Jul 16, 2015
According to a survey by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the people of Bangladesh are living longer, reflecting a significant progress in the country’s health and population status. Life expectancy rose to 70.4 years in 2013 from 65.2 years in 2005. Experts attribute the progress to steady economic growth, increased income, education and health awareness. The survey also found remarkable drops in under-five mortality and maternal mortality rates.
Over six years, Bangladesh has achieved a milestone with taking people’s participation in the economy higher than ever. The national dependency ratio dipped to 58% in 2013 from 66% in 2009 while the internal migration marked a meteoritic rise: it was 40.4 persons per 1,000 in 2013, from 30.9 in 2009. A conspicuous increase in the size of the working age population and the growing vibrancy of the rural economy have accounted for that attainment.
Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserve has bounced back on Tuesday as it crossed $25 billion mark again this week. A steady growth of export earnings and inward remittances contributed to the milestone while it will foot the import bill for next seven months. The robust and continuing growth of Bangladesh’s growing foreign exchange reserves is yet another testament to the health of the Bangladesh economy under Awami League government.
Bangladesh trounced South Africa by nine wickets in the 3rd ODI at Chittagong to win the 3-match series 2-1. A fantastic batting performance from the openers paved the path for a memorable series-win for Tigers, the first over Proteas. It was a clinical performance from the home bowlers, who teamed up well under Mashrafe Mortaza to bowl out South Africa under 200 in last two matches.
Power and Energy
According to a recent study by the Power Division, already 74% of the population has been brought under electricity coverage. In its continuation, processes are underway to procure a total of 1,32,577 spun pre-stressed concrete (SPC) poles, transformers and conductors for further electrification in rural areas. Moreover, Bangladesh will get 500MW additional power from India once the SAARC grid starts running within a year.
With a vision to ensure the country's energy security in the long run, Bangladesh, from next year, is expected to operate its first-ever floating LNG terminal, capable of supplying 500 million meter standard cubic feet LNG per day. To that end, the government would sign the final agreement with Astra Oil and Excelerate Energy Consortium (AEC) next September while another deal has already been struck in this connection.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
Aiming to turn Bangladesh into a regional shipping hub, the government has appointed a local-foreign consortium to build two key port infrastructures at the Mongla seaport at a cost of $52.75 million to increase the port's capacity nearly one and a half times. The consortium will build, operate and maintain the jetties for a period of 30 years. Of the total profit, 60% will go the port authorities while the consortium is expected to get the rest.
As her government’s Eid gift to the people of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated country’s highest highway in Bandarban, located at nearly 2,500 feet above sea level. Construction of the 33-kilometre (km) Thanchi-Alikadam Road involved $15 million while two other road projects was inaugurated last week. The development of road infrastructure would uplift all aspects of people’s development in the hill tracks including education.
Growth and Development
To give the public healthcare a major boost, the government has come up with a varied assortment of initiatives including introduction of helpline and stringent measure on entry of attendants of patients in public sector hospitals soon. In addition, involvement of local people in the management of district, upazila and union level public sectors hospitals will be enhanced. Those moves will make the healthcare accessible to the people of remote areas.
The government approved the construction of 520 flats in Mirpur costing US$ 305 million to sell them among low- and middle-income people. The flats, each covering an area of 1,500 square feet, will be housed in five 14-storey buildings while five bidders were selected for constructing the buildings and an amount of $85 million was allocated. The move coincides with the government plans to provide the low income people with housing facilities.
International and Regional Cooperation
Representatives from Bangladesh and heads of 30 different states have taken part at the third international conference on FFD to forge a new and stronger global partnership for sustainable development over the next 15 years. The outcome will be crucial for building momentum toward agreement on an ambitious post-2015 development agenda at a summit in September. Moreover, 1,000 civil society representatives will also attend the conference.
ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhter commented that Bangladesh has been moving in the right direction in exploiting "Blue Economy" and other countries should emulate those strategies. The Bay of Bengal connects Bangladesh with 334 million sq-km of the ocean area which warrants special attention in implementing SDA. Last year, Bangladesh hosted an international workshop where the premier reaffirmed her commitment to conservation and balanced development.
With the help from German Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Bangladesh has made significant gains in gathering, increasing and improving the available geological data that is necessary for the country’s urban planning. Launched in 2013, the joint German-Bangladeshi project analyzed the geo-scientific sub-ground conditions of the country. German Ambassador Dr. Thomas Prinz visited the geotechnical drillings in the city's Aftabnagger this week.
Country’s merchandise shipments to key North American and European destinations marked a conspicuous spike in the just concluded fiscal year compared to those in the previous fiscal, 2013-14. RMG exports to the US amounted US$ 5.783 billion last year, up from $ 5.583 billion in the previous year while 9.86% increase was registered in the UK shipment. Many other European countries including Spain, France also bought more products.
The government is eyeing to set the export target for the current year at $32.8 billion, up from $32.2 billion in the last year. To that end, over 150 goods and products of 14 categories will get cash incentive against their exports. Fish, frozen with ice, will get the lowest 2% while potato and agro-products will get the highest 20%. Exporters will get 3% cash incentives for exporting new products and exploring new market outside USA, Canada and EU.
Agriculture and Food
Bangladesh has launched greenhouse trial of a genetically modified (GM) cotton variety imported from China that effectively fights harmful caterpillar responsible for damaging cotton yields. It should be available within three years' time and has the potential to increase the cotton yields up to 20%. Meanwhile, the government released five new Aman varieties including two stress-tolerant paddy varieties last week.
Rice production in the low lying areas of Bangladesh has undergone tremendous growth in the last two years, owing to the government move to release some nine paddy verities that can brave floodwater. Drawing on from their previous year’s astonishing successes, the farmers have been showing growing interest in cultivating flood-tolerant paddy. Thousands, in the flood prone districts prepared seedbeds for expanded cultivation.
Digital Bangladesh
Mobile banking will get a further boost as the central bank proposes to channel all financial payments through mobile phones under stronger tie-ups between banks, cell phone operators and other service providers. The draft Regulatory Guidelines will turn every mobile phone into a digital wallet and spur branchless banking. Banks were given mobile banking licences in 2009 and on average US$ 54 million is transacted a day through that banking mode.
Bangladesh is considering inviting the American internet-based payment gateway PayPal to the country to ensure smooth and secured online financial transaction. To that goal, the government has launched a series of talks with the global online payment gateway operator in this connection. Around 0.6 million IT professionals are working in Bangladesh making the country a potential top destination for outsourcing by the global IT firms.
Through its visionary steps, the Awami League government has brought the nation another step closer to realise its goal of Digital Bangladesh. In light of this, the cabinet decided to slash the wholesale prices of internet bandwidth by up to 43% to dispose of its huge amount of unused bandwidth. Each megabit per second (Mbps) of bandwidth will cost around US$ 6 for a bundle of 20 gigabits, down from US$ 9 earlier.
Social Justice and Equity
A Japanese expert with local engineers conducted the systematic retrofitting construction work in a structurally weak factory building in Bangladesh for the first time. In 2013, the Japanese government initiated a project titled “RMG Sector Safe Environment Project” and created a $13 million fund for making the garments building safe. Under another project, 300 RMG factories applied for being assessed and 214 selected for the assessment.
The government has formed a fund of $107 million with financial assistance of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) to provide loans to small and marginal farmers at a low interest. The loan would be disbursed through micro-credit financing agencies (NGOs). Of the total fund, the JICA has given $ 97 million in loan assistance while the BB would contribute the remaining amount from own sources.
School feeding programme, initiated and supervised by the Awami League government, has gained steam as students' attendance and attention both have been going up at a record pace. The government and WFP are currently supporting some 3.3 million schoolchildren with high energy biscuits every day when they come to class. In the first phase, the programme expanded to all primary schools under 72 upazilas while the 2nd phase was started last year involving 30 million.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives