Bangladesh Insight | Issue 17
Aug 07, 2014
US Ambassador-At-Large for Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp says he is pleased with the functioning of Bangladesh’s International Crimes Tribunals which are currently trying suspected war criminals from 1971. On his fifth visit to Bangladesh since the formation of the first tribunal in 2010, the ambassador went to the tribunals and the investigation agency’s office on Monday. He held meetings with the stakeholders and inquired about the progress of investigations. While interacting with reporters after the visit, he shared his high hopes for the future years of the tribunals. He had earlier expressed his country’s support for trying suspected offenders who committed crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971.
Bangladesh has improved one step in Human Development Index (HDI) to rank 142 globally, up from 143, as per the Human Development Report 2014 released by UNDP. Bangladesh is among the 18 countries globally which has shown extraordinary progress in terms of HDI. Apart from Sri Lanka, only Bangladesh from South Asia has been able to improve on its previous standing. Bangladesh has also demonstrated a good track record of inclusive development leading the country to make its place at Medium Human Development category. Adjusting for inequality, Bangladesh did better than India, Pakistan and Nepal indicating a good pro-poor policy regime. Bangladesh has shown good performance in terms of addressing the issue of gender inequality too (ranking at 107) compared to India (132) and Pakistan (145). In terms of Multi-dimensional Poverty Index Bangladesh (0.237) did better than India (0.282).
Foreign exchange reserves amounted to US$ 21.4 billion on Monday, which is sufficient to clear import bills of seven months. The US $21 billion mark was first reached in June 2014, setting a new record for reserves in Bangladesh. Records have been made in incoming foreign aid into Bangladesh too, which reached a new record in the 2013-14 fiscal year with US$ 3 billion, of which $2.27 billion was loans and $723.60 million in grants. In a related development, remittance inflow into Bangladesh has touched US$ 1.48 billion in the month of July 2014, setting a new monthly record in Bangladesh’s incoming remittance history, 15.19% higher than in the previous month and 19.67% higher from July last year.
Bangladesh may continue to break record in rice crop production in the next ten years, said Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in its latest forecast. Production of rice, the main crop of Bangladesh, was estimated at 34.8 million metric tonnes in 2014, up from 34.4 million metric tonnes in the previous year, according to the Agricultural Outlook 2014-2023 released recently. The FAO of the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the joint report said rice output may reach to 38.6 million metric tonnes by 2023.
Nepalese energy minister Radha Kumari Gyawali arrived in Dhaka on August 5 as both Bangladesh and Nepal are actively planning to enhance cooperation in the field of hydro power energy. During the ongoing four day visit, Bangladesh initiated formal talks about electricity connectivity between the two South Asian countries. Bangladesh plans to jointly develop a reasonably sized, around 500 mega watts (mw) storage hydro project in Nepal by both governments. Nepal’s hydroelectricity potential is estimated at around 46,000 MW. In a related development, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Pankaj Saran has notified Bangladesh’s State Minister for Power and Energy that private companies in India are interested in investing in power and energy sectors of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh India Power Transmission Center (BIPTC) at Bheramara started operations in October 2013 to transmit 500 mega watts (mw) of power from India to Bangladesh. Currently, it is contributing significantly to the local economy as per unit rate of the station is cheaper than sources such as rental power plants. Due to improved quality of power, farmers in the region are getting electricity with proper voltage and frequency for their irrigation purposes.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Bangladesh on Wednesday signed a loan deal of US$ 100 million for improving the capacity, efficiency and safety of railway systems in Bangladesh. This tranche is part of a larger plan whereby ADB will provide Bangladesh in total US$ 430 million to revamp the entire railway systems through the Railway Sector Investment Programme. Improvement in railway system will help ease the pressure on road network and promote regional trade and investment.
Bangladesh and Bulgaria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) at the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry in Sofia on 30th July 2014. The MoU on FOC would now allow holding of regular consultations between Bangladesh and Bulgarian governments in all areas of mutual cooperation. This is the first instrument concluded between these two friendly countries to initiate institutional cooperation.
Bangladesh Awami League