May 05, 2016
A new chapter of dawn is set to rise on the lives of Southerners as the government has proceeded with a move for having a better rail and road connectivity between the capital and the southern part of the country to reap the maximum benefits from the Padma Bridge Project- the largest infrastructure undertaking till date. Worth around $5.3 billion, the move would be included in the list of fast track infrastructure projects supervised directly by HPM Sheikh Hasina.
A remarkable economic surge, taken place over the last seven years under the Awami League government, has made Bangladesh stand out as an exception in South Asia for having rapidly elevated the country to lower dependency ratios and higher per capita income. According to a recent write up by ICT advisor to HPM Sheikh Hasina, Sajeeb Wazed, between 2000 and 2010, the number of poor in Bangladesh dropped by 26% from 63 million to 47 million while the average Bangladeshi now lives 71.4 years, four years longer than in neighboring India and Pakistan. Last year for the first time, foreign direct investment from other countries into Bangladesh surpassed $2 billion, a 44% increase from the year before.
According to a recent report by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the general point-to-point inflation rate in April slightly eased to a new low of 5.61% from the previous months due to the stable food price and downtrend of both food and non-food items including food grains. Another key reason came to the fore was that the national wage index rate witnessed a 6.13% growth in April with 135.02 point against 5.93% growth with 134.61 point in March. Now there exists a plausible comprehension among the economists that the country would keep the rate hovering around 5.5% in the latter part of this fiscal year.
In a recent report the World Bank has pinned high optimism as evidenced by the thriving expansion in the garment sector that millions of people would be employed in the sector in the next few years, given that global buyers are flocking into Bangladesh to grow their footprints. As of now, this sector offers employment opportunities to 4.4 million workers, with 80% of them being female. A 1 percent increase in Chinese apparel prices could hike firms’ demand for female labour by 0.44%, and a 1% increase in output could raise firms’ labour demand by about 0.3%, according to the study.
According to a recent report, released by UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the economic health in Bangladesh will continue to take on another surge, ushering in a new era of change and progress. Last year, the government passed a record $37.83 billion national budget to push the wheels of national growth at 7% for the first time. With a set of pro-foreign investment policies in place, as nurtured by the able leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina, the country has marched many steps closer to become the next investment hub in South Asia.
Moody's Investors Service, a leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis, said Bangladesh's Ba3 government bond rating is evidenced in and emboldened by the country's stable and strong growth performance and modest debt burden. The report points out that for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, the GDP growth edged higher to 6.5% and the government’s projection of a 7.1% expansion in fiscal year 2016, supported by industrial activity and backed by a track record of macroeconomic stability, now appears more realistic and will be achievable.
This week saw the Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah flew to Bangladesh and forged four deals with the government, reiterating a pledge to fight hand in hand to end the menace of the growing terrorism and extremism. The Kuwaiti leader highly praised HPM Sheikh Hasina's initiatives to fight terrorism and extreme violence and held talks with her Bangladeshi counterpart for boosting up investment promotion, energy cooperation, reducing trade gap, boosting manpower export to Kuwait and defence, technical and economic cooperation.
At a meeting with the Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, the WB Country Director to Bangladesh Qimiao Fan, laid out an assurance to provide the ministry with adequate and necessary assistances in its different developmental activities. The initiatives include the dredging project of Dhaka-Ctg-Ashuganj water way, capacity building of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), development of 14 launch terminals, four passenger terminals and construction of two cargo terminal.
Low oil import costs, narrowing trade deficit and increased foreign direct investment have widened the balance of payment (BoP) surplus in the first eight months of the current fiscal year. According to data released by Bangladesh Bank, between last July and February, the country saw the BoP rose by 4.9% to $3.1 billion from $2.2 billion over the corresponding months a year ago. Export posted positive growth during the period, while a strong forex reserve and a growing flow of foreign direct investment have attributed largely to this development.
In observance of the National Legal Aid Day, HPM Sheikh Hasina launched a national helpline to help the disadvantaged and impoverished people get legal assistance for free. People whose annual income do not exceed US$ 685 or those with partial or no earning capacity will qualify for the free services. Moreover, freedom fighters who are unemployed or do not earn beyond $937 recipients of the government’s elderly allowance or poor mothers with VGD (Vulnerable Group Development) cards can also receive assistance. Under trial prisoners who are languishing in jails without any serious charges against them could secure release with assistance of this service.
In a gesture to empower women entrepreneurship, a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) backed project has been rolled out to offer medium and long term financial support for women entrepreneurs. Under the project, an entrepreneur can get loans up to 75% of project costs in line with the operating guideline and they will enjoy 100% refinancing facilities at a bank rate of 5%.
The United Nations International Children and Education Fund (Unicef) launched an initiative for the garment manufacturers that want to go that extra mile to support the rights of children, working parents and young workers. The initiative is aimed at creating awareness of the impact of the garment industry on the rights of children and working parents in Bangladesh. Opportunities will also be created for the leaders to join other industry stakeholders to expand the existing structures, drive sustainable change for children contributing to healthy, educated, stable communities and workforces.
Bangladesh, Switzerland and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched an initiative to contribute to the application of the overseas employment policy and strengthening of public and private institutions in order to secure decent work for Bangladeshi migrant workers. The new project will help strengthen the institutions responsible for managing migration to deliver quality labour market information, occupational classification, pre-departure training accreditation and welfare services abroad. It will also provide research and technical advisory support for strengthening labour negotiations for decent work, and will facilitate the engagement of stakeholders, including workers’ and employers’ organisations, in all processes.
US-based Excelerate has started its work for construction of Bangladesh's first LNG terminal at Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal. The project site was filled with geophysical works as part of the floating, storage and regasification unit (FSRU) terminal construction. Once implemented, this LNG terminal will be the first of its kind in the country to import LNG and re-gasify it before supplying it to the national gas grid. It would have the capacity to supply around 500,000 Mcf per day of natural gas to Bangladesh's national gas grid.
The government will conduct a feasibility study on the augmentation of power to be produced from the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to the national grid through transmission lines. A project, titled 'Feasibility study for adding power from the Nuclear power plant to the national grid', got the initial nod from the government to get rolled on. The cornerstone of the study is aimed at scrutinizing and improving the grid system for adding power to the national grid. In line with the master plan, work is going on to construct two nuclear power plants at Rooppur in two phases having the capacity of each 1255 MW.
In a gesture of fostering stronger ties with Bangladesh, the government of Denmark has approved a five-year development partnership which is aligned to the Bangladeshi Government’s Seventh Five Year Plan. In order to meet the targets of the Government’s five year plan by 2021 and the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, emphasis were laid out on inclusive, pro-poor and sustainable development to bring in a real change in the course of national progress.
With restoration of a democratic government in the political landscape of Myanmar, diplomatic efforts are being bolstered, in recent weeks, by both countries to develop and nourish stronger bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar. On the Bangladesh side, the embassy in Myanmer showcased the cultural linkages between the two countries, flying in Bangladesh’s tribal cultural troupes, mostly from the Marma, Chakma, and Tripura tribes while Bo Bo Oo, secretary of Foreign Relations Committee of Myanmar Parliament, echoed the interest of his government for the cause. Meanwhile, U Tin Oo, the most trusted patron of Aung Sun Suu Kyi, recently said the new Myanmar government wants to build “cordial relations” with all neighbours, including Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives