February 19, 2015
Bangladesh will emerge as the world's 23rd largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) by 2050. UK-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) made the projection in its latest report on global economy. Currently, Bangladesh's GDP is the 38th largest in the world in terms of PPP. Bangladesh will surpass Australia and Malaysia within the given timeframe. The GDP size was $536 billion in 2014 in PPP terms and is expected to be worth $1.291 trillion in 2030 and $3.367 trillion in 2050.
Government is implementing Skills Training and Employment Enhancement Project (STEP) with funding from World Bank and Canada. Under the project, women interested in entering the labour market are given 6 months short-course training to develop skills and increase employment opportunities. Until December 2014, 12,763 female students received training. Around 25% graduates get job within 6 months of the course completion and about 40% get into further education and training.
Bangladesh started their campaign in Cricket World Cup 2015 in style, registering a massive 105-runs win against Afghanistan in their first match at Canberra, Australia on Wednesday. Batting first, Bangladesh posted a formidable chase to Afghanistan of 268, responding to which the latter were bowled out for 162 in the 43rd over of their innings. In their second match, Bangladesh will face off with Australia at Brisbane on 21st February, Saturday.
Since BNP-Jamaat started their deadly campaign of arson on January 5, 2015, 51 people have been burnt to death as blockaders threw petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails at buses, trucks, cars, ships and trains. 383 other people have received burn injuries of various degrees. At the Burn Unit of Dhaka Medical College alone, currently there are over 60 people receiving treatment for burns, of whom 18 are in critical condition, and may soon add to the death toll referred above.
Growth and Development
In order to expand rail connectivity in the country’s southwestern region, the government is working towards a new 190-km rail line from Dhaka to Jessore through the under-construction Padma Bridge. The government has already completed the feasibility study and design of the new railway track. Chinese construction giant China Railway Group Limited (CREC) has already expressed its interest to the Bangladesh government for implementing this mega project.
Government will build 8,400 affordable flats at Uttara, Dhaka with financial and technical support from Malaysia. With the estimated cost of US$ 642 million, the project will be completed in two-years time. The buildings will be constructed using industrialized building system (IBS), cutting down the construction time significantly. The project will be a self-sufficient one, with facilities like own school, college, sewerage system plan, playing field, green space and solar power system.
Bangladesh Bank will launch a US$ 550 million fund to finance entrepreneurs to meet costs of implementing energy efficient measures. The proposed fund would be made available to people who want to invest in any environment friendly and export-oriented project, including textile, readymade garments and leather sectors. This will significantly boost the export earnings of these major sectors, as currently there is a global demand for environmentally friendly goods.
More than 4,000 extremely poor and slum families in Naogaon district have been brought under a health and nutrition support component of an anti-poverty scheme to bring them out of the curse of malnutrition and hunger. Being implemented under the Urban Partnership for Poverty Reduction Project (UPPRP), the three-year scheme is being implemented since October 2012 to reduce mental and physical disabilities of children and supplement national efforts to combat child and maternal mortality.
Trade and Investment
On Wednesday, the government approved a proposal for setting up 17 new economic zones around the country for boosting domestic and foreign investment. Three of these will be privately built economic zones, while two would be reserved exclusively for investors from China and Japan. The government also approved special incentive packages for local and foreign investors to attract their investments in these new economic zones.
Four major tasks of the Board of Investment (BoI), the government body overseeing domestic and foreign investment in Bangladesh, will be fully automated from next March to help investors get services expeditiously. The tasks include registration, visa, work permit and setting up liaison offices. Under the new automated system prospective investors will be able to complete the requisite procedures online within a day. This project is receiving support from World Bank’s private sectors arm, IFC.
Power and Energy
This week, the government approved the Bibiyana Phase-III 450-megawatt (MW) power project. The project, which would cost $342 million, will provide cheap power to the national grid. Also approved was Petrobangla's signing of production sharing contracts (PSCs) with a USA-Norwegian joint venture for oil and gas exploration in three deep-sea blocks of Bay of Bengal. US based ConocoPhillips and Norwegian Statoil ASA will jointly explore deep-sea blocks number 12, 16 and 21.
Bangladesh will start importing an additional 100-megawatt (MW) of electricity from the Palatana Power Plant in Indian state of Tripura by December this year. A 51 km long transmission line would be required to transfer the electricity from India to Bangladesh. The government is currently constructing a 27 km long transmission line on the Bangladesh side at a cost of around US$ 26 million. Bangladesh is already importing 450 MW of electricity from the Behrampur Power Plant in India.
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