Sustainable poverty reduction strategies should be targeted for to create decent jobs amid the pandemic-induced economic crisis, said experts.
The regional difference in poverty and vulnerability highlights the importance of region-specific decentralised policies, as discussed by experts while virtually addressing a session on the labour market of the three-day international conference on Thursday.
South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (Sanem) organised the International Development Conference on Covid-19 and the development challenges.
Researchers and academics from different parts of the world presented their papers in the conference.
While presenting a paper titled "Occupation-Based Poverty and Vulnerability in Bangladesh: Insights from Covid-19 ", Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, an Economics professor at the University of Dhaka and research director at Sanem, said, "39% people living below poverty line due to Covid-induced economic crisis is as high as can be.
"The occupation-wise vulnerability analysis reflects day labourers and self-employers experiencing higher incidences of poverty and vulnerability."
They utilised the "Household Income Expenditure Survey-2016" to estimate a vulnerability to poverty index for a cross-section of people, she also said.
"Those engaged in elementary occupations and skilled agriculture have higher incidence of poverty and have are most likely to experience economic vulnerability," she added.
"Many non-poor households might turn poor resulting from Covid-19 -like shocks. So, we need to identify and bring them under poverty reduction strategies or schemes."
" Covid-19 can affect investment in human capital formation. Thus, investment in skill formation should be prioritised. Sustainable poverty reduction strategies should be targeted to create decent jobs with specific contractual agreements and compensation packages," she added.
While presenting a paper titled "Garment Worker Wage Digitisation: Implications for the future of the Bangladesh Economy", Dr Guy Stuart, executive director at Microfinance Opportunities in the United States, said, "Wage digitisation needs to ensure that money reaches the rightful recipients."
Pointing out their study, he said, "About one in four in April and about three in four apparel workers in May were paid digitally."
Dr Sher Verick, head of the Employment Strategies Unit in the Employment, Labour Market and Youth Branch in the International Labour Organisation, Geneva, said working hours have dropped amidst the Covid-19 pandemic all over the world.
He emphasised the need to find out the country-specific actual vulnerabilities in the labour market to get a way out.
Experts at the event pointed out that with increased unemployment rates, poverty and inequality are worsening as the crisis prolongs. The necessity of a strong social protection system has never been so dire.
However, the speakers also recommended that the government consider a temporary unemployment benefit programme incorporating both poor and unemployed households, concentrated particularly on certain occupation categories as identified by their analysis.
Professor Ravi S Srivastava, former professor of Economics and chairperson at Centre for the Study of Regional Development of Jawaharlal Nehru University, chaired the session.
According to Sanem, during the three-day conference, researchers from different countries presented a total of 24 papers on themes centred around the Covid-19 pandemic, e.g., macroeconomic challenges, international trade, public health, and health care services, education, labour market, employment, remittances, migration, poverty, inequality, and social protection.