June 09, 2016
Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has demonstrated her strongest showing on Forbes magazine's list of the world's most powerful women. The three-time premier ranked 36th on the 2016 Power Women list, up from 59th last year, according to the rating released last week. On its website Forbes said, the Bangladesh HPM has command over a country with the world's eighth largest population -- 162 million people -- and her popularity remained at its zenith since 2009. In March this year, Fortune ranked her 10th among 50 leaders who are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same.
HPM Sheikh Hasina has returned home after a five-day official visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, ushering in a new era in the ties between the two countries. Accorded to an unprecedented reception, the Premier has held a number of meetings with high rank and file bearers where resolves were reinstated to lay out cooperation for world peace, development and upholding the interests of Muslims. For manpower export, Saudi Arabia has expressed willingness to recruit some 5,00,000 Bangladeshis to meet its demand for workers in various sectors.
While unveiling over US$ 43.2 billion national budget for 2016-2017 fiscal year, the government has elucidated the mission and vision of accelerating and consolidating the momentum of growth with the ultimate aim of breaking out of 'least developed country' category and moving towards a developed and prosperous future. The highest allocation worth US$ 6 billion has been proposed for the education sector while social safety schemes received around US$ 5 billion, up by nearly 16% year-on-year. For climate fund US$ 12 million has been allocated and the allocation for women, children went up by US$ 49 million.
According to the latest economic update of World Bank, Bangladesh economy would continue to elevate newer heights with a rise in the national growth in the coming years despite a lower forecast for most of the developed countries. Low inflation, coupled with a rising remittance and an evolving export growth, led the global lender to lay such an high optimistic outlook for the country. Last year, Bangladesh graduated to the lower-middle income status for the first time since the country’s independence.
Growth and Development
The World Bank said it will lend $213 million to Bangladesh for two projects that aim to improve weather and climate information services and strengthen college education provided through National University. The fund worth $113 million for addressing climate change will help Bangladesh provide reliable weather, water and climate forecasts and enable communities, especially farmers, to access these challenges easily. On the other hand, the college education development project, which will cost $100 million, will help improve the teaching and learning environment at government and non-government colleges affiliated with the National University.
Works are laid out by the government to construct the 142-storey 'Iconic Tower' with an international convention centre and a modern sports complex in the proposed Purbachal metropolis. Expected to be complete by 2018, the main auditorium of the convention centre will accommodate 5,000 people, while the main stadium of the sports complex will have a seating capacity of 50,000 spectators. Once implemented, the project will facilitate trade and commerce and also create jobs opportunities in the locality.
Japan has agreed to provide US$ 120 million for energy efficiency and conservation in Bangladesh through the government's two infrastructure development companies. Of the total funds, $ 20 million will be utilised as technical assistance. The amount will be spent on promoting efficient use of energy in Bangladesh by introducing and disseminating energy efficient equipment through concessional loan, technical support, incorporating latest technical trends in energy efficiency, creating awareness thereby contributing to a balanced energy demand-supply and mitigate affects of climate change.
A major overhaul is on the horizon of the health system as the government has put plans in place to introduce health cards in order to make the healthcare system ever more inclusive and accessible to the poor people. The government plans to ensure better healthcare for the poor with the help of these health cards and by increasing allocation for the Health Ministry in the new budget. The budget proposes to allot US$ 2.2 billion for the health sector, which is 18% more than the last fiscal year.
Social Justice and Equity
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) lauded the current government's steps in recent years and expressed satisfaction over the state of refugees in Bangladesh, saying it was among countries having the "best practices". Stina Ljungdell, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh, applauded a joint database of the government and UNHCR which became effective from June 2014 and removed discrepancies and also commended the 2008 High Court decision to grant citizenship to the stranded Biharis.
In a landmark move to ensure equality of opportunity for all, as many as ninety-seven female troopers joined the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after marching in the passing out parade of the 88th BGB batch at Chittagong. The inclusion of women soldiers stands as a shining testament to the successes of women at all works of life. The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the process to induct women into the BGB to ensure that women play an equal role in diverse professions. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has become the highest female peacekeeping contributing country in the world.
International and Regional Cooperation
Hanne FuglEskjær, Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, has laid out his country's new country programme for Bangladesh which is expected to roll out from next month. In line with the Bangladesh government’s seventh five-year plan and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the scheme has a strong focus on inclusive, pro-poor and sustainable growth, as well as empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable. To uplift three sectors, a total of 12 specific projects are being developed with a broad variety of partners including government departments and divisions, NGOs and UN organisations.
Bangladesh has expressed its strong interest to join the initiative to set up an Islamic Infrastructure Bank, aiming to provide funds to Muslim countries for implementing their mega infrastructural projects. HPM Sheikh Hasina has relayed the country’s interest, given that Bangladesh has been emerging as a key player in international sphere. In response to the call, Islamic Development Bank’s acting President Dr Ahmed Tiktik, has announced to provide some 10 mobile clinics to Bangladesh next year to facilitate medical services in remote rural areas.
Trade and Investment
Trade deficit narrowed 10.22% in the first ten months of the fiscal year as exports are homing in on the target of $33.5 billion for this fiscal year after May's receipts took the tally to a touching distance. Bangladesh received $3.03 billion from exports in last month, up 6.69% year-on-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. Garments, which typically account for 80% of the country's export earnings, led the charge, bringing home $2.45 billion last month, up 9.35% year-on-year.
Setting up export-oriented factories will be cheaper as the government has offered import duty benefits for inputs of pre-fabricated buildings and fire equipment. In the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the government allocated US $572 million crore as incentives for encouraging export and market diversification. Following the announcement, businesses have come up with praises, saying those said schemes will help them take the country forward.
Digital Bangladesh
Works are well underway to turn the existing land record system into a digital one to facilitate land survey and ease record keeping. Full swing progresses made in the work have ignited hopes that the entire work covering every sub-district would be completed by 2020. A digital land management system has been in place in 45 sub-districts of seven districts while efforts were also taken to set up land information services centres in 20 more sub-districts.
From this week as many as 18,130 government offices are connected through a nationwide network, owing to a visionary government initiative. Under the project known as Info-Sarkar, 800 video-conferencing systems, 254 e-agriculture service centres, telemedicine services in 25 health centres, disaster data recovery centres and specialised training labs at universities across the country were set up in the last two years. Besides, a Wi-Fi network was installed in the secretariat and 25,000 tablet PCs were distributed to government officials.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives