June 23, 2016
Amidst an air of love, support, passion and festivity, hundreds of thousands of leaders and activists, have turned out to the streets in observance of the 67th founding anniversary of Bangladesh Awami League, the country’s oldest and largest political party. Founded on June 23, 1949, at the historic Rose Garden in the old part of Dhaka, the party played the lead role in all the historic struggles and movements of the nation including the War of Liberation in 1971 under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Marking the day, Party President and HPM Sheikh Hasina came out with the message greeting all party members and countrymen.
According to the latest report, as released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the average life expectancy in the country has risen by a year to 70 years and 9 months, while the mortality rate marked a steady decline. Average life expectancy has continued to see steady rise in the last seven years under the appropriate health policies of the Awami League Government. During this time, the birth rate has declined from 19.2% in 2011 to 18.8% in 2015, while mortality rate has come down from 5.5% to 5.1%.
Bangladesh received its highest ever foreign direct investment of $2.2 billion last year with the manufacturing sector getting the bulk of the investment, according to the United Nations. The FDI receipt was 44.1% higher compared to that of 2014, said the World Investment Report 2016 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In South Asia, Bangladesh took in more FDI than Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, trailing behind India only. Textiles, garments and power sectors saw the highest receipt of such investment.
India last week came out in full support of the HPM Sheikh Hasina's government for the drive against militancy, saying the Bangladesh Prime Minister has taken strong steps to deal with the issue. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Bangladesh Premier is sparing no effort to stop the attacks , given that a good number of militants have been sent behind the bars already. Echoing the same tone, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated her full support to the recent actions taken by Bangladesh to eliminate the menace of extremism and terrorism.
With a call to promote peace, harmony and tolerance, more than 100,000 Islamic scholars from across the country delivered a set of edicts forbidding militancy in Islam, first of its kind in the country. A wide ranging measure is on the cards for proper dissemination of the rulings, prepared in light of the Quran and Hadith. The rulings say that killing of innocent people indiscriminately is not legal in Islam; killing of children, women, and old and weak people who don't take part in a war is strictly prohibited, even during the war it is not justified; and suicide and suicide killings are strictly forbidden in Islam.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Construction of the 72-km Akhaura-Laksam double rail line project in Dhaka- Chittagong route is expected to begin in the first week of the next month. In this regard, an agreement was signed with a Bangladesh-China joint venture construction consortium on June 15. Under the project, expected to be completed by December 2018, a total of 46 bridges and culverts, including 13 big bridges, and 11 B-class rail stations along with computerized signaling system will be constructed on the 72 kms section.
The government has taken an initiative to construct three more bridges in Patukahli, Bagerhat and Khulna districts with Chinese assistance. In this regard, a 'Minutes of Meeting' (MoM)' to conduct a feasibility study was signed this week between Bangladesh and China. The construction work on the bridges will be concluded in 2020 beginning this year. The construction work on Seventh Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridges has been completed and the work on the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge is underway.
Growth and Development
The country earned $30.66 billion by exporting different products mainly the readymade garments (RMG) in the outgoing fiscal year till May, when the volume of exports also rose by 8.95% against the same period in last fiscal year. A balanced export and import policy has been framed for 2015-2018 to uphold the trend of RMG export growth, while measures have been taken to explore, expand and consolidate new markets for expansion of the export businesses under various sectors.
The government has decided to set up 500,000 household-level silos in flood and cyclone-prone coastal areas to help people store food, food grains and seeds during and after natural disasters. To be set up in 63 sub-districts in 19 districts, the household-level silos, or grain storage bins, are specially designed 70-liter, food-grade plastic bins with a watertight lid that prevents water intrusion from surges and floods. Moreover, the bins can hold about 70 litres of food, food grain and seed.
A set of initiatives have been rolled out to introduce circular road and river route through the rivers around the capital for smooth movement of the city dwellers. The circular river route has already been introduced with the coordination of the rivers around Dhaka city and the water buses are plying in limited scale alongside the movement of cargo vessels on the route. In addition, a plan has been devised to construct a 91-km four lane circular road with five meter divider around the capital.
The government has taken an initiative to set up an IT centre at the Bangladesh Police Academy in Sardah, aiming to provide the trainee policemen with adequate IT knowledge to deal with the growing number of cyber crimes. Once the IT centre is set up at the Police Academy in Sardah then the trainees would be equipped with required IT-related knowledge to face cyber crimes and digital security matters. The centre will help law enforcement to enhance their capacity to detect IT-related crimes and criminals.
Power and Energy
A mega power project worth US$ 163 million has given a go-ahead nod to meet the electricity demand of the country's South-Western region. Under the initiative, some 1562 BTS towers will be erected that would enable the country to meet the demand for lighting up almost every house in the entire Southern Region. This move came as part of a far reaching government step to change the entire course of progress in Southern Bangladesh, alongside the opening of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
As the vision to ensure electricity for all by 2021 closes to a reality, the government is formulating a master plan to meet the growing power demand by 2041, which is estimated to go beyond 57,000MW. The Power System Master Plan (PSMP)-2016 plans to generate 70% of the power from gas and coal and the remaining from regional connectivity, renewable and nuclear energy. To this end, another plan has been devised to introduce the use of electricity, transmission and distribution aiming to save around 10,000 MW of electricity.
Social Justice and Equity
Palli Sanchay Bank (Rural Savings Bank), a specialized financial institution created for boosting savings and investment of rural people, has launched its journey with 100 branches across the country. Inaugurating as many as 100 branches, HPM Sheikh Hasina said that this initiative will encourage people in savings and investment and play a greater role in alleviating poverty and boosting rural economy. This project was envisaged as part of reformation of “One House One Farm Project” which has already brought around 2.2 million people, mostly rural poor and underprivileged, under a saving scheme.
In the wake of a strong inspection into the state of safety standard in garment factories, a total of 790 readymade garment factories have been shut down by the government owing to their failures to comply with standards rules. Of a total of 5,190 garment factories in the country, the inspection team found 3,746 units to comply with adequate measures to ensure fire, electricity and building safety. The move came as part of the government's enhanced focus on health and safety measures since 2013.
Trade and Investment
The World Bank gave Bangladesh $130 million in new credit to help develop new economic zones as the country seeks to attract foreign and domestic investment in the manufacturing sector. This assistance will help Bangladesh develop new economic zones through identifying, licensing, and negotiating public-private partnership. In the last two years, the project helped with the licensing of 16 economic zones and hi-tech parks, and with the assessment of 33 new sites for development as economic zones over the next several years.
Bangladesh is now enjoying duty-free access for its products to 52 countries across the world, including 28 European nations, thanks to the government move to sign a number of instruments with different countries to expand the business horizon for Bangladesh. To this end, the government already has signed several preferential trade deals, including SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA), South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC), and the Trade Preferential System among the member states of OIC (TPS-OIC).
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh has taken a fresh move to build the best possible relations with Myanmar with the new political reality in the neighbouring country and has decided to send a special envoy in Nay Pyi Taw to convey Dhaka's intention to further enhance cooperation. Moreover, Bangladesh has already proposed through diplomatic channels to work with Myanmar in areas of climate change, energy, agriculture, education and increase border trade and tourism.
Croatia expressed eagerness to deepen bilateral ties with Bangladesh, especially in the areas of trade, shipbuilding, energy, sports and culture as it had lauded Bangladesh's "spectacular" growth in economic sectors. The intention was expressed during a meeting between the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Shahriar Alam and the Croatian Deputy Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Zdravka Busic on Tuesday in Zagreb. This is the first ever ministerial visit from Bangladesh to the Baltic nation and promises to open new horizons of cooperation between the two countries.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives