Jan 12, 2016
While the global economic landscape is grappled by a subdued investment, Standard Chartered attached a stable outlook to Bangladesh for 2017, saying the country is positioned to be one of the fastest growing Asian economies in the year. A marked progress in the construction of mega projects including Padma Multipurpose Bridge and prevalence of a friendly investment environment are vindicated in the report. A continued balance of payments surplus, coupled with a lower inflation and a growing forex reserve, contributed largely to this forecast.
Bangladesh has become the Permanent Observer of the Organization of American States (OAS), the oldest multilateral regional organisation founded by the United States in 1948. With this achievement, opportunities have opened up for Bangladesh to strengthen ties and increase deeper engagements with the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Now it has 35 members from North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean countries with 72 permanent observers from all over the world.
According to Mikael Hemniti Winther, new Danish Ambassador, the July 1 terror attack could not distract Denmark from its development activities in Bangladesh. Terming the threats of terror attacks as a global phenomenon, the envoy said that focuses need to be laid out on strengthening cooperation for development works. As regards to the progress this country achieved in different indicators, the diplomat believed most of the accomplishments are done by the people of Bangladesh and there are very few foreigners involved in the process.
The threat from terrorism in Bangladesh has receded in the face of stern actions adopted by the government, said Peter Lavoy , the senior director of the White House’s National Security Council on South Asia. According to the official, successful raids, along with a zero tolerance policy of the present government have resulted in a reduced militant threat in recent months while possibilities are lent out as regards to the prevalence of normalcy in the country.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Plans are endorsed and works are laid out to build 128 bridges in rural areas to create more jobs through non-farm economic activities. The bridges will cover a total of 26,440 metres across 94 sub-divisions while the project is expected to be complete by 2021. As of December 2016, a total of 288,536 metres of bridges and culverts have been constructed while another 186,877 metres will be built soon. Under another project, an amount worth $7.06 billion is allocated for increasing the navigability of the Mongla-Ghosiakhali channel.
The government has taken initiatives to construct two power plants with a total generation capacity of 1,130 MW on the bank of river Bhairab at Khalishpur industrial belt in this southwestern industrial city. Another proposal has been approved for setting up a 200MW solar park in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar, the largest in the country, on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis with the private sector. The plant would be set up on about 1,000 acres of non-agricultural land in the tourist district of Cox's Bazar.
Food and Agriculture
Three years after the release of Bt Brinjal, Bangladesh is going to get its second genetically modified (GM) crop -- a disease resistant potato . Once released, RB potato will be farmers’ answer to late blight, one of the most devastating plant diseases caused by fungal attack. Farmers in Bangladesh spend up to U$ 1 billion a year in spraying 500 tonnes of fungicide to protect this major tuber crop from late blight. With an annual output of nine million tonnes, Bangladesh is a potato exporting nation ranking 7th among the top potato-producing countries in the world.
Vegetable production has more than doubled in just over a decade, making Bangladesh one of the fastest-growing vegetable producers in the world. The growth in recent years stems from better seeds and technologies as opposed to the growths in the 80s and early 90s when more agro land was dedicated to vegetable farming. According to government statistics, some 142 types of home-grown and exotic vegetables were grown in Bangladesh with the output hitting 14.34 million tonne from 0.8 million hectares of land in the last fiscal year.
Trade and Investment
Works are underway to build a leather village in Chittagong on 300 to 500 acres of land aiming at giving the investment sector a major boost. Once it become operational, some 0.2 million young people would get employment and living standard in the entire area will mark a significant rise. Moreover, full swing progress is achieved on the development of 100 economic zones throughout the country.
Final preparations are completed to reopen the Malaysian labour market for Bangladeshi workers under the government to government (G2G Plus) mechanism. The respected authorities are also working to finalize the terms of references (ToR) and as soon as the two governments finish the key issues, Bangladesh will start sending their skilled workforce. Moreover, target has been set to send 0.8 million (eight lakh) workers abroad this year.
Bangladesh has huge potential in the hospitality industry as the sector has started to follow international standards, said Robin Edwards, the newly appointed general manager of Radisson Blu Chittagong Bay View. According to the expert, being an emerging destination, Chittagong sees rising opportunities for growth, given that development has been taking place in a rapid pace in infrastructure, new business destinations and export processing zones.
Digital Bangladesh
State-owned mobile operator Teletalk signed two separate deals worth $33.1 million with equipment vendors Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell (ASB) to expand its network for both 2G and 3G services. Under the agreements, Teletalk will set up 942 new 3G sites and 1,240 2G sites in Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet divisions. Currently, another project is underway for network expansion for 3G services at a cost of $39.2 million. After the completion of the three projects, Teletalk will be strong enough provide the people with an uninterrupted service.
The use of bandwidth in Bangladesh more than doubled year-on-year to 380 gigabits per second in 2016, driven by local contents and expansion of 3G services. The number of internet users was over 50 million at the end of 2015, which rose to 60.8 million in September 2016, according to data from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission or BTRC. Experts suggested this rise as a tremendous growth and pinned hopes for further expansion in the use of internet in the coming years.
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