January 22, 2015
According to the latest Consumer Confidence Index released by one of the leading global credit brands MasterCard, Bangladesh has recorded the highest improvement in consumer confidence from the Asia-Pacific region. As per the Index, Bangladesh moved from optimistic to very optimistic territory at 83.3 points, up by 16.9 points, being the only market that saw a double-digit rise in consumer sentiment.
From the 5th of January 2015, BNP-Jamaat’s ongoing spate of violence has so far seen 29 killed, over 850 injured, torching of 274 vehicles and vandalizing of 369 others. This is in top of the destructive impact on the economy and hampering of academic activities severely. The fact that BNP-Jamaat activists are directly involved in the acts of violence are becoming crystal clear from the overwhelming evidence.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Rawshan Ershad has urged the government to take a strong stance against the anarchy unleashed by BNP-Jamaat on the people of Bangladesh in recent times. Expressing her full support for the government in this regard, the opposition leader urged all to be united against violence and suggested forming locality based anarchy protection committees to combat the situation.
Communications and Infrastructure
Government will procure 120 Broad Gauge (BG) passenger carriages from India for Bangladesh Railway (BR) to operate new trains to meet the increasing demand of passengers and offer modern as well as safe services. In a related development, a project to install new dual-gauge rail lines on the Dhaka-Narayanganj route has been approved to facilitate commuting between the two cities.
The Dhaka-Chittagong Highway is going to get three new four-lane bridges over the Shitalakkhya, Meghna and Gomati Rivers, with financial assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Work order for the bridges’ construction will be given in September, and construction is expected to start in November. The existing old bridges will remain and will be renovated.
Growth and Development
The government has signed a landmark deal with Russia based INTERSPUTNIK to obtain an orbital slot to launch the country’s maiden satellite, "Bangabandhu-1", to space. The government aims to launch the satellite by December 2017 and once launched, it would save the country around US$ 14 million annually on satellite rents for running television channels, telephones and radio connectivity.
In a major diplomatic success for the Awami League government, Saudi Arabia government has announced it will open its labour market for Bangladesh soon, after a seven year delay. Workers will now be able to get visas for all sectors. Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakeih said they are interested in hiring skilled Bangladeshi workers and would circulate a formal announcement of lifting the ban by next week.
The government has finalized the draft National Marine Fisheries Policy 2015 for optimum utilization of the country’s marine resources. The policy has been formulated keeping in mind the national, regional and international fisheries policies in order to adopt the best management practices for sustainable extraction of marine fisheries and other resources from the Bay of Bengal.
Power and Energy
Bangladesh’s power generation capacity now stands at a record high of 11,265 MW. According to State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid, the government has set up power plants to generate 1,300 MW in 2014 and around 68% people have electricity access across the country. He added that the government has fixed a target of increasing the generation capacity to 13,057 MW by December this year.
A joint venture (JV) power company has been formed between China and Bangladesh, which has already started the process of setting up a 1,320 MW coal-based power plant in Payra, Patuakhali as per an agreement signed earlier. In a related development, a Chinese JV will build a 1,075 MW Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-based combined cycle power plant at Maheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar.
To reduce use of conventional diesel and electricity run irrigation pumps, the government has initiated a project to install 5,000 billion solar-powered pumps across the country by 2020. The capacity of each of the solar pump will be about 8 KW at peak and will be able to run 5-8 hours a day to pump about 5,000 billion liters of water. This will significantly reduce dependency on conventional fuel sources.
Social Justice and Equity
Under a US$10 million scheme funded by the Swiss government and administered by Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh government will provide skills training to 40,000 women and disadvantaged people, including those with disabilities, to scale up their income and productivity. This is part of a larger US$30 million Swiss grant under the government’s “Skills for Employment Investment Programme”.
The government is implementing a large project to enhance accessibility of rural people to markets and economic opportunities. The 6-year project titled "Sustainable Rural Infrastructure Improvement" will help widen access to markets and economic opportunities, boost earnings, and ensure access to basic services like health and education, of the rural poor in 21 districts at a cost of around US$ 10 million.
Trade and Investment
Bangladesh is ready to pay US$ 400 million to subscribe to a major stake in the China mooted Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) considering its expected importance in the current global and regional atmosphere. In October last year, Bangladesh along with 21 other nations signed an inter-government MoU to join the AIIB, being established for funding development and infrastructure projects in Asia.
M/S Shanzou Packing (Bangladesh) Ltd, a Chinese company, is going to establish a packing materials manufacturing industry in Uttara Export Processing Zone (EPZ), investing US$ 3.345 million for the purpose. In this regard, an agreement was signed between Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) and the said company in Dhaka on Thursday.
Digital Bangladesh
Bangladesh will sign a US$2 billion concessional loan deal with China for developing its rural ICT sector. The deal will be signed during Chinese Prime Minister Le Kagiang’s visit to Dhaka in March or April this year. The loan will be used to implement the government’s plan to develop business process outsourcing (BPO) in rural areas and establish broadband connectivity with optical fiber cable.
Bangladesh government, in collaboration with US based consulting firm Tholons, will formulate a policy strategy and guidelines for Bangladesh's IT sector to achieve target of earning US$ 1 billion from IT exports by 2022. These will facilitate the IT sector to attract blue chip foreign companies to invest in Bangladesh, which is going through a digitization revolution under the current AL government.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives