Jul 23, 2015
After a month of restraint and reflection, Muslims in Bangladesh celebrated the holy Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival, on Saturday, amid religious and cultural vigor and enthusiasm. Socio-political stability and economic solvency along with favorable law and order situation across the country were the litmus of the holy Eid this year. On the occasion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the nation as well as the Muslims across the world. In her message, the she called upon all to practice the teachings of Eid in personal, social and national lives.
According to a latest economic outlook by Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh’s stronger than expected growth has outweighed a disaster hit slowdown in Nepal and will lead the South Asian economy to grow at 7.3% this year. The latest official estimates show Bangladesh in 2015 would see growth coming in at 6.5%, up from 6.1% as recorded in the previous year. Growing number of industries, healthy remittance inflows and a conspicuous spike in investment have accounted for that milestone.
A Bangladeshi physicist, M Zahid Hasan, of Princeton University led an international team to the discovery of an elusive massless particle theorised 85 years ago. The particle could give rise to faster and more efficient electronics because of its unusual ability to behave as matter and antimatter inside a crystal. Reported in the 16 July issue of the Journal Science, the particles, if applied to next generation electronics, could allow for a nearly free and efficient flow of electricity in electronics.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the International Crimes Tribunals, Bangladesh (ICT-BD), initiated to try the war criminals of 1971, set a new footprint in international criminal justice by ensuring open, fair and impartial investigation and prosecution. Referring to the International Crimes Tribunals Act, 1973, the premier said that the people of Bangladesh has taken the initiative to ensure justice for millions of victims of the heinous crimes committed during 1971 and these trials vindicate Bangladesh's contribution to international criminal justice.
After graduating the country to the lower middle income status, the Awami League led government is now eyeing to elevate the country to the middle income status in 2018. In a recent report, the Finance Division has expressed optimism that the country is on the right track to make necessary gains in three criteria to reach that milestone. This is yet another testament to the government's commitment of doing everything necessary to transform the country for the better.
Bangladesh has made some landmark gains in transforming the ship building industry as the Inland Water Transport Corporation has recently added two new vessels, built by a local company, to its fleet. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the vessels last week while over 1000 passengers can be accommodated which would help transport the ever growing number of travellers on waterways. The company, Western Marine, has built passenger ships for the government body earlier too.
Aiming to provide better service on its domestic routes and also on some short distance regional ones, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, has decided to procure more new generation turboprop aircrafts to it fleet. With that inclusion, the national flag carrier will resume its full-fledged domestic flights this year while the number of aircraft in Biman fleet goes up to 12. Currently, domestic flights were operated on a limited number of routes, including Dhaka-Chittagong-Dhaka and Dhaka-Sylhet-Dhaka routes.
US conglomerate General Electric has embarked on a plan to expand its investment further in gas-based electricity generation projects in Bangladesh. GE sees the government's target to achieve 39,000MW power generation capacity by 2030 as an opportunity and intends to support new projects. Currently, gas-based power plants account for 65% of electricity generation, which is expected to increase with the renewed focus of the government to develop offshore blocks and open onshore blocks.
Last week the country secured major achievements centering the installation of its first nuclear power plant at Rooppur, as the Russian state owned nuclear power agency Rosatom reached an agreement to strike three deals in this regard. Under the deals, Rosatom will be charged with the responsibility regarding disposing of the spent fuel and another one was related to the maintenance of the power plant. To this end, one technical team had flown to Moscow on July 21 and another one will fly on July 25.
In an effort to tap into the immense prospects and spur the growth of the country, the government has offered a wide range of lucrative incentive packages for investors and developers of the country’s economic zones. Under the package, the investors will get a 10-year tax holiday while 12-year tax holiday was approved for the developers. To avail the benefit, they will have to receive Taxpayers Identification Number and maintain book of accounts and file income tax returns regularly.
Economic ties between Bangladesh and Belarus received a major boost, as a 16-member business delegation led by Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu made a two-day visit to the country. During the visit, discussions were held with Belarusian officials on importing the machineries to Bangladesh and possibilities of manufacturing those tools under joint venture. The delegation also visited some major factories and introduced potential entrepreneurs about incentives that the government has initiated.
In a landmark development, France's development agency AFD has proposed making Bangladesh's readymade garment (RMG) industry green while ensuring factory safety and standards of products. According to the AFD proposal, it will bankroll 120,000 Euros as grants to conduct the study on the country's main export-earning sector while a pre-feasibility study will be done for urban development and coastal town protection. So far, AFD has invested in a couple of major development projects.
As part of stepped up government efforts to strengthen the country’s disaster management, a group of Japanese expert imparted training to engineers of PWD and other organizations on retrofitting technology in last four years. The government has taken another capacity building project titled Building Safety Promotion Project (BSPP) with the technical support of JICA. Under the new project the Japanese experts will also offer training to build landslide, flood, surge and climate change resistant buildings.
Bangladesh has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Australia in order to forge a strong alliance to combat the menace of money laundering and terror financing. The MOU will facilitate cooperation and the exchange of information between the two countries. With the signing of the MoU Bangladesh's official cooperation in anti-money laundering and terror financing rose to 36 financial intelligence units in different countries.
In order to minimize the risk of maritime containers being exploited for illicit drug trafficking, Bangladesh, with assistance from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization(WCO), made fast track progress in the implementation of a joint Container Control Programme (CCP) at Chittagong Port which handles nearly 14.5 million tons of cargo annually. To that end, a Port Control Unit was established and the staff are trained and equipped to systematically target suspect and high risk containers for further law enforcement scrutiny, with minimum disruption to the free flow of legitimate trade.
Taking a landmark step forward in harnessing the enormous potentials of the blue economy, India’s National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Dhaka University will make a historic cruise to the EEZ in October this year. The zone extends up to 200 nautical miles while the scientists are upbeat over the cruise as the EEZ of Bangladesh has never been studied. It will be a multi-disciplinary oceanographic expedition which will cover all disciplines of Oceanography.
Agriculture and Food
Bangladesh is going to get the long-awaited Plant Variety and Farmers’ Right Protection Act 2015, formulated to protect the country’s authority on plant varieties, as it will be placed before the Cabinet for approval next month. A Plant Variety and Farmers’ Rights Protection Authority will be established for issuing registration and licences to the breeders. Moreover, the new developed varieties will be termed as protected varieties and breeders will get exclusive rights to commercial use of seeds of those varieties.
In order to give a firm push to ensure private banks including foreign banks meet agriculture financing targets, the country’s central bank have directed those banks to deposit the undisbursed funds meant for agriculture financing. No interest will be paid on these funds and they will remain blocked. Latest Bangladesh Bank statistics indicate that the banks could achieve only 72 % of their agriculture finance targets in 2014-15 by disbursing various kinds of farm loans worth Tk 102.02 billion.
Bill payments through mobile phones have shot up in the last couple of months as operators increased their focus on such services. People paid $19.43 million in utility bills through mobile phones in May, which marks an 11.85% rise compared to April, according to central bank data. Proliferation of mobile phones and vast distribution channels make mobile payments a natural choice over other alternatives. Customers are enjoying the scope to pay mostly utility bills such as electricity, gas and water.
In the wake of planned government efforts to realize the dream of Digital Bangladesh, PayPal, a global leader in e-commerce, has agreed to launch its operation in Bangladesh. Most of its services, especially its online payments systems, will be available here within this year. Last week, the state minister for ICT Division held a meeting with Vice President of PayPal in San Jose, California where the former explained in details the government's policies & regulatory reforms and business opportunities.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives