April 23, 2015
Addressing a plenary session 11 of the 2nd Asian-African Summit that began at Balai Sidang Jakarta Convention Centre, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina revealed that a farewell to hunger and terrorism would lead to the path of resilience among the nations. Pointing out durable peace and security as precondition for sustainable development, she said that the volatile global security situation continues to pose a significant challenge to international development. On the sidelines, she also joined in five bilateral meetings with her Japanese counterpart Sinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Ping and three other heads of different states.
The people of Bangladesh are living longer, reflecting a significant progress in the country’s health and population status. Life expectancy rose to 70.1 years in 2013 from 69.4 years in last year, according to the findings of the Sample Vital Resignation System. Experts attribute the progress to overall economic development, expansion of health services, better access to telecommunications and a rise in literacy rate. The survey also found remarkable drops in under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality rate.
In the wake of recent reopening of labour market by Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh is projected to see a record rise in remittance inflow this year. According to a world bank report, the country holds the largest diaspora savings, among the low-income countries, with savings of around $9.5 billion as bank deposits in destination countries. In the current fiscal year, the remittance inflow stood at $11.25 billion in first nine months (July-March), an increase of over 7% from last year, stated a central bank report.
Owing to intensified diplomatic efforts demonstrated by the government, as many as 337 Bangladeshis, who remained stranded in the war-torn Yemen for weeks, returned their home safely last week. Although the country has no diplomatic mission in the troubled Middle Easter country, the government successfully managed to agree India and the IMO to rescue these stranded nationals. On Sunday, two special flights of Biman Bangladesh Airlines carried them home from India.
Social Justice and Equity
A wide range of visionary government policies, devised by the Bangladesh Bank to lift up poverty, led the country to bring 60 percent of adult population under basic financial services. Introduction of many such initiatives like mobile financial services and agent banking have resulted in this expansion. Elated at the progress, Queen Maxima of Netherlands, who is also a special adviser to the UN Secretary General on Financial Inclusion, expressed her interest to visit Bangladesh to see the growth.
Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Greg Wilcock reiterated his country’s commitment to provide Bangladesh with further financial and technical assistance in different social protection programmes. Appreciating the massive progress Bangladesh achieved in graduating ultra-poor from the poverty line, the envoy promised to extend further humanitarian assistance and income generating opportunities for women and families in remote parts of the country.
Trade and Investment
The government came up with a series of timely initiatives including a huge tax rebate for hi-tech parks investors in a bid to draw foreign investors and ensure soaring cash inflow. According to a proposed incentive packages, investors in the technology parks will be entitled to full waiver of corporate tax income for 10 years and many other tax incentives. In another landmark feat, Dhaka will offer permanent resident permits investing $75, 000 and citizenship for $500,000.
Thailand emerged as another potential manpower market for Bangladesh, thanks to the intensified government efforts to diversify the labour market abroad. Both of the countries are about to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU). In another related development, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for country’s female workers.
Infrastructure and Mega projects
Bangladesh will get fresh financial assistances from World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to reshape the country’s transport, energy and infrastructure sectors. ADB is doing spadework to enhance financial support for Bangladesh in order to meet Bangladesh’s mounting energy demand. WB, on Sunday, agreed to increase its assistance to develop the country’s transport and energy sector.
China has offered Bangladesh soft loans of $15-20 billion to help the latter expand and revamp railway networks across the country. Initially the government has intended to develop eight major projects using the fund. Meanwhile, train journeys to and from Chittagong got faster with the inauguration of a 61-kilometer double-line on the route.
International and Regional cooperation
Visionary government policies have helped Bangladesh draw highest ever assistances from Japan for economic and social development. Japan contributed to Bangladesh’s effort to realize MDG in areas such as poverty reduction, primary and professional education, maternal and child health care and supply of safe drinking water.
Over the last week, Bangladesh and India had undertaken a wide range of mutual agreements to boost trade, growth, power and culture. Bangladesh approved an agreement to export 10 gigabytes per second bandwidth to India. Both of the countries have also agreed to extend the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade. In next June, Dhaka will host the India-Bangladesh book fair. Indian Power Grip Crop approved a project to setting up fiber optic communication system with Bangladesh at an estimated cost of RS 120.72 crore.
Appreciating efforts in combating terrorism and violent extremisms, the Netherlands government expressed its interest to explore the possibility of deepening bilateral cooperation in the UN peacekeeping operations. The Netherlands’ foreign Minister Bert Koenders made the revelation recently. In another related development, Interpol promised to provide need-based training support for Bangladesh police.
Digital Bangladesh
According to a new global study, Bangladesh outperformed all the South Asian countries including India in providing fastest internet for its citizens. In the world reputed Ookla net index, the country secured the 99th spot, moving up 39 notches from last year. Cost reduction, expansion of bandwidth business both by public and private companies, an increase in mobile internet users have contributed largely to the rising net speed.
Bangladesh has decided to join the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, a new international cooperation platform to promote protection for the internet ecosystem. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali announced this while speaking at the Plenary Session of the Global Conference on Cyberspace.
In an effort to make the promise of Digital Bangladesh a reality, the government set up a 'dashboard' to monitor online teaching and learning at multimedia class rooms in 20,500 educational institutions across the country. Access to information (a2i) Programme of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) will create a technological platform for the judiciary.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives