February 12, 2015
Bangladesh has signed a historic agreement with Saudi Arabia that will see the labour marker in the latter opened to the former after a gap of six years. Under the agreement, 10,000 workers per month will be recruited under 12 different categories. Bangladeshi workers will be charged nothing for recruitment, as Saudi employers would be paying the migration costs. This development can be considered another feather of success in the current government’s cap of labour diplomacy.
On Monday, Bangladesh signed a deal to receive US$ 300 million loan from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) to help improve child nutrition. The project will provide financial help to about 600,000 of the country's poorest mothers. The project will help poor mothers learn how to improve the nutrition of their young children and also provide an income supplement to enable them to better act on that learning.
Bangladesh has been nominated as a founding member of the Steering Committee of the US-led Equal Futures Partnership (EFP), a multilateral initiative that promotes gender equality. Bangladesh has also been made Chair of the EFP Asia Pacific Regional Sub-Committee. The EFP was launched by the US Department of State in 2012 and aims to promote gender equality in political and economic spheres, and bring together countries that have shown leadership.
Since BNP-Jamaat launched the blockade/strike movement from January 5, 73 people have lost their lives to the ensuing violence. Of them, 49 received the inhumane death of being burnt alive. Thus, it is time to stop playing with words and call such activities by the term it deserves: Terrorism. The universally accepted definition of terrorism is “unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”. There is no doubt that is what is happening.
The international and diplomatic communities in Bangladesh have been unequivocal and unanimous in their rejection of, and condemnation towards, BNP-Jamaat’s violence unleashed since their so-called movement started in January 2015. So, far violence has been strongly criticized by the OIC, European Union, US State Department, British High Commission in Bangladesh and several other envoys who opined that burning people alive with bombs couldn’t be the language of politics.
Growth and Development
Bangladesh is set to complete by April inspection of all readymade garments (RMG) factories and formulation of rules regarding Bangladesh Labour Act and Export Processing Zone (EPZ) law. Being apprised of the developments, ambassadors from USA, Canada and some EU countries, expressed their satisfaction over the progress made by Bangladesh so far in the RMG and textiles sectors, at an informal group meeting on Monday on sustainability compact in RMG sector.
Due to high quality products at competitive prices, pharmaceutical exports from Bangladesh rose 15.65% year-on-year in fiscal year 2013-14. According to a study by IMS Health, a leading global IT service provider to healthcare and life sciences industries, annual sales from local pharmaceuticals can fetch US$ 2 billion annually if the current rate of growth and quality persists. Currently, the local pharma sector accounts for US$ 1.2 billion while exports stand at more than US$ 71 million.
Bangladesh government is implementing a number of measures to boost overseas employment opportunities for its citizens. The government will construct 440 new vocational training centres at Upazila level across the country to equip prospective overseas workers with the necessary skills and knowledge. The government has prepared a databank with information of 1.45 million overseas job seekers through online registration, to be used for those intending to go to Malaysia.
Human Development
According to the Director General of World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, the world can learn from Bangladesh’s pluralistic model of healthcare, which has resulted in remarkable successes in a number of areas. Through combined efforts of both government and NGOs, Bangladesh has been able to achieve successes in, among others, family planning, immunization, oral rehydration therapy, vitamin-A supplementations etc. despite there being resource constraints.
The government has recently passed a proposal to give around US$ 66 million as stipends to poor higher secondary level students, aiming to avert dropouts and incentivizing completion of education. Among the total students studying at higher secondary level across the country, around 40% female students and 10% male students will be given the stipend under ‘Higher Secondary Stipend Project’. The stipends would cover monthly allowances, expenses for materials and exam fees.
Trade and Investment
Representatives from major US companies like Citigroup, MasterCard International, Ellicott Dredgers, Coca-Cola, Fontheim International, American Eagle and Sikorsky Aircraft, at a discussion in New York, expressed their interest to invest in Bangladesh due to prevailing investment-friendly climate. The event was held on 6 February 2015 by the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), a prominent think-tank, attended by Bangladesh Ambassador to USA Mohammad Ziauddin.
Bangladesh would get zero tariff benefit in knitwear export to Japan as Tokyo is going to relax GSP rules of origin on the export of Bangladesh's knitwear. This was assured by visiting Japanese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama during this week’s first ever Japan-Bangladesh Foreign Office Consultations (FOC). This would serve to boost knitwear exports and earnings for Bangladesh. Business community in Bangladesh has welcomed the move as a very positive development.
Thailand's PM Group will invest around US$ 150 million to set up a biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) factory in Bangladesh through a joint venture initiative with the local Meghna Group. An agreement was signed in this regard between Mostafa Kamal, chairman of Meghna Group, and Chalermchai Mahagitsiri, chief executive of PM Group in Bangkok last Thursday. BOPP is a polymer widely used in place of cellophane, waxed paper, and aluminum foil for packaging purposes.
International and Regional Cooperation
European Union (EU) is interested to share its knowledge and experience with Bangladesh to help the former realize its goals regarding building a Digital Bangladesh and facilitate a Blue Economy based on resources of the Bay of Bengal. The EU ambassador to Bangladesh, Pierre Mayaudon, expressed the views as he paid a visit to Bangladesh Prime Minister on Wednesday. He stated that such cooperation would propel EU-Bangladesh relations into a “new era of modernity”.
Bangladesh is expected to get waiver from a number of requirements in the services sector soon under a new initiative of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that will enable export of skilled and unskilled professionals to developed countries. Nearly 25 developed countries have already committed to opening up their services sector for the least developed countries (LDCs), while the rest are expected to commit gradually. Those committed will notify WTO of the sectors to be opened up by July.
Digital Bangladesh
Government of Bangladesh, in line with its vision of a “Digital Bangladesh” has decided to establish a Software Exporting Zone (SEZ) at Dhaka. This would be in addition to the 12 Hi-Tech parks being already implemented in various parts of the country. This will facilitate the government’s target of earning US$ 1 billion from IT exports and raising the sector’s contribution to GDP to 1% by 2018. Sajeeb Wazed, ICT Adviser to the Prime Minister, announced the measures this week.
The government has distributed 25,000 tablet PCs amongst its employees to facilitate e-governance. Fitted with mobile internet, using these the officials will be able to stay connected with their offices 24/7. They were distributed as part of a Chinese funded two-year project called “Info-Sarkar” and includes expansion of Data Center of BCS, intra-network connectivity of 18,130 offices, government cloud platforms, Wi-Fi coverage of secretariats, erection of Disaster Recovery Center etc.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives