The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis in Bangladesh Essay
The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis in Bangladesh 20-Aug-2010 Prepared by Mojadda Alfa Azam ID. : 10916047 Dept. : Accounting Information System EMBA, DU Course name: Micro & Macro Economics Course no. : 4102 Acknowledgements I would like to give thanks to Prof. Dr. Tahmina Khatun, professor of AIS Department, EMBA, DU, for her continuous guidance and supreme supervision throughout the course. I am solely responsible for any remaining errors. Finally all praise to Almighty Allah for giving us the strength and courage to complete the course. . Background and Objectives Political instability, natural disasters, the global food and fuel price hikes: Bangladesh’s economy has withstood several challenges since 2006. The global financial and economic crisis is another challenge that is testing its resilience coming on top of the former adversities. The global financial crisis started in mid-2007 has culminated in widespread financial stress among major financial institutions since September 2008. The economic downturn has now degenerated into recession.
Projections of the gross domestic product (GDP) provide a gloomy picture for 2009. The 2009 world growth forecast has been revised downward by 1. 0-1. 5 percentage points to -1. 0 to -0. 5 percent in March 2009 compared with the last IMF projection of 0. 5 percent made in January 20093. While developed countries were the first hit by the recession, developing and least developed countries (LDCs) have also started to feel the consequences of the crisis on commodity prices, trade volumes, access to international financial markets and job losses, though to various degrees.
These developments have led to shifting the debate from the causes to the consequences and policy actions required to mitigate the adverse impacts of the crisis. 1. 1. The Legacy of the High Food Prices As most of the developing countries, Bangladesh has no hiding place as the impact of the global financial crisis could compound the impacts of the food price rises. Although the recent food security situation cannot be attributed solely to the food price rises, there is evidence in the literature that the food price crisis has sent a substantial number of households back to poverty, after a decade of progress.
The recent joint WFP/UNICEF/IPHN household survey suggests that 25 percent of the population has become food insecure as of December 2008, as many as the food poverty percentage of 1995-96. The most affected households are overwhelmingly headed by female (38 percent food insecure), they have higher dependency ratio (45 percent), the head of households are less educated (70 percent), and they have less assets (asset score of 4 against a national average of 9. 4). In terms of livelihood, household have barely 1 income earner (1. 8 on average), depend on agriculture wage labor (23. 7 percent), non agriculture wage labor (19. 1 percent) and casual labor (5. 2 percent). Most of them are landless (48. 6 percent) and net food buyers (39. 6 percent). The highest increases in the proportion of net food buyer households are non-agriculture wage laborers (59 percent), remittances earners (53 percent) and casual workers (55 percent). Female headed households included a much higher increase of the proportion of net food buyer (64 percent) compared to male headed households (26 percent).
On average, households spend 62. 2 percent of their budget on food, up from 52 percent in 2005. Unfortunately, such an increase of the food budget share is made possible at a high opportunity cost, using multiple coping mechanisms. In addition to eating less than 3 meals a day for adults and less than 4 meals a day for children under 5, 22 percent of households recourse to negative coping mechanisms such as cutting expenditure on health and 33 percent of them getting further indebted from the financial institutions.
As a consequence, severe malnutrition rates increased. Severe acute malnutrition rate increased to 3. 4 percent in end-2008 from 2. 9 percent in 2007; severe underweight increased from 11. 8 to 12. 3 percent; and severe stunting increased from 16. 1 percent in 2007 to 20. 1 percent in end-2008 While the recent downturn of commodity prices may be seen as a relief for some of the affected households, the recession is likely to further worsen the situation of the most affected households who depend on agriculture and non-agriculture wage labor and casual labor.
A review of literature by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD, 2009) reveals that the most vulnerable areas to the global financial crisis in Bangladesh are likely to be export- oriented sectors, manpower export, remittance and domestic resource mobilization. The livelihoods in these areas are the most affected by the food price rises. Bangladesh’s foreign exchange rely mainly on workers’ remittances (10 percent of the GDP) and ready-made garment (RMG) exports (more than 75 percent of total exports). 1. 2.
Objectives of the Case Study Against this background, WFP initiated a rapid assessment of the impact of the financial crisis on households’ food security and livelihoods to enable better preparedness and appropriate and effective responses. This rapid assessment is part of a series of WFP country case studies to elicit how the global financial crisis is manifested in Bangladesh at macro-economic level as well as how the macro-level impacts are manifested on households’ living conditions4. More specifically, the assessment aims at: Understanding how the global financial crisis is being transmitted to the Bangladesh economy, particularly the performance of the channels through which the crisis is being transmitted. • Assessing the extent to which the pass-through effects is trickling down at the household level, through key indicators such as remittances, wages, employment and commodity prices and ultimately the living conditions of households. • Proposing actions to strengthen responses and monitoring. 2 Methodology and Limitations
In order to capture the impact of the current global financial crisis on households both secondary data analysis (SDA) and primary data collection are conducted. The assessment reviewed secondary data available and then conducted primary data. 2. 1. Data Collection, Collation and Review The SDA reviewed literature on the impact of the global financial crisis both at macro-economic level and on households’ incomes sources and food security. This information was used to provide an overview of the macro- economic vulnerability with insights into the country’s recent macro-economic performance.
The macro-level analysis also aimed at gaining insights into how the global financial crisis transmits to the domestic economy. Key informants (KI) interviews were held from 12-18 March with senior government officials, development partners, NGOs, research institutions and leading members of the private sector (annex 1) to triangulate the secondary data review. The primary data collection was carried out through focus group discussions (FGD). The FGD helped to apprehend how households have been affected so far by the global financial crisis.
They provided perceptions of vulnerability, including sources of incomes, expenditures, coping strategies, priority needs and responses, discriminated by sex. They also guided the discussions on the changes which occurred within the last few months. The field work took place between 22 March and April 04, 2009. Forty FGD were held (annex 2). Survey areas were identified through literature review of the dominant livelihoods that are most likely to be affected by the global financial crisis.
Hence, areas with high concentration of migration and dependent on remittances in the North East and South East, areas with high concentration of agricultural labor and cash crops such as tea estates in the North East and shrimp farms in the South West and areas with high concentration of non agricultural unskilled labor (e. g. , garment industry) of the two biggest cities Dhaka (capital city) and Chittagong where selected. Two more locations were selected in Khulna and Rajshahi as control groups in both rural and urban areas to represent other categories of casual labor.
From each selected location, two FGDs (female and male) were selected and interviewed separately. FGD participants were identified with the help of key informants (village heads, health and education workers, government employees) in each selected location. A team of five members comprising a supervisor, an organizer, a moderator, a note taker and a field writer interviewed the FGD participants. FGD materials included voice recorders and note books among others. A total of 304 individuals participated in the FGD discussions with an average of 8 participants per FGD. Table: Summary of FGD Composition Number of |Number of FGD |Number of | |participants per | |individuals | |FGD | | | |6 |8 |48 | |7 |7 |49 | |8 |19 |152 | |9 |5 |45 | |10 |1 |10 | |40 |40 |304 | |Average size of FGD = 8 | 2. 2. Limitations The findings of this study cannot be generalized to the whole population, mainly because of the purposive nature of sample and the small number of people participating in the survey. The survey is designed to draw upon respondents’ perceptions of the impact of the global financial crisis. However, the possibility of multiple understandings of the situation makes it difficult to articulate the findings. The validity of the results may also be affected by ability of moderators to have control over the discussion process with participants.
The moderator has to allow participants to talk to each other, ask questions and express doubts and opinions, while having very little control over the interaction other than generally keeping participants focused on the topic. By its nature focus group research is open ended and cannot be entirely predetermined. To reduce such a potential bias, the moderators received a 4-day training to facilitate recall and quantitative estimates to improve internal validity. The checklist was also translated into Bangla to improve interactions between the moderators and the participants and among participants. The reliability of focus groups’ perception may be weakened by internal cultural and hierarchical dynamics and lack of confidentiality within the group.
As a result full participation of all may not have been ensured by the moderators. The effort made to select homogenous groups both by sex and livelihoods aimed at reducing this bias. 3. Macro-Economic Performance and Impact of the Global Financial Crisis 3. 1. Recent Economic Developments 3. 1. 1 GDP Growth Performance In recent years, Bangladesh enjoyed a substantial growth of the real GDP. The GDP growth stood at 6. 2 percent in FY08, slightly below the 6. 4 percent growth recorded in FY07. The GDP growth in FY08 was led by substantial growth in industry (6. 9 percent) and services (6. 7 percent) sectors while the agriculture sector grew by 3. 6 percent.
However, in the backdrop of the current global crisis, there are some indications of uncertainties about the growth projection in FY09. Although the global financial crisis is yet to significantly affect the Bangladesh economy, all the projections converge on the fact that the GDP growth will be lower than the initial projection of 6. 5 percent in FY09 (annex 3). The central bank of Bangladesh (BB) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) set an optimistic target of the GDP growth of at least 6. 0 percent. The GDP growth of 4. 5 percent (lower than its earlier projection of 4. 8 to 5. 4 percent) projected very recently by the World Bank (WB) is the most conservative one.
The latest projection of the annual GDP growth (5. 6 percent revised from its previous stand of 5. 5 to 6. 0 percent) made by Asian Development Bank (ADB) is between the government and the WB’s projections, based on recent signs of the impact of the global financial crisis on key sectors. 3. 1. 2 Inflation Patterns Although the trend in inflation is subsiding, it is still above the long-run path, making it difficult for the most affected and vulnerable households to cope with recent shocks–high food prices (2007-2008) and localized natural disasters (cyclone Sidr) in 2007. The 12-month average inflation stood at 8. 9 percent by end 2008 with a declining trend since August.
While the softening of the inflationary pressure is likely to continue, it is important to keep in view that the current price fall in the global commodity market is largely due to changes in demand side factors while the global supply situation has remained unchanged. As such if the major economies, especially the advanced ones, succeed in recovering from the crisis within a relatively short period, the commodity markets may again experience tight conditions. It is also worth noting the potential disincentive of the price decline on domestic food commodity production. While the high food prices resulted in only a small percentage increase of the net sellers of food commodities (i. e. , 5 percent increase in the category of small farmers of 0. 5-2. acres), these winners are likely to become losers as a result of the global financial crisis. With the global financial crisis, potential income losses are also likely to affect the households identified by the recent WFP/UNICEF/IPHN as the most affected by the food price crisis, namely non-agriculture, agriculture wage and casual laborers. 3. 1. 3 Performance of the Financial Sector The demand for credit has weakened between July-December 2008. The growth in the broad money (M2) at the end of December 2008 remained around the same level of 17. 6 percent in June 20085. However, both the domestic credit and private sector credit dropped significantly during the last six months reflecting weak credit demand in the economy.
While the growth in domestic credit dropped to about 19. 3 percent in December from about 21. 0 percent recorded in June 2008, the growth in private sector credit mainly concentrated to trade and industry recorded a decline of about 3 percentage point to 21. 8 percent in December from about 24. 9 percent in June 2008. This pattern is an indication of relatively lower economic activities during the period. Interest rates such as deposits, lending, repo and reverse repo rates moved up relative to their levels in the first half (H1) of FY2008 6 . During the last six months, however, the Bank Rate (Discount Rate) and yields of government Treasury bills (T-bills)7 and bonds remained mostly unchanged.
The commercial lending and deposit rates of the banks varied within a relatively wide margin during H1 FY2009 compared with the narrow margin variation during H1 FY2008. Commercial lending rate reached its peak of 13. 5 percent in December 2008 from a low of 12. 6 percent in September 2008. Commercial deposits rate, on the other hand, reached 7. 9 percent in December 2008 from 7. 3 percent in August 2008. Real lending and deposits rate exhibited increasing trend during H1 FY2009 due to the decelerating inflation rate of the period. The interest rates on the certificates of National Savings Directorate (NSD) for the duration of 3 and 5 years remained unchanged respectively at 11. 5 percent and 12. 0 percent during H1 FY2009.
The major indicators of health of the banking system, such as the ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs), amount of actual provisioning, total deposits and advances, the ratio of capital adequacy, the interest rate spread (IRS), and indicators of profitability remained broadly stable and satisfactory during H1 FY2009. Given the low level of foreign capitalization, the country’s banking sector remained broadly unaffected from the ongoing global financial turmoil. However, it would be important to refresh the surveillance of the banking sector and revisit the financial sector management to counteract any potential adverse impact on the country’s banking sector. 3. 1. 4 Fiscal Performance During the July-December period of FY2009, the realized amount of revenue receipts fell short of its annual target. In the FY2009 budget, the target for revenue earnings was set at 11. 3 percent.
During H1 FY2009, preliminary estimates show that total revenue and total expenditure stood respectively at 5. 9 percent and 8. 1 percent of GDP, resulting in a fiscal deficit of 2. 2 percent of the GDP (during H1 FY2009) against the yearly target of 4. 99 percent. The financing of the deficit amounted to Tk. 135. 8 billion of which Tk. 93. 1 billion was accommodated from domestic sources, including bank financing of Tk. 73. 6 billion while the remaining Tk. 42. 7 billion came from foreign sources. The implementation of the Annual Development Program (ADP) also remained very low at 1. 2 percent of GDP in H1 FY2009 compared with the yearly target of 4. percent of the GDP, due to slow execution rate of projects. The execution rate of the ADP is unlikely to improve beyond 70 percent by the end of FY2009 in June. 5 Broad money is considered to be the most inclusive measurement of the money supply in a given country. It involves the most liquid or cash components of money supply or non-cash components that can be converted into cash very easily. Broad money is a key economic indicator used to forecast inflation and the decisions of investors. 6 Repo (repurchase agreement) is a financial instrument used in the money market. It is a transaction in which one party sells securities to another while agreeing to repurchase those securities at a future date.
Bangladesh Bank has introduced repo for banks and financial institutions, as an indirect monetary tool for day-today liquidity management to smoothen temporary and unexpected disturbances in the supply and demand for money. 7 T-bills (Treasury Bills) are short-term debt obligation backed by the government with a maturity of less than one year. 3. 1. 5 Performance of the Capital Market In the backdrop of the ongoing financial turmoil, investors’ shaky confidence might have played a role in the recent mixed performance of the capital market in Bangladesh. Stock prices showed significant upturn during the first half (January-June) of 2008 while the second half (July-December) witnessed a downward movement.
Although the daily average turnover improved, different monthly average price indexes at Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) have declined, showing some fluctuations in 2008. Compared with December 2007, the monthly average of all share price index (DSI), DSEG, and DSE20 declined by 14. 1 percent, 12. 1 percent, and 8. 3 percent respectively in December 2008. 3. 2. Degree of Exposure to the Effects of the Global Financial Crisis The World Bank identified Bangladesh as highly exposed to the global financial crisis8. Almost 20 percent of the population was already leaving in the hardcore (i. e. food) poverty in 2005. The high food price crisis has sent ? of the population into food insecurity by end 2008.
According to the World Bank, the capacity of the country to cope with the impacts of the financial crisis on poverty is constrained by limited leverage for larger fiscal deficits9 and moderate inflation at 8. 9 percent at end 2008. Despite efforts made by the government to mitigate the negative impacts of the high food prices on households, the implementation of the Annual Development Program (ADP) remained very low in 2008, raising some concerns about the country’s capacity to efficiently and effectively scale-up public expenditures to protect vulnerable groups and reduce poverty. Figure: Exposure of Countries to the Global Financial Crisis [pic] Source: World Bank, 2009
Bangladesh’s economy is increasingly exposed to global economic shocks, given its increased integration with the global economy during the last decade. The contribution of trade (export and import) increased significantly since 2001 from 33. 4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to 43. 4 percent in FY2008. About 85 percent of exports are destined to developed countries and roughly 60 percent of import originates from those countries. Exports take up 20 percent of the GDP in Bangladesh. Ready-made garment (RMG) is the main driver of exports, with a share of almost 80 percent of total exports (i. e. 16 percent of GDP). Almost half of the exports go to the European Union (EU), while 25 percent goes to the United States (US).
The dependence on foreign aid has progressively reduced since the 1990s, while foreign direct investment remains low at 1 percent of the GDP over the last decade (2000-2009). Table: Bangladesh’s Degree of Openness to the Global Economy | |FY1981 |FY1991 |FY2001 |FY2007 |FY2008 | |(Export + Import)/GDP |13. 5 |16. 8 |33. 4 |43. 3 |43. 4 | |Remittances/GDP |1. 9 |2. 5 |4. 0 |8. 8 |10. | |ODA Disbursed/GDP |5. 8 |5. 6 |2. 9 |2. 3 |2. 4 | |ODA Disbursed/Export |158. 1 |100. 9 |21. 2 |12. 9 |13. 3 | | | | | | | | |Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)/GDP |- |0. 1 |1. 2 |1. 2 |0. 8 | The contribution of remittances has more than doubled since 2001 from 4 percent of the GDP to 10 percent in FY2008.
Bangladesh is a huge labor surplus country, putting it on the supply side of the global labor market and at the fifth position among the top remittance recipient countries in the world. As a result, the economy is heavily dependent on migrants’ earnings in the Gulf countries and Western countries. In FY2007-08, total remittances (i. e. , USD8 billion) accounted for 10 percent of the GDP. As per the latest statistics, 5. 5 million Bangladeshis are currently working abroad. About 65 percent of these workers are semi-skilled (16 percent) and low-skilled (49 percent). Two-thirds of the migrants work in Middle East countries, mainly in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates (table 3). They constitute 25. percent of the total labor in those countries and contribute 63 percent of the total remittances inflow in Bangladesh. The remittances inflow from these countries doubled from USD2. 4 billion in FY2003-04 to USD4. 97 billion in FY2007-08, as a result of the construction boom in the Gulf, mainly Dubai. Table: Importance of Migrant Workers and Remittances | |Labor Force |Share of Bangladeshis in |Share in Total Remittance | | |(Million) |Labor Force (%) |Inflow (%) | |Kingdom of Saudi Arabia |6. 7 |27. |30 | |Kuwait |2. 2 |14. 2 |11 | |Qatar |1. 1 |10. 0 |4 | |United Arab Emirates |3. 3 |33. 4 |14 | |Bahrain |0. 5 |26. 2 |2 | |Oman |0. 9 |23. |3 | |Total |14. 7 |25. 3 |63 | The most recent data (July-December 2008) suggest that the pass-through of the ongoing global economic crisis into Bangladesh economy is real. Even though Bangladesh is not integrated to the global capital market, the economy is facing the second round effects of the global financial crisis. There is evidence that international trade, exports of manpower and inflow of foreign official development assistance (ODA) are being adversely affected (table 4).
The major source of the potential adverse impact is emanated from the projected contraction of foreign aggregate demand. Recent trends in the volume of Cargo (export plus import) handled in the Chittagong (CTG) port decreased by 5. 3 percent during H1 FY2009. Table: Recent Developments in Trade, Remittances and Aid Flows | | | | | | | |Jul-Dec. 2008 |Jul-Dec. 2007 |Growth in |Growth in | | |(Provisional) |(Revised) |Jul. -Dec. 2008 |(FY08) | |1.
Cargo (export plus import) handled in CTG | | | | | |port (‘000 MT) |13489. 0 |14244. 0 |-5. 3 |3. 4 | |2. Exports (fob) |7754. 7 |6495. 9 |19. 4 |15. 7 | |3. Imports (Settlement of LCs) |11115. 4 |9078. 4 |22. 4 |27. 6 | |4. Remittances |4504. 7 |3440. 5 |30. 9 |32. 4 | |5.
Gross ODA inflow |898. 3 |903. 2 |-0. 5 |20. 4 | |6. Net ODA inflow |579. 6 |630. 0 |-8. 0 |25. 2 | |7. Foreign direct investment (FDI) |706. 0 |285. 0 |147. 7 |-18. 0 | |8. Change in reserve position |-361. 0 |437. 3 |— |— | |9. Change in exchange rate |-0. 42 |0. 3 |— |— | Sources: (1) Bangladesh Bank, (2) Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), (3) Chittagong Port Authority, and (4) External Resources Division (ERD) of the Ministry of Finance. 4. Perceived Impacts at Household Level Five divisions were covered namely Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet. To understand the impact of the global financial crisis, focus groups discussions (FGDs) were conducted in purposively selected locations to cover livelihood groups that are most likely to be affected by the financial, according to the macro-economic pass-through channels analyzed in previous sections.
Hence, 40 FGDs were organized, 12 with remittance earners, 8 with garment workers, 12 with workers of export-oriented agriculture (shrimp and tea estate) and 8 control groups made up with casual workers not involved in the former activities (table 5). Overall, discussions did not reveal any major difference between control groups and other FGDs, suggesting workers of the most exposed sectors and casual laborers are similarly affected by the effects of the global financial crisis. Therefore, the next sections will not distinguish control groups from others. Given the small sample size, the next sections will not emphasize the analysis of the characteristics of individual livelihood groups either. Table: Geographical and Sectoral Coverage of FGDs |Sector of Activity |Division |District |No.
FGD | | | |Sylhet Comilla Noakhali |4 | | | |Chandpur |2 | |Remittance earners |Sylhet |Maulvibazar |2 | | | | |2 | | | | |2 | | | |Dhaka |4 | |Garment workers |Dhaka |Gazipur |2 | | |Chittagong |Chittagong (Ctg) |2 | | | |Satkhira |4 | |Export oriented agriculture labourers (shrimp,|Khulna |Bagerhat |2 | |tea estate) | | | | | |Sylhet |Maulvibazar |6 | | | |Gaibandha |2 | |Control group rural (casual labour) |Rajshahi |Panchagarh |2 | | | |Rajshahi |2 | | |Khulna |Khulna |2 | |Total |40 | 4. 1. Impacts on Livelihoods and Incomes
Based on discussions with the 40 focus group members, remittances are mentioned by 9 of 40 FGDs as the first income source of the communities, followed by unskilled non-agriculture daily labor (8 of 40 FGDs), work in tea estate (6 of 40 FGDs) and work in garment factories (4 of 40 FGDs). As the first source of income, 4 FGDs mentioned that remittances contribute to about 80 percent of their incomes. Unskilled non-agriculture dailylabor is the second main income source for 9 of 40 FGDs, , followed by agriculture daily labor (8 of 40 FGDs) and small businesses (6 of 40 FGDs). As a second source of income, the contribution of unskilled non- agriculture daily labor to income is estimated at 25 percent, according to 8 FGDs.
Female FGDs reported more dependence on remittances as their main income sources, compared to male FGDs. Five of 20 female FGDs depend on remittances as their first source of income, compared to 4 male FGDs. Four female FGDs mentioned that remittances contribute to 80 percent of their incomes, suggesting female-headed household whose husbands are migrant workers are vulnerable to decreases of remittances. No male FGD reported such a high level of contribution of remittances to household incomes. Five of 20 female FGDs are also more dependent on unskilled non-agriculture daily labor as their second source of income, compared to 4 in 20 for male FGDs.
By contrast, male FGDs are more dependent on agriculture daily labor (5 in 20 FGDs) as their second source of income compared to female FGDs (3 in 20 FGDs). In total, 4 in 40 FGDs mentioned work in garment factories as both their first and second source of incomes. Figure: Main Income Sources (Number of Respondent FGDs) Small business Day labor (agric. ) Unskilled day lab our (no n-agric. ) Earth-digging Fishing in deep sea/ river Garment worker Ho use-maid Skilled labour (non-agric. ) Remittance Rickshaw/ van/ cart puller Other services Tea worker Wood / bamboo/ f irewoo d seller Fish/ shrimp -processing worker
There is a sense that activity changes witnessed by FGDs are being made at the expense of sustainable livelihoods. In response to whether households have changed activities in the past 6 months, 17 out of 40 FGDs (12 male FGDs and 5 female FGDs) answered positively. According to respondent FGDs, households most frequently changed their activity to daily labor, suggesting they are likely engaging in less regular livelihoods. The main reasons of livelihood changes are low purchasing power (9 FGDs) and reduced job opportunities (7 FGDs) suggesting households are likely facing the impacts of the global financial crisis on top of the lasting effects of the high food prices. Table: Activity Changes Observed over the Last 6 Months
Before Type of activity change now Number of Respondent FGDs Earth-digging Selling firewood 1 Tea estate worker Earth-digging 1 Rickshaw-puller, Mason, Street-vendor Selling betel leaf and bidi (tobacco) 1 Day labourer 8 Agriculture farmer Day labourer 1 Unemployed
Migrant worker 2 Worker in shrimp-hatchery Fishing in deep sea/river 2 Day laborer Small business 1 Total 17 4. 2. Impacts on Employment and Wages Job losses were mentioned by fish/shrimp processing, garment and migrant workers, though the magnitude of the losses is reported to be less than 25 percent, with 10 percent being the most frequently reported estimate. Of the 40 FGDs interviewed, 16 FGDs (10 male and 6 female FGDs) mentioned that job losses have taken place within their community during the last 6 months. Job losses were reported mainly in Chittagong and Khulna divisions, by 5 and 8 FDGs, respectively.
