As per the government’s initiative to build a digital Bangladesh, at least 90 per cent of the ready-made garments sector workers will receive their wages through the digital payment system by 2021.
Out of about 4.1 million RMG workers, around 1.5 million are currently being paid wages through the digital payment system.
The information was revealed on Wednesday at the ‘Bangladesh Digital Wages Summit’, organised by the Access to Information (a2i) Programme of the Information and Communication Technology Division and supported by the Cabinet Division, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance, at the Radisson Blue Water Garden Hotel in the capital.
Industries minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun attended the opening panel discussion on ‘Scaling digital wages for employees and manufacturers’ at the summit.
State minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Ahmed Jamal, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Rubana Huq, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative Sudipto Mukerjee, International Labour Organisation (ILO) country director and UN representative Tuomo Poutiainen and Marks and Spencer country manager for Bangladesh Shwapna Bhowmick also took part in the discussion.
The opening panel discussion was moderated by policy adviser of a2i Anir Chowdhury.
Managing director of the United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance Ruth Goodwin-Groen delivered the welcome speech.
In his speech, Humayun said the digital payment system was an important channel through which the government was bringing the garment employees under the coverage of a formal sector and allowed them to access digital services and pay for it, while helping them transition.
He said the industries ministry would provide all sorts of support to the ready-made garments sector to leverage new technologies that would improve the lives of garment workers.
‘These efforts will, in turn, improve our country’s economic growth,’ he added.
He said the country was moving forward as a developed nation under the prudent policy undertaken by and dynamic leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
‘Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is developing all sectors to achieve the targets of Vision-2021 and Vision2041. We are very confidence that we will achieve the targets,’ he added.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak said Bangladesh had specific targets for 2021 to become a middle income country, for 2024 to graduate from the status of the least developed countries (LDCs), for 2030 to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and for 2041 to become a developed country.
For achieving the goals, he said, Bangladesh would have to empower women as they constituted half of the country’s total population.
‘Moreover, 80 per cent of our RMG workers are women. Without ensuring financial empowerment for them, we cannot ensure women empowerment,’ he added.
Palak said the government had a specific target to become a cashless society within 2021. By 2021, when the country was going to celebrate 50 years of independence, at least 90 per cent of our garment workers would get their wages through the digitised system, he added.
The state minister informed that the government was now developing an ‘interoperable digital human transaction platform’ under which all the financial service providers would get the opportunities to work together.
‘We are dedicating our services to coordinate, support and test innovative solutions to digitise payrolls in order to empower garment workers, particularly women,’ he added.
Ahmed Jamal said the central bank was committed to drive down costs and improve access to digital financial services through building an enabling environment.
Ruth Goodwin-Groen said, ‘We are committed to help bring together the key public and private sector stakeholders who can take wage digitisation in Bangladesh to the next level.’
Rubana Huq said, ‘Through digitising wages, we are pledging to further promote financial benefits, such as cash back, reward points and merchant discounts, to increase the value of wages.’
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