Majority of the readymade garment workers are out of the formal banking system and deprived of wage digitisation due to payment of their wages in cash, said speakers at a discussion on Thursday.
They also recommended pragmatic and commercially viable projects that would identify the risks and challenges ahead of bringing workers under formal banking system.
They came up with the observations at a panel discussion titled ‘Financial Inclusion in the RMG Sector in Bangladesh: Building the Ecosystem’ in a Dhaka hotel.
As a sideline to the discussion, state minister for ministry of planning and ministry of finance MA Mannan launched a project, Sarathi—progress through financial inclusion, funded by Swisscontact and Metlife Foundation.
Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority chairman Md Shafiqur Rahman Patwari, Swisscontact Bangladesh country director Anirban Bhowmik, Metlife Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar chairman Nurul Islam, and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association first vice-president Mansoor Ahmed were present at the occasion.
‘Only 10 per cent of the country’s garment workers’ monthly wages are paid through formal banking channel,’ said Center for Policy Dialogue research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem.
A total of Tk 25.22 billion were transferred monthly to some 3.5 million garment workers as their wage, he said explaining that Tk 7,000 has been calculated as average monthly wage.
City Bank additional managing director Mashrur Arefin, however, said garment workers still prefer cash as they found card difficult to use.
He also recommended for changing the regulatory mindset to promote agent banking which would be less risky and less costly for RMG workers.
Despite 4.5 million RMG workers’ significant contribution to the national economy, a large majority of the workers remains outside the purview of the formal banking sector with limited or no access to financial services, Bhowmik said.
Speaking about the project, he said that the project was implemented in partnership with major commercial banks which would design and provide customised financial products to the RMG workers through their mobile and agent banking channels.
The Sarathi project aims to bring at least 30 RMG factories onboard to disburse their workers’ wages through opening a targeted 60,000 bank accounts, Sarathi team leader Kazi Mahfuz Mamtazur Rahman said while presenting a keynote paper on the project.
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