July 20, 2017
Last week saw the Sri Lankan President coming to Bangladesh, elevating Bangladesh-Sri Lanka relations to a new era of cooperation. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka signed 14 instruments -- one deal and 13 MoUs -- during the visit beginning a new journey in their bilateral relations. President Sirisena held official talks with Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina among others. The Lankan president visited National Martyr's Memorial, Savar and paid respect to the martyrs of Liberation War. He also visited Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, Dhanmondi.
Given that the project has been fast tracked under the supervision of the HPM Sheikh Hasina, over 45% of the construction work of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge has been completed. The first span of the Padma Bridge superstructure will be installed between two pillars at Janjira point next month. Plans have been proposed to construct a tourism centre like Hong Kong city and an international airport there as well. Earlier, HPM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the pilling work of the dream project which will connect the entire Southern Bangladesh with Dhaka.
Swedish Ambassador in Dhaka Johan Frisell lauded the government's commendable effort to contain the situation after the last year's Gulshan cafe attack and ensure safety of diplomats and foreign nationals in Bangladesh. The appreciation came when he paid a farewell call on Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali at the latter's office. During the meeting, they discussed various issues of bilateral interest when the envoy praised HPM Sheikh Hasina for her commendable effort to create an active and dynamic relation between Bangladesh and Sweden.
Bangladesh has made a significant progress in reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) from 569 in 1990 to 176 in 2015 with an average annual reduction of 4.7% but still much need to be done, shows a recent survey. The ratio of skilled-birth attendants also increased from 12% in 2000 to 42% in 2014 and of these 37% are institutional deliveries, according to the survey findings. To achieve success in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), efforts are put in place to bring the MMR down to 70% or less by 2030.
In sync with the government’s pledge to ensure electricity for all by 2021, a plan has been laid out to provide 100% electricity in all 460 upazilas in the country by December, 2018. Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) will expand 50,000 kms of distribution line and develop some 80 sub stations in current fiscal while 4 million of new subscribers will be connected to the national grid. As of now, around 19 million rural people are getting service from BREB and the number, will cross 20 million soon.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US$526 million loan to facilitate execution of infrastructure development projects in Bangladesh under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives. The fund will mainly be used for enactment of the PPP Act and institutional support to the PPP Authority. It is also designed to promote commercial financing for PPP projects to reduce pressure on direct financing from the budget to meet the growth target.
With an aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a mega scheme has been rolled out by the government to develop the country's human resources by opening up 10 million employment opportunities. To this end, the National Skills Development Council (NSDC) will ensure employment opportunities through providing proper training through different training institutions under 22 ministries and 35 agencies. On the other front, the central bank under "Skill for Employment Investment" project will provide training to 10,200 people in a year.
As many as 5 million beneficiaries, including physically challenged persons, have been brought under social safety net and food security programmes in 2016-17 fiscal year. The programmes included old-aged allowance, allowances for widow and women tortured by their husbands, insolvent disabled allowance and stipend for physically challenged students. In 2016-17, some 31,50,000 people have got old-aged allowance, 11,50,000 got widow allowance, 7,50,000 people got insolvent disabled allowance and 70,000 physically disabled students were awarded education stipend.
The government will construct shelter centres for flood affected people in each union parishad of 17 flood-prone districts very soon. Announcement has been made that food items and cash would be allocated as per the demand of the district administration and the relief distribution programme will be continued till the flood situation gets normal. In the wake of the recent flash floods, 6,100 tonnes of rice has been allocated, alongside adequate financial assistances and 39,000 packets dry foods were distributed to help the affected families turn around their lives. In the lead story in trade and investment segment.
Export earnings from leather sector marked a 6.29% growth in FY 2016-17 compared to the previous FY, bringing in a sense of relief for the local businesses. The leather and leather goods sector fetched $1.23 billion from exports in FY 17, up from $1.16 billion in 2015-16 fiscal and $1.13 billion in 2014-15 fiscal, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data. According to experts, leather exports will increase manifolds as the leather and leather goods manufacturers have started to meet the compliance standards and taking initiatives to promote their products in the international market.
More than half a million workers have left Bangladesh with overseas employment in the first half of the current calendar year as hiring of workers in the Gulf region, mainly in Saudi Arabia increased during the period. According to the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), some 520,490 Bangladeshi workers got jobs abroad in the January-June period of this year. After reopening of Saudi labour market for Bangladesh, the outflow of workers has been on the rise. The Gulf country reopened its market in August 2016.
Modeled after Silicon Valley of the US, the construction of Bangabandhu Silicon City project will make a notable impact on the socio-economic improvement of the region. This Silicon city will both render training and provide employment opportunity for educated young men. A ten storied building will be constructed here and another five-story building covering 62,000 square feet will be constructed which will be used as IT Incubator-cum-Training Center. In this Silicon City world standard technological gadgets will be manufactured too.
Experts have pinned optimism that the e-commerce market in Bangladesh could get a big boost in the near future with double-digit growth per month. Given that expansion of internet use is taking place at a good speed, 22% of 66 million internet users are engaged in online shopping. In the course of last seven years under the current government, this country has made an array of landmark strides in transforming the future of Bangladesh into a technologically advanced one by 2021.
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