337 out of 426 call centres out of business

Lack of fluency in spoken English blamed
After getting their licences only three and a half years ago, more than 80 per cent of the country’s call centres have gone out of business. This has created a void in the potential sector, which was supposed to fetch a considerable amount of foreign currency every year, leaving it unutilised and unexplored.
According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), licences were issued to 426 companies in 2008 under the categories of call centres, hosted call centres and call centre service providers. Of them, 337 have surrendered their licences and do not operate any more. Among the rest, only 47 international and 19 local call centres are currently in operation. Last year, 55 international and 17 local agencies were operating.
Incidentally, steps have been taken by the authorities to fulfil three out of four demands that the BTRC, in a report, had placed before the parliamentary committee on the post and telecommunication ministry in June 2010, to take the call centres into the fast lane. The report noted that the sector could earn USD 5 billion a year.
The BTRC stressed the need for continuous power supply for licensed call centre service providers, dedicated subsidised broadband connection, arrangements for training of personnel in spoken English and alternative submarine cable connection in case of an emergency. As of now, the licensed call centres enjoy continuous power supply and are provided with a dedicated 50 per cent subsidised broadband connection. The government has made arrangements to get them connected to the alternative submarine cable, along with a back-up through the international terrestrial cable (ITC).
“Despite all these efforts, nothing has been done to train agents so that they can speak fluent English,” said Riazuddin Mosharaf, secretary general of the Bangladesh Association of Call Centre and Outsourcing (BACCO).
Mosharaf said that in 2010 the BTRC had proposed to establish a “call centre village”, like the IT parks that have taken the IT-enabled service (or ITES) sector to a new high in India. Last year, India earned USD 60 billion from the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector alone.
“But till now no such village has been established. Without proper training in English, we can’t get outbound calls that would bring foreign currency. Currently, 1,746 people are working in 47 international call centres of three categories – USA shift (11 p.m.-7 a.m.), UK shift (12 noon-8 p.m.) and Australia shift (6 a.m.-2 p.m.). Last year, the number was 1980,” Mosharaf added.
Mosharaf opined that the sector has been unable to attain even a fraction of its potential as both employers and employees still perceive it to be a part-time job. “As a result, mostly students take up call centre jobs for some extra money,” he said.
“The problem is that western countries just don’t buy things over telephone any more,” said Rashedul Islam, an agent of the Stamford Call Centre. He added that the West is yet to come out of the global economic meltdown.
“Our accent, though we try to keep it as American as possible, has made it extremely difficult for us to shoot sales. Some days ago, an American man scolded me and said that we are stealing their jobs while I was trying to score a sale”, he said.
Tawhid Hossain, finance secretary of the BACCO, said the stringent call centre regulatory act imposed by the BTRC has driven many centres out of business.
The BTRC, through a circular on October 4, 2011, had forbidden the operation of international and domestic call centres on the same premises, fearing that such a practice would prompt the call centre to go for illegal voice over internet protocol (VoIP) call termination.
“Most entrepreneurs in this sector don’t have the capital to go for separate set-ups for inbound and outbound calls. So they just switched to other business”, he said.
Maj. Gen. Jia Ahmed, chairman of the BTRC, said that in 2008, entrepreneurs used the economic boom to get call centre licences.
But most of those “enthusiastic” entrepreneurs are nowhere on the scene now, as they didn’t have sufficient knowledge about international and domestic markets, business strategies, he added.
He observed that none of the potential operators had addressed the issue of spoken English. “We’ve done our part by reducing the price of bandwidth and ensuring continuous power and internet connection. Now it’s up to the entrepreneurs to engage competent call centre agents”, he said.

-With The Independent input

Related News

Biman to operate special flights from Dhaka for RU admission seekers

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Biman Bangladesh Airlines will operate three special flights on the Dhaka-Rajshahi route from May 29 to May 31 to facilitate journeys of Rajshahi University admission seekers. The RU admission tests will take in four shifts starting from 9:00am and ending at 4:30pm on May 29, 30 and 31. The flights will ... Read more

First hajj flight with 419 pilgrims leaves Dhaka on Sunday

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The first hajj flight, carrying 419 pilgrims, is scheduled to leave Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport for Saudi Arabia at around 3.20am on Sunday (May 21). “A Biman Bangladesh Airlines will operate the first hajj flight from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Jeddah on Sunday at 3.20am,” Biman’s spokesperson Tahera Khondoker told ... Read more

7 Bangladeshis make Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2023 list

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Seven Bangladeshis have made the list of ‘Forbes 30 Under 30′ Asia Class of 2023. The famous business journal, Forbes, first launched the ’30 under 30’ list in 2011, listing the thirty movers and shakers under the age of thirty. From 2016 to 2022, a total of 25 Bangladeshis were named ... Read more

Economic life of buses fixed at 20yrs, goods vehicles at 25yrs

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The government fixed the economic life of buses and minibuses at 20 years and that for goods-laden vehicles, including trucks and covered vans, at 25 years. In this regard, the Roads and Highways Division on Wednesday issued a circular which would be effective following a gazette notification. In 2010, the Bangladesh ... Read more

Fire hydrants will be installed in all DNCC markets, slums: mayor

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Mayor Atiqul Islam said fire hydrants will be installed in every slum and market under the jurisdiction of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to deal with fire incidents. He made the announcement while inaugurating a fire hydrant in Sattala slum of Mahakhali in the capital on Thursday (18 May). He stressed ... Read more

Metro will operate from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, effective from May 31

Weekly closure on Friday News Desk : dhakamirror.com Beginning May 31, the metro rail will operate six days a week from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, said during a briefing Thursday. He also said that the weekly closure will be changed from Tuesday to Friday ... Read more

Gold bars worth Tk 25cr recovered from cargo hold of Biman plane

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Customs officials seized 204 gold bars weighing over 23kgs at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport this morning. The gold was left abandoned at the cargo hold of a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines that landed at the airport around 11:30am from Muskat, Oman via Chattogram. Officials searched the aircraft and recovered the ... Read more

Budget has become an orphan, IMF its foster father: Debapriya

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The budget of Bangladesh has become an orphan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now the foster father of it, said Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). “When the IMF goes to a country with their programme, it establishes a singular authority over economic ... Read more

Cyclone Mocha: Water vessel movement resumes

News Desk : dhakamirror.com A day after cyclone Mocha made landfall, movement of all types of water vessels resumed across the country this morning. The water transport movement began around 9:30am, Mobarak Hossain Majumder, public relations officer of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), told The Daily Star. BIWTA suspended operations of all types of ... Read more

Postponed SSC exams to be held after May 23: Dipu Moni

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Education Minister Dipu Moni today said the postponed SSC and equivalent examinations, which were scheduled for May 14 and 15, will be held after the theoretical examinations end on May 23. The education minister told reporters of the development while answering a question during a programme in the capital. Theses exams ... Read more

Bangladesh escapes worst of Mocha impacts

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh largely escaped the worst impacts of very severe cyclone Mocha, as the storm barely touched the country’s southeastern tip while making landfall on Sunday afternoon on the Bangladesh-Myanmar coast. The cyclone, however, made a mess of St Martin’s island, about 9km south of the southeastern tip of mainland Bangladesh, with ... Read more

Monday’s SSC, equivalent exams in all boards postponed

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The government on Sunday postponed the Secondary School Certificate and equivalent examinations scheduled for Monday in all boards for the situation due to cyclone Mocha. The National University authorities also cancelled its B.Ed examinations across the Bangladesh scheduled for Monday for the cyclone. Earlier, the government postponed the SSC and equivalent ... Read more

Five districts have very low literacy rate

Kamrun Nahar Sumy Five districts lag far behind in literacy rate from the national average, among people aged seven and above, which has increased to 74.66 per cent, according to the preliminary report of the Population and Housing Census 2022. The rate of literacy, defined as the ability to read and write, was 51.77 per ... Read more

What do the storm-related port signals 1 to 11 mean?

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Cyclone Mocha has been dominating discussions in last few days, cautionary, warning and danger signals, which the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) is urging ports to hoist, have become a foremost of the news. The following is a look at what each of the signal means, according to BMD: Distant Cautionary Signal ... Read more

Bangladesh Railway will conduct special mango train

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh Railway will operate a special Mango train on the Chapainawabganj-Dhaka route via Rajshahi this season for the fourth consecutive year. Asim Kumar Talukder, general manager of the western zone of the railway, said that they have already started preparations for deploying two trains to transport mangoes at a lower cost ... Read more

Half-yearly exams, pre-test deferred for secondary students

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The government deferred the schedules of the half-yearly and pre-test examinations for a week for students of the government and non-government secondary schools across the country. The decision was made to facilitate the implementation of the new national curriculum in the Classes of VI and VII, said a notice issued by ... Read more

Deep depression over Bay has intensified into Cyclone Mocha: IMD

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The deep depression over southeast Bay of Bengal today intensified into Cyclone Mocha and headed in a north-northwest direction at a speed of eight kilometres per hour, the Indian Met Department said. The cyclone lay centred 1,210km from Cox’s Bazar, it added. Mocha is very likely to intensify into a very ... Read more

No exams for pre-primary students, only assessment for Class I

News Desk : dhakamirror.com No examinations will be held to evaluate the pre-primary level students in the current 2023 academic year following the new national curriculum. Class I students will be fully evaluated through continuous assessment while no marginal/annual examination will be held and no fees can be charged from the students or the guardians ... Read more

UN Women hosts event to prevent violence against women

News Desk : dhakamirror.com UN Women Bangladesh held a learning-sharing event at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) today showcasing the remarkable results achieved by the Combatting Gender-Based Violence (CGBV) project. Funded by the government of Canada, the project aimed to develop effective strategies for preventing violence against women (VAW) in the country. Through extensive ... Read more

Depression may turn into cyclone today

Tech Desk : dhakamirror.com The well-marked low over the Bay of Bengal gathered strength and intensified into a depression last night and it could turn into a cyclone by today, the Met office said. “The depression may turn into a cyclonic storm tomorrow [Wednesday] or the day after,” said Bazlur Rashid, meteorologist, Bangladesh Meteorological Department, ... Read more