May 03, 2017
At the directives of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a 100-day scheme has been taken up by the government to distribute relief among at least 3.3 lakh ultra-poor families affected by the flash flood in haor areas. As part of the scheme, each family in six districts will receive 30kg of rice and Tk 500 per month, while the central bank postponed agriculture credit recovery from haor areas across the country due to huge damages in the area by flashfloods. Under another scheme, preparations are laid out to distribute adequate amount of food along with money through the Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Open Market Sale (OMS) and general relief programmes.
Expressing firm optimism that bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Bangladesh would continue to grow, former British Prime Minister David Cameron said there would be no change in this relationship due to Brexit. The former premier made this remark while paying a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka. Moreover, the former British prime minister highly appreciated Bangladesh's success in socioeconomic development under the leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Bangladesh has demonstrated resilience amid global headwinds and domestic challenges at the annual World Bank and IMF spring meeting in Washington. In reference to a raft of measures, undertaken by the central bank, to reduce costs of business, participants said, the country’s stance on the monetary policy will continue to remain prudent, and the authorities remain vigilant against upside risks to inflation.
According to a report, released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), people's average life expectancy in Bangladesh is now 71 years and six months, up by nine months from 70 years and nine months in 2015. The average life expectancy for males went up to 70 years and three months in 2016, which was 69 years and four months in 2015 while the average life expectancy for females is 72 years and nine months in 2016, which was 72 years in 2015. Experts said that the country’s average life expectancy had surpassed than the world average.
In sync with government’s pledge to ensure electricity for all by 2021, some 30 lakh new consumers would be added in the list of Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (REB) for electricity this year. The REB already provided electricity connection to 10 million consumers over the last eight years while the power generation capacity reached to more than 15,179 MW including captive power and currently 76% people are enjoying electricity access. In 2009, when Awami League took office, the country's power generation capacity was 4,942MW.
A new target has been set to generate 10,000 MW electricity during the peak summer and Ramadan on condition of availability of gas supply to power plants. This move stands out as a testament to an overwhelming progress took place in the power value chain. The additional capacity has been added in annual increases of 365MW, 775MW, 1763MW, 951MW, 1163MW, 583MW and 1,997 MW respectively in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 to May 2016.
Works are underway to set up an LNG-based combined cycle power project having a capacity to generate 360MW of electricity in Mymensingh. The proposed 360MW combined cycle power project will require 55mmcfd gas, the company will able to receive the gas as the state-owned Petrobangla has initiated to import LNG gas in 2019-20. The government has approved to set up 12-inch pipeline for implementing the project, alongside, the proposed plant will be run by high speed diesel (HSD) until supply of LNG.
The government is going to build a data centre in the country at a cost of Tk 20 billion, which would be sixth largest in the world, is expected to be usable by the end of next year. Both government and private sectors will be able to use the centre. The private data could be stored in the data centre in exchange of charges.The government will set up the data centre in Dhaka and the backup centre in Jessore. Moreover, the online tax payment will be mandatory from the next year and every taxpayer will need a digital signature.
Target has been set to eliminate mosquito-borne malaria by 2030, given that the number of malaria cases brought down to a half in the past seven years. As part of the plan, efforts will be put in place to increase the disease detection rate, and strengthen mosquito control activities further, particularly in the high prevalence districts. Owing to a raft of measures, the deaths have also fallen to 17 last year from 154 in 2008.
The government is planning to undertake a project costing around Tk200-250 crore to launch safety inspection in factories other than the RMG ones to ensure workplace safety. Sectors to receive special attention include– chemical factories, shipping industry, etc – as well. According to State Minister for Labour and Employment, Mujibul Haque, they are working to ensure workplace safety and health in non-RMG factories as well, especially the vulnerable ones, because workplace safety is a right under the law of the country.
Owing to a move to bolster social safety net scheme, as many as 5 million families, comprising 20 million lives, are getting rice across the country at the rate of Taka 10 per kg. According to media reports, given that a raft of measures has been put in practice, the poverty rate of the country has come down under 10% from over 40% a decade ago. This accomplishment spoke for a set of prudent policies that the government has framed in eliminating the menace of poverty from the country forever.
Bngladesh and Poland agreed to establish Joint Working Group for migration of skilled workers and maritime economy. The agreement came during meetings of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Polish Minister for Family, Labour and Social Welfare Mrs. Elzbieta Rafalska and Deputy Minister for Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Grzegorz Witkowski respectively. During the meetings, they discussed various issues of bilateral cooperation with especial focus on migration of Bangladeshi skilled workforce and Polish cooperation in blue economy.
A whooping amount worth BDT 8.21 billion (821.73 crore) has been allocated for implementing development programmes under 56 projects of the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry in 2016-17 fiscal year. The total estimated project expenditure until March of the current fiscal year was Tk 3.74 billion. Of the total allocation, Tk 4.2 billion has been earmarked for 31 projects of the fisheries sector for 2016-17 fiscal year where Tk 2.08 billion was spent until March of the current fiscal year.
In response to a gradual shift of manual manpower to different sectors, the government has framed a roadmap for complete mechanization of agriculture sector by 2041. Under the roadmap, as many as 12 programmes will be implemented in phases within 2021, 2031 and 2041. Research and development, capacity increasing of the farm machine manufacturers, innovation of suitable farm machines and increasing the capacity of the stakeholders—are some of the key areas that received special focus in the roadmap.
A state-owned Chinese firm has offered to invest $2 billion in Bangladesh's construction materials sector. The China Building Materials Federation has presented a plan to Bangladesh Investment Development Board (BIDA) offering $2 billion investment in the sector. To this end, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the said organizations recently. Officials of BIDA set an ambitious goal of improving Bangladesh ranking in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index to below 100 from the current 176 in the next five years.
Bangladesh Bank is preparing to develop a guideline for a national payment scheme which will enable local financial institutions to avoid ‘extra charge’ or transaction through foreign payment gateways like Mastercard and visa. Moreover efforts are underway to develop a unique platform, which will act as a base of all payments of the country. Earlier in 2012, the central bank installed ‘National Payment Switch’ which enables sharing transactions information among financial institutions.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) pledged to provide Bangladesh with US$5 million to support import and export financing for the country’s businesses. Under the agreement, ADB's Trade Finance Program (TFP) will provide trade loans to the City Bank to lend to local firms. Since 2009, TFP has supported more than 9,200 small and medium-size businesses across developing Asia - through over 13,000 transactions valued at over $25.5 billion - in sectors ranging from commodities and capital goods, to medical supplies and consumer goods.
HPM Sheikh Hasina announced Moheshkhali Island under Cox's Bazar district as the country's first Digital Island through launching a project hoping that it will play a greater role in expediting the overall socioeconomic development of the people of this Island. Due to this project, the Premier said, the entire world will get connected with the people of Moheshkhali enabling them to know the world and maintain contact with other people living at home and abroad.
The government approved the establishment of 12 IT and hi-tech parks in different districts at a cost of Tk 1,796.40 crore, to move closer to a digital economy. The project will further strengthen the endeavours of the government to build a knowledge-based society by 2021, boost up the initiative to earn $5 billion from the ICT sector by generating employment for 2 million youths. Moreover, the government is also setting up the Sheikh Hasina Software Technology Park in Jessore, which will be launched by June.
Bangladesh joined the 3rd UNCTAD e-Commerce Week 2017 celebration to gain guidelines and mechanisms regarding different fields of e-Commerce that will be more supportive for the draft National e-Commerce Policy, 2016, jointly prepared by the ICT Division and the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB). The event started on 24 April 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland with a view to identifying forward-looking insights and concrete actions that can help developing countries take part in and benefit from e-Commerce.
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