Dec 07, 2017
The relationship between Bangladesh and Cambodia edged to a different dimension with the successful visit of Honourable Prime Minister (HPM) Sheikh Hasina to Phnom Penh as it has ushered in a new horizon to boost the bilateral trade and commerce in the coming days. HPM Sheikh Hasina arrived in Phnom Penh last week and paid her respects to Cambodia’s Independence Memorial and placed flowers before a statue of the late King Norodom Sihanouk. She also toured the Cambodian Genocide Museum. In addition, HPM Sheikh Hasina met with her Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen at the Peace Palace for both private and bilateral talks. Nine memoranda of understanding and an agreement were signed by the two countries. On the other hand, she sought support from Cambodia for a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis as it is a threat to regional peace and stability.
The UNESCO has recognised Bangladesh’s handcrafted mat Shital Pati as part of humanity’s cultural heritage. The UN body has included the traditional art of weaving together strips of green cane from ‘Murta’ plants in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for 2017. The handmade mats are widely used across people in Bangladesh as sitting mats, bedspreads or prayer mats. The UN agency says as a result of efforts by the Bangladesh government, the weavers’ communities are increasingly being organised into cooperatives ensuring safeguarding and transmission of the craft from generation to generation.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis has said Bangladesh is a role model of peaceful coexistence of people with different religious beliefs. The pontiff praised Bangladesh in an address to priests at Mother Teresa Home for orphans in Dhaka's Tejgaon before leaving Bangladesh this week. During his three day visit to Bangladesh, the pontiff called for decisive international action on the Rohingya refugee crisis and also praised Bangladesh for taking in the mass exodus across the border into overcrowded makeshift camps since a fresh outbreak of violence in Rakhine state in late August.
HPM Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the construction work of 1,200MW coal-fired power project at Matarbari in Cox's Bazar next month. For the Matarbari power project, also the second largest investment scheme, a feasibility study is already conducted to address the future demand of electricity for the country. On completion, that second largest plant will have an installed capacity of 1,200MW, with two units having capacity of 600MW each. The project also includes a deep-sea port near the plant for handling coal imports for the plant. As per contract, the first unit of the 1,200MW power plant will be commissioned by December 2022 and the other by June 2023.
As high as 82% people of the country are now getting electricity from 47 % in 2009 and the generation capacity has already been risen to 15,821 MW from 4,942 MW in 2009. While the capacity has marked a significant rise from 4,942MW in 2009 to 15,821 MW in 2017 with 400,000 people getting connection every month, the government is now in a position to reach its desired target of generating 24,000 MW by 2020. Over the last three years, as a total of 11.18 million subscribers have been given connection side by side with bringing 83 upazilas under 100% power facility.
The Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Board of Directors has approved debt financing and partial risk guarantees totalling US$ 583 million to develop the Reliance Bangladesh Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and power project. The project which includes a power generation facility to be located in Meghnaghat near the capital city of Dhaka and an LNG terminal near Kutubdia Island, south of Chittagong, aims to increase power generation and improve energy infrastructure in Bangladesh. The ADB's financing package includes loans and partial risk guarantees for the power generation facility as well as for the LNG terminal, while that total project cost is approximately $1.0 billion.
The Railway Ministry has taken up a development project, Magura District Madhukhali-Kamarkhali Broad Gauge Rail Line Project at an estimated cost worth $121 million. Under a 20 year master-plan to give the entire railway sector a major boost, works are underway to bring 15 districts hitherto with no rail lines under the railway network to establish rail links with the capital city. Besides, initiatives have been taken to construct rail line from Dhaka to Jessore via Padma Bridge while the proposed Padma Bridge-connected 172 km of Dhaka-Jessore Rail route via Mawa will be transformed into a four-nation railway corridor and a sub-regional route of the Trans-Asian Railway.
Foreign remittance inflow has started to rise again, and in November alone Bangladeshi workers and expats abroad have sent $14 million through the official channels. The amount is 28 % higher than the corresponding period last year and 4% higher than last month, October 2017. Remittances in the first five months of 2017-18 fiscal totaled US$69 million , which is 10.7% higher than the same period last year, according to Bangladesh Bank data. According to media reports, the government has taken measures to increase manpower export and ensure that the money is sent through proper banking channel, which are paid off.
Works are underway to ensure the annual income from export of the country will hit $60 billion by 2021. After independence Bangladesh used to earn just $348 million annually from export but now the country earns $38.5 billion annually and target has been set to raise it to $60 billion by 2021. Though the country faced some crisis due to flood this year, it can be mitigated with a target production of 380 million tonnes, which can facilitate enough surplus food product for the country, according to experts.
The total number of internet users in the country has been increased by 100 times in nine years that can be viewed as a milestone to achieve the government's goal to build a Digital Bangladesh. Currently, the number of internet users is around 80 million which was only 8,00,000 in 2008. According to media reports, plans are laid out to ensure 100 % internet access across the country while high speed broadband internet service to be provided for 2,600 unions by 2018 through the Info Government Phase-3 project. Moreover, a total of 18,132 government offices have already been brought under the government intranet service and 17 books of the classes from one to five have been turned into the interactive multimedia digital content.
HPM Sheikh Hasina said the government will set up one high-tech park in every district to flourish the ICT sector. Necessary incentives will also be given if the investors come up to invest in this sector in proposed 100 economic zones across the country, she added. The Bangladesh Premier said this while inaugurating a four-day Digital World - an ICT exposition-at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre with the slogan 'Ready for Tomorrow'.
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