatriates sent home USD 18.20 billion in remittances -- equivalent to Tk 1,54,700 crore -- in the last fiscal, that ended on June 30th, smashing previous records, through the heights of a global pandemic. In 2018-19 fiscal, the country received 16.42 billion dollars in remittances. Compared to 2018-19, remittances increased by 10.86 percent in 2019-20 fiscal year.
Meanwhile month-wise as well, the highest amount of remittances in the country's history arrived last month which was $1.83 billion, or 1,833 million dollars. The previous highest $1.74 billion, or 1,748 million dollars remittance came in June last year. Some economists however, are warning that these numbers should be taken with a pinch of salt, with remittances generally expected to take a beating in the medium term. Some of the money recorded as remittance, they say, may even be the savings some workers repatriated as they had to relocate back home as a result of the crisis . Remittances were on a steep trend throughout the fiscal till February, such that a record year was being predicted. Although they did start falling after that, the June earnings together with the first 8 months sufficed to deliver a bumper year.
Readymade garment (RMG) exports declined by a whopping 18.8 percent to US$ 27.7 billion in the just concluded fiscal year (FY 2019-20) - putting a figure finally on what had already been widely expected. The sector had fetched $ 34.13 billion in the FY 2018-19. In the month of June 2020, the earnings stood at $ 1.99 billion, showing an 8.6 percent decline over that of the corresponding month of last year, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The sector fetched $1.23 billion and $374.67 million in export earnings in the months of April and May respectively in the just concluded fiscal year. "This is a true reflection of the reality. The July-September period is traditionally the lean period for the industry. We will wait to see the impact," said Dr Rubana Huq, BGMEA president. Explaining the overall negative growth over the fiscal, the BGMEA leader said there has been a fall in global consumption. "We were already experiencing a slowdown, Covid-19 pandemic made it even worse."
Amid meek protestations, the government announced it would be shutting down all the state-owned jute mills after paying off full arrears to workers. Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the prime minister, first revealed the plan at a media briefing in the Prime Minister's Office on June 25. Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi confirmed it the next day, saying the move forms part of the plan to modernise the loss-making jute sector and turn it into a production-oriented industry under the private-public partnership model.
Tk 50 billion has been set aside to pay off the workers, including their retirement benefits, the minister said, as some 25,000 face layoffs following the announcement. While some private jute mills are turning profits, the 26 jute mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation have been incurring losses for years, which many have blamed on mismanagement, irregularities and corruption. The cumulative losses of these mills stood at Tk 106.74 billion, according to official data.
The Global Flood Awareness System (GLOFAS) issued a flood forecast with a more than 50 per cent probability of a severe 1-in-10-year flood submerging some areas of Bangladesh for at least three days. Unless urgent early action was taken to protect lives, floods threatened 4.1 million people in large areas across the country that were already grappling with COVID-19.
A 5-day forecast by Bangladesh's Flood Forecast and Warning Centre (FFWC) also confirmed the severity of the floods. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society implemented early actions with forecast-based funds from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to protect the lives, property and livelihoods of more than 16,500 people most at risk in three districts: Kurigram, Gaibandha and Jamalpur. Despite their efforts, upto 268,000 people may have been affected by the flooding across the 3 districts over the course of this week.
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