May 17, 2018
Khulna Mayoral Election; AL sweeps to victory
Awami League mayor candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque has won big in recently held Khulna City Corporation polls, securing 1,76,902 votes in 286 centres while his nearest contestant Nazrul Islam Manju of BNP bagged 108,956 votes. The win stands out as another manifestation of growing convergence in public opinion towards Honourable Prime Minister(HPM) Sheikh Hasinsa led Awami League government. While a number of independent election observatory bodies found the voting take place in a relatively fair and free manner, the defeated BNP candidate unleashed a litany of lies to counter the credibility of the election, presumably in fear of complete humiliation and outright public rejection and to cover up the party’s downfall ahead of the national election due in next December.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is upbeat about achieving 8% GDP growth from next fiscal year, which will be one year ahead of the 7th five-year plan target. Investment to GDP ratio has now reached 31.5% this year - a level which has not been achieved by many of the important neighbouring and regional countries, he said. The government has a plan to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) to $6-$7 billion a year within two years by cutting cost of doing business and corporate tax.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) lauded the role of Bangladesh in providing shelter and continuing the humanitarian assistance to around one million Rohingyas who fled their homes in Myanmar. The appreciation came at the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights records of Bangladesh during the 30th session of the UNHRC in Geneva. The member states of the UN rights body also commended Bangladesh for its efforts in promoting and protecting human rights for all. Moreover, Bangladesh’s comprehensive and informative national report submitted in February 2018, which was prepared through extensive and periodic consultations with relevant stakeholders, has been widely acclaimed.
The ground station for Bangabandhu-1 in Gazipur says it has received test signals from Bangladesh’s first satellite. Several outlets, quoting officials, ran reports that hey received the signal an hour and 10 minutes after SpaceX launched a rocket carrying the satellite into orbit from the US early on Friday. It would take seven to nine more days for the satellite to reach its designated place. An upgraded version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 2:14am on Friday on a mission to take the satellite into its orbit and the Bangabandhu-1 reached the geostationary transfer orbit around 33 minutes after the launch. Three ground stations in the US, Italy and South Korea were supposed to take control of the satellite initially.
Bangladesh approves $21 billion development budget
The government has approved $21 billion development budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. The figure is 14.6% higher than the current year’s original outlay and 16.59 percent higher than the revised outlay. The approval came at a meeting of the National Economic Council or NEC with HPM Sheikh Hasina in the chair. For the next fiscal year, the government has attached the highest priority to infrastructure to boost economic growth. That’s why the highest allocation has gone to the communications projects such as Padma bridge and railway connectivity.
The under construction Padma Bridge project witnessed a major progress with installation of its forth span at Jazira point of Shariatpur this morning, making 600-metre of the much-hyped bridge visible. According to officials concerned, engineers with support of heavy machineries including cranes placed the 150-metre long and 3,200 tons span between pillars no. 40 and 41 at 8 am while the development came two months after the third span was set up, making the mega structure more visible. The 6.15 kilometres long bridge, which will connect the country's southern region to the capital, will hugely boost communications and trade and economic activities. When the construction of the Padma Bridge is completed, the capital will be directly connected with 21 southern districts through road and railways.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a project worth $2.3 million in the country to increase small and marginal farmers' access to finance aiming to boost crop production through strengthening the knowledge and capacity of farmers' organisations. The FAO project aims to develop each farmers organisation's capacity to ensure access to value chains, markets, technical knowledge, information and financing through training and pilot activities. The three-year project will be implemented in eight districts - Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal and Jalakhati under southern region and Rangpur, Kurigram, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat in northern region.
The government is set to raise the allocation for social safety net schemes by about $12 million in 2018-19 to increase the number of recipients and allowances per person. The government has allocated Tk $58 million for the ongoing fiscal year, up 33% from a year earlier. More than 130 safety net schemes, covering 1.6 million people, are being run in 2017-18, according to the finance ministry. The improvement of rural road network and infrastructure with a view to creating jobs and vibrancy in the rural economy will be the focus of next year's budget.
The World Bank (WB) will provide loans worth US$ 110 million for Bangladesh's enterprise development in a bid to ensure green industrialisation in the country. The $110 million credit of the Washington-based lender has a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75%. Under the WB-funded Sustainable Enterprise Project, the government will help some 20,000 micro-enterprises in manufacturing and agribusiness sectors to adopt environment-friendly practices. The WB-funded project will help micro-enterprise clusters to use cleaner technologies and shared amenities to reduce pollution and become less vulnerable to climate change. It will also promote basic safety standards, certify eco-labelled products, and introduce new resource-efficient technologies.
Export earnings from the services sector grew 42.14% year-on-year to $396.58 million thanks to increasing income from goods transportation and rising export of skilled human resources. Year-on-year, personal services export grew 25.64% to $265.99 million, financial services export 88.73% to $121.28 million and insurance services export 281.93% to $3.17 million. The overall services export rose 20.53 percent to $3.03 billion in the July-March period.
The Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) agreed to sell 25% of its ordinary shares to a Chinese consortium comprised of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) and Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE). The share purchase agreement (SPA) was signed at a Dhaka hotel, with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in attendance as the chief guest. Wang Jianjun, president and CEO of SZSE, and Pan Xuexian, chair of the SSE Supervisory Board, signed the agreement on behalf of the Chinese consortium, while DSE Managing Director KAM Majedur Rahman signed the agreement on behalf of his organization.
Bangladesh will table a resolution at the ongoing 74th UNESCAP ministerial session at Bangkok to reaffirm its call for support from international community for Asia-Pacific LDCs for their smooth and sustainable graduation. Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UNESCAP and Ambassador to Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem said she would be tabling the resolution. She was speaking at a high-level event on the sidelines on Monday to showcase Bangladesh’s recent eligibility for graduation from LDCs status last March as well as to highlight its sustained socio-economic successes over the past decade under the political leadership HPM Sheikh Hasina’s government.
Bangladesh has strongly condemned the use of force by the Israeli authorities against unarmed Palestinians which left scores of Palestinian civilians dead and several thousand injured. While expressing deep condolences and sympathies to the Palestinians, Bangladesh called on international community to put pressure on Israel to stop the atrocities immediately. Bangladesh also expressed its dismay at the United States' move to shifting its Embassy to Jerusalem. Bangladesh stressed on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem as an international city within the framework of relevant UN resolutions.
Japan has said it will continue supporting Bangladesh to promote bilateral interests and help it realise the development goals. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono made the comment during the official talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in Tokyo. During the official talks, the two foreign ministers discussed bilateral relations and reiterated their commitment to further promote comprehensive partnership and strengthen the traditionally close ties, the foreign ministry said. The Japanese minister also praised Bangladesh’s efforts and generous support in hosting the displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar. Both the leaders agreed on the importance of safe and dignified return of the refugees at the earliest possible time.
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