Sep 24, 2015
History was set in motion when the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany came to Bangladesh on a visit together this week, opening a new chapter of cooperation among the countries to fight together the ever-growing menace of climate change. During the visit, Bangladesh was credited with glowing appraisal for devising a set of initiatives to deal with climate change, while both ministers pledged to stay alongside Bangladesh in this regard. Bangladesh also became the first country to hold the topping off ceremony of the joint embassy to be built and operated by France and Germany.
Bangladesh has, over the last six years, shown the world the road to make remarkable achievements regarding almost all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Owing to the steps taken by the government, the country now boasts of taking primary education enrolment up to 100%; people living in extreme poverty has dropped to 22%; targets for under-five mortality rate and reducing prevalence of underweight children have been achieved; gender parity has been secured in primary and secondary education, among other achievements.
Stellar progresses are being demonstrated by Bangladesh in making education inclusive, thanks to earmarking education as a thrust area by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2009. Under her prudent leadership, Bangladesh has witnessed free distribution of 1.6 billion text books, 13 million students are being provided with scholarships and stipends, special measures are being taken for promoting girls education, education for students with disabilities have been prioritized and higher secondary, tertiary and technical education are being streamlined.
Since assuming office in 2009, the Awami League government has initiated various programmes and projects for the development of women. Women’s empowerment forms a crucial aspect of the government’s overall vision. As a result of such policies and various economic and social measures, women now have better access to education, health services and jobs, as well as a greater voice in Parliament, among other achievements. In a related development, a recent ADB report reveled that, female participation in workforce in rural areas has gone up significantly too.
A zero tolerance policy to extremism, coupled with purposeful and unyielding commitment, as demonstrated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has made Bangladesh a shining example for the world to combat transnational terrorists operating inside the territory. Bangladesh’s political, administrative and legal measures against terrorism, militancy and violent extremism have received praise both locally and internationally. Additionally, Bangladesh continues to be the top troops contributing country to various peacekeeping missions of the United Nations in conflict-ridden parts of the world.
In an exclusive interview with the leading British daily The Guardian, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that her politics solely revolves around a strong intent to work for the betterment of the people and she will continue to serve the people as long as she can. Highlighting the economic advancements her government has made, she expressed optimism that by 2021 Bangladesh will be a higher middle-income country and by 2041 Bangladesh will be a developed country.
Growth and Development
According to the latest report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Bangladesh is heading on the right direction to secure 6.7% growth in the current fiscal year, breaking an earlier prediction of 6.4% by the Manila based lender. The optimism comes after the country outperformed ADB's growth forecast of 6.1% for fiscal 2014-15 in spite of political turmoil unleashed by BNP in the first quarter of 2015. ADB praised the country's macroeconomic management, which, it said, has helped reduce inflation to 6.4% in fiscal 2014-15 from 7.4 % a year earlier.
The central bank has unveiled a new five-year strategy aiming to achieve inclusive growth and price stability, fortify supervision and push for sustainable development. The areas the new plan has prioritized are: balanced and coordinated monetary policy; supervision and regulation for ensuring financial stability, and optimization of human capital. Promotion of more liberalized foreign exchange regime, socially responsible financing and inclusive growth, and enterprise resource management are also tipped to receive due priority.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
With the recent graduation of Bangladesh to the lower middle-income status, the government has laid out a plan on investing US$8 billion over the next few years in infrastructure to take the economy to further heights, and especially to facilitate vision of building a developed country. To that end, the Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working relentlessly since 2009, forming a high-powered monitoring committee headed by the Premier herself to oversee progress of fast-track major infrastructural projects.
The government has planned to expand the 20-kilometre metro rail line, which is being set up from Uttara to Motijheel in Dhaka. Officials said as per the plan, mass rapid transit line-6 (MRT-6) will be extended to Export Processing Zone (EPZ) at Savar from Uttara and to Kamalapur Railway Station from Motijheel. Having stations at 16 spots, a total of 24 such trains would carry 60,000 passengers. Envisaged by the present government, the $2.5 billion project is aimed at easing traffic congestion in Dhaka through an improved and faster public transportation service.
A project to excavate and develop 100 feet of canals from Kuril to the Balu River on both sides of the Kuril Purbachal Link Road was approved at a cost of US$ 708 million to remove waterlogging problem in some key areas of Dhaka. Once implemented, it will remove the problem of water logging from Nikunja, DOHS, Cantonment, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Kalachandpur and nearby areas. Recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the authorities concerned to keep provisions for water bodies in case of development of any new area.
Power and Energy
To make its promise of ensuring electricity for all by 2021 a reality, the government has sanctioned the construction of a 400MW natural-gas-fuelled power plant in Brahmanbarhia’s Ashuganj involving around US$ 374 million. Of the amount, the government will bear US$ 51.5 million of the cost, while the company would invest US$ 20 million, with the rest coming as project aid. The project is scheduled for completion by June 2020.
Hopes run high that power trading between Bangladesh and India will receive further boost as the process of transmitting power to Bangladesh from Tripura grid has almost reached the final stage. Bangladesh is planning to connect Comilla and other southern parts of the country with the grid in Tripura. As a result, the entire southern region will get direct electricity from Tripura grid at consumer level and transmission loss will be reduced. The plan is set to be realized by January next year.
Digital Bangladesh
Digital services have been introduced at the apex court as well as many lower ones across the country as part of bringing the entire judiciary under digitization process to make it time-befitting, reduce harassment of justice seekers and dispose of the cases in a logical timeframe. As part of the digitization process, 150 judges have been given smart tabs while mobile apps has been introduced for Dhaka courts to facilitate justice seekers to see the regular cause list over cell phones. A complete website with server has already been set up at the top court.
Bangladesh has introduced an online monitoring system for public services in line with demarcation of parliamentary constituencies to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs) and ensure good governance. With that move, Bangladesh became the first country in the world where online system has been introduced to monitor public services to specifically facilitate achieving the SDGs. In a span of six years, country has underwent a revolution in the ICT sector with everything, from governance to utility bill payments, going digital.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives