Exports with the amount of $6.6 billion (2001) went at 31.8% to the United States, 10.9% to Germany, 7.9% to United Kingdom, 5.2% to France, 5.2% to the Netherlands, and 4.42% to Italy. Exports grew by 21.63% 2006. Imports with the amount of $8.7 billion (2001) came from India (10.5%), European Union (9.5%), Japan (9.5%), Singapore (8.5%), and China (7.4%). Imports grew by 12.05% last year. Foreign Direct Investment was at $800 million in 2005.8
During the Nineties the Bangladesh's government noticed that investments into the education system result in better future economic performance of the country. Therefore highest allocations in the national budget were made with topmost priority to human resource development, by implementing the "Education for All" –program in the country. Compulsory primary education, free education for girls up to class ten, stipends for female students, food-for educational total literacy movement and nationwide integrated education are some of the major programs imposed by the government in the education sector.
The education system is divided into four levels. Children start at a primary school until grade five and go to the secondary school (from grades six to ten) afterwards. Higher secondary school takes from grade eleven to twelve, followed by tertiary schools. English medium education is also provided by some private enterprises, that offer "A"- and "O" level courses. An Arabic medium Islam-based education is offered by the Madrasa system for boys and girls, supervised by the Madrasa Board of Bangladesh. Hindus and Buddhists can go for religious education in the institutes "Tol" and "Chatuspathi".
There are 11 government universities and about 20 private ones in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, the Bangladesh Agricultural University, and the Bangabandhu Shaikh Mujib Medical University are the specialized ones. All in all Bangladesh's education system consist of four engineering colleges, 2845 colleges and institutes, 12553 secondary schools, and 78595 primary schools.
An open university has been brought up in Bangladesh to ensure higher education accessible for all.9
Still the literacy rate of Bangladesh remains low, with a high difference between male and female literacy rates. But the rate increases since government and NGO's are involved in the restructuring of the education system. In 1998 Bangladesh won the UNESCO International Literacy Prize for its steadily increasing rate.10
Bangladesh's legal system, which is based on the English common law, can be compared to those of neighbouring countries. Although law is based on the English system, you will also find codes of civil and criminal laws in it. These are established for some Hindu and Islamic religious principles for marriage, inheritance, and other purposes.
The constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country, was founded in 1972, one year after Bangladesh's independence. In 1982 the constitution was suspended and reinstated in 1986.
The system itself consists of a Low Court and a Supreme Court, which hear both – civil and criminal cases. The Low Court is built up of administrative courts and session judges. The Supreme Court is built up of a High Court, whose task it to hear original cases and review decisions of the Low Court, and an Appellate Court which hears appeals from the High Court. The trials are public, the right to counsel and appeal is present, and a system of bail also exists. Recently upper level court, that have exercised independent judgement, argue against the government on a few cases in criminal, civil, and political trials. The most significant problem of Bangladesh's law system is the backlog of cases.
The World Bank helped Bangladesh's government to enforce a huge project to reforn the legal system, to make it more efficient and accountable. So called "Legal Aid Committees" were established to assist the poor. Also Metropolitan Courts of Session were created. Today, there is also a Law Commission to reform and update existing laws, and a Human Rights Commission.11
Despite the problems Bangladesh has with its legal system, well structured labour laws were established to protect workers from exploitation.
The regular workweek is 48 hours long, divided into an eight-hours day, six days a week. Overtime must be voluntary and should not exceed 12 hours a week, making a 60-hour workweek. Another fact is that overtime must be paid at a double the standard salary. Women are not allowed to work night shifts or after 8 p.m. The labour law also states that there must be one rest day off per week. Usually these days are Fridays or Sundays.
A country-wide minimum wage is set at $8 cents an hour. The minimum wages within an Export Processing Zone are set at $22 cents an hour for a sewer and $18 cents an hour for a helper. The EPZ provides numerous other benefits for its workers like rent subsidy, transportation subsidy, medical allowance, religious festival bonus, and a 17 days vacation.
The labour law also set legal benefits for workers, such as 14 days for sickness a year with a full year salary, ten personal leisure time days a year that are paid, ten religious festival holidays with a full pay, and three months' full paid maternity leave. A company with more that 50 employees is also required to have a day-care centre.
In terms of healthcare factories with more than 500 workers are required to have a healthcare clinic and be dispensary staffed by a doctor and/ or a nurse. Any kind and all forms of physical punishment are outlawed and punishable by the state law.
When a worker wants to legally leave a factory, the employer is required to pay a severance of 5000 taka, which is about $87.11 for each year worked in the factory by the worker.
The right to organized and bargain collectively are legal right stated by Bangladesh's constitution and labour law with the exception of Export Processing Zones, where these laws do not apply.12
Although there are rights set by the government, they are hardly enforceable and rarely controlled by the state institutions. Public sector wages are set by the National Pay and Wages Commission and may not be disputed. Although, there are minimum wages set by the government for the private sector, in real they are still ruled and set by the industry. Collective bargaining rarely occurs, because high unemployment exists and employees are afraid of loosing their jobs. And although the legal workweek is set to 48 hours with one day off, this law is rarely enforced, especially in the garment industry. Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in factories, but may work under certain circumstances in other industry sectors. Still such restrictions are neglected by employers and you will find children working in every sector of the economy. In 2002, the government estimated that 6.6 million children between the ages of five and 14 years were engaged in all types of employment activities, many that were harmful to their well-being.13
A Bangladesh resident is considered to be a person who spends 182 days within the country in an income year. In case a person has been in the country for 90 days in the income year and 365 days in four years - preceding this year, this person will also be considered a resident.14
Total taxes in Bangladesh are divided into direct and indirect taxes. Direct taxes in Bangladesh consists of taxes on income (income tax, corporation tax, agricultural income tax) and taxes on property (wealth tax, gift tax, estate duty, capital gains tax, urban property tax, house rent, land revenue, registration, and non-judicial stamp). Taxpayers in Bangladesh can be categorized into three main groups. The elite group consists of corporate taxpayers (24,770) that make up about 3.02% of the total taxpayers. The next group consists of wage earners or salaried taxpayers (154,245), who shares about 18.81%. The largest and the last group consists of all other remaining taxpayers, mainly those who have an income from business and profession (640,795) that make up about 78.17%.