Jun 18, 2015
During a six-day personal visit to London, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was accorded a reception by Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of All Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh, attended by 30 British MPs. In addressing the reception, she renewed her pledge to continue working for a poverty free Bangladesh. She also listened to her niece Tulip Siddiq MP, give her maiden speech in the House of Commons. She also addressed a civic reception given by the UK Awami League, during which she highlighted the need to maintain good relations with neighbouring countries.
According to a latest survey by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), a staggering 89% Bangladeshis expressed their satisfaction over the power supply situation in 2014 under the Awami League government. Titled as “Perception Survey on Electricity Supply 2014”, it reveals that some 74.5% people posted their confidence on the government’s plan for further developing the power sector. This is yet another testament to people's faith on the current government's commitment of doing everything necessary to transform the country for the better.
Thanks to the introduction of a series of persistent and visionary economic policies by the current government, the inflation rate dipped to 6.2% in May from 7.04% a year before. This means that the government has reached very close to its target of bringing down inflation rate to a tolerable level. According to experts, factors such as favourable agricultural production, continued improvement in domestic distribution system, impact of restrained monetary policy and fall in food prices have all contributed largely to this attainment.
Impressed by the right environment and appropriate government assistance, Augmedix Inc, a Silicon Valley-based medical startup, has planned on creating a workforce of 7,000 people in Bangladesh in the next five years. The company’s Dhaka office provided back office solutions to software specialists and built the first application for Google Glass that enables doctors to access patient information. According to Pelu Tran, co-founder of the company, Bangladesh is in an advantageous position where 65% of the population is under 35 and very tech savvy.
Fast track progresses are being made in a series of mega projects devised to enhance and revamp the infrastructure capacity of country’s main economic corridor. A route along the existing highway has been selected for construction of the 217 Km long Dhaka–Chittagong express way. In addition, the expansion work to upgrade the existing route into a four lane one is expected to be completed by this year. Besides, construction of the much-awaited Karnaphuli Tunnel project will commence on October.
In their bid to get the construction work of the Paira seaport project, the governments of Netherland and Denmark have formed a consortium for funding and building the deep-sea port. To that end, they have sent a copy of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) of the consortium to Bangladesh. The MoU has proposed to establish the design, development and construction requirements, legal authority and permit requirements, the availability of Dutch and Danish government grants and other financial assistance and the required operations.
Growth and Development
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has signed a US$ 6.35 million grant agreement with UNICEF Bangladesh to help ultra-poor people get access to improved but affordable sanitation facilities. Under the project, commercial and social marketing techniques will be adopted while efforts will be undertaken to develop people-centered designs to develop products and services centering sanitation. Both the private sector and public actors are expected to respond to the needs and demand of the rural population.
In a significant development, Bangladesh has joined hands with Netherlands and the World Bank (WB) to implement the "Delta Plan 2100", a 100-year mega project to reduce climate change risks in Padma-Meghna-Jamuna floodplains. Creating a long-term vision for delta management, preparing for different scenarios and responses, facilitating sharing of knowledge and information among partners are the ancillary benefits of this partnership. Every year, Bangladesh gets around 1000 square miles of land automatically through various river systems.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated her government’s stance on initiating various multipurpose projects for generating electricity to bring all citizens under electricity coverage by 2021. Under her leadership, Bangladesh has witnessed electricity generation capacity reaching 13,265 MW, up from only 3,268 MW in 2009. Initiatives are now underway to construct 28 more power plants to generate additional 6,764 MW. Meanwhile, Rural Electrification Board (REB) has launched a programme to power up 90% off-grid areas within the next six years.
Country’s highest-producing gas field at Bibiyana, Sylhet has witnessed a 20% rise in its daily production, increasing the limit to 1,200 million cubic feet per day. That augmentation is set to raise the supply of the fuel in the energy grid. Moreover, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has said that Bangladesh had a total of 14.32 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas reserves until last March. Over the last six years, the government has raised the production to 2,700 mmcfd from 956 in 2009.
As part of its stepped up efforts to spur foreign investment in the country, the government has showcased the opportunities and incentives that Bangladesh offers to foreign investors at the Kunming Import and Export Fair in China. The fair highlighted Bangladesh's investment liberalization policy, which offers various encouraging incentives for private and foreign investment. On the sidelines, a business delegation from Bangladesh also displayed investment potentials in the China-South Asia Expo and the 10th China-South Asia Business Forum.
The intensified economic diplomacy, devised by the Awami League led government, witnessed a major success as India has agreed to provide 50 acres of land to Bangladeshi businesses to build a warehouse to ship apparel items directly to retail shops across India.The move will help garment makers meet their target of exporting $1 billion worth of products to India in the next three years. In another related development, BGMEA members have proposed establishing around 1,000 retail stores in various Indian cities to display and sell their products.
With a vision to bring underprivileged people into financial inclusion, the government has entitled the entrepreneurs belonging to transgender, physically challenged and all indigenous communities to get bank loans under the small and medium enterprise category. In 2013, the Awami League government first gave recognition to the transgender people as the third gender aimed at ensuring their rights, enabling them to identify their gender in official documents. That initiative has changed the life of at least 10,000 transgender people in the country already.
The Awami League led government, in 2009, has introduced gender budget, the first of its kind in the country, in order to realise its promise of strengthening women participation in the national development process. Over the last seven years budget allocation for women was increased about three times with an amount of $1.2 billion being proposed for the upcoming fiscal year. That allocation would be spent on ensuring empowerment of women and social dignity, increasing their productivity and enhancing scopes for women to get government facilities.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have mapped out a six-month action plan starting in July to establish a seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles across their territories involving, a project requiring $8 billion for implementation. Transport ministers of the four countries signed a deal in Bhutanese capital Thimphu identifying 30 transport corridors to be transformed into economic corridors. That move will potentially increase intraregional trade within South Asia by almost 60% and with the rest of the world by over 30%.
China has sent Bangladesh a fresh proposal to sign a deal for extending mutual cooperation centering Blue economy in the Bay of Bengal, emulating one previously made between Bangladesh and India. Bangladesh has begun to pursue Blue Economy as a foreign policy priority soon after it settled peacefully maritime disputes with India and Myanmar. Signing of the deal would usher in cooperation on Blue Economy and maritime sphere for capacity building, training and joint research collaborations.
As many as 8.6 million landless farmers are going to get back their rights to produce, save and exchange seeds of protected or patented crop varieties. To that goal, the government has drafted a law titled "Plant Variety and Farmers' Right Protection Act 2016," allowing the sharecroppers, the majority farmers of Bangladesh, to save and exchange seeds-protected or patented seeds but forbids any commercial sell. Farmers, in that drafted law, were defined as people who cultivate their own lands, or who employ others and grow crops under supervision.
The government has chalked out a total of 13 development projects across the country, aiming to achieve the target of producing 45.52 metric tons of fish at the end of 2021. Such projects will help boost fish production and meet the demand of animal protein. Bangladesh stands as the fourth major fish-producing country as it has raised production from 0.7 million metric tonnes to 3.5 million metric tonnes over last three decades. Fish fulfills 60% of the total animal protein demand, and 11% of the population directly or indirectly depends on this sector.
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan has expressed admiration for Bangladesh’s successes with mobile and agent banking services, saying he was eager to learn from the country’s experience. “I want to learn from Bangladesh especially how transactions are made easy using a simple mobile telephone set,” the RBI governor said. Such a landmark attainment has earned the country’s central bank a number of international awards. Under AL government, average mobile transactions reached a whopping $ 4 billion mark on a daily basis.
Through its visionary steps, the Awami League government has brought the nation closer to ‘Digital Bangladesh’, a party-promise unanimously trusted by the countrymen. In its continuation, a2i, an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Office, has developed a model to simplify the existing process to provide citizens with public services that would save their time, money and labour. Meanwhile, the government has undertaken another plan to set up computer lab at 2,000 educational institutions to extend language training facilities to the Upazila level.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives