March 12, 2015
Bangladesh scored a stunning 15 runs victory against England on Monday to proceed, for the first time in history, to the knock out stages of Cricket World Cup, eliminating their opponents from the tournament in the process. Batting first, Bangladesh scored 275 banking on a century by Mahmudullah, the first ever century for a Bangladeshi in a world cup match. Chasing, England was bowled out for 260, with fast bowler Rubel Hossain clinching 5 wickets. Following Bangladesh’s march to the quarterfinals stage, the entire country erupted in spontaneous   celebrations.
According to MasterCard’s Index of Women's Advancement 2015, Bangladesh has made significant progress in women's employment thanks to better education and wider opportunities. Since 2009, the country has gained more than 80 points in overall employment, making particular improvements in such aspects as regular employment, female participation in workforce, tertiary education enrolment and women in leadership. Bangladesh fared better than many of its Asian neighbours.
US based technology giant Dell has commented that Bangladesh is an impressive example of what can be achieved if government’s goodwill and a skilled workforce work together. They applauded the rapid development of Bangladesh’s ICT sector under the current government and expressed their commitment to stand as a partner in the country’s goal of becoming a technologically advanced ‘Digital Bangladesh”. In particular, they highlighted the effective use of ICT in education in Bangladesh.
Growth and Development
According to the Labour Force Survey of 2013 by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), by the end of 2013, the total labour force in Bangladesh stood at 60.7 million, up from 56.7 million in 2010. During the same timeframe, 4 million new jobs were created due to increased economic activities in non-farm sectors, recording an entry of 1.3 million new workers annually. Between 2010-2013, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3% from 4.5% and gainful employment rose to 58.1 million from 54.1 million.
Construction work of the four-lane Dhaka-Mymensingh highway is expected to be complete within June this year, with 96% of the work already having been completed. The Mawna flyover, built at a cost of over US$ 9 million at Sripur intersection will also be open to traffic on the first week of April. According to Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, the government is overseeing the implementation of the project on a priority basis. The highway upgrade consists of four separate projects.
Under a project involving around $16.5 million, the government of Bangladesh has targeted to produce 3.5 milliion tonnes of fish by the end of 2015. The project is aimed at providing training to the private sector hatchery owners to increase production of fishes. The target is to increase market value of fish production from $6.4 billion in 2013 to around $6.7 billion in 2015. In order to boost production, the government has already set up 120 hatcheries across the country to provide training.
Bangladesh on the International Stage
Bangladeshi journalist Nadia Sharmeen has been honored with the 2015 US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. US First Lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom presented her the award in Washington on Monday. She was attacked on May 2013 by activists of Hefazate Islam (a group of radial zealots), while she was covering their Dhaka siege programme. The group is an ally of opposition party BNP who supported that siege.
A television commercial made in 2014 by Bangladesh government’s Tourism Board titled “Beautiful Bangladesh – Land of Stories” to highlight the various tourist destinations, has won the diamond award in the prestigious travel trade fair ITB-Berlin 2015. It won the award under the best film category. Chief of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Faruk Khan received the award on behalf of the board on March 5. The video can be viewed here.
Power and Energy
Bangladesh is negotiating with India to get at least 2,000 MW more electricity by 2018, of which 1,500 MW would come from Rangia Raota of Assam and 500 MW from Baharampur of West Bengal. Currently, the country is importing around 500 MW of power from Baharampur and is set to get a further 100 MW this year from Palatana, Tripura. Bangladesh is also set to sign a deal with GMR India to import 500 MW power from two hydropower projects it is currently constructing in Nepal.
The government has selected three international firms from Japan, India and Netherlands for building the country’s first onshore Liquefied Natural gas (LNG) terminal at Matarbari in Maheshkhali Island. The evaluation committee of Power Cell has now sent these names to the Power Ministry and International Finance Corporation, World Bank’s private sector wing. The selected firms will now be requested to submit final proposals with details on costs, equipment and technology.
Social Justice and Equity
World Economic Forum (WEF) has cited Bangladesh as one of the shining examples of successes in gender empowerment. It has stated that economic empowerment of Bangladeshi women through such means as micro-loans has given them a voice that has played a role in boosting the quality of life not just of the women themselves but entire households, resulting in the sharp improvement in the country’s social indicators, such as female education, life expectancy, children’s health and so on.
Bangladesh’s central bank has issued licenses to four commercial banks to operate agent banking in areas of the country where conventional banking has not yet reached. Of the four, two banks have already started recruiting agents at the grassroots level to offer banking services. The other two are going to launch the service soon. The central bank initiated the process to bring the large portion of the population still out of traditional banking services within the official banking stream.
Environment and Conservation
The government has started a process to bring 6,538 hectares of land and 621 km from nine coastal districts under a social afforestation programme as part of the “Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project” financed by Bangladesh Climate Change Resilient Fund. The plan would contribute to the national economy; help maintain the balance in ecology, environment, and biodiversity and reduce risks of natural calamities and desertification.
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has urged the global community to work together in different global negotiation forums on climate change. He stressed the need for a “holistic approach” while speaking at a meeting in Geneva on ‘Human Rights and Climate Change’ on Thursday organized by Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). In a related development, the government has launched a website on climate change to act as a hub on all relevant information on the subject.
Trade and Investment
A trade delegation from Sweden arrived in Bangladesh on Monday for a three-day visit to explore business opportunities in such sectors as infrastructure and transport. The delegation, comprised of such brands as Ericsson, Scania, Volvo, ABB, Flir, Hifab, Indpro and others, met government representatives and various government agencies and boards, as well as private companies. At the moment, trade with Bangladesh accounts for 0.06% of Sweden's total exports and 0.18% of imports.
Bangladesh government is undertaking a number of plans to boost influx of foreign investment. As part of the plans, the Board of Investment (BoI) will arrange a number of road shows and meetings abroad to highlight the country’s business potential. In the third week of April, roadshows will be held in UK, Netherlands and France, while a similar event will be held in the third week of April in Japan. The Bangladeshi delegations will comprise of government officials and private entrepreneurs.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives