April 23, 2017
With the recent visit of Bangladesh’s Honorable Prime Minister (HPM) Sheikh Hasina to Bhutan last week, a new horizon has been ushered in the gambit of bilateral ties between the countries. During the four day visit, as many as five deals have been inked covering avoidance of double taxation, agriculture, standardisation of goods, cultural cooperation and waterways connectivity. In addition, the Bangladesh Primer held a bilateral meeting with her Bhutanese counterpart where both leaders stressed the need for boosting regional connectivity and expediting the process of implementing the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative to bring prosperity in the region.
Buoyed by a consistent momentum of growth over the last six years, a number of international organizations including the likes of World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have lent out high optimism as regards to the rise of the Bangladesh’s economy in next fiscal year. According to a report released recently by IMF, the economy is expected to grow at 6.9 % this year while the global lender posted the rate at 6.8% in its latest report. Earlier last year, the WB lifted up its growth forecast twice on the back of a strong surge in economy owing to a sound economic management supervised by the present government.
Ratings agency Moody's has maintained a stable outlook for Bangladesh thanks to its robust economic growth, macro-economic stability and relatively low government debt levels. According to the report, the decision to affirm the rating is driven by strong growth, macroeconomic stability, and access to concessional funding, and a very narrow government revenue base that restricts fiscal flexibility and very low institutional capacity that constrains the investment climate and competitiveness. Moody's expects Bangladesh's global apparel market share, currently about 6%, to rise as China continues to transition away from low-end manufacturing into higher-value goods, while the country preserves its cost competitiveness and improves its attractiveness to foreign direct investment.
A recent report, released by the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), says the domestic output of Bangladesh could double from $628 billion in 2016 to $1.3 trillion in 2030, moving the country up to 28th in the ranking of world economies. By 2050 Bangladesh, India and Vietnam will become the fastest growing economies, with Bangladesh expected to see impressive growth that will push it to 23rd place overall, the report says. Growth in this country is driven even more by real GDP per capita growth, suggesting capital investment and technological progress will deliver real labour productivity enhancing benefits, added the assessment.
During her four day visit to Bhutan, HPM Sheikh Hasina, inaugurated an international conference where eleven countries, including Bangladesh, in World Health Organization’s (WHO) South-East Asia Region have adopted the Thimphu Declaration for accelerating efforts to enable people with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders lead a productive life. Saima Wazed Hossain, the US-licensed school psychologist and daughter of the premier, who has been spearheading the autism campaign in Bangladesh, moderated the entire event. It was a unique example of demonstrating leadership by both mother and daughter to lead the such a global event.
With the construction of construction of 62 pile drives completed, this week marked over 30% completion of the construction work of the biggest infrastructure undertaking in Bangladesh—Padma Multipurpose Bridge. Completely a self-funded project worth $3.65 billion, the bridge site is filled with labourers, workers and engineers who are toiling hard day and night to get it open for traffic by 2018. Once it goes operational, a new dawn will be heralded in, as 30 million lives from Southern Bangladesh will be transformed.
A new project worth $74 million has been rolled out to improve the country's e-government services across its agencies as well as improve the air quality of Dhaka. Of the sum, $39 million go towards scaling up the e-government infrastructure and services that will aid in improving public sector administration and public services. The remaining $35 million will go to the Clean Air and Sustainable project that involves air quality management initiatives and testing models for improving traffic management system in Dhaka.
Within the space of last eight years, agriculture assistances worth over $4 billion have been distributed among the farmers for development of the country's agriculture sector. Riding on an array of such initiatives, the country has now achieved self-sufficiency in food production that reached to nearly 40 million tonnnes. Back in 2001, during the regime of BNP Jamaat alliance, the country had been plunged into a deepening food deficiency, adding much to the woes of the countrymen.
The government set a food grain procurement target of 1.6 million tonnes in the current Boro season with a higher price offer for both rice and paddy, offering the farmers an enhanced price. These price offers are higher on average from last year's offers, given that the cost of Boro production has increased and the farmers need the incentive to cushion the increased cost of production. The rice and paddy procurement drive will start on May 2 and continue till August 31, while wheat procurement period is set from April 18 to June 30.
Governor of Leningrad in Russia Oblast Alexander Drozdenko expressed his country’s deep interest in recruiting skilled manpower, specially doctors, from Bangladesh. The Russian port city governor expressed his desire during a meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the Governor Mansion in St Petersburg, Russia. The two sides also discussed possibility of joint venture in ship building industry for production of medium sized vessels and fishing trawlers.
Impressed by the growth of renewable energy sector, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia S Bernicat said her country is interested to work with Bangladesh in this regard. Media outlets, quoting the diplomat, said companies from the public and private sectors in US are showing their keen interests to work in Bangladesh's power and energy sector. The proposal was placed when she was paying a courtesy call on State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid at his ministry office.
In a bid to teach them to fight cyber-crime, Bangladesh began training thousands of teenage girls from last week. More than 10,000 school-age girls will take part in government workshops around the country in April and May to get lessons on what to look out for and how to respond. Bangladesh in 2013 set up a special trial court to deal with social media-related crimes and since then more than 450 cases have been heard.
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has directed the commercial banks to allow the local software developer companies to remit the maximum of $30,000 in a calendar year from the previous ceiling of $25,000. Members of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), will be allowed to remit abroad $30,000 in a calendar year from the previous ceiling of $25,000 to meet their business needs. Individual software developers and freelancers will be allowed to get virtual cards for maximum $300 in a calendar year, said the letter.
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