In general, job cuts and reduced salaries are reported as the main reasons for job losses or for changing activities. Fish/shrimp processing workers are the most affected by job losses in Khulna due to diseases in hatcheries and reduction of exports. In addition job losses in the shrimp processing sector, especially in Khulna, are amplified by the normal seasonal break in shrimp producing activities. Reportedly, shrimp production covers only 6 months a year. As a result, workers in shrimp-hatcheries would normally seek additional jobs such as casual labor during the rest of the year. Salary decreases reported by garment workers are due to reduced buying orders from abroad and reduced payments on overtime.
Job losses are engulfing the supply of labor as daily workers are also facing job scarcity, according to 5 FGDs interviewed in Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna and Rajshahi. As shown in figure 10, most of the respondent FGDs estimate that job losses are below 25 percent, except in Khulna where half of them mentioned the percentage of workers that have lost their job during the last 6 months could range between 50 and 75 percent. In Chittagong, respondent FGDs of the garment sector tend to estimate job losses below 10 percent. Relatively high proportions (between 25-75 percent) of job losses were reported by only 1 of 6 FGDs of the garment sector in Dhaka and 1 of 6 casual labor FGDs in Rajshahi.
However, these figures cannot be interpreted as a general trend of the responses emerging from discussions with garment workers and casual laborers in these areas 4. 3 Impacted by the food price shock By mid-2008, food prices had increased by more than 200% since 2006 and more than 60% since January this year Between March 2007 and march 2008, prices of corn, rice, soybean and wheat increased by 31,74,87 and 130% respectively Rice price passed US$1000 in April 2008 A large proportion of population depends on agriculture. Per capita food production has been low and negative. Proportion of claries obtained from cereals is high. [pic] Table: Food price contribution to consumer price inflation in South Asian countries, 2008 | | | | | |Country |Overall inflation |Food price |Expenditure |Contribution of food | | | |inflation(a) |share of |prices to overall | | | | |food (in %) |inflation(b) | |(1) |(2) |(3) |(4) |(5) | | | | | | | |Bangladesh (April 2008) |9. 94 |11. 84 |64. 5 |7. 64 | | | | | | | |India (February 2008) |4. 60 |5. 0 |33. 4 |1. 94 | | | | | | | |Nepal (April/May 2008) |7. 50 |10. 00 |53. 2 |5. 32 | | | | | | | |Pakistan (May 2008) |19. 30 |28. 50 |41. 5 |11. 3 | | | | | | | |Sri Lanka (June 2008) |28. 20 |40. 06 |46. 7 |18. 71 | Source: Statistical Departments and Bureaus of different countries, 2008. (a) Includes beverages and tobacco. (b) Column (5) entries are calculated as (5) = (3) ? (4)/100. Table: The Impact of Rising Food Prices: Bangladesh (CGE Estimates 60% Rise) Macroeconomic Variables The effect of increase in food prices General Price level 2. 6% Real household income -1. 61% Welfare (equivalent variation) -0. 905 Real GDP -0. 787 Source: Adapted from ADB (2008a). There has been a considerable amount of controversy and debate over the impact of food prices on the poor – Country’s position as a net food importer or exporter – HHs are net food sellers or net food buyers – The share of food expenditure in total budget – Food distribution system – Infrastructure – Government policies Table: Share of Food expenditure in Total Household Expenditure
Country Overall Urban Rural Bangladesh Total expenditure share of food 61. 31 53. 13 63. 39 Total expenditure share of cereals 42. 22 32. 96 44. 58 Table: Share of Food Expenditure in Total Expenditure in South Asian Countries Bangladesh India Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Table: Average welfare gain/loss from a 10 percent increase in the price of main staple, by income (expenditure) quintile and land-ownership category Country |Per Capita Expenditure Quintiles | | |1 |2 |3 |4 |5 |All | | Bangladesh | | | | | | | |Landowners | | | | | | | |Non-landowners | | | | | | | | |-1. 22 |-0. 86 |-0. 29 |-0. 06 |0. 15 |-0. 34 | | |-3. 8 |-2. 92 |-2. 36 |-2. 04 |-1. 45 |-2. 60 | | Pakistan | | | | | | | |Landowners | | | | | | | |Non-landowners | | | | | | | | |1. 16 |1. 20 |1. 65 |1. 65 |1. 1 |1. 58 | | |-0. 66 |-0. 63 |-0. 49 |-0. 39 |-0. 15 |-0. 48 | Source: FAO (2008), p. 37 Response to Food crisis 1. Mitigation measures are necessary, but other interventionist policies had the effect of aggravating the problems for importing countries. 2. The resort to immediate trade restrictions by India and Pakistan highlighted the fact that SA remains a bastion of anti-liberalism. 3. Countries like SL introduce import restrictions when domestic food conditions are good and liberalize food imports during a crisis. 4.
