At least 1.3 crore people in the country, particularly part-time and temporary workers, are at risk of losing employment and incomes due to the adverse impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh.
Many of them have already lost jobs and others are at risks of losing jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak fallout, said the platform’s convener, Debapriya Bhattacharya, also the Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow.
‘This number of vulnerable employed people, which accounts for 20.1 per cent of the labour force, is an underestimate as we did not take into account the new entrants who have come into the labour market since 2017 and the labour force in the agriculture sector is not included in the estimate,’ he said at a virtual dialogue on Thursday.
The platform organised the dialogue on ‘New challenges to SDGs delivery in Bangladesh and budget 2020-2021’ presided over by CPD chairperson Rehman Sobhan.
Therefore, the number of vulnerable employed might reach between 1.5 and 2 crore if the new entrants after 2017 are taken into consideration, he said.
The incidence of indecent jobs and jobs in the informal sector with no wage structures and regard for human rights will dominate the labour market in the immediate future, he said.
The new entrants into the local job market will face more barriers and this is also true for the returnee migrant workers, he said.
Earlier, CPD estimated that the number of new poor would stand at 1.75 crore as the poverty rate was expected to increase to 35 per cent from the current 24.3 per cent.
Debapriya said that both income and consumption inequality were going to rise, he said.
Rehman said that the quality of the public healthcare system should get urgent attention with programmes and commitments undertaken in the context of the COVID-19 situation.
The sector had remained unattended by the ruling class for years as the private sector was being prioritised.
The quality of district level hospitals should be elevated to the standard of combined military hospitals, he said.
In addition to increasing allocation, efficiency of expenditure should also get priority, he said.
The platform recommended the formation of a detail work plan for implementation of the budget.
The government should also use the SDG framework for designing the recovery and rebound strategy along with articulating and linking the new challenges to SDG delivery in the framing of the upcoming 8th Five Year.
Planning commission’s General Economics Division senior secretary Shamsul Alam said that there was no doubt that poverty and inequality would rise and implementation of SDG would be at risk due to the outbreak fallout.
The government should pursue a higher gross domestic product growth to overcome the situation, he said.
He said that the government would prepare a three-year recovery plan under the upcoming 8th FYP.
CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said that the government should start thinking about the sources of financing for SDG implementation as it would appear as a big challenge in future.
Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Md Iftekharuzzaman termed the proposed scope of legalising undisclosed money as unethical and anti-constitutional and supportive of corruption.
It gives the message to dishonest people that they should do corruption and they will get benefits in the budget for it, he said.
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