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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 September 2005, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Bangladesh starts five-day week
Bangladeshi petrol station
The move has been prompted by rising fuel costs
Civil servants in Bangladesh are having an extra day off as a two-day weekend for public workers takes effect.

The government ordered the longer weekend in an effort to cut costs amid a looming economic crisis.

Government officials say the country's fragile economy is under pressure because of soaring global oil prices and a shortfall in crop production.

Some private companies are refusing to follow the public sector example, saying they cannot afford it.

Reports on Friday said that public transport in Dhaka was busy as people took advantage of the extended break to leave the capital.

In order to minimise the loss of working hours, civil servants will now have to work an extra hour on normal working days.

'Growth threatened'

The decision to introduce the two-day weekend was taken at a cabinet meeting on Monday, chaired by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

Women garment workers in Dhaka
Employers say the garment industry might suffer

"Introducing a five-day work week will reduce use of transport by both public and private sectors, thus saving costly fuel and easing pressure on foreign exchange required to import oil," one energy official was quoted saying by Reuters news agency.

Economist Abul Barakat told the AFP news agency that the government could save nearly $12m a year in fuel costs alone by introducing the five-day working week.

But garment manufacturers, Bangladesh's biggest private sector employers, have complained.

"It comes at a time when we are witnessing growth in the garment sector. A country like Bangladesh cannot afford this luxury," the president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Anisul Haq, told AFP.




SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh shortens working week
06 Sep 05 |  South Asia


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