November 20, 2014
A new and innovative youth initiative was launched on 15 November by the Prime Minister’s IT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed, titled “Young Bangla”. The movement aims to bring all the youths and youth based organizations of Bangladesh under one platform to help implement the Awami League (AL) government’s vision of turning the country into a technologically advanced, poverty-free, middle income country by the year 2021 (“Vision-2021”). The convenor of this initiative is young AL MP Nahim Razzaq, and secretarial support for the initiative is being provided by Centre for Research and Information (CRI). Other organizations like Bangladesh Debate Federation, Engineering Students' Association of Bangladesh, Junior Chamber International Bangladesh, and United Nations Youth and Students Association are also involved with this initiative.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman has been selected for the ‘GUSI Peace Prize International 2014’ Award for his work in economics with a focus on welfare of the poor. The Gusi Peace Prize foundation has described him as the “Poor Man’s Economist” in the award citation. The award would be handed over to Dr. Rahman along with 14 other recipients on 26 November at a ceremony in Manila, Philippines.
Growth and Development
According to a report on Rural Wages in Asia published by Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Britain’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, average rural wages in Bangladesh rose to $2.21 a day in 2010 from $1.52 in 2005, marking a 45% increase. Talking to actual workers in rural parts of Bangladesh, Dhaka Tribune found that in many cases, the increase in wages has actually been up to 100% in the last ten years. According to one of the workers, Bangladesh now “…is a place to live in with optimism and ambition. Everywhere you see people aspiring to make more money and to live a better life”.
According to a recent survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the number of people in Bangladesh dependent on others for their livelihoods went down by 11% points in four years. The survey showed that the national dependency ratio stood at 56% at the end of 2012, down from 67% at the end of 2008. The dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically not in the labour force and those typically in the labour force. It is used to measure the pressure on productive population.
Bangladesh government will extend its home loan coverage to rural areas aimed at developing planned and modern housing in villages while protecting cropland from indiscriminate use. Under the US$ 40.4 million project, cheaper loans will be offered for construction of 385 four-storied buildings in 22 rural areas across Bangladesh. The buildings will have 3000 flats, providing around 18,000 people with comfortable and affordable accommodation while cropland would be protected from misuse.
Trade and Investment
Bangladesh is emerging as a leading supplier of non-leather footwear for offering good quality products at affordable prices. The country is now supplying sports shoes, sandals, flip-flops and boots to a number of leading global retailers including H&M, Decathlon, Kappa, Skechers, Fila and Puma. According to the export Promotion Bureau, non-leather footwear exports stood at $171.57 million last fiscal year, which was 13.3% of the leather industry's total export. During the July-October period this year, exports of such footwear rose 11.47% year-on-year to $58.40 million.
Chinese company Hua Xin Industrial Co. Ltd will invest US$ 36 million to establish a Jute & Cotton Textile and jute-based furniture manufacturing industry in Mongla Export Processing Zone (EPZ). The company will produce annually 15,000 tons of jute yarn, 6 million square meters of jute & cotton cloth and 10,750 sets of jute-based furniture, creating employment for about 1,755 Bangladeshi nationals. Bangladesh offers excellent opportunities for foreign investors through its EPZs. Recently, a visiting Japanese trade delegation lauded the investment friendly atmosphere and conditions in the EPZs.
Power and Energy
Finland based energy solution provider Wartsila Corporation is aiming to massively expand its operation in Bangladesh in the next 15 years. Wartsila, which has already helped add 2,200 MW power generation capacities in Bangladesh, is aiming to add further 500 MW in the coming days along with playing a significant role in establishing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals. According to its visiting CEO and President Bjorn Rosengren, Bangladesh offers huge investment opportunities as an emerging market with large demands for power and power plant equipment.
A biomass power plant will be set up in Chittagong soon to generate 10 MW of electricity with an initial investment of $16 million. The plant will be set up by two private companies from Bangladesh and Malaysia and will generate electricity from biomass by using municipal solid wastes. The companies will go for more biomass power plants in Dhaka and other cities after necessary feasibility studies if the pilot project turns out to be successful. The municipal authorities will collect the wastes as usual and mix it up for use and subsequent power generation. Solid waste includes household and commercial wastes collected either in solid or semisolid form.
The Danish government and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have recently signed an agreement to bolster renewable energy production and usage in Bangladesh. Danish ambassador to Bangladesh Hanne Fugl Eskjaer and IFC’s Country Manager Kyle F Kelhofer signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides. At the signing ceremony the Danish envoy stated that growing demands for energy in Bangladesh requires making a shift from the costly fuel sources to renewable ones to sustain the impressive economic growth Bangladesh is experiencing.
International and Regional Cooperation
The visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H Rivkin has expressed his satisfaction over enhanced Dhaka-Washington ties. While having a meeting with Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Alam on Thursday, the US diplomat said that Washington considered the just-concluded 3rd Partnership Dialogue “a great success”. He praised Bangladesh’s “sustained substantial growth” and progress made in the past one and half years in ensuring workers’ rights and workplace safety. He also hailed Bangladesh’s success in peacefully resolving the maritime boundary disputes with Myanmar and India.
The European Union (EU) mission in Dhaka will support Bangladesh's export diversification efforts especially in its shipbuilding, medicine and IT sectors. Newly appointed EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon said this when he called on Foreign Minister AH Mahmud Ali at the latter's office on Wednesday. The envoy stated that EU's assistance to the country's development projects have been raised by 70% compared to the past. He informed that EU’s assistance would highlight education and capacity building, nutrition, health and building democratic institutions and further strengthening mutual cooperation on climate change, bio-safety and human security sectors.
Bangladesh Cabinet has approved the draft of an agreement aimed at enabling free movement of vehicles among SAARC member states. The agreement would open the door for free movement of motor vehicles in the South Asian region. The draft also has the provision for taking licence and insuring vehicles. The agreement, expected to be signed at the 18th SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in Kathmandu on November 26-27, will be finalized beforehand at the SAARC ministerial meeting.
Bangladesh Awami League