July 28, 2018
Bangladesh has stable economic outlook: Three rating agencies
Bangladesh has held on to its stable credit profile from three global rating agencies, in what can be viewed as an endorsement of the way the central bank and the government are steering the economy. For the ninth year in a row Moody's and Standard & Poor's gave Bangladesh 'Ba3' and 'BB-' ratings respectively. Fitch gave a 'BB-' for the fifth time. "The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Bangladesh's consistent economic growth trajectory and strong donor support will continue to raise average income and broadly sustain the country's external profile over the next 12 months,” S&P said in its report.
Bangladesh has ranked 115th among 193 United Nations member countries in using information technologies to promote access and inclusion of people, progressing nine steps from its position two years ago following the government's move towards digitalisation. The figures came on the UN E-Government Survey 2018 which was published on Friday. Conducted every two years, it comprises an E-Government Development Index (EGDI) and an E-participation Index. Bangladesh ranked 124th in 2016, 148th in 2014 and 150th in 2012. Moreover, the government aims to make Bangladesh one of the top 80 countries by 2021, 50 by 2030 and 20 by 2041.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) captured as many as 500 militants in 163 operations in last two years since the deadly attack at Holey Artisan Bakery in city’s Gulshan area. During the period, the elite force also seized 49 foreign and locally made firearms, 190 rounds of bullet, 61 grenades-bombs, 71 electronic detonators, over 15 kilogram explosives, huge quantity of jehadi books, Compact Disks (CDs), leaflets, posters and a good number of devices used in militant activities. In a related development this week, eight militants have been charged with the deadly militant attack on Holey Artisan Bakery.
A board member of the Alliance for Worker Safety says Bangladesh is now “one of the safest” countries for readymade garment workers and they are taking this lesson to other countries. On a similar note, western buyers are ready to place more work orders in Bangladesh because of the vast improvements in workplace safety in the country's garment sector, said a top executive of an American apparel brand. Over the last five years, Bangladesh's garment factories have become one of the safest places in the world for workers, said Sean Cady, vice-president of global supply chain & responsible sourcing of VF Corporation, which has brands like Wrangler, Lee, Kipling, Timberland, among others.
US Deputy Secretary of State John J Sullivan has lauded Bangladesh for providing Rohingya refugees with food and shelter. He acknowledged Bangladesh’s contribution at a meeting with the country’s Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali MP at the United States Department of State in Washington DC. Deputy Secretary Sullivan profusely thanked Bangladesh for its role in addressing the Rohingya influx resulted from persecution by Myanmar forces. Mahmood Ali is currently visiting Washington DC at the invitation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to lead the Bangladesh delegation at the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
$500m to develop primary education system
The government is set to receive $500 million loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) soon to improve the quality of primary education system. The credit aims to make primary education system more effective for Bangladeshi children. The new programme will build on the achievements of previous programmes with a focus on ensuring quality education, improving access to education and enhancing institutional management through decentralisation. The programme is aligned with the country's partnership strategy 2016-2020 which indicates the ADB's continued support to primary education.
More than 0.5 million youths will be given new skills to help make them find jobs within the next three years, according to a government project. As of June last, agreements were signed for imparting training over 400 thousand youths under the project styled 'Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP)'. The estimated cost of the project is US$ 270.25 million with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funding worth $200 million. According to media reports, some 2,25325 young people were already enrolled under 37 different categories.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $360 million loan for improving the operational efficiency of Bangladesh Railway (BR) by procuring modern rolling stock and supporting the ongoing railway reform. The Manila-based lending agency will sign two deals in this regard next week with the government of Bangladesh for funding the project titled “Railway Rolling Stock Operations Improvement Project”. The rolling stock will introduce auxiliary power units (APU) to Bangladesh Railway to significantly reduce diesel consumption when the locomotives are idling. The project will also draw up investment plans for urgently required maintenance facilities, establish training programmes for the drivers, and run the enterprise-wide IT system.
Bangladesh again emerged as the fifth sourcing destination for US-based apparel and fashion companies in 2018 mainly because of the 'most competitive price' it offers, according to a study. This year, Bangladesh remains as the fifth sourcing destination, with 75% of respondents sourcing there, moving up from the seventh (61%) position in 2017, the report revealed. "'Made in Bangladesh' enjoys a prominent price advantage over many other Asian suppliers," it said.
The United Kingdom wants to invest in a big way in Bangladesh to help achieve its middle-income country status saying the next generation of British Bangladeshis can make the difference with their cemented ties with Bangladesh, says a British trade envoy. “Obviously, infrastructure is a big area for investment,” British Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Bangladesh Rushanara Ali MP told media, adding that there were new areas Bangladesh and the UK could work on. The British trade envoy said there was a real recognition that basic things such as rail, roads, bridges and airports need investment and partnership with countries to help Bangladesh achieve its ambition of becoming a middle-income country.
The government has provided Bhutan 258 types of medicines worth over $2 million as donation. The medicines were donated as per the promise of the Bangladesh Premier. A total of 258 types of medicines from 71 companies will be sent to Bhutan on September. Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Bhutan in 2017 pledged to provide medicine for Bhutan Trust Fund for a year.
Bangladesh and India discussed the timeline for setting up six new border haats along the border with Tripura state that had earlier been agreed by both the sides. They also shed light on the roadmap for further expansion of the existing haats. The first two-day meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Committee on Border Haats started on July 22 in Tripura state's Agartala, capital city of Tripura. The meeting highlighted the positive impact of border haats on the livelihoods of the people living in areas adjoining the haats.
Honourable Prime Minister’s ICT adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy has said Bangladesh will introduce 5G services if the ruling party Awami League (AL) is re-elected in the next general election. He said this while inaugurating the of 5G demonstration hosted by Huawei and Robi as chief guest on Wednesday at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the city. The first ever demonstration of the latest 5G mobile technology recorded the highest 4.17 gbps speed for the wireless. Very few developed countries in the world have conducted test run and adopted 5G technology on a limited scale. South Korea is leading the way here.
Bangladesh has announced its candidacy for membership to the Council of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for the third consecutive year. The election is going to be held during the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union scheduled to be held in Dubai, UAE from Oct 29 to Nov 6. Bangladesh, which had served the Council for two consecutive terms (2011-2015, and 2016-2018), is seeking re-election from the “E” region.
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