Experience in SA demonstrates that price controls do more harm than good. 5. The anti-liberalization reaction of governments to the food crisis was not a surprise (ex: trade restrictiveness around 46%). 6. Consumer and producer subsidies are not sustainable. 5. Perspectives and Ongoing Interventions 5. 1. Future Outlook and Scenario Although Bangladesh economy has not yet faced a substantial negative impact of the ongoing financial crisis, significant downside risks exist in the coming months. The overall macroeconomic outlook beyond FY2009 is difficult to predict as it is very closely related to the duration and severity of the current global crisis, natural calamities and their consequences on the economy.
Available information indicates that external sectors comprising international trade, remittances, foreign aid and FDI are being affected by the ongoing global economic meltdown. Given the overall stake of total trade and remittances as a ratio of GDP (around 53 percent), the Bangladesh economy is likely to slowdown to less than 6 percent growth in FY200910. As warned by the IMF, activity is expected to expand only weakly in 2009 before recovering gradually in 2010 leaving no chance for Bangladesh economy to gain momentum before 2010. In the backdrop of the deceleration of export growth and the inflow of remittances, the current account as well as the overall balance is likely to deteriorate further from the current surplus position.
This pattern is likely to lead to further depletion of foreign reserves. The contraction of foreign reserves will further depreciate the exchange rate of the Taka against major currencies. Domestic currency depreciation could lead to some losses of real income and purchasing power through inflation driven by imported goods. The fall in exports and remittances may have resulted in about 0. 3 million job losses in the last 6 months. There are around 3. 0 million people working in more than 5 thousands factories in the RMG sector alone. According to a preliminary estimate, around 20-30 percent of the factories do not have any direct foreign buyers.
They just survive by executing sub-contracts of factories who have directs orders from the foreign buyers. As the direct orders for these factories from foreign buyers are drying up, the survival of the sub-contracting factories are in real danger. The current trend shows that the flow of sub-contract is likely to stop due to the global economic downturn. In this context, workers of the sub-contracting firms will lose their jobs immediately as witnessed already. From the above analysis, the most frequently reported estimate of job losses is 10 percent. Assuming the most likely scenario of job losses in the last six months is a 10 percent job losses, say in the RMG sector alone, around 0. million new unemployed people have likely been released in the Bangladesh economy. With an average of 1. 38 income earner per household of 5 in 2009, and 0. 3 million new unemployed workers, around 1. 09 million people (i. e. 3. 62*0. 30 million), are likely to lose their livelihood, with subsequent risks on access to health care, food intake, education, debt and access to other vital services11. The worst case scenario of 20. percent job losses as implied by FGDs would double the number of people whose livelihoods are endangered (i. e. 2. 18 million)12. Based on the most frequent estimate reported by FGDs, the optimistic scenario of 5 percent job losses over the last 6 months is unlikely.
Expected increase of government spending (in the short term) in terms of rescue package including tax break, cash subsidies and food rationing programs to safeguard the external sector and socially vulnerable people, could lead to monetary financing of increased fiscal deficits beyond the fiscal deficit target of 4. 99 percent of the GDP. No inflationary pressure is foreseen in the short run because of the substantial decrease of the import bill in the aftermath of fuel and food price decreases. However inflation will be contained if and only if government spending does not exceed monetary targets. Provisional data show that the growth in tax revenue fell short of its target while expenditure showed high growth resulting in government’s bank borrowing above the central bank’s monetary program target. This pattern is likely to affect negatively private investment through ‘crowding out’ effect and inflation through ‘seignoriage’13.
This may generate some pressure on the overall fiscal deficit by the end of the current fiscal year (June 2009), beyond the target of 4. 99 percent of GDP 5. 2. Ongoing Interventions of the Government The Government of Bangladesh maintains an extensive social safety net system designed to address mainly transient food insecurity, stemming from shocks and setbacks. The Public Food Distribution System (PFDS) is the Government’s main mechanism for addressing household level food access shortfalls. Public food stocks are maintained and used for both ongoing food-based development programmes and for emergency purposes during periods of acute or transitory food insecurity.
Although the PFDS has numerous programmes or channels through which food assistance is provided; the bulk of assistance, which covers more than 30 million people, is provided via the following eight channels: ?OMS/Open Market Sales ?VGD/Vulnerable Group Development ?VGF/Vulnerable Group Feeding ?FFW/Food for Work ?TR/Test Relief ?GR/Gratuitous Relief ?Food Assistance for CHT Area. ?Cash for Work. In order to safeguard the income losses due to the global financial crisis, a decision has been made in March 2009 to scale up and extend the open market sale (OMS) program. The OMS is expected to provide subsidized rice to all workers in the RMG sector. This program is currently under review by the government. At the macro-economic level, the government of Bangladesh is closely monitoring the day-to-day developments in the major economic indicators.
In view of improving the interactions between the business community and the government, a public-private business forum titled ‘Bangladesh Better Business Forum’ (BBBF) was formed in November 2007. In March 2009, a broad-based national committee (’27-member taskforce’) was formed to follow the developments related to the ongoing economic crisis and suggest measures to address the adverse impacts on Bangladesh economy. In view of safeguarding Bangladesh’s key exports such as readymade garments, jute, leather, and frozen foods, a stimulus/rescue package including some form of incentives through tax break, rate cut and cash subsidy are under active consideration.
Besides, in order to protect the loss of future remittance flows, the government of Bangladesh is taking various steps such as facilitating faster and easy transfer of remittances through official channels, finding new labor export markets, and negotiating with migrant workers’ host countries to preserve jobs. On the other hand, the central bank of Bangladesh recently (March 11, 2009) reduced the repo rates by 25 basis points to 8. 5 percent to ease the lending capacity of the commercial banks. Besides, it has been decided to cap lending rate of all types of loans except credit card and consumer loans at 13 percent to offset the fallout of global meltdown.
This rate cut is expected to boost credit to the productive and employment intensive sectors. In view of the losses incurred by importers as a result of the fall in global commodity prices (e. g. wheat, edible oil and pulses) and the difficulties faced by importers in honoring fresh letters of credit (LCs), the central bank has relaxed the conditions for opening fresh LCs from the existing 90 days time to 150 days. The central bank has also set up a Forex Investment Committee to monitor and manage the currency composition of foreign exchange reserves. The central bank withdrew about 90 percent of its total investment from international banks which were perceived to be at risk 6. Conclusions and Recommendations
The importance of nonfarm and farm employment, including casual labor, in rural and urban areas alike, underscores the need for rapid job creation in services, manufacturing and agriculture sectors to mitigate the adverse implications of the ongoing global financial crisis. Although it is too early to have a thorough insight on the extent of the impact on household livelihoods and food security, the urgent need to take policy initiatives and actions to address the emerging challenges is justified by the fact that the impacts of the global food crisis are compounding the livelihood and food security situation of households most affected by the global food crisis, namely agriculture and non agriculture wage labor and casual laborers.
In addition to the efforts being made by the government to mitigate the negative impacts on economic activities, mitigating actions could consider the following: • Expand and accelerate social protection programs (e. g. nutrition and education) targeting better households most affected both by the food and financial crises such as female-headed households, agriculture and non-agriculture wage earners and casual laborers. Specific targeting of female-headed households reliant on remittances should be considered in specific areas such as in Sylhet division. • Accelerate the implementation of the Annual Development Plan (ADP) in investing more in labor intensive income generating activities (e. g. asic infrastructure, water supply, sanitation, rural roads and electricity) to mitigate the impacts of job losses in economic sectors and the downturn of the export of migrants. • Accelerate investment to increase productivity in the agriculture sector to face the lack of arable land and counter production disincentives that are likely to occur with the decrease of agricultural commodity prices as a result of the global economic downturn. Promoting continued productivity growth in agriculture is expected to improve agricultural wages to absorb migrant returnees and less-skilled domestic workers who have lost their jobs in the face of the financial crisis. Diversification into higher value added crops, use of new seed varieties, and technology are crucial in this respect (World Bank, 2008).
At the household level, endowment in productive assets – both physical as well as financial (microcredit) capital could be considered as a means to help job losers and returned migrants to set up small businesses and cultivate land. • There is a momentum for quality investment in migrant workers to reduce the predominance of less skilled migrant workers. While exploring new destinations for migrant workers, there is a general sense in the country that further effort is required to strengthen the skills of candidates for migration. This is seen as a means to increase the likelihood of protecting jobs abroad and entering a new era of quality migration in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. •Monitor both macro-economic indicators and household food security and nutrition for early actions.
At macro-level, the broad-based national committee (’27-member taskforce’) formed by the government is expected to follow the developments related to the ongoing economic crisis and suggest measures to address the adverse impacts on Bangladesh economy. To monitor the evolution of the macro-economic and sectoral performance, key signal indicators such as non-performing loans (NPLs), letter of credit opening (LC), utilization declarations (UDs), general inflation (food and non-food), exchange rate fluctuations, etc. should be carefully monitored. To see whether the slowdown of macro-economic indicators is affecting household food security and livelihoods, the macro-level monitoring should establish the implications for households, including fiscal implications for social safety programs.
The micro-level monitoring could benefit from establishing the linkages between the macro-level and micro- level monitoring, by building on existing systems that monitor remittances, out-migration flows, flows of returnees, less-skilled wage rates in nonfarm and farm activities, staple food, cash and livestock prices, nutrition indicators, etc. In this context, a joint follow-up assessment could be envisaged in the second half of 2009 together with the government and others interested partners (e. g. FAO) to evaluate the magnitude of the impact of the global financial crisis on household food security and livelihoods, assuming the crisis will persist.