October 26, 2017
Honourable Prime Minister (HPM) Sheikh Hasina said the Rohingya crisis could be resolved in line with the five-point proposal she had placed in last month’s UN General Assembly session in New York. The five-point proposal that the prime minister laid out includes an end to the violence in Myanmar, immediately sending UN mandated Fact-Finding Mission to Myanmar, creation of "safe zones" inside Myanmar under UN supervision, sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their homes in Myanmar and implementation of recommendations of Kofi Annan Commission Report. The Premier also reiterated that Bangladesh has been carrying the burden of around 4,00,000 Rohingyas for decades as they were victims of ethnic persecution in their homeland Myanmar.
Nine US senators have sent a letter thanking Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her strong leadership and compassion on the Rohingya crisis. More than 600,000 refugees fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar took shelter in Bangladesh. Terming HPM as a beacon of hope, the letter praised Bangladesh’s decision to keep the borders open and provide assistance to the large number of refugees fleeing the military crackdown in Myanmar. The senators said they were also aware of the strain the refugees put on Bangladesh’s limited resources, especially considering the refugee population that had been staying in the country prior to the recent influx.
According to a report, released recently by United Nations agencies, under-five mortality rate in Bangladesh has dropped by an annual 5.5% over the last 16 years till 2016. This report stands out as a shining testament to the commitment, put in place, by the government, to ensure a healthy life for its citizens, resulting in a rise in the average life expectancy in the country. In this endeavor, introduction of community clinics and an array of health services at doorsteps played a key role too.
A recent report, released by Bangladesh Bank, shows foreign direct investment hit an all-time high of $2.45 billion in fiscal 2016-17 on the back of a surge in equity investment by mobile phone operators. The inflows are an increase of 22.54% from a year earlier while the telecom sector saw the highest inflows of $594 million, followed by textile and garment at $360.35 million and power at $334.26 million. Last fiscal year, $701 million flew in from the Singapore, $314 million from the UK, $208 million from the US, $187 million from Norway while reinvestment of earnings by existing foreign companies also edged up 8.70% last fiscal year to $1.25 billion.
Professor Dr Samir Saha, an eminent microbiologist of Bangladesh has been announced for UNESCO Carlos J. Finlay Prize in Microbiology in 2017 along with others. The award was created by UNESCO in 1977, on the initiative of the Government of Cuba, and is given to scientists with research and work that signify an important contribution to the field of microbiology. The prize will be granted on November 6, 2017 within the framework of the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, which brings together its 195 member States from October 30 to November 14.
Growth and Development
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $1.2 billion in finance for the second phase upgrade of the Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor in Bangladesh. The ADB funding will support the corridor by improving the 190-km section from Elenga through Hatikurul to Rangpur while road operation and management in the Roads and Highway Department will also be strengthened. Besides, the upgradation project will help increase road capacity on 70 kilometers of the Joydeypur-Elenga section of the road. It will also improve operational efficiency of two of the land ports - Burimari and Benapole - that provide gateways to Bhutan and India, respectively.
A report, released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), has put Bangladesh ahead of countries like India and Pakistan in the fight to reducing the menace of hunger. While Bangladesh stood at 90th position, among other South Asian countries India ranked 100, Pakistan 106 and Afghanistan 107. In last eight years, under the prudent leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina, poverty has come down to below 22% from an alarming 44% and with it the fight against hunger has seen a significant gain too.
Services sector exports hit $619.97 million in the first two months of the fiscal year, overshooting its target for the period by 6.28%. The amount is an increase of 23.67% from a year earlier, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau, released this week. The EPB began counting the export earnings from services sector separately from last fiscal year as contributions of some important services sectors like transportation, manufacturing, air and sea transports went unnoticed.
Bangladesh and Nepal have agreed to examine existing tariffs and remove non-tariff barriers and para-tariff measures aiming to take the bilateral trade ties to a newer height. The two countries also agreed to exchange trade delegations, organise trade fairs, single country trade fair and sign the pending memorandum of understandings on the Bilateral Trade Promotion and Protection Agreement and the Bilateral Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation soon. The decisions were taken during the second Foreign Office Consultation between Bangladesh and Nepal last week.
The International Apparel Federation (IAF) has assured Bangladesh of extending their support for sustainable RMG sector. IAF President Han Bekke came up with the assurance during his recent meeting with Bangladesh Ambassador to the Netherlands Sheikh Mohammed Belal at the Embassy of Bangladesh in The Hague. The IAF President elaborated their plans for sustainable RMG sector in Bangladesh through cross-over of cooperation among the Dutch government, Bangladesh government, specialised educational institutes in fashion, design and branding of both Bangladesh and the Netherlands.
India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj this week said Bangladesh comes first among all of India's neighbours as part of a neighbourhood policy her government adopted. The countries' bilateral ties are becoming stronger, she added. The envoy said these while inaugurating the new Chancery Complex of the High Commission of India at Baridhara and 15 India-funded development projects worth $800 million in Bangladesh. She arrived in Dhaka on Sunday and participated in the Fourth Joint Consultative Commission meeting with her Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali.
During her recent visit to Bangladesh, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan called on the international community to respond effectively, quickly, and generously to bring an end to the sufferings of Myanmar's Rohingya minority. Meanwhile, European Commission pledged an additional amount of Euro 30 million (US$35.29m) while the head of the UN agency that coordinates humanitarian aid says they have pledged roughly $340 million to help more than 6,00,000 Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar into Bangladesh since August.
This week, the Prime Minister's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed inaugurated the global online payment system PayPal, expressing hope that the time to bring in money from abroad through hundi and corruption will come to an end. Using this service, Bangladeshi expatriates will be able to send money home within a few hours while those involved in freelancing and outsourcing will also enjoy the facility. PayPal account holders from abroad can now send up to $10,000 to Bangladesh at a time using PayPal wallet. A transaction of up to $1,000 will cost only $4.99, but transactions worth over $1,000 will be free of charge.
Facebook will provide training on digital marketing under its ‘Boost Your Business’ programme to 10,000 information technology-trained Bangladeshi youths within the next six months. Media reports, quoting experts, said programmes like Facebook's `#BoostYourBusiness' would contribute to encourage entrepreneurship and provide global visibility which would help the growth of business and boost economy of the country. To transform the future of the nation into a technologically advanced one by 2021, the current government has been implementing an array of measures to build up an IT skilled workforce.
The World Bank has renewed its partnership with Bangladesh on establishing transparency and accountability in public purchases and improving the overall government procurement management in the country. The new phase of the project will aim to restructure and institutionalise the e-GP as part of efforts to improve overall public procurement management. Other goals include enhancing digitisation of public procurement, professiona-lisation of procurement and citizen engagement and digitising project implementation monitoring.The first phase of the project concluded recently and introduced electronic procurement, known as e-GP, in 2010.
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