Week 8 of 2023 – YPF Around the Globe (English)

Timeframe: February 19 to February 25, 2022

Contributors: Affan Bin Saber, Anika Bushra, GM Sifat Iqbal, and Farhan Uddin Ahmed

To read Bangla, click here.

1. Politics

UN cuts food aid to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh due to funding crisis

The United Nations plans to cut food aid for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, with agencies warning that funding shortfalls will deepen food insecurity and malnutrition in the world’s largest refugee settlement.

The World Food Program (WFP) said on Friday that it will cut the price of its food aid to $10 per person from $12 starting next month. Global pandemics, economic downturns and crises have squeezed donor budgets.

About 730,000 Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a persecuted mostly Muslim minority, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape an army crackdown the United Nations said was aimed at genocide. About 1 million live in shacks made of bamboo and plastic sheets, including others who left in earlier waves.

WFP has appealed for $125 million in emergency funding, warning of a “massive and long-lasting” response to food security and nutrition in the malnourished camps, where more than a third of children are stunted and underweight.

“The fact that the international donor community is now turning its back on half a million Rohingya children and their families really shows the limits of its commitment to some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” Save the Children’s country director in Bangladesh, Ono van Manen, said in a statement.

Source: TRT World

2. Economics & Business

The Pakistan-IMF talks on the bailout fund, however, have not reached the agreement stage

Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] failed to reach a clear agreement on the final day of emergency talks to unlock crucial bailout funds.

Pakistan’s finance secretary expressed optimism late Thursday that a deal would soon be reached to avert bankruptcy amid rising inflation and a shortage of raw materials.

According to private channel Geo News, Finance Secretary Hamed Shaikh said, “Already an agreement has been reached with the IMF on the preconditions.”

“The staff level agreement between Pakistan and the IMF will be reached soon,” Sheikh said in a statement to Reuters news agency. “IMF Mission Seeks More Time for Staff-Level Discussions.”

The country’s state television channel quoted finance ministry officials as saying some issues still needed to be resolved.

However, the IMF delegation was due to fly out of the country on Friday after ten days of talks, state broadcaster PTV said.

Pakistan’s economy is suffering from a balance of payments crisis as it tries to service high levels of foreign debt amid political chaos and deteriorating security.

An IMF delegation landed in Islamabad last week to hammer out tough conditions that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called “beyond imagination”.

Source: TRT World

Private sector foreign debt decreased by nearly $1 billion

Following Bangladesh Bank’s rigorous steps to curb imports, the private sector’s foreign debt reduced by 4.3%, or more than $1 billion, in the second quarter of the current fiscal year. The overall private sector foreign debt of the nation was $25.4 billion in September, but it would rise to $24.1 billion by the end of December 2022.

From December 2020, the private sector’s foreign debt has steadily increased, reaching $25.95 billion in June 2022. Prices for several goods went up when the Russia-Ukraine war broke out in February of last year. Bangladesh’s import expenses increased as a result, placing strain on its foreign exchange reserve. In May of last year, the central bank implemented a number of limitations on the import of non-essential goods. Short-term buyers’ credit, which is a portion of the overall private sector foreign debt, declined by $626 million and was $9.56 billion in December of last year, down from $10.19 billion in September. Deferred payments also decreased from $815 million in September to $698 million in December. Other short-term loans decreased by $454 million in December to total $3.64 billion. Moreover, the amount of long-term loans decreased by roughly 20% and was $1.06 billion.

The majority of the private sector’s foreign debt, according to Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, was made up of trade loans. According to him, this reduction is expected given the import limitations the central bank put in place. He said that the private sector has little opportunity to obtain international loans as a result of the central bank’s actions.

Source: The Daily Star

3. Science & Technology

363,000 Tesla vehicles recalled due to faulty self-driving software

Tesla is tweaking its self-driving software in response to US safety regulators’ fears that it would permit drivers to go above the posted speed limit or cross intersections dangerously. According to documents submitted to the US authorities, the recall impacts close to 363,000 automobiles in the US.

The company’s autopilot system has come under investigation by US authorities. According to the recall notice, representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) met with Tesla in January to express their concerns over the “full self-driving beta” software. The NHTSA said that the technology permitted actions that would “infringe” on regional laws or norms, such as running a red light, cutting across an intersection from a turn-only lane, or failing to stop completely at a stop sign. . “FSD Beta software that allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner increases the risk of a crash,” it said.

Tesla said it disagreed with the agency’s findings but decided to issue a recall “out of an abundance of caution”, according to the filing. Owners are now being informed. It’s free to upgrade the software. In a tweet on Thursday. Elon Musk did not immediately respond to the decision but said, “the word “recall” for an over-the-air software update is antiquated and just flat incorrect!”.

Source: BBC News

4. Environment

The race across Europe to build green steel plants

Europe’s first commercial green steel plant will be manufactured in a small town in Sweden. This is notable as the process of making steel is “responsible for 7% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.” However, Sweden plans to replace the coal-powered blast furnace process with hydrogen technology. Hydrogen technology will slash emissions by 95%.

Source: BBC

5. Society

Dozens of U.K. companies will keep the 4-day workweek after a pilot program ends

Results from a new pilot program at dozens of employers in the United Kingdom showed major benefits to workers’ health and productivity when their hours were reduced — and a vast majority of firms plan to stick with the condensed schedule.

There were physical and mental health benefits — 46% of employees said they were less fatigued — and three in five respondents said it was easier to balance work with care responsibilities at home.

“Results are largely steady across workplaces of varying sizes, demonstrating this is an innovation which works for many types of organisations,” said Juliet Schor, a Boston College professor and the project’s lead researcher.

The results also appeared positive from the corporate perspective.

Revenue increased by an average of 1.4% over the study period, according to data from 23 organizations that provided it. Absenteeism fell, and people were less likely to quit during the trial, even though it took place during what’s been dubbed the Great Resignation, the authors noted.

Of the 61 companies that took part in the trial, 56 said they would continue offering the four-day workweek for now. Eighteen said they planned to shorten the workweek permanently.

The pilot program was a collaboration between the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, the 4 Day Week Campaign in the United Kingdom and the think tank Autonomy. It included roughly 2,900 workers at 61 companies — from nonprofits, manufacturers and finance firms to even a fish-and-chip shop — and ran from June to December of last year.

4 Day Week previously conducted similar trials in the U.S. and Ireland and says it will also release results from pilots in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, North America and elsewhere in Europe.

Source: NPR

Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the aforementioned third parties. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.

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