The government takes initiative to ensure at least 90 percent of the ready-made garments sector workers to receive their wages through the digital payment system by 2021, one of the priorities of Digital Bangladesh.
Out of about 4.1 million RMG workers, around 1.5 million are currently being paid wages through the digital payment system.
The above was discussed 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 on Wednesday.
The panelists also expressed that digitalization in the wage payment system would empower readymade garment workers in improving their access to financial services. They shared the digitalization could reduce up to 53% of admin cost and increase productivity.
The summit was supported by the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).
The summit started with a panel discussion under the banner “Scaling digital wages for employees and manufacturers”.
During the discussion, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that empowering women is one of the priority for achieving digital Bangladesh mentioning that the garments sector employs 80% female workers of the total workforce. He stressed the importance of digital literacy before introducing a digital wage payment system in the garment sector, while adding that awareness should be created among the workers and owners within the sector.
Palak also said that 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 percent of garment workers would get their wages through the digitised system, he added.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said: “We are committed to supporting the readymade garment sector with new technologies that will improve the lives of workers within the sector.”
Shwapna Bhowmick, country manager of Marks and Spencer in Bangladesh, said: “Along with all constituents of the garment industry, we will continue to contribute to the digital wages working group, and share the experiences of the leading suppliers who have already digitized wages.”
Managing Director of the United Nations based Better Than Cash Alliance Ruth Goodwin-Groen said that the international organization was committed to help bring together the key public and private sector stakeholders who could take wage digitization in Bangladesh to the next level.
Moving to digital payment methods could reduce corruption, fraud and theft by ensuring traceability of the payment process, he added.
Deputy Governor at the Bangladesh Bank Ahmed Jamal, BGMEA President Rubana Haq, ILO Country Director in Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen and the UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee attended the program.
Anir Chowdhury, the policy advisor at the a2i, moderated the panel discussion.