Monday, March 21, 2011

Bangladesh offers tax incentive for employers of handicap persons

Photo Mohua Paul and friend Julian Francis

TO LURE private entrepreneurs to hire more physically challenged person in the job, Bangladesh government on Sunday announced tax incentives.

Bangladesh laws discourage discrimination due to physical, mental or other disabilities in the society. But discrimination and marginalization of physically or mentally challenged persons are widespread, due to social stigma, says Mohua Paul, an official of Access Bangladesh who herself is on wheelchair for 40 years.

The nation of 158.6 million has 14 million, or 10 percent of its population are physically challenged in any form.

Despite a gray area the government has reserved quota for handicap persons aspiring for lucrative civil service jobs, which are based on competitive exams.

How much jobs are actually given to disabled is a big question, remarks Albert Mollah, executive director of Access Bangladesh, a non-governmental organization working with physically challenged persons in outskirts of the capital Dhaka.

Bangladesh being the fourth largest exporter of apparel and clothing industries is still the largest employer in the private sector and the number of disabled employees is appalling. The industry employs more than 10 million workers mostly women.

However, the scenario in the public-private sectors offering jobs to handicaps is very depressing. Despite the fact that the multinational and large business groups boast of corporate social responsibility in their websites, the human resource departments are not doing enough, says Mollah.

Announcing the stimulus, Enamul Hoque Mostofa Shaheed, Minister for Social Welfare said the employers will also receive licensing, and other formalities on priority if 10 percent of the employers are disable people.

Meantime, few public-private service industries and factories have demonstrated as role model for hiring and retaining handicap employees. A private industry Keya Cosmetics have 1200 staffs with hearing disabilities.

The numbers are very few, equally it is encouraging as the corporate executives are listening after sustained media advocacy, said Paul. [ENDS]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigation journalist in Bangladesh. He could be reached at <>