Aug 11, 2016
Bangladesh has fared much better than many South Asian countries in the 2016 anti- terrorist financing index, thanks to the unflinching commitment and enforcement of a strong zero tolerance policy of HPM Sheikh Hasina. With a score of 6.4, the country stood second, only to India, to lead the league table in South Asia. Over the space of last five years, strong surveillance, in addition to prompt action by law enforcing agencies has positioned Bangladesh as a bulwark against the global terror financing network.
Inflation stood at 5.4% in July, which is the lowest in 45 months, helped by a decline in the prices of non-food items. The decline gives the government confidence in reaching its inflation target -- 5.8% -- set for the current fiscal year. Satisfactory agricultural production, a slide in fuel prices on the international market and prudent macroeconomic management helped lower inflation, attributed experts. Moreover, non-food inflation contributed to the fall in overall inflation last month; it stood at 6.98% in July, down from 7.5% in June.
According to Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the remarkable progress accomplished by Bangladesh in offering digital services has been a wonder that has caught the attention of the international community. In a recent interview, the global expert highly commended the present government for demonstrating a strong supportive role for expansion of the SMEs and startups and in addition termed the vision of a 'Digital Bangladesh' a path to a better future.
Last week, India asserted that Bangladesh has shut down most of the terror camps in their soil and it has always been the effort of both countries to close down such camps. During his speech at Lok Sabha India's State Minister for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir stated that cooperation from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh has been at the highest to deal with insurgency. During the regime of BNP led government back in 2001, a notoriety descended upon Bangladesh as the transnational insurgent groups found this country a safe haven and operated attacks in neighbouring countries.
Infrastructure and Mega Project
Preparations are well underway in the construction of the much awaited airport with most-modern facilities called 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport' within the next one and a half years. The construction cost is estimated at $6.3 billion involving building three runways with 14,500 feet length each. A Japanese consulting firm has already been appointed to conduct the feasibility study of the proposed airport. Once operational, this will enable Bangladesh to become a regional hub, meet the growing air traffic demands of the country and help raise the country's aviation prestige.
While the construction of the country’s biggest infrastructure project Padma Bridge has marked fast track progress, a deal has been recently signed between Bangladesh Railway and China Railway Group Limited for connecting the southern region to the capital with setting up rail tracks in the bridge. Hopes are high that the work will be ended before the scheduled time so that trains can ply on the first day of the opening of the bridge along with the road traffic.
Bangladesh’s software exports have seen over 14.50% rise to nearly $152 million in the last fiscal year compared to the same period in the previous year, reveals information released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The country made its foray into the global market in 2009 after the Awami League led government envisaged and put in place an array of measures for the industry under the 'Digital Bangladesh' vision. The actual earning from the IT sector including export freelancer and IT freelancing services was about 400 million, of which 70 million came from freelancers.
To ensure access of skills training for rural youth force in the country, a new project has been rolled out that saw training being provided among as many as 3,180 unskilled labourers. Of the unskilled labour force, 26% were female, and 93% of the trainees have already secured jobs in manufacturing sector. Since 2010, this World Bank funded project has been put in action to strengthen public and private polytechnic institutions to improve the quality of skills training, align curriculum with skills market demand and increase employability of the trainees.
Country's overall economic situation was positive in the immediate-past financial year and it would even be better in the first quarter (Q1) of the current fiscal, says a leading business body. The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka, portrayed the fair looks of the economy while making a review of the situation that persisted in the fiscal year (FY) 2015-16. As per the chamber's forecast, exports, imports and remittances would increase further in the Q1 of the current fiscal in a relatively calm political situation to form the bedrock for a better economy.
The government has introduced a mobile phone app to provide instant support to women and children facing any type of violence. Any woman and child or her family who is being victimized of violence can send messages seeking help by pressing emergency button of the app. Just pressing the emergency button would forward a message for help to national helpline centre (10921), police control room, nearest police station and three friend and family numbers.
Praising the Bangladesh government's role in ensuring indigenous people's rights, the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Robert Watkins said that positive changes are visible in the government's efforts to ensure that their rights are upheld, which is evident in the new 7th Five Year Plan. In a recent article, the expert mentioned that Bangladesh has acted positively to publish pre-primary textbooks in six ethnic languages which will result in an increase in their ability to skillfully manage their resources, health, agriculture and food consumption.
A new avenue for some of the products was explored as the government has increased cash incentives on exports of 10 items during the current fiscal year. Ships, potatoes, bone powder, leather goods and jute products are among some of the segments. Of them, the agricultural products received 20% cash incentive while incentives for the shipping industry has been increased to 10% from 5%.
An opportunity has opened up for Bangladesh's footwear industry to capture global market, riding on quality raw materials and cheap labour. The country’s footwear exports have doubled during 2010-13 and continue to rise further, given that the country is engaged in exports of components at various stages of footwear value chain ranging from raw materials to work-in-progress such as soles and finished goods like shoes. Recently, several international investors have forayed in the sector setting up factories in local Export Processing Zones.
In a bid to make the dream of country’s first ever nuclear plant a reality, the government has given US$ 1 million to the Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Ltd. as the country recently signed an agreement with Russia to construct the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. Bangladesh and Russia have signed a financial deal of $11.38bn in Moscow recently to implement the plant. A total of 262 acres of land have been acquired to set up two units with a combined capacity of 2,400 MW.
A Bangladesh-Singapore joint venture yesterday signed a number of agreements with different parties to set up a 414-megawatt power plant in Sirajganj at a cost of $412 million. Installation of this plan will help the country celebrate 15,000 MW installation capacity in December next as power sector will be able to touch its milestone through its dedication under the leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina. This will be the first public-private partnership project with a foreign investor in the power sector in Bangladesh. The agreements were on power purchase, land lease, gas supply, fuel supply and implementation.
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh played a significant role in the outreach meetings of "G-7 Ise-Shima Summit" as HPM Sheikh Hasina led the discussion to inform world leaders on four important issues- health, women empowerment, achieving sustainable development goals and cooperation in building advanced infrastructure, said the International Chamber of Commerce- Bangladesh (ICCB) in the editorial of its News Bulletin. Concluded in last May, the G7 leaders also called for a greater responsibility on the global economy, foreign policy and the migration and refugee crisis.
Development of infrastructure at Sheola, Thegamukh and Bhomra land ports for regional connectivity under Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative will not have any environmental and social impact, according to a joint China-India feasibility study report. The report further stated that economic activities will be expanded and import-export costs will decrease significantly, bringing in benefits for the people of the entire region.
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