Dec 31, 2015
As the world readies to say goodbye to 2015 and usher in 2016, Bangladesh Awami League wishes all its activists, supporters, patrons and everyone around the world a very happy new year. The year is starting with optimism as Bangladesh saw remarkable progress being made in several sectors as well as maintaining the momentum of development the country has experienced since Awami League came to power in 2009. This special issue of Bangladesh Insight will principally look at the stories of this week which highlight these achievements from the past year, as well as other top news from the week.
Mayoral candidates of ruling Awami League have taken almost a clean sweep in the municipality elections winning in 179 municipalities out of 234 across the country. On the day, people were seen turning out in the centers with enthusiasm and law enforcers were guarding the centers and patrolling their vehicles on the streets that ensured lowest number of violence in any municipality election of the country’s history, while maintaining a high turnout.
According to a poll released recently by Nielsen Bangladesh, the year 2015 saw public trust on the ruling government soar to a newer height. Approval rating for the government stands at 66% while that of HPM Sheikh Hasina is now 67%. 62% of the respondents stated that the Awami League government is headed in the right direction. Around half of the respondents clearly disapproved of the activities of the opposition while the half among rest of the respondents said they don't know what the opposition is doing.
A raft of achievements, developments and landmark successes made the outgoing 2015 one of the most memorable years in the country’s history in reaching newer heights of economic growth and development. Bangladesh’s graduation to the lower middle income status, coupled with a consistent 6.5 % annual growth, starting the main works of Padma Multipurpose Bridge, helping 74% people gain access to electricity, registering record forex reserves of $27 billion and spreading the internet connection to 54 million people are some of the watershed moments from 2015.
With the total earnings from the sector reaching a staggering $26.26 billion, highest in the country’s history, in eleven months, Bangladesh’s garment sector has emerged as the second only after China around the globe. Buoyed by this momentum, the garment manufacturers are now looking forward to 2016 with much optimism. The confidence was boosted by three main factors -- shifting of garment business from China to Bangladesh, the historically low price of cotton and the restoration of international retailers' confidence on the structural soundness of Bangladeshi garment factories.
After showing strong rebound in 2014, the economy in Bangladesh continued its quest to gain remarkable advancements in 2015 towards higher and sustainable growth trajectory. Such landmark gains drew global attention, hit the international headlines and prompted international organizations to upgrade their growth forecast for Bangladesh. HSBC in a report said on macroeconomic stability, Bangladesh is the best placed as compared to Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Leaders from Asia-Pacific countries praised HPM Sheikh Hasina for promoting the concept of Blue Economy regionally and globally in the post-2015 development debate.
The list of achievements for Bangladesh cricket in the year 2015 has been marked by never seen before accomplishments. Once a perennial minnows of South Asian cricket the tigers set their marks, especially in ODIs. Series wins over giants including Pakistan, India and South Africa brought unparalleled joy, glory and pride for the entire nation. Bangladesh’s transformation was masterminded in the dressing room where head coach Chandika Hathurusingha carefully drafted all his plans. Credit should also be reserved aplenty for ODI and T20 captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza.
National carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines witnessed a buoyant year in 2015, turning US$35.29 million profit in the first nine months. Apart from this, the national flag carrier managed to start the domestic routes with dedicated aircrafts in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Sylhet, Barisal, Jessore, Rajshahi and Syedpur. Moreover, two Boeing 737-800s, nicknamed Mayurpankhi, were inducted. With the appointment of Kyle Haywood, a commercial aviation professional, as MD, a wholesale reform has been brought in the sector.
For the better part of the outgoing year, real accomplishments were made in exploring the globe to identify and create employment opportunities for Bangladeshis. According to the latest report, over half a million Bangladeshis, a fifth of them women, flew abroad in 12 months, registering a 30% rise in the overseas employment while the expats sent home $14.04 billion in remittances during the said time. Successful labour diplomacy and time-bound steps were demonstrated towards that attainment.
The Bangladesh Bank has projected steady GDP growth for 2016, driven mainly by substantial rise in export earnings, vibrant domestic demand, enhanced digital technology and strong foreign exchange reserves supported by steady inflow of remittance. Like the previous years, the central bank released a review of its major activities in 2015, pinning high hopes that the country's economy would improve further next year as the macroeconomic indicators are showing a positive trend. The review showed that the country had earned $12.9 billion in the past five months of the current fiscal year, which was higher by 6.7% over the previous fiscal's income for the same period.
A 600-men police unit specializing in technology has been formed under the Dhaka Metropolitan Police to enhance police capability in combating militancy and terrorism. The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit is expected to start work next month, as the government has already completed all formalities regarding its formation. Police officials working on militancy and counter terrorism in the DMP and the Detective Branch of police in particular would be incorporated into the unit. Members from SWAT, bomb disposal unit, and the dog squad would also be included in the unit to be led by a police official with the rank of a DIG.
Law enforcers have raided a rented flat of JMB regional commander in Chittagong and recovered an automatic sniper rifle, ammunition and army uniforms. Searching a locked room of the den, the detectives also found two magazines of the rifle, 5kg gel explosive, 13 army uniform, a pair of badges of army major rank, 252 bullets including 186 of sniper rifle, 25 detonators, bomb-making materials and documents of the outfit. The raid comes days after the discovery of JMB's “grenade-making factory” in Mirpur in the capital.
Freedom fighters, cultural activists and people from all walks of life joined in the protest at Gulshan-2 intersection before the office of BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia demanding the BNP chief’s trial in sedition charge for her statement questioning the number of 1971 martyrs of Liberation War. Draped in national flag, protesters chanted slogans in the area. Khaled Zia’s comments came hot on the heels of Pakistan’s denial last month of committing any war crimes or atrocities in the nine-month bloody war.
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