April 09, 2015
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has sought assistance of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the formulation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is primarily due to the robust contribution of the Premier in the formulation and implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). PM Sheikh Hasina is one of the few world leaders still in power when the 15-year MDGs campaign was initiated in the year 2000, making her experience that much crucial when the world community adopts the SDGS in September this year.
According to statistics by Bangladesh Bank, the country received $1.33 billion in March 2015 as incoming remittances, which is the highest in six months. This is principally due to the fact that migrant workers are finding jobs abroad in large numbers. The amount is 12% higher than in the previous month and 3.41% more than the same month a year ago. March's receipts take the fiscal year's total to $11.25 billion so far, which is a year-on-year increase of 7.21%. Bangladeshis going abroad for jobs rose 29% to 45,319 in March compared to February.
Despite the nearly three months long BNP-Jamaat violence, the country has witnessed 2.98% growth in its export earnings in the first nine months (July-March) of the 2014-15 fiscal year, as per data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). The country earned $22.9 billion from exports during this period against $20.31 billion in the previous corresponding period. In the month of March 2015 alone, exports witnessed 7.43% export growth, compared to same month of previous year. The growth in the midst of unrest signifies the resilience of the country’s export sector.
The government has approved an amendment to the India-Bangladesh Trade Agreement that will facilitate trade with third countries by using India’s land, water, and rail routes. The amendment will enable Bangladesh to transport goods to and from any third country like Nepal and Bhutan using India’s highway, waterway and railway. India can enjoy the same facilities to trade with a third country through Bangladesh. According to Cabinet Secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, the two countries would mutually determine the fees for the facilities.
Khaleda Zia recently returned home after confining herself in her political office for more than 3 months, putting to rest any doubts whether she was free to do so or not. During this period, under her instructions, or at the very least, with her tacit support, her activists and her allies in Jamaat-Shibir carried out an unprecedented campaign of arson, vandalism and bombing, claiming more than 130 lives, and causing the economy billions of dollars in losses. The question that naturally needs to be asked now is what did she gain from all these mayhem?
The government has decided to construct a separate railway bridge on the Jamuna River parallel to the Bangabandhu Bridge to facilitate smooth regional railway communication with neighbouring countries. The Ministry of Railway has recently sought approval of a $1.2 billion project to construct the bridge with dual-gauge double-track provision from the Planning Commission. The proposed bridge will ensure smooth railway communication both inside and outside the country. Once approved, officials expect the bridge to be built by December 2020.
Work is progressing on a $600 million rural electricity project aimed at ensuring reliable electricity supply to rural areas by increasing power generation capacity, reducing system loss and improving and expanding distribution networks. The project, funded by the World Bank, will also support substations as well as upgrading existing lines in the rural areas of Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions. It will also enhance the distribution network capacity to make the lines ready for carrying additional electricity when power generation will increase in the country.
The government will provide a total of 90 million Smart NID (national identification) cards to the country’s citizens under the Identification system for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEA) Project. The World Bank is supporting the government in strengthening the NID system through the $195 million IDEA project to establish a secure and reliable NID system in Bangladesh for efficient, inclusive and transparent service delivery. The cards will have robust security features and their production is expected to start by June 30.
In continuation of warm economic relations, India has offered Bangladesh another Line of Credit (LoC) worth around $1 billion. The visiting Secretary of Indian External Affairs Ministry, Sujata Mehta disclosed this to Bangladesh Finance Minister AMA Muhith this week. The Minister stated that the amount would be used in Bangladesh’s health and education sectors. India granted Bangladesh the first $1 billion LoC in 2010, the single largest soft loan from any nation, during the visit of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The government has initiated a move to provide refinance of more than $25.6 million to the country’s shipbuilding industry, considering its potential to emerge as a major export earner. The export Promotion Bureau (EPB) has already requested the ministry of commerce (MoC) to take necessary measures for the refinances. Bangladesh earned US$440,000 in fiscal year 2013-14 by exporting ships and plans to capture 10% share of the global market amounting to $30 billion in the future. 350,000 people are directly or indirectly employed by this industry.
Under a new scheme, government plans to bring 35.7 million of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens under social safety. The National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) is supposed to start next fiscal year. The plan will require more than $4.7 billion, 20.5% more than the current allocation for this purpose. The aim of the NSSS is to ensure proper spending of government funds, reach out to those most in need of such handouts, and stopping leakages by bringing in all 145 social safety net schemes under a comprehensive programme.
The government is going to adopt a policy to provide financial assistance for ensuring admission of the poor and meritorious students to schools and colleges. Another policy is being framed to give financial support to the students in case of sustaining critical injury in any accident. These policies are aimed to ensure admission of poor and meritorious students to schools and colleges and to reduce dropout rate of the students and would be funded via the Prime Minister's Education Assistance Trust Fund established in 2012-2013.
According to data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), export of readymade garments (RMG) rose 3.16% year-on-year to $18.62 billion in the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year. During the same time, RMG exports to non-traditional markets grew by 7%. In the month of March alone, exports rose 7.43% year-on-year to $2.59 billion. Other sectors also experienced growth during this nine months timeframe, namely: export of jute rose by 6.62% to $652.84 million and home textiles by 3.47% to $592.45 million.
According to the newly appointed Chinese envoy to Bangladesh Ma Mingqiang, foreign direct investment (FDI) from China will see phenomenal boost when the planned economic zone for Chinese investors starts operations. Bangladesh is likely to see a Chinese FDI growth of 50% as more and more private companies in China are interested to look at Bangladesh to invest, especially in sectors like quality leather. Dhaka has already completed acquisition of land for a separate economic and industrial zone in Chittagong for Chinese investors.
Oman will hire more Bangladeshi workers, especially for their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector. The Omani Minister of Manpower Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser expressed this to Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam during his visit to Oman this week. During the latter’s visit, an MoU was signed between the two countries to hold regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) to strengthen ties in politics, economics, agriculture, technology, culture, science and education, ICT, and a number of other areas.
India and Bangladesh have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in fighting maritime crimes. High officials of Indian Coast Guard and Bangladesh Coast Guard held a meeting in New Delhi on Monday to explore ways to fight all forms of maritime crimes. Several key issues like training for Bangladesh Coast Guard personnel, maritime search and rescue, arms smuggling and response to marine pollution were discussed. Bangladesh delegation will be briefed on the shipbuilding industry in India before they leave.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives