Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Bangladesh Feels the Economic Pain

 "The price of food and necessities is increasing. Only our wage rate is decreasing,"

Selim Raihan, an economics professor at the Bangladesh University of Dhaka and executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling, said, "Poor people are already in danger. A large population is now at risk of becoming extremely poor," he said.

 With the government increasing fuel prices 50% in August, inflation on the rise and the economy slowing, for Bangladeshis just getting by is now much harder. The rising cost of living is taking a heavy toll on the world's poorest and most vulnerable, including many already struggling to survive after climate change-fuelled disasters have claimed their homes and land. Bangladesh's inflation rate is now about 7.5%, according to the country's central bank, after the government dramatically boosted fuel prices in the face of rising global fossil fuel costs, in part as a result of the Ukraine conflict. It has sent prices of food and other commodities surging even as daily electricity outages slowed productivity.

Workers are particularly feeling the pinch.

Arzina Begum, 50, who works in a garment factory in Hemayetpur, west of Dhaka, and lives in a damp little rented room, said her salary of 15,000 taka a month no longer is enough to support herself and her son.

Taslima Akhtar Beauty, a leader of Garment Workers Rights Movement, said salaries need to rise to 20,000 or 25,000 taka a month for families to make ends meet - something there is so far little sign will happen.

In some parts of Bangladesh, rising and increasingly unaffordable prices are leading to protests.

The minimum wage for tea workers was set by the government in 2021 at 120 taka ($1.20) a day, leaving them among the lowest-paid workers in the country. In the second week of August, with fuel and food prices soaring, around 150,000 tea workers launched an indefinite strike, demanding a new daily wage of 300 taka.

"We live in less-than-human conditions without proper medical care, housing and education," worker Prakash Bauri said in an interview, as he choked back tears.

In response to the protests, Bangladesh's prime minister announced a new 170 taka daily wage for tea workers - less than what was demanded but enough to at least temporarily suspend the strikes. Workers hope for another wage boost by the end of the year. Other workers have little expectation for improvements.

Rising inflation traps Bangladesh climate migrants (

No comments: