Sep 08, 2016
In the midst of a global economic meltdown, Bangladesh stood as an exception in South Asia for securing a steady and strong economic growth, resulting in an unprecedented rise in the living standard of its people. Over the last six years, the per capita income soared to an all-time high, alongside the national growth rate is projected to reach at 7.5% by end of this year. With all the key economic indicators yielded a healthy outlook, the country is emerged as the second largest foreign direct investment receiver in South Asia. Export earnings reached $34 billion while the balance of payments surplus (BoP) surged over 15% to $5.04 billion from the previous fiscal year.
Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserves have reached a new height, crossing the $31-billion mark. The reserves are the highest in the country's history and enough to meet import bills for at least eight months, according to central bank data. A strong remittance flow and a steady growth of exports helped the reserves go up. When the present government took power in 2009, the reserves were hovering at around $6 billion, but a favourable economic environment has been restored on the back of visionary and prudent policies by the Awami League led government.
Impressed by the stellar growth the country achieved in last six years, Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Charted Bank termed Bangladesh a bit of an oasis as there is no geopolitical tensions. The expert heaps praise on the government for the implementation of sound investment policies and for the prompt anti-terrorism measures by the authorities to make foreign businesses feel safe. The comments were made when the expert paid a short visit in Bangladesh this week.
Bangladesh has earned the prestigious recognition from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for successfully eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT). The WHO handed over the certificate to the Bangladesh's state minister at a programme held this week at the WHO's South Asia regional office. In Bangladesh, maternal mortality came down to 176 per 100,000 live births in 2015 from about 399 in 2000 -- the fourth highest drop in the region. Over the said time, the mortality rate of children aged under five fell to nearly 38 from 88 per 1,000 live births, and that of neonatal to 23 from 42.
To add further impetus in the building of the country’s biggest tunnel, the government has approved the proposal to award the US$ 37. 1 million project of supervising the construction work of Karnaphuli tunnel. The tunnel, which will be the first-of-its-kind in Bangladesh, would improve the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar road network. It can later be linked to the planned Asian highway network, enabling road links with Myanmar and India. The tunnel would significantly facilitate transit traffic, relieve the existing bridges of traffic pressure and promote regional economic growth.
With an aim to give a big push to Bangladesh’s infrastructure sector, a sub-regional road connectivity project has been endorsed that will change the course of the road network in the entire north. Under the project, the government will convert existing two lane highway into four-lane to establish a better road communication with SASEC corridors 4 and 9, Asian Highway 2, BIMSTEC 2, and Saarc Corridor 4. As per the plan, the project will be completed by 2021, while it will give a major boost in the regional and national trade.
Preparations are well underway to forge an agreement between the government and the World Bank (WB) for getting financial assistance worth $100million for improving college education across the country. The money will be spent on the College Education Development Project (CEDP), which aims to improve the teaching and learning environment of government and non-government colleges affiliated with the National University. Another target is set out to improve teaching and learning environment in participating colleges in order to ensure quality and relevant education.
Last year the country saw a significant rise in the employment abroad, given that a good number of countries have opened up such opportunities for the skilled workforce of Bangladesh. As of the latest statistics, as many as 4,90,406 workers with employment flew around 160 countries. Prudent diplomatic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Haisna as well as visionary policies to transform the manpower into a skilled labour force have largely attributed to this attainment.
Net foreign investments in the capital market trebled year-on-year in the first eight months of the year as overseas investors were anticipating a positive market scenario. Foreign investors bought shares worth US$ 389 million and sold shares worth US$ 332 million to take their net investment for the January-August period to US$ 56 million. Net investment by foreigners in the first eight months in 2015 stood at around US$ 18.3 million, according to Dhaka Stock Exchange data.
Earnings from export have marked a 20% rise to $3.30 billion in August, the second month of the current fiscal year, thanks to the higher growth of earning from clothing products. Apart from garment items, jute and jute goods, leather and leather goods and pharmaceuticals have been performing well overseas. Moreover, the government has decided to bump up the cash incentive for jute and jute goods to 15% so that its shipments grow faster. Buoyed up by the record earnings last fiscal year, the government set the export target for fiscal 2016-17 at $37 billion, up 8% from last year's receipts.
As part of stepped up efforts to root out the course of hunger from country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina introduced the country’s most ever generous food-aid initiative, allowing ultra-poor people to get rice at a very low price. Under the programme, titled as “Food-Friendly Programme for the Ultra Poor”, over 5 million poor people would get rice at Tk 10 per kilogram during the lean season. Special cards would be issued to poor people who would get 30 kg rice a month for five months -- March, April, September, October and November -- every year. An allocation worth over US$267 million was endorsed for the cause.
A new cell has been formed to watch over the status and the development of the country's major export earning readymade garment (RMG) sector. The Remediation Co-ordination Cell (RCC) will be start working in full swing in 2018 when the Accord and Alliance will complete their activities to ensure factory standard and safety in the country's apparel sector. The two groups of the western retailers in collaboration with the government and the International Organisation (ILO) have been working on improving factory standard and safety in garment sector since Rana Plaza tragedy in April 2013.
Bangladesh Awami League, the country’s oldest and largest political party, outlines a plan to induct in its manifesto a guideline to face the growing menace militancy and terrorism. Works are already underway to prepare such a guideline, which is expected to be placed before the 20th triennial council session, due on October 22-23. Several media outlets, quoting the party leaders, reported that, this move will step up the national campaign.
A school-level “Red Card Campaign” was launched to make students, teachers, guardians and community people aware of fighting against early marriage and sexual harassment. The campaign will be conducted at 195 high schools under 65 upazilas of seven districts -- Kishoreganj, Brahmanbaria, Sirajganj, Khulna, Barguna, Sunamganj and Rangpur -- and expected to mobilise around 1.5 lakh people.
Bangladesh has been elected as the president of Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) for next one year. The election was held at the conference of strengthening regional connectivity through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AIPS) in China on August 29-30. A total of 16 countries including China, Korea and Vietnam and 49 representatives of noted international organisations, members of ESCAP working and steering group and ESCAP international and regional partners took part the meeting.
Bangladesh and Denmark have agreed to continue working together in the areas of mutual interest including green growth, climate change, development and trade and investments. The two countries have also decided to cooperate with each other to counter the global threats of terrorism and violent extremism. This was agreed at a meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the two nations in the capital. Moreover, the Danish minister encouraged Bangladesh to benefit from Danish experience and expertise to accelerate progress including green growth and green energy.
The government has embarked on a project worth over US$ 156 million to connect 2,600 union councils through fiber optic cables. Under the “national ICT intra-network for Bangladesh government phase-III”, which is also known as Info Sarker-3 project, some other digital infrastructures will also be built at the union level. Meanwhile, another project is being rolled out to connect 1,100 union councils through fiber optic cables, at a cost of U$ 91 million.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched Viber-like 'instant messaging app' for some 1.4 million public servants which is expected to bring about a revolutionary change in intercommunication of government officials. The app is like the popular app 'Viber' and no fee or charge will be required for using this ensuring reliability and security. This move stands out as a shining testament to the vision as envisaged by the present government to transform Bangladesh into a Digital one by 2021.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives