The World Bank on Thursday approved a $250 million development policy operation to help the government of Bangladesh strengthen its capacity to create more, better-paid and quality jobs in a rapidly changing environment.
The programmatic jobs development policy credit aims at supporting Bangladesh to develop a stronger policy and institutional framework to address barriers to creating more and better jobs for its citizens, including women, youth and the vulnerable population, says the Washington-based lending agency.
Despite Bangladesh's robust economic growth, the pace of job creation has slowed in recent years, and almost stalled in the readymade garments sector.
The growth rate for jobs fell to 1.8 per cent in 2010-16 from 2.7 per cent in 2003-10.
Women, workers in lagging regions, and youth in particular face challenges in accessing quality jobs.
Climate change has exacerbated this jobs challenge, underscoring the need to significantly increase employment in the non-agriculture sector.
‘Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in accelerating growth and reducing poverty, but the rate of job creation has not kept up with economic growth. Creating more and better jobs is a prerequisite for the country to achieve its vision of upper-middle income status,’ said Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal.
‘This will require the economy to create jobs for the 2.2 million youths entering the labour force each year, while attracting more women into the labour market. This program supports reforms to stimulate trade and private sector investment, strengthen social protection for workers and help the vulnerable population access jobs.’
To promote large-scale employment in diverse manufacturing sectors, the reform program will help improve the investment environment, lift barriers to doing business, and modernise customs and trade facilitation.
The program will also help implement amendments to the labour law and reform the pensions program to ensure works are protected.
‘This program seeks to increase investments in labour-intensive activities, improve the quality of jobs, strengthen resilience to shocks, and ensure that women, youth, and migrants access job opportunities,’ said Thomas Farole, World Bank lead economist and task team leader.
‘In addition, it will help develop market-oriented skills for women, youth, and overseas migrants, preparing them for better employment opportunities.’
The program also aims to increase female labour force participation by increasing availability of childcare for working mothers and targeting women and youth with training and employment services.
The jobs development policy credit is the first in series of three operations that complements the World Bank portfolio in the country.
The credit from the World Bank's International Development Association has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh following its independence.
The World Bank has since committed more than $30 billion in grants and interest-free credits to the country.
Bangladesh currently has the largest IDA program totalling $12.2billion, according to WB.
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