April 14, 2016
This week Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated the newly constructed Dhaka Central Jail on the outskirts of the capital with a goal to ensure modern facilities for prisoners, to bring improvement to their lives and to remove sufferings of their families. While addressing the session, the Bangladesh Premier said prisons should not be places for confining prisoners; instead, these should be centres of correction for the offenders. Being constructed on about 194.41 acres of land, the whole complex will have three jails; two for males and one for females while construction work is underway for a 200-bed hospital inside the premises.
A recent report released by World Bank has deemed Bangladesh as the world’s bright spot for off-grid solar firms, given that the country has installed the fastest growing solar home system. A study of 852 Bangladeshi households found no impact on respiratory health but significant improvements in eye irritation because of improved air quality due to use of solar power. It is to be noted that, owing to the efforts as placed by the current government, houses of around 25 million people, mostly in the remotest areas, are ignited with electricity.
According to the statistics of Bangladesh Bank, the annual inflow of foreign direct investment in Bangladesh has broken all the record of the past, amounting to a staggering $2.23 billion, which marks an annual rise of over 44.01% in comparison with the last year. Introduction of more business friendly initiatives and reformation of policies in relation to trade and business, as envisaged by the Awami League led government, has ignited hopes that Bangladesh will be the future investment hub in South Asia. This attainment stands out as another testament to the government’s dedication for turning Bangladesh into a global economic powerhouse.
Bangladesh has been included in a list of 50 countries for its growth in areas of smartphone uptake, mobile broadband and high-speed internet access this year, according to the Huawei's Global Connectivity Index 2016. About Bangladesh, the report said uptake in smartphone, mobile internet and broadband has seen marked improvement, given that the launch of 3G networks has boosted mobile internet. High optimism is relayed as regards the growth in mobile customers in next two years and the launching of 4G services will herald in a new dawn.
This week the power plants in Bangladesh have generated a record 8,348 megawatts of electricity, the highest in the country’s history, signifying a real and measurable improvement from eight years back when the generation capacity stood out at a mere 4,036MW. After assuming power in 2009, the government led by HPM Sheikh Hasina ensured the capacity was doubled as well as around 76% people brought under electricity coverage. Currently, works are full speed underway to bring everyone under electricity coverage by the year 2021.
In a recent report, revealed this week, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, observed that the investment in the country’s largest infrastructure undertaking till date- Padma Bridge- awaits benefits by manifold and can play a significant role in shaping the future of Bangladesh. According to the report, benefits of building road and rail transportation across the river would come from three main sources: decreased vehicle operating costs, increased time-savings, and a boost in GDP due to increased economic activities. Once completed, this bridge will change the course of progress in the entire Southern part in Bangladesh, transforming the lives of 30 million people.
As the government has put in place relentless efforts, fresh hopes run high among officials that the first phase of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), the first ever of its kind, will go for power generation by 2022. The 2,400 MW nuclear plant will cost around $12.65 billion; while Russia will provide $11.385 billion as state credit for the project. In this current summer, two Innovative Generation 3+ nuclear power units, to be launched by Russia, will be set up at the plant.
A landmark initiative has been rolled out by the government to upgrade all the rail routes across the country to double-track ones in a bid to make the service faster and to the ease the hassles of the passengers. Till date, a stretch of 323 km out of 2877.1 km rail tracks across the country have already been made double-track ones. Meanwhile, an agreement has been struck with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as regards financial assistance worth $50 million improving capacity and safety of rail transport.
In order to the speed up the construction of the lifeline projects for the country, a new proposal was floated to allocate a separate allocation, along with the national budget for time bound completion of mega projects along with the national budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The first ever introduction of this budget will ensure those undertakings will end in time, pushing up the national growth prospect for years to come.
A move is set in motion by the government to procure 600 buses, 500 trucks and other necessary equipment with an aim to turn the state run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) in to a profitable organization and fulfills people's expectations. Moreover, currently, BRTC is running with 1,050 buses while a major overhaul and reform process is in the making to bring in dynamism in that public sector.
While, even a couple of years ago, it was unimaginable to think of a sultry April day without power outages, this year in Bangladesh witnessed an uninterrupted power supply in most parts across the country, giving the countrymen a respite from the scorching heat. According to the Power Development Board (PDB), power supply now stands at a historic high. It is now supplying around 8,300 megawatt of power -- a sharp 800 MW jump from last year's corresponding period. In 2009, the country could avail just around 3,500 MW power.
In a bid to ensure electricity for all by 2021, the government has planned to bring the entire capital city under underground power cable system by next nine years. A project was undertaken to install an underground electric cable system while the sub-stations required for the system will also be installed beneath the surface level. This project, worth US$ 4 billion, is aimed at ensuring undisrupted power supply and giving the city a better look while it was expected to be completed by 2025. The concealed cable system will protect the networks from storms or any such natural disasters.
Over the last seven years, the state run Rural Electrification Board (REB), has achieved a landmark feat by successfully taking electricity at the doorsteps of around 15 million rural houses. In fact, in last month, the REB has instantiated 0.5 million new connections throughout the country. Now that the organization is eyeing to ensure electricity for 90% of families of the country within 2018, works are put in place to expand its transmission lines besides providing new connections. In addition, it has provided 0.3 million connections to its irrigation consumers so far.
The country's overall trade deficit recorded a declining trend in last couple of months riding on the back of higher export growth than import payments, according to the statistics revealed by Bangladesh Bank. The overall trade deficit came down to US$4.06 billion during the July-February period of the current fiscal year (FY), from $4.07 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal. Gap in services trade also declined to $1.74 billion during the period under review from $2.18 billion. Overall balance of payments (BoP) rose to $3.15 billion during the period under review from $2.22 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
The World Bank (WB) has approved $130 million to support the government's initiatives to set up new economic zones in different parts of the country for boosting investment. Another $50 million was also sanctioned for the Pro-Poor Slums Integration Project to pilot a community-based approach to improve living conditions in urban slums. On completion of the planned economic zones, the country could fetch extra $40 billion from export and generate about 10 million jobs, which would eventually help Bangladesh to be a higher middle-income country by 2021 and a developed nation by 2041.
In recent times Bangladesh has made remarkable attainment in health service delivery. Delivering maternal and child health services has improved over the last decade. A combination of evidence-based technical and social interventions led to improved maternal and child health outcomes enabling Bangladesh to reach Millennium Development Goal with a 40% reduction in the maternal mortality rate in less than a decade and ignite hopes that the country would emulate its successes in achieving the SDGs as well.
The present government has taken "College Education Development Project" worth about US$130 million to improve the quality of college education for ensuring the participation of Bangladeshi students in the competitive world. Bangladesh has appeared as one of biggest success stories of the developing world as regards ensuring 100% enrolment in primary education and also achieved gender parity at the said level in regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) well before the stipulated time.
While addressing a global conference on preventing violent extremism at Geneva, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to remain a reliable partner of the United Nation in fighting terrorism and preventing violent extremism at global, regional and national level. The Awami League lawmaker also underlined Bangladesh's partnership with the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) to further work through community-based organizations.
Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been formally invited to the Outreach Meeting of the G7 nations, a grouping of seven advanced economies, to be held in Japan in May. Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe has extended the invitation to the Bangladesh Premier while the agenda for this year's summit will likely focus on maritime security, anti-terror measures, and the refugee crisis. The UN secretary general and presidents of the World Bank, ADB and IMF are also set to participate in the meeting.
In a gesture of cementing stronger bilateral ties between China and Bangladesh, the former’s government has pledged to provide Bangladesh with grant assistance of about $50 million for construction of the eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge. To this goal, an agreement was signed between Bangladesh and China this week. To be constructed on Kocha River, the 1,400 meter long bridge will play an important role in accelerating movement of people and goods of Barisal and Khulna divisions.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives