Apr 05, 2018
Economy marches towards record 7.65% growth
The Bangladesh economy is charging towards record growth figure for the second consecutive year, driven by double-digit growth in manufacturing and construction sectors. GDP growth in fiscal 2017-18 is likely to be 7.65%, up from 7.28% a year earlier, as per the estimate of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The per capita income rose to $1,752 in the current fiscal year, up by $142 from the last fiscal year's $1610. This is the third consecutive year that the economic growth was above 7% after years of languishing in the neighbourhood of 6 percent. The rise in construction growth is attributable to progress in implementation of mega projects and increased growth in housing construction, stimulated, among others, by recovery in remittance.
Remittances' upbeat start to 2018 continued into March, which saw inflows soar 20.70 percent year-on-year to $1.3 billion on the back of the depreciation of the taka against the US dollar. The local currency has been depreciating against the American greenback for the last few months, prompting Bangladeshis living abroad to remit more money through the formal channel. Remittance inflow increased about 13% in March from the previous month, according to Bangladesh Bank statistics. March's inflows take the current fiscal year's receipts so far to $10.76 billion, up 17.37% year-on-year.
Inflation came down slightly to 5.68 percent in March riding on a decline in food prices, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Food inflation declined in the third quarter of the current fiscal year of 2017-18 on the back of a fall in prices of egg, vegetables, and spices. Price of rice is a key determinant of overall inflation as it accounts for 23 percent of the commodity basket in the consumer price index.
The government has initiated a move to set up a center on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) in the capital city to further strengthen the anti-terrorism activities across the country. According to the draft proposal, the main objective of setting up such a center is to further expedite the anti-terrorism and anti-militant operations of the government through ensuring necessary infrastructure facilities side by side with curbing terrorism and militancy by using the improved information communication technology. Besides, it said, establishment of the center will help check militancy related propaganda and speedily detect militant activities through monitoring the social media and on-line portals. Side by side with the operational capacities of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), the Bomb Disposal Unit and the Bomb Squad will speed up their actions with the setting up of the center.
660 MW 1st unit Payra coal plant by June 2019
The first unit of Payra Ultra Super-Critical Coal fired Power Plant having a 660-MW generation capacity is expected to go into operation by June 2019. Currently, the government is working on three major power generation hubs at Payra in Patukhali, and Maheshkhali and Matarbari in Cox's Bazar, where several coal and LNG-based power plants will be installed. Steps have already been taken to prevent possible damage to the environment at Payra, Nasrul said, adding that the government has undertaken a number of coal-fired power plants across the country to generate 24,000 MW electricity by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041.
The World Bank has approved $560 million for two projects in Bangladesh to improve power supply and help microenterprises become environmentally sustainable. The World Bank is helping Bangladesh overcome barriers to higher growth. Unreliable power supply and environmentally-unstainable enterprises hinder a county’s competitiveness and poverty reduction efforts. The $450 million Enhancement and Strengthening of Power Transmission Network in Eastern Region Project will expand the electricity transmission network in the eastern region, covering Comilla and Noakhali and part of Chittagong. It will provide new electricity connections to 275,000 households and 16,000 agricultural consumers and reduce power interruptions.
The government is going to modernise the tumbledown 132kv Ashuganj substation to avoid probable tripping of the national grid. The Power Division is going to spend Tk 3.57 billion to replace the existing 132kv AIS substation at Ashuganj power hub with a modern GIS substation. Ashuganj power generation hub is one of the most important power plants in the country. Currently, seven double circuit lines and seven power generation units are connected with 132kv bus of the grid substation under Ashuganj power.
HPM Sheikh Hasina said SME advisory centres will be set up at the district and upazila levels, which will act as one-stop service centres for the country's small and medium entrepreneurs. These will act as the one-stop service centres, she said in a written speech while inaugurating the 6th National SME Fair in the capital. She also underlined the importance of setting up display and sales centres in every divisional city for displaying and selling the products of successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs will get necessary help from the centres to start a new business, expand existing ones as well as get management and technical training and consultancy services," hoped the premier.
The government has initiated a big move to excavate and re-excavate the major canals in the Capital in a bid to address the water logging in the capital. The main operations of the project include some 30.562 acres of land acquisition including 4.355 acres land acquisition at Hazaribagh canal, 6.385 acres of land acquisition at Baishteki and Journalist colony canal, 4.613 acres of land acquisition at Kurmitola canal, 1.905 acres of land acquisition at Begunbari canal, 13.304 acres of land acquisition at Manda canal, compensation to the establishments, construction of 0.15 kilometer road crossing culverts, 13.50 kilometer canal excavation, and erection of some 2200 pillars.
Bangladesh’s export earnings have jumped 6.4 percent during the first nine months of this fiscal year, compared with the same period a year ago, on the back of RMG export surge. The export earnings from July through March in FY 2017-18 clocked $27.5 billion, which was about $26 billion in the corresponding period of last fiscal year, according to Export Promotion Bureau latest data released this week. During the period, clothing export went up 9.2% to $22.9 billion from $21 billion of the last fiscal. The knitwear and woven garments, the two largest export earners, registered 11.7% to over $10 billion and 6.8% to more than $10.8 billion growth, respectively, in the same period.
Bangladesh and the World Bank (WB) are set to sign a US$ 65 million loan agreement in the coming weeks to enhance the capacity of the insurance regulator and state-owned insurance corporations, according to the global lender. The objective of the project is to strengthen the institutional capacity of the sector's regulator and insurance corporations for enhancing insurance coverage in the country. The project aims at increasing insurance coverage, consumer protection and enhancing the efficiency of the insurance market, a WB letter reads.
Government officials and representatives from Bangladesh, India and Nepal will board two buses from Dhaka on Apr 23 to start a two-day journey as part of the trial run of the road transport services between Dhaka and Kathmandu. "It's a trial run. Representatives from three countries will start the journey by road on two buses from Dhaka on April 23. They will reach Kathmandu on April 26. On April 27, they will have a meeting on the road services," Farid Ahmed Bhuiyan, Chairman of BRTC, told media outlets. Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan have signed an agreement to establish road connectivity. The buses will cross Banglabandha border via Panchagarh to reach Siliguri in India. From there they would go to Katmandu via Kakarvita.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov assured Bangladesh of providing assistance on the Rohingya issue. This is the second official visit to Moscow in consecutive two years at the invitation of the Russian Foreign Minister. During the meeting, the Russian counterpart Lavrov praised the efforts by Bangladesh and considered the recent engagements of Myanmar and the proposed inclusion of UN agencies and UNHCR in the rehabilitation arrangement as good signs towards resolving the problem. He also assured possible assistance of Russia in this regard.
The government is aiming at using satellite technology to ensure high-speed internet at isolated islands in the Bay of Bengal and remotest parts of the country such as haor areas. Right now there are about 772 unions that have no internet connectivity. The telecom ministry is trying to establish connectivity in some of those using fiber-optic cables while in the rest through satellite and the respective ministry's next agenda is to connect those localities. Right now the country has connectivity with South Asia Satellite, which was established a couple of months ago. It was launched by India to provide a variety of communication services to neighbouring countries for free.
State-owned mobile network operator (MNO) Teletalk is slated to offer 4G service in August this year while three private MNOs launched this service in February. The information was revealed on Sunday in the 23rd meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology. Teletalk has adopted a plan to introduce 4G service for its customers in divisional cities with own financing of Taka 200 crore. Teletalk is also working to expand backbone transmission network aimed at installing 4G eNode B (network tower) in 1,100 sites to offer the service, the meeting was told.
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