Gas shortages and electricity outages during peak hours are the reasons for low productivity, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said on Monday.
Speaking at a programme on National Productivity Day 2017, the minister said the current productivity rate of the country is 70%, but it should be 90%.
“We are lagging behind in the ease of doing business but the government is trying to do everything we can to make it better,” he said.
However, data from the private sector shows that the productivity rate of Bangladesh is 40%, conflicting with the 70% claimed by the minister.
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Vice Chancellor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Professor Saiful Islam, said in his keynote presentation that power cuts and shortages of gas have contributed to significant losses for business.
“An uninterrupted and quality power supply is essential to increasing productivity as they affect production capacity as well the equality of products,” he said. “Stable distribution of power and gas is essential for increasing productivity.”
Speakers at the programme stressed the importance of more research and investment in increasing productivity for the manufacturing sector.
President of The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), Md Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin), said: “In improving productivity, research and development is very important. Currently the productivity rate is 40% but the government as well as the private sector has to increase productivity at any cost.”
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The commerce minister said that 70% of the population currently has access to electricity, and the government hopes this will be extended to cover the entire country by 2024.
He also said the changes brought in after the April 2013 Rana Plaza disaster will improve the situation over time.
“We have upgraded technology in factories and provided duty free import facilities to ensure safety at workplace including fire safety. As a result, productivity will increase in the future,” he said.
The minister urged the Industry Ministry to take effective measures so that productivity can be improved. He also stressed on the need to train workers to improve their productivity.