February 26, 2015
Italy wants to further improve its economic ties with Bangladesh, especially in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, technology and heavy textiles machineries. Deputy Foreign Minister Benedetto Vedova stated this as he visited Bangladesh this week. During his visit, he extended the Italian PM’s invitation to Bangladesh PM to attend Milan Expo 2015 and expressed Italy’s interest to hire seasonal workers from Bangladesh. Bangladesh PM sought Italy’s support to tap Blue Economy potential.
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has lauded the progress Bangladesh has made in such social and human development indictors as gender equity, women's empowerment, mortality rate, life expectancy, vaccination etc. Comparing the Bangladeshi model with that of India, the 82 year old economist noted that Bangladesh has done considerably better than India regarding women's development and commented that the latter can learn from the former as regards gender equity.
Bangladesh’s economy is continuing to march ahead under the Awami League government. Country’s foreign exchange reserves reached a record US$ 23 billion for the first time on Thursday. Under the current government, reserves have seen a consistent and robust growth in last six years. According to Bangladesh Bank’s Forex Reserve and Treasury Management Chief Kazi Saidur Rahman, a stable inflow of remittances and growing export incomes has led to the record reserve.
In line with reiterating its zero tolerance policy towards violent extremism in the recent Washington Summit, Bangladesh continues its fight against terrorism. This week, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided a makeshift camp used for training religious extremists, and arrested 5 terrorists from Chittagong’s Banshkhali hills. During the raid, a large number of weapons were recovered. In another raid, RAB arrested 12 militants operating an extremist training camp in Hathazari, Chittagong.
Growth and Development
Under two separate arrangements, World Bank (WB) will provide US$ 800 million to Bangladesh. Firstly, WB will provide the central bank with US$ 300 million as part of the Financial Sector Support Project (FSSP) with the aim to facilitate long-term financing, particularly in productive sectors. Secondly, WB will provide $500 million as budgetary support for the next fiscal year. WB’s Vice-President for South Asia Annette Dixon confirmed this on Wednesday as she visited Bangladesh.
The European Union (EU) has assured that it would take steps to recruit more skilled manpower from Bangladesh after checking feasibility in its member countries. EU is also keen to provide financial assistance to Bangladesh in creating skilled manpower through proper training. In a related development, this week the government itself also launched a three-year youth skills development and employment project to be implemented via the Sheikh Hasina Youth Development Centre.
Currently seven under-construction power plants will add further 2,036-megawatt (MW) electricity to the national grid once operational. By year-end, this would take power generation capacity to a new height of 13,301 MW from the current 11,265 MW. This will bring more than 68% of the total population under electricity coverage. This is part of the current government’s target of generating 20,000 MW electricity by year 2021 as part of the overall “Vision-2021”.
The government has signed an agreement with the Singapore based company, Excelerate Energy Limited Partnership, for building the country’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at Maheshkhali Island in Cox’s Bazar. In a related development, the government has awarded the tender for conducting engineering survey, environment monitoring and developing project documents for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant site to Russia based company, Orgenergostroy.
Bangladesh is the second most favourite destination for Japanese investors operating in China after India. According to a survey conducted by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), Japanese businesses operating in China, due to a number of reasons, are now moving to other destinations like Bangladesh, India, Vietnam and Thailand. Some 71.7% Japanese-affiliated firms in China want to expand their operations in Bangladesh, second only to India with 78.2%.
A joint business council for Bangladesh and India will be set up by April this year, which will be tasked with identifying the major obstacles to the growth of bilateral trade and business between the two neighbouring countries. The Council will also recommend ways for quick resolution of disputes between the two countries, especially for long-standing disputes in trade, business and investment. Although not new, the proposal received impetus after the recent rounds of economic diplomacy.
Government has plans to revamp the country’s civil aviation industry by upgrading existing airports and building new ones. Cox's Bazar and Syedpur airports would be built to international standards for making these two regions more prosperous. A new airport will be built in Khulna-Bagerhat region. A new mega-airport will be built with all modern and international standard specifications in the outskirts of Dhaka to brand Bangladesh as a hub between the East and West in the movement of aircraft.
Kuwait will provide Bangladesh with US$ 36.3 million for developing infrastructure in four key areas of capital city Dhaka. In this regard, on Monday the government of Bangladesh signed a loan agreement with Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED). The financial assistance would be used towards the “Improvement of Urban Roads in North Dhaka City Corporation” project to be implemented in Mirpur, Mohammadpur, Agargaon and Bhashantek areas.
The "One House, One Farm" project visualized by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emerged as the largest e-financial inclusion program for the poor, anywhere in the world. Due to its success, it has been converted into a Rural Savings Bank, making it the world's first 100% online bank dedicated exclusively for the improvement of the poor. So far, the project has benefited 12 million people of 2.4 million families in 40,527 villages of Bangladesh, generating 1.2 million mini-farms in the process.
Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and UNICEF Bangladesh signed a US$8 million agreement on Sunday to help reduce preventable deaths in children and women by improving maternal, newborn and child health interventions. The donation will be used over four years to provide an integrated package of priority health interventions that will cover an estimated 6.4 million people, including pregnant women, children under-5 years old and women aged between 15-49 years.
The government has undertaken a massive mechanization scheme to boost crop production using modern farming methods and machineries. To this end, a project has been launched to provide 38,200 farm machineries among farmers in 217 Upazilas along with 30 per cent development assistance; provide technical training to 1800 rural mechanics; organize a national and 15 regional workshops; and set up a testing laboratory to examine quality of farm machineries.
Bangladesh has procured a high-tech, multipurpose marine survey vessel from Malaysia to conduct stock assessment of its marine resources, especially fish resources in the Bay of Bengal. The vessel, equipped with latest technology for fisheries and other oceanographic research, has been built by Malaysia and is 37.8 meters in length. The vessel will be handed over to Bangladesh by mid of next month and will greatly help conducting research on fisheries and other marine resources.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives