April 21, 2016
According to the major global energy index, prepared and released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Bangladesh has made significant progress in energy management and has moved seven notches up from the last year. The country also achieved a higher overall score for better energy management towards economic growth and development and environmental sustainability. With relentless efforts, over the last seven years, the government has brought around 76% people under electricity access while the total power generation capacity has been doubled while works are well underway to light up every houses in the country by 2021.
In its latest report, Fitch, a leading global credit rating agency, has revised upward its growth forecast for Bangladesh while the country’s economic outlook secured “BB” celling for the third consecutive year. Strong and relatively stable foreign currency revenue from remittances and garment exports support the external balances and overall credit profile, the New York-based agency said. According to the report, macroeconomic track record was strengthened by Bangladesh's successful completion of IMF’s extended credit facility while the central bank’s foreign exchange intervention has kept taka stable against the dollar.
Given that the government has announced a set of diversified measures to lower the cost of living, fresh optimism run high that the rate of inflation in the country would come down at 5.8% in the later part of this year. The latest figures from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics show that the monthly rate of inflation was 5.65% in March while a month before it was 5.62%. A staggering local industrial sector growth rate at 10%, an increase in salary for public sector employees and opening up newer employment opportunities are expected to push up the economic growth at 7.5%.
Taking a landmark stride forward, the government has proceeded with a move to scrap the traditional tender floating system and introduce a full-fledged online tendering method for all public purchases by the end of this year. Once this electronic procurement system called e-GP gets going in as many as 1,233 government offices, bidding participation would go digital, tender processing time will come down drastically while the entire procedure of public purchase will become ever more transparent and accountable.
With the piling works for nine sites having been already completed, this week marked over 30% completion of the construction work of the biggest infrastructure undertaking in Bangladesh—Padma Multipurpose Bridge. Completely a self-funded project worth $3.65 billion, the bridge site is filled with labourers, workers and engineers who are toiling hard day and night to get it open for traffic by 2018. Once it goes operational, a new dawn will be heralded in, as 30 million lives from Southern Bangladesh will be transformed.
A move is set in motion by the government to get the youths from nearby areas of Sundarban region trained as eco-guide so that they can help tourist conserve unique nature and wildlife of the mangrove forest through ensuring responsible tourism. On the one hand, the eco-guides will ensure biodiversity conservation in the forest, and on the other it will create employment opportunities for the local educated youths. During a10-day training, academic lessons were imparted in three days, awareness campaign in two days and in-field training for five days.
With the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair, the cabinet has approved the draft of "The Bangladesh Institute of Nuclear Agriculture (BINA) Research Act, 2016" in light of innovating new varieties of crops through research by applying nuclear techniques and upgrading standard of the crops in line with the country's demand. The law is designed to encourage the scientists and researchers to come up with newer crop varieties that are suitable to climate and environment through research as well as using nuclear tools and techniques and modern technologies.
To control the quality and standard of foods, food ingredients and medicines of livestock, the government has launched a project to establish laboratory for a sustainable livestock sector. The laboratory would also examine the imported medicine, hormone and steroids being used in livestock to prevent any type of diseases. Other goals for the laboratory will be to prevent different type of diseases, transmitted to the livestock by imported foods and its ingredients as well as medicine, through ensuring quality and standard.
Terming the year 2015 a historic milestone in India-Bangladesh relations, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has said that his country attaches highest importance to its relations with Bangladesh and is determined to further strengthen the currently warm ties. According to a statement, efforts placed by both countries are also underway to further expand this cooperation to include new vistas of cooperation and also to reintegrate the economies of the region.
Hopes are on the horizon that ties between Bangladesh and Turkey will be elevated to a newer height, given that the respective governments have agreed to initiate the dialogue process at all levels especially at the political level. During the meeting held between foreign ministers of the said countries last week, views were exchanged on strengthening cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, defense, education and higher studies and technical cooperation between the two countries.
During a recent visit to Bangladesh, Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, forged a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh to jointly set up the country’s largest Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal in Chittagong, opening up a newer chapter of energy cooperation between the countries. On behalf of his country, the Indian envoy also showed renewed interest to build an oil pipeline with Bangladesh for boosting cooperation in the petroleum sector as well.
While, public life, even seven years back, had to encounter immense sufferings in the face of frequent load shedding, this year people are given a respite of the problem, thanks to the sincere efforts as placed by the government to electrify the entire country by 2021. Given that the power supply now stands at a historic high, supplying around 8,358 MW, target has been by the Awami League government set to generate 24, 000 MW electricity within next six years and 60,000 MW by 2141.
Envisaged and implemented by the present government, the introduction of the unique school banking initiative in Bangladesh has been deemed by the world as one of its kind for promotion of financial inclusion. Under the school banking scheme, more than .9 million accounts by children exist, with total approximate deposits amounting to $90 million by 2015. This scheme won the CYFI Award 2015 for its innovate inclusiveness.
A new move will be initiated by the government to introduce bus services at each college for the ease and security of female students. This move stands out as a testament to the government’s commitment to ensure a congenial environment for girls to pursue their education and to reduce dropouts. Under the leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has achieved tremendous progress in gender parity in primary and secondary education. Moves such as this would greatly increase gender parity in higher secondary education too.
Riding on the back of a strong economic management, trade deficit in Bangladesh stood at $4.05 billion in contrast to $4.06 billion a year earlier, signifying a 0.25% decline in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. On the back of the reduced trade deficit, the overall surplus, at the end of February, stood at $3.14 billion in contrast to $2.22 billion a year earlier, according to central bank statistics.
The net inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) from India to Bangladesh stood at $102.7 million, for the first time, in the last year, ushering in a new era of bilateral trade cooperation between the countries. The central bank data also showed that financial and textile sectors shared almost 50% of total Indian FDI last year. More efforts are underway to reform the industry-related policies, including taxation, duty, etc. to draw greater number of international business in this country.
Digital Bangladesh
This week, Sazeeb Wazed, ICT Affiars Adviser and son of HPM Sheikh Hasina, gave a vivid account about how the digital revolution in Bangladesh has been transforming its future. While only 0.3% of the country’s citizens were accessing government services digitally in 2008, till date that figure stood at 35% and rising. Total exports of ICT form Bangladesh now stands worth $300 million, up from a mere $26 million in 2009. As many as 5,500 Digital Service Centers have been built up and works well underway to set up digital classrooms and computer labs in each of the country’s 170,000 educational institutions, among other steps.
The number of internet connections in Bangladesh rose by 37% year-on-year to 61.3 million in the first quarter of this year while the mobile internet accounts for more than 94% of the total connections. Over the last six years, a silent revolution in the digital landscape of Bangladesh has been taking place, earning the country global acclamations and awards on several occasions. It is noteworthy to mention that, the number of internet users will rise faster in the next few months as the government is going to reduce the prices further.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives