April 02, 2015
Bangladesh’s foreign currency reserves reached a record $ 23.05 billion on Tuesday, almost 20% higher than $19.23 billion in the same day of previous year. The central bank attributed the record reserves to a stable inflow of remittances and export earnings, satisfactory flow of foreign direct investment and foreign currency borrowing by the private sector. The reserves first crossed the $23-billion mark in February this year and are currently enough to meet import bills for more than six months. Bangladesh is ranked second in South Asia for foreign exchange reserves.
A French-Japanese Joint Venture (JV) between the companies Alcatel Lucent and NEC will construct the country’s second submarine cable station in Kuakata of Patuakhali, which will serve as an alternative to the existing submarine cable and ensure uninterrupted and secure ICT services to people of Bangladesh. Apart from increasing the country's Internet bandwidth, the second submarine cable, known as SEA-ME-WE-5, will help the country earn additional revenue by providing restorable circuits to the clients.
Under the Emergency 2007 Cyclone Recovery and Restoration Project (ECRRP), the World Bank is helping Bangladesh construct at least 330 new cyclone shelters in cyclone prone areas by 2017. Under this project, 136 multipurpose disaster shelters that double up as primary schools during non-emergency situations have already been built. Further, repairing of 260 kilometers coastal embankment out of targeted 450 kilometers has been completed in different areas of the country. The project is making lives of coastal people safe and resilient too.
The first phase of Dhaka Elevated Expressway construction will begin in June as the issue of compensations for land acquisition has now been completed. The expressway will add to the capacity of the north-south routes and act as a bypass route for Dhaka commuters. The proposed expressway starts at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and runs alongside New Airport Road via Mohakhali, Tejgaon and Moghbazar to Kamalapur Railway Station before connecting with Dhaka-Chittagong highway via Sayedabad and Jatrabari areas.
Construction of tunnel under Karnaphuli River would begin in December this year. The government would sign a deal by June for appointing a consultant for the tunnel, to be built at a cost of US$ 1 billion. The tunnel will connect Chittagong Port City directly with other side of the Karnaphuli River and indirectly with other parts of the country through Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Highway, ushering in a new era of inter-district and regional connectivity. The indicative length of the proposed tunnel is 2000 meters approximately.
International tender for constructing country’s first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, has been floated with anticipated launch in 2017. Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has already paid $5.6 million or 20% of cost to Russia-based Intersputnik as the first installment of purchasing the orbital slot for launching the device. The government expects to sign an agreement with the main satellite contractor in September this year. Only satellite companies with at least 15 years of experience can compete for the contract.
Bangladesh has been portrayed as an attractive destination for recruiting quality human resources by the leading Middle-East newspaper, Arab News. In its report, Arab News stated that the government of Bangladesh has enacted several laws and regulations as well as taken various other measures to promote safe and decent migration for Bangladeshi nationals. They also highlighted the steps undertaken by the government to ensure quality of human resources including policies, skills development initiatives and rigorous selection processes.
Government owned and operated Bangladesh Railway (BR) will build an inland container depot (ICD) in Gazipur to facilitate the transportation of readymade garment (RMG) production directly from the factories in the district to the port city of Chittagong. According to the Railways Secretary Md Mansur Ali Sikdar, the ICD in Dhirashram, Gazipur would make the transportation of RMG goods by freight trains easier compared to road transportation, which will not only benefit RMG producers by cutting down costs and delay, but would also serve to boost BR's revenue income in the coming days.
The government has approved two projects with combined cost of $205.4 million for importing a further total of 600-megawatts (MW) electricity from India. The first of the two, the $180.4 million Bheramara-Bahrampur grid interconnection project, would enable Bangladesh to import 500 MW power from India. The other one, costing $25 million, involves erecting a line from India’s Tripura to Comilla and building a sub-station on the Bangladesh side to import 100 MW power from the Palatana Power Station. Asian Development Bank is providing around two-thirds funding.
The government is working to create 12.1 million new electricity connections within 2015 by setting up 323,000 kilometers (KM) of transmission line and 650 sub-stations. Already 270,000 KM line and 639 sub-stations have been set up through which 10.7 million people can be brought under electrification. The target is to set up another 355,000 km transmission lines and 800 sub-stations to provide 13.3 million connections by 2018, and further 15.6 million connections by 2021 by setting up 390,000 Km lines and 1086 sub-stations.
Bangladesh has been highlighted as a new frontier market and a secure place to invest at the five-day Asian Investment Conference 2015 held at Hong Kong from March 23-27. The Bangladesh delegation presented such information to the participants as being included on the frontier markets list with 35 other countries, having Standard & Poor's stable rating, presence of National Industrial Policy, encouraging comments form World Bank’s 'Doing Business Report 2014' and steady rise in FDI that exemplify the country's growing business potential.
Bangladesh and Myanmar are considering signing a preferential trade agreement (PTA), which has the potential to elevate both-way commerce to a new high. The Bangladesh Tariff Commission has recently carried out a study on the prospect of such an accord and the conclusions are mostly positive in this regard. It has now been sent to the Commerce Ministry for further scrutiny. In a related development, Bangladesh and Iran have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to help boost exports by removing existing trade barriers.
According to its latest country report on Bangladesh, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has stated that the country is likely to witness higher rice (especially of boro variety) and wheat crops in 2015 than last year, principally due to increased plantation and higher yields. The report noted that adequate water supplies, coupled with overall good input availability including fertilizer, seed as well as adequate power and diesel for irrigation, benefited planting operations and crop development for farmers.
The UKAID-funded 'Alleviating Poverty in North East Bangladesh' (APONE) project has been providing farmers with technical knowledge and funding in Mymensingh and Sherpur districts. The project has encouraged farmers to be in groups and collectively raise their demands and voice. The project, in its three years' duration, has directly benefitted 8,130 farmers, 6,000 households and 300 service providers. As a result, farmers have doubled their annual incomes. At least 40% of the beneficiary farmers are women, with 30% of them from ethnic minority groups.
Bangladesh and Philippines have agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, including trade, blue economy, fisheries and aquaculture and defence. Both sides reached the agreement at the first Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) held in Manila last week. With the successful holding of the first FOC, the two countries hope to take existing bilateral relations to a new height. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed to formalise the regular FOC between the two countries.
Last week, the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Ignacio Ybanez Rubio came on an official visit to Bangladesh to discuss various bilateral issues. During the visit, Spain expressed its interest to invest in Bangladesh’s infrastructure, especially transport, and power and energy sectors. The high-ranking official also expressed his country’s gratitude for Bangladesh's support to Spain for being elected as a non-permanent member of UN Security Council. He praised Bangladesh’s sustained economic progress and steps taken to combat terrorism.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives