Azizul rejects media reports on unemployment
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

Finance adviser AB Mohammad Mirza Azizul Islam said Monday the unemployment rate did not increase as much as expected against the current economic backdrop.

"Employment is a major tool to cut poverty as we have a surplus manpower," the adviser told reporters after a seminar on employment, co-organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

The adviser stressed the need for training workers. In a joint report, ILO and BIDS said Bangladesh must have higher growth of productive and remunerative employments alongside a high rate of economic development. The study focused on how to increase job opportunities in the manufacturing sector.

"We can supply manpower at the best prices and that is our biggest advantage. So, the government's policy support focuses on training and development," Azizul said. Labour and employment secretary Mahfuzul Haque in his speech echoed the adviser and referred to the government's plan to set up 26 new Technical Training Centres across the country.

The secretary stressed intensifying agriculture and readymade garments industries as employment opportunities are huge in the sectors. Ingrid Christensen, who is in charge of ILO's Dhaka office, said job creation through promotion of labour-intensive industries, enterprise development, employability enhancement and other employment friendly measures are important.

"Full, productive and decent employment is an effective means for combating poverty," she added. Replying to queries afterwards, Mirza Azizul brushed aside media reports of an alarming increase in the unemployment rate and said: "That depends on how unemployment is defined." The adviser mentioned a slight increase in the overall unemployment rate. "But unemployment did not rise much, compared to Bangladesh's economic situation," the adviser said.

BIDS research director Zaid Bakht said it would increase Bangladesh's dependency on imports as well as foreign investments and aid. "But the most alarming thing is unemployment, which—added with a cloudy political situation—would spark a terrible social instability," he said.

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