March 10, 2016
During an address at a dialogue on Bangladesh-India Relations, Ram Madhav, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Secretary General, bestowed high praise on the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, referring to the resolute and relentless struggle the Bangladesh Premier has placed for transforming the future of the nation along with keeping the democratic practice alive in the country. Making a pledge to extend all out support for the present government, the BJP leader said relations with Bangladesh is important for India as both countries are united through geography, language, history and cultural bonds.
Bangladesh received a high appreciation from the UK All Party Parliamentary Group for its commendable successes in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), poverty reduction, women empowerment, and transformation of its economy in the recent years. The parliamentarians, who recently visited Bangladesh, also expressed their appreciations and admired the amazing progress achieved in creation of millions of jobs for women and the remarkable transformation from low to high-value end products in the garment sector.
After outplaying several cricketing giants in South Asia including the likes of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the stunning T20 campaign for Bangladesh finally came to an end this week, as tigers ended up being the runners up for the second straight time. Being the host, the entire cricket loving nation went in a frenzy of celebration at every win of the team, except the final, throughout the Asia Cup. Successful completion of another mega cricket event has once again vindicated that Bangladesh is one of safest countries for holding any big cricketing event.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Preparations are well underway to make one part of the much awaited Mogbazar-Mouchak flyover open for the public by the HPM Sheikh Hasina later this month. Being built in three parts, the under construction flyover will be extended to 2.11 kilometers in one end between Satrasta and Ramna Thana, and another, from Eskaton to Mouchak. To date, 86% work has been completed on this major flyover for Dhaka. Once complete, this mega project would give the capital dwellers a major respite from traffic congestion and ensure a faster and hassle free travel around the capital.
Travel time to and from between Dhaka and Gazipur will be lessened to as little as 20 minutes since the cabinet has approved in principle the draft of the Bus Rapid Transit Act 2016. A dedicated lane for bus would be constructed in the said route with the capacity to transport 40,000 passengers per hour. It would take 42 minutes for a bus to travel the entire route and only 20 minutes to reach the airport from Gazipur. Proposals were floated to incorporate a provision of a $6,480 fine and a 10-year imprisonment for illegal operation of the BRT or illegal handover of operating license.
Growth and Development
In the first eight months (July-February) of the 2015-16 fiscal year, the country saw the export earnings rise by around 9%, over 2.35% more than the target, as the total exported products exceeded a whopping $22.12 billion so far. The garments sector contributed over $18.12 billion to the earnings, accounting for 82% of total exports. Introduction of incentives for businesses and the exploration of new markets abroad have largely contributed to this attainment while experts are optimistic that exports would register 10% growth this year.
Inflation fell 45 basis points to a 41-month low of 5.62% in February from the previous month, propelled by a decline in food and non-food inflation. According to BBS, food inflation stood at 3.77% in February, down from 4.33% a month back, while non-food inflation decreased 28 basis points to 8.46% last month. It also noted that the headline inflation should fall gradually toward 6% by fiscal 2019-20, assuming that monetary policy stays prudent and supply bottlenecks eased.
World Bank’s Vice President for South Asia Region Annette Dixon lauded Bangladesh for its marked progress resulting in stellar growth on a raft of development outcomes, namely on those projects jointly supervised by the global money lender and the government. Wondered at the scale of progress the joint efforts have made in the project areas, the noted economist relayed her optimism that the scope of cooperation would be widened and the present rate of growth would ride on a higher trajectory.
Social Justice and Equity
According to a recent survey by BBS, the total number of women-owned economic households stood at 3,00,000 in contrast to 62,255 in 2003, testifying that women-owned economic households increased six-fold in the last one decade as women push to break out from their traditional role as homemakers. Poor women with no or little education, who previously stayed at home and engaged in cooking, are now taking up the management of the household, thanks to the various finances from the government which resulted in their involvement in different economic activities.
A nationwide opinion poll carried out by a leading national news portal Bangla Tribune found that an overwhelming majority of 71.35% women appear to have content on the prevailing status of their living in the country. Around 65.33% respondents responded on a positive note about the availability of support inside their families while 52.79% women answered that they have full access to the decision-making procedure in their families. Almost 50% women said aid they have been performing very significant role in shaping the future of their children.
Power and Energy
As part of intensified efforts to ensure electricity for all by 2021, the government has taken up a new project involving $882.7 million to help around 1.5 million rural people gain access to electricity. In addition to this, four more power-related projects were given go-ahead nod by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in Dhaka this week. As of now, the government is providing electricity to 13 million clients through the state run Rural Electrification Board.
Multifaceted initiatives are being rolled out by the government with a target to take the electricity generation capacity to 16,000 megawatt (MW) by 2016, 24,000 MW by 2021 and 40,000 by 2031. To that goal, a policy has been approved to make sure 10% renewable energy supply to the national grid by the course of next five years while real gains in that sector saw installation for as many as 4.4 million solar homes under the prudent leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina. Over the last two years, the distribution lines for electricity supply have been expanded to around 41,148 kilometer, ensuring around 75% people gained access to electricity.
In accordance with the seventh five-year plan that focuses on long-term strategies to meet the primary energy demand for the next 15-20 years, the government has proceeded with a plan to carry out drilling on 100 new wells in next five years for gas exploration. Works are well underway to generate and add 12,853MW of power to the national grid in the next five years, which will require an investment of $21 billion. The disclosure was made by the Prime Minister's Energy Affairs Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury this week.
International and Regional Cooperation
Bilateral ties between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh elevated to a newer height as the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir made a whirlwind Dhaka visit, making pledges to explore and expand the horizon of mutual cooperation between the countries. During a meeting with the HPM Sheikh Hasina, the foreign envoy pledged to open up newer opportunities for the Bangladeshi workers in the Kingdom while the Bangladesh Premier reiterated her government’s policy of ‘zero tolerance’ against terrorism and violent extremism.
Towards the goal to open up newer destinations for promotion of trade and investment, the government has come up with a comprehensive plan aimed at fostering and nourishing a stronger tie with Latin American countries. As part of the move envoys of seven Latin American and Caribbean countries paid a visit to Bangladesh, pinning hopes that Bangladesh could be a suitable place for their investors. Moreover, an embassy has been opened in Ethiopia aimed at expanding ties with the African countries.
In a gesture of her unyielding commitment to stand for humanity, HPM Sheikh Hasina has given cash assistance of $1 million to alleviate the plights of the cyclone hit people of Fiji. Cyclone Winston, the worst storm recorded in the southern hemisphere, left 42 people dead and made homeless tens of thousands of people in Fiji. It may be mentioned that the Bangladesh Premier earlier provided cash and food assistance after devastating earthquake in Nepal in April last year.
Trade and Investment
Amid a favourable climatic condition signaling bumper production of the fruit, mango traders in Bangladesh are pinning hopes that the shipment of the mangoes to the United Kingdom will yield higher profit for them this year. According to relevant reports, Bangladesh in 2015 started exporting mangoes for the first time to the supermarkets of the United Kingdom creating a huge commercial prospect for growers for their best quality harvest.
IT experts see huge potential for the hardware industry as Bangladesh ICT-Expo-2016 has showcased the latest products and innovation, receiving growing interest from both local and international businesses. With 14 seminars on different key subjects on ICT, business to business meetings were held during the three-day expo that was attended by nearly 100 renowned international and local ICT brands, companies, and organizations. Cheaper labour cost, along with a tech-savvy generation, has put Bangladesh as the next emerging destination in the sector.
Digital Bangladesh
As part of a wholesale reform campaign, the country's lone state-owned mobile operator Teletalk has unveiled its new logo and website, alongside a new slogan -- “Connect to Happiness”, replacing "Amader Phone". Processes have been set in motion to launch new data and voice packages and a modern complaint system. On the completion of the move, the telecommunication services will become more user friendly.
The authorities opted for using digital technology to hold pre-budget dialogues involving even backwoods persons in a sort of bottom-up approach to government budgeting. The step is being taken especially so that stakeholders in remote and underprivileged areas can share their views through the process, while opinions of stakeholders in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Haor areas will also be reflected through the discussions so that their voice also get incorporated in the national budget. This will result in the most inclusive budget ever, it is hoped.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives