March 05, 2015
Bangladesh’s expert earnings rose 5.46% year-on-year to US$ 2.51 billion in February 2015. According to data by Bangladesh’s central bank, export earnings in the first 8 months (July-February) of current fiscal year stands at US$ 20.31 billion. During the same period, the country also saw rise in its remittance inflow. During July-February of 2014-15, it received 7.63% higher remittance amounting to US$ 9.90 billion, up from US$ 9.20 billion during corresponding period of previous fiscal.
The government is going to purchase 10 ships from China and Italy at a cost of US$ 355.8 million under state arrangement. Of the ships, four will be bought from Italy to improve the naval capability of Bangladesh Coast Guard. The rest six will be purchased from China National Machinery Import & Export Corporation (CMC) for Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC). The cabinet committee on purchase on Wednesday approved the two separate proposals for purchasing the ships.
Chief Minister of India’s West Bengal Mamata Banerjee has written to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assuring him of her full support in resolving all bilateral issues with Bangladesh including the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement. In a related development, PM Modi sent a letter to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina expressing his willingness to visit Bangladesh soon. The letter was handed over to Bangladesh PM by Indian Foreign Secretary Dr. S Jaishankar on Monday.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali said that the government would tackle BNP-Jamaat’s violent extremism with its characteristic resilience and determination. He added that BNP-Jamaat was out to destroy the non-communal, non-confrontational and pluralist identity of Bangladesh. Since 5 January 2015, 85 people have been killed and more than 1600 injured in blockade violence, of whom 60 were burnt alive by BNP-Jamaat arsonists.
No one is above the law. Unfortunately, while this is a time-tested universal principle, it is one with which the BNP Chief Khaleda Zia is not acquainted. Since two corruption cases were filed against her in 2008 and 2011 respectively, she has managed to appear in court in only 7 of the 63 days the court sat for hearing. Due to her evasive tactics rather than properly defending allegations against her, a Dhaka court recently issued arrest warrants against her to compel her presence in court.
BNP has managed to bring yet another shame for the country on the international stage. On Wednesday, US court sentenced the son of a top USA BNP leader to three and a half years in prison for bribing a FBI special agent to collect information about a prominent political leader in Bangladesh. This comes in a series of lies, frauds and questionable conduct by BNP that has been exposed by the national and international media in recent times revealing the shallowness of their activism.
Growth and Development
The European Union (EU) has increased its development grant assistance to Bangladesh for 2014-2020 timeframe by more than 70%. €690 million will be provided to Bangladesh as grants from 2014-2020, up from €403 million that the country received from EU between 2007-2013. The funds will focus on three sectors vital for poverty alleviation and inclusive, sustainable growth: democratic governance, food and nutrition security, and education and skills development.
The World Bank (WB) has pledged strong support for Bangladesh to achieve the goal of becoming a middle-income country by the end of this decade. Annette Dixon, WB’s Vice-President for South Asia region, stated this while visiting Bangladesh this week. She added that her institution would help Bangladesh clear bottlenecks that impede faster growth and connect to regional and global markets. She also praised Bangladesh’s progress in reducing poverty and advancing human development.
As part of the current government’s vision of a Digital Bangladesh, a cyber-city and a high-tech park will be built in Chittagong. According to State Minister of ICT Division, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, the government has undertaken a plan to build a cyber city on a 98-acre stretch in Bakolia and a high-tech park on a 300-acre piece of land alongside the CUET in Raozan. Also being implemented is a “Learning and Earning” project to provide three-month long training on freelancing to youths in Chittagong.
Qatar will recruit 150,000 workers from Bangladesh this year. Already visas for 50,000 workers have been issued in last 2 months and a further 150,000 people will be recruited for implementing different development projects ahead of World Cup 2022. The recruiting companies will bear the expenses of the workers and the fees of the recruiting agencies. This positive development resulted after the recent visit to Qatar by Bangladesh’s Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister.
According to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 developed by MasterCard, Bangladesh has come out 18th among 100 top destinations for Muslim travellers from around the world. In a related development, the government has announced that 2016 will be the year of tourism in Bangladesh. To that end, they have embarked on a mega plan to develop present and potential attractions for foreign tourists in Bangladesh at a cost of US$ 25.6 million.
Government has launched the “Ghorashal 3rd Unit Re-Powering Project” involving nearly US$ 323 million to add 246 mega-watt power to the national grid. The project, to be completed by December 2017, involves a 260.3 MW gas turbine generating unit, gas booster compressor and auxiliaries diesel generator, rehabilitation and modification of existing 210 MW steam turbine generating unit, procurement of heat recovery steam generator, a combined cycle power plant and maintaining old plants.
The government will set up the country’s second high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) sub-station at Bheramara, Kushtia. This will facilitate the import of additional 500 MW electricity from India. It will be set up next to the existing Bheramara HVDC sub-station. Electricity will be added to the national grid via sub-stations at Ishwardi and Khulna. Bangladesh has applied for financing from ADB for the costs of the project and has already invited bids from eligible bidders.
Bangladesh government has launched a new streamlined application procedure for visa, work permits and representative offices for foreign investors, aiming to boost investment in Bangladesh. The new procedure will enable Board of Investment (BoI) to provide fast-track services to investors. According to International Finance Corporation, World Bank’s private sector wing, this new procedure move will improve the country's investment climate and reduce time and registration cost by 40%.
The European Union (EU) is interested to invest in a number of industries in Bangladesh, including information technology (IT) and shipbuilding. The EU ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayadoun stated this last Thursday as Bangladesh and EU signed an agreement on aviation to boost connectivity. In a related development, Sweden too has expressed interest in making large investments in IT, pharmaceuticals, leather, and shipbuilding and furniture sectors.
Bangladesh has donated $1 million to the International Organization of Migration’s (IOM) emergency fund. Bangladesh Foreign Minister handed over the cheque to Director General William Lacy Swing on Wednesday. The D-G thanked the minister for the contribution and said it symbolised the growing partnership between IOM and Bangladesh. He also applauded the active and substantive role Bangladesh was playing in advancing role and rights of migrants in international forums.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has shown interest to work together with Bangladesh in sensitizing young people about its activities. The visiting Deputy Prosecutor of ICC James K Stewart conveyed the message to Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali on Sunday. The Deputy Prosecutor appreciated Bangladesh’s engagement with the court and showed interest for further engagements particularly in enlightening youths about what the court does and how it functions.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives