Bangladesh Insight | Issue 18
Aug 14, 2014
The government of Bangladesh has officially embarked on building a US$ 4.5 billion, 1200 mega-watts (mw) coal based power project at Matabari Island, Cox’s Bazar, with financial assistance worth US$ 3.5 billion coming from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This will be Bangladesh’s largest power project so far which will use the most sophisticated ‘ultra super critical’ technology requiring less coal than those using conventional technology. The plant will be environmentally friendly and is expected to attain 41.9% efficiency. Apart from the plant itself, the project includes construction of a deep-sea terminal 30 feet above sea level to facilitate import of coal, developing local infrastructure and township, installing a high voltage power line, land resettlement and digging a 2-kilometre long, 250-metre wide and 18-metre deep channel from the deep-sea port to the jetty of the power plant.
Youth in Bangladesh
In order to develop the culture of entrepreneurship among the youths of Bangladesh, the government has taken the initiative to provide collateral free, easy term loans up to TK 1 million at maximum 10% interest rate to young startups. The funds will extend to entrepreneurs who have not taken any loan from a financial institution in the past.
Bangladesh is implementing a project funded by the World Bank under which, nearly 38,000 youths will be given IT training during the next two and half years. After successful implementation of the project, many international IT organizations and companies will be encouraged to invest in Bangladesh and a good number of IT skilled youths will have better access to job markets.
Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination results this year have shown considerable rise in both pass rates and achieving highest scores. The overall pass percentage rose to 75.74%, increasing by 4.61% from last year. The number of GPA (Grade Point Average) 5 (highest possible results) achievers stood at 57,789, compared to last year's 46,736. The considerably better results can be attributed to better trained teachers, use of multimedia in classrooms and students' enhanced knowledge of information technology.
Growth and Development
The central bank of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves has crossed the US$ 22 billion mark for the first time. According to Bangladesh Bank’s Forex and Treasury Management department, the milestone has been achieved because of positive trends in remittance inflow, export earnings and increased foreign aid. In July expatriate Bangladeshis sent home US$1.48 billion in remittances, which is the highest remittance inflow ever recorded in a month. In 2013-14 fiscal year, Bangladesh earned US$30.18 billion from exports.
The Bangladesh Cabinet has approved a proposal to develop all land ports to the level of international standards in order to establish links with the Asian Highway Network and Trans-Asia railway Network. The proposal named ‘Intergovernmental Agreement on Dry Ports’ is an instrument prepared by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and Pacific (ESCAP).
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh government has formed an eight member committee to create a joint forum comprising representation from both public and private sectors of Bangladesh and Japan to hold dialogues on promoting investment and trade between the two countries. This high level committee is headed by the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and comprises of the secretaries of seven other ministries. The two countries will proceed to hold the first meeting of the forum on August 21, 2014.
Bangladesh wants to become a “Dialogue Partner” of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). To that end, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali held bilateral meetings with a number of ASEAN Foreign Ministers at the sidelines of the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) being held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. In April 2014, ten ASEAN nations formally launched the “Dhaka Committee” which was seen as heralding a new era of Banglaesh-ASEAN relations and paving the way for Bangladesh to become a “Dialogue Partner”.
A 500 bed modern hospital is being set up in Ashulia, Dhaka as a joint venture between a Japanese firm and a local company. The hospital is likely to start operations from October 2015. The hospital will specialize in cardiology, kidney diseases and trauma, offering services of international standards at low cost.
Bangladesh Prime Minister has said that the relations among SAARC member countries could be strengthened further through generation of hydroelectricity in Nepal and its marketing. She stated that Bangladesh could buy or invest in hydropower projects in Nepal and emphasized grid connectivity between the two countries. She further added that Nepal could use roads and railways for boosting trade relations with Bangladesh.
Digital Bangladesh
A 3 day e-commerce fair will begin in Dhaka on September 25. The number of e-commerce sites in Bangladesh increased fivefold to 500 in the past 2 years. E-commerce has the potential to become one of the 5 leading sectors in Bangladesh in the next 10 years with online shopping transactions currently worth around TK 2 billion annually, and growing by 30% every month.
Indian IT firms are in contention for being awarded projects at Bangladesh’s proposed high tech parks. A high powered team from Bangladesh led by its Minister of Post, Telecommunications and IT recently attended the ‘ICT East 2014’ in Kolkata. They held talks with CEOs of Indian IT companies regarding potential joint ventures between the two countries in e-governance, e-education, cyber security, capacity building, skill development, and training programmes.
Bangladesh Awami League