March 17, 2016
Last Wednesday, the government signed a deal to get another $2 billion Line of Credit (LoC) from India for meeting its development financing needs. The agreement for India’s highest-ever credit line extended to any country was signed in Dhaka between Indian EXIM Bank and the Economic Relations Division (ERD). Bangladesh has initially selected 14 development projects in power, railways, road, transportation, ICT, shipping, health and technical education sector to be implemented under the fresh Indian LoC. This follows the pledge made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Dhaka in September 2015, during which time an MoU was signed between the two friendly countries.
Bangladesh received over $1.22 billion net Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year. The amount is 30.4% more than the net FDI received in the same period in the 2014-15 financial year. Finance Minister AMA Muhith has credited the 'strong' base of Bangladesh's economy, consistent growth and the 'stable' political condition for the rise in FDI despite global recession. According to Bangladesh Bank, the net FDI was $1.7 billion in 2014-15 fiscal year and a little over $1.43 billion in 2013-14.
The government has undertaken a plan to rehabilitate around 280,000 poor people by providing them with homes under various housing programmes in the next three years. The projects -- "Ashrayan-2 Project", "Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar Project", "Guchha Gram Project", "Bari Fera Karmasuchi" and "Grihayan Tahabil Project" are being implemented under the supervision of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her government would try its best to rehabilitate the country's homeless people during its remaining period.
Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique was given SUSWM World Peace Award for his outstanding contribution to enlighten society by distributing knowledge and rendering humanitarian services aimed at establishing peace in the society, according to a message received in Dhaka from Kolkata yesterday. Dr Buddha Priya Mahathera, director of Kolkata-based Siddharth United Social Welfare Mission (SUSWM), an organisation of international repute for rendering humanitarian services, conferred the award on Prof Arefin at a function in Kolkata on Sunday.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Japan has agreed to conduct a survey on the two proposed metro rail projects in Dhaka's east-west and north-east directions. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a minute of discussion with the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges (MoRTB) and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) last Thursday. Accordingly, a JICA team will carry out the survey on mass rapid transit (MRT) lines 1 and 5 to determine the necessity of the two MRTs more specifically after Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP) recommended five MRTs for growing number of commuters in Dhaka city.
The government is building a 48-km lake at Purbachal city aimed at making the city as modern and international standard. The government has undertaken effective initiatives to make Purbachal, at the outskirts of Dhaka, as a modern and international standard green city. The government has also undertaken initiative to make Uttara 2nd phase residential project under RAJUK as a green city. These were disclosed by Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain as he addressed the closing ceremony of a three-day "Innovation and Development Expo and Green Investment Summit-2016".
Social Justice and Equity
Prime Minister Office (PMO)'s Access to Information (a2i) Programme and Microsoft Bangladesh Limited for the first time jointly have introduced Leadership Award-2016 aiming to recognize outstanding contribution in women empower campaign in the country. On the occasion of the International Women Day, three persons were given the Leadership Award at a function in the Prime Minister's Office on March 9. State Minister for Post and Telecommunication Advocate Tarana Halim attended the function as the chief guest.
Global leaders and activists in the fight against AIDS consider Bangladesh's community clinics as an opportunity and a possible model to reduce HIV infection as part of a global agenda to eliminate the virus by 2030. There are more than 13,500 community clinics at the grassroots level meant to provide maternal and neonatal, family planning and nutritional services and establish linkage with the medium and tertiary level hospitals. The 12th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) said it recognizes Bangladesh's community clinics as a model to provide services to reduce maternal mortality and “as an opportunity to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV as well”.
State run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has launched a new bus service for women on the Abdullahpur-Motijheel route in Dhaka. The new bus will cover the route starting next Tuesday. The bus will start at 7am every morning from Abdullahpur BRTC counter and go to Motijheel. It will return at 5pm. Following government's instructions, two more women’s bus services will start in Chittagong, one from Chittagong New Market to Chittagong University campus, and the other from Kalurghat to Kathgarh.
The government has decided to double the number of engineering firms to conduct the Detailed Engineering Assessment (DEA) of garment factories to expedite remediation works. This decision comes following the progress of remediation of RMG factories, which were inspected under the National Initiative (NI). Currently, there are 13 engineering firms, which are eligible and permitted to conduct the assessment as per the requirement of global retailers. To expedite the remediation, the government has decided to increase the number of engineering farms to 25 as soon as possible. Under the NI supported by the International Labour organisation (ILO), a total of 1,549 factories have been inspected.
International and Regional Cooperation
A newer chapter of cooperation in the bilateral ties between Bangladesh and the United States is being elevated as the latter has placed a raft of measures to strengthen collaboration with Bangladesh centering security, cyber-security, democratic rights, labor, and trade. To that end, three delegations comprising US officials will be visiting the country in the coming weeks. Targeting the upcoming initiatives, US Embassy Spokesperson Nancy Van Horn, was quoted as saying that those scheduled visits will mark the bilateral cooperation reaching a newer height on the said topics.
This week saw the first water vessel MV Horbour-1, in its maiden voyage, form Bangladesh set sail for India, as coastal shipping services between the two countries were set in motion. Moreover, road communication between Chittagong and Agartala would be established by constructing a bridge over the Feni River in the border area. The goods transported from the Indian ports to Chittagong could be delivered to the north-eastern region of India through roads.
The government has proceeded with the move to identify and explore potential areas and framework of cooperation with China to make sure the optimum utilization of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal. Another decision has also been taken to gear up activities for signing a MoU and other support activities with the State Oceanic Administration of China to receive assistance from the Chinese government for materializing the 'blue economy' concept and capacity building.
Digital Bangladesh
With just the click of a button, anyone can now gather information on the government's internal and overseas trade and investment policies as the commerce ministry has launched the Bangladesh trade portal. The ministry launched the website, the first ever in South Asia, so that local and foreign businesses can find adequate information on the country's export, import, investment policies and current economic situation at their ease. Primarily, 178 legal documents, 35 forms, 31 procedures and some measures of the government have been uploaded on the portal that are all open to the viewers.
Businesses are going to get new VAT-registration numbers online from April as prelude to enforcement of the now dormant Value Added Tax and Supplementary Duty (SD) Act. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has planned to issue the new Value Added Tax (VAT) registration numbers preparatory to execution of the much-discussed tax law as per government decision. When the new VAT and SD act comes into force on July 1, 2016, all of the taxpayers have to obtain a new nine-digit VAT-registration number or BIN under the updated law.
Power and Energy
Aiming to set up another coal-fired power plant in Maheshkhali of Cox's Bazar district, the government has launched a project to conduct feasibility study and environmental assessment. Bangladesh and Singapore would jointly set up the 700 MW ultra-super critical coal-based power plant involving US$ 1 billion. A study will be conducted to assess the viability and environmental impact while based upon the report necessary land would also be acquired for the plant.
Australia has shown deep interest to develop land-based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Re-gasification Terminal in Bangladesh with its manpower to run the new kind of energy plant in the country. Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Gregory Anatole Wilcock has expressed his country's interest at a meeting this week. In the wake of the growing demand of energy, the government took plans to install LNG terminal in the country in 2010.
Malaysia has floated a plan to set up a 1,320-megawatt power plant at Maheshkhali and provide 70% of the project cost as loans to Bangladesh. The government and Malaysia will each have a 50% share of the plant and Bangladesh will bear 30% of the project cost. The government plans to set up a total power hub at Maheshkhali where Japan will build several power plants that will altogether produce 3,000 MW of electricity while a seaport will be built by Japan at Maheshkhali through which coal for the power plants will be imported.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives