Jan 18, 2018
During a recent visit to Bangladesh, former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee said that the able and prudent leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned Bangladesh into an attractive place for investment. Welcoming the veteran Indian leader, HPM elaborated on the overall economic scenario of Bangladesh, adding that the poverty level came down to 22% due to various pragmatic steps of her government. Moreover, the seasoned politician also has termed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the “brave leader of all times” while paying respect to Bangladesh’s founding father.
USAID mission director Janina Jaruzelski said USAID is confident that it is possible for Bangladesh to make similar progress under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it made outstanding progress on key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The expert highly commended Bangladesh government for its tremendous generosity and compassion in sheltering the fleeing Rohingya here in Bangladesh and said the development partners stand with Bangladesh in addressing this very severe crisis. With the right choices, the Prime Minister's goal of attaining full Middle Income Status by 2021, the 50th anniversary of independence, is achievable, said Jaruzelski also co-chair of Local Consultative Group (LCG) Development Partners.
Bangladesh now grows 16 million metric tonnes (MT) of vegetables annually in the country, according to revelation made by the concerned ministry. While Over 1.62 crore farmers cultivate 156 types of vegetables countrywide, statistics show that vegetables' production has increased five-fold since Bangladesh's independence in 1971. Currently Bangladesh ranks third among the countries which posted highest growths in vegetable production in recent years, thanks to a series of efforts envisaged and put in place by the government.
On the back of mounted crackdowns, law enforcing agencies have achieved significant success in combating militancy with neutralizing 58 militants and capturing over 50 others while conducting operations at 26 militant hideouts across the country till January this year after the terror attack at Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1, 2016. On the other hand, over JMB's 60 operatives were sentenced to death, over 150 to life term imprisonment and around 250 others to different jail terms in cases of various attacks. Besides, law enforcers arrested 1,792 JMB men in different cases while 2,043 were charge-sheeted in different cases. On top of that, a multi-pronged approach has been put in place by the government to stop the spread of the menace of militancy in the country.
A reserve of around 600 billion cubic feet (BCF) of natural gas has been found at Bheduria union in Bhola, according to media reports. It would be the 27th gas field in the country. State-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (BAPEX) have discovered two layers in the new gas reservoir. The first layer with a thickness nine metres has been found between 3236 meters and 3245 meters depth below the surface while another layer was found between 3260 meters and 3285 meters having a thickness of 25 meters. The new gas reserve will take the total gas output from Bhola to a total 1.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf).
All works have been completed by the government to lift up Bangladesh as a member of International Energy Charter. Bangladesh will get many benefits, including investment, roadmap for business, energy savings and green funds from the Energy Charter if the country becomes a member of the organization. The International Energy Charter is a declaration of political intention aiming at strengthening energy cooperation among the signatory states which does not bear any legally binding obligation or financial commitment.
World Bank (WB) Vice President for the South Asia Region Annette Dixon praised Bangladesh of increasing its capacity in project implement and fund disbursement. According to the expert, Bangladesh is absorbing the supports from the World Bank with very efficiently. In last six years, Bangladesh increased its capacity in implementing projects and disbursing funds. The comments were made in the run up to a meeting with Finance Minister AMA Muhith at the Secretariat. On the other hand, Annette Dixon said the global lending agency has actually been increasing its supports to Bangladesh as well.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved 14 projects involving $263 million. Under one project, academic buildings and other necessary infrastructure will be constructed in the 3,000 selected non-government secondary schools across the country alongside ensuring the supply of necessary furniture for the institutions. The Emergency 2007 Cyclone Recovery and Restoration Project was revised for the third time which will be implemented by June 2018 in 64 upazilas under Barisal and Khulna divisions.
The government is set to sign two loan agreements with the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) for US$60 million for the 'Payra Bridge (Lebukhali Bridge) Project' and the 'South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Road Connectivity Project'. Under the agreements, $30 million will be used as additional funding for the construction of Lebukhali Bridge over the Payra River and another $30 million for SASEC Road Connectivity Project.
The government has formed a new wage board to review the existing wages of the garment industry workers. State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu came up with the information at a press conference at the secretariat. A committee, formed in this regard, will submit a report with recommendations within six months after scrutinising the present salary structure of the RMG workers. The government will finalise the salary structure following their report.
The government is providing maternal allowance, lactating allowance, rice and training to over 1.8 million extreme poor women across the country. A plan has been laid out to provide 30 kg rice per month side by side, creating employment scope for 10 lakh extreme poor rural women from the government exchequer through awareness. Moreover, the government has been providing maternal allowance Taka 500 per month along with training on healthcare and nutrition to six lakh extreme poor mothers.
Bangladesh, India and Bhutan have agreed to form a Joint Venture Company (JVC) to develop a hydropower plant in Bhutan to produce 1225 MW of electricity in near future to meet the growing energy demand. The three nations have already completed initial discussions to sign a MoU to go ahead with the proposed power project Kuri-1, which will be set up with investments of all the three South Asian nations. According to the Bhutanese media, by 2020 Bhutan is planning to produce 10,000 MW of electricity from its hydro resources. As per agreement with India, Bhutan will export the whole amount to India.
Germany will provide 337.20 million euro to Bangladesh for implementing projects in different sectors, including energy and climate change. In this regard, the two countries signed three bilateral agreements on Technical Cooperation-2016, Financial Cooperation-2016 and Financial Cooperation 2016 (Saidabad-III) at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital. Under the Financial Cooperation-2016, an amount of 216.20 million Euro will be provided as loan and contribution to IDCOL (2 projects for renewable energy); Modernisation of energy distribution-smart grid, phase 1; Climate change-adapted urban development programme, phase II, and financial contribution to attendant measures.
Mobile internet users, especially in city areas, can brace themselves for super-fast data service from March as all operators are set to roll out 4G service, according to media reports. The state-run operator currently has 25 Megahertz of spectrum across three bands. After getting the licence and paying the spectrum fees, the mobile operators can offer 4G service to their customers. All the licensees will have to deploy 4G network across the country within three years of getting the licences, according to the guideline.
Bangladesh has a bright prospect of mobile banking growth as industry experts and study findings show this innovative payment system is likely to overtake internet banking and has set a standard and maturing set of services for consumers. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston recently published a study that shows consumers likely are not just shopping for their next vehicle with their mobile device. More than 52.6 million people are now using this unique payment service in Bangladesh and these people transact over Taka 10 billion a day through 746,000 MFS agents across the country, mostly through bKash, the leading MFS operator in Bangladesh and the largest player across the globe.
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