Aug 06, 2015
According to a recent report, as commissioned by Citibank NA, Bangladesh economy will continue its march to secure a 7% growth this year with the country's macroeconomic situation and investment prospects marking a significant progress. In the update, the US bank pointed out several government measures including setting up economic zones and ports, and bringing in necessary policy and regulation changes. The investment to GDP ratio will rise to another 2.5%, reflecting another healthy outlook that elevated the country to the lower middle income status.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, one of the most perplexing border disputes lasting for 70 years officially ended as India and Bangladesh began the exchange of over 160 enclaves following the historic land boundary agreement signed and ratified earlier this year. This act will have a major effect on the lives of more than 52,000 people who didn't have citizenship for decades. In her congratulatory message to the new citizens, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has pledged to take necessary steps to ensure those people gain access to schools, electricity and farm loans.
In yet another testament to transform Bangladesh into a developed economy, the Awami League government has planned to launch two special funds totaling $500 million for promoting investments ranging between medium and long term in manufacturing units and green projects. Of the total amount, $300 million fund would come from World Bank that would help the manufacturing sectors earn long term investments while Bangladesh Bank will fund the rest to make sure manufacturing units maintain environmentally sustainable output processes and practices.
Last week, Prime Minister Sheikh Haisna formally received the FAO ‘Achievement Award’ bestowed upon Bangladesh, in recognition for the landmark progresses in fighting hunger and undernourishment. The award mentioned that Bangladesh reached the MDG target to curb country's population sufferings from undernourishment by at least 50% or to bring it below 5%. According to the latest Demographic and Health Survey, stunting of under-five children has been reduced to 36 %, while underweight reduced to 33%, well below the MDG target.
BTRC, the national regulator of telecom service, reveals that mobile subscribers in Bangladesh is marking a 10 million rise each year as users of mobile catapulted to a staggering 126.86 million, up from 116.55 million last year. In addition, 48 million people currently have access to internet and regularly adopting that service. Over the last six years, the government has initiated and is implementing a varied assortment of visionary policies that uplifted the country to reach such a stride and maintain the astonishing march to build technologically advanced Digital Bangladesh.
Infrastructure and Connectivity
ABD has given a positive response to a financial proposal to upgrade three highways stretching about 1800 KM in Bangladesh to four-lane ones. The assurance came when the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader held a meeting with the bank's president Takehiko Nakao in Manila. To that end, an ADB feasibility study was now at the final stage and will be completed soon. On a similar note, the government has taken steps to widen Dhaka-Sylhet highway as its next four-lane project to facilitate traffic movement which is likely to increase in near future.
A wide range of revamp, reconstruction and upgrade work has been devised for the railway sector to bring further improvement in rail services-most economical transport facilities for passengers and freights. With a $200 million assistance from ADB, the government has initiated steps to procure 214 carriages and 10 engines. Meanwhile, intensified efforts have been made to initiate a study on the prospects of establishing railway networks through the entire Barisal region, yet to be connected with outside districts.
With Chinese assistance, the government is going to launch a project to build the country's largest exhibition centre involving around US$128 million on 20 acres of land. The permanent establishment named as "Bangladesh-China Friendship Exhibition Centre" will be built at Purbachal, on the outskirts of the capital, and would also be the house of Dhaka International Trade Fair. The Chinese Government would provide the lion’s share as grant while the government would give around US$ 20 million from the national exchequer.
The government has taken up a US$ 256 million project aiming to streamline service delivery system, especially construction of roads, surface drains and waste management in 50 municipalities. Improvement in municipal services and environment and expansion of the opportunities for income generation activities in urban areas to boost revenues of the local bodies are the ancillary benefits this project will bring. In addition, urban centers will get a strong connectivity with the national and regional communication networks.
Bangladesh Bank has unveiled its monetary policy for the first half of the current fiscal year, keeping policy interest rates unchanged eying to push up the growth further. The special feature is pointed out as the proposed move to focus on reducing money supply to control inflation with the target for augmenting money supply has been fixed at 15%. Governor Atiur Rahman said this new policy will help restrain inflation by avoiding unnecessary loans and strengthening the stability of the macro-economy.
Export earnings from the country's eight export processing zones grew by 10.69% year-on-year to $6.11 billion in the last fiscal year. The industrial units housed in the EPZs contributed 19.75% of the country's total export earnings of $31.20 billion in last year. Enterprises in Chittagong EPZ exported the highest – $2.39 billion — while factories in Dhaka EPZ fetched $2 billion. As of June the cumulative export stands at $46141.16 million and thus reflects a rising trend, higher than ever, in the earnings because of the planned efforts of the government.
As part of stepped up efforts to pursue the country's vision of exporting $50 billion worth of garment items and help become a premium brand in the globe by 2021, BGMEA is organizing a three day exposition on apparel products and safety equipments to provide the global retailers with an ideal opportunity to meet the country’s clothing manufacturers. The local apparel manufacturers will be introduced to a wide range of safety equipment. Only after China, Bangladesh has emerged as the second largest apparel exporter with a whopping $25 billion export industry.
The Board of Investment, in its latest report, unveils that investment proposals both from local and foreign entrepreneurs registered a 29.0% surge, in 403 industrial units, during the second quarter this year. Of that, the foreign investors placed proposals worth US$ 4.27 billion, with the rest being proposed by local investors, which in terms of value was 104.41% higher than the proposed amount during the same period last year. As many as 73 thousand 542 jobs in the newly registered 403 industrial units will be created once these proposals are implemented.
Lives of the flood hit people have been turned around, thanks to a special relief programme the government has devised and implementing across the county. In a prompt response, 11,000 tonnes of rice has been disbursed and a huge chunk of money, as special allocation, was distributed to help the affected people mitigate their plights as soon as possible. Over the last few days, 400 tonnes of rice were distributed for Cox's Bazar, 225 tonnes for Bandarban district, and 400 tonnes for Chittagong district.
The government plans to build houses for the urban poor living in slums to raise their standard of accommodation. Under a pilot project, five municipalities of the country will be selected to build houses for such 1,500 families. The World Bank has pledged to provide US$ 80 million for implementation of the five-year project. Now the designing and feasibility study of the project is going on. People living in urban slums, and other low income earners will have the chance to purchase those flats, paying in installments spread out over 20 years.
Power and Energy
In an effort to make the promise of ensuring electricity for all by 2021 a reality, the Rural Electrification Board chief declared to connect 3 million consumers by setting up 30 thousands more power distribution lines. Over the last five years, the REB has installed 34,3487km distribution lines while as many as 2,223 villages have been provided electricity through installation of 2.4 million new connections. 90% of the off-grid area would be covered by 2021 and more than 0.8 million applicants would be given connections soon.
After a four-year break, the government decided to resume export of natural gas condensate (NGC), on higher receipt of the spinoff from increased gas production. Power and energy experts stated that the decision to reinitiate exporting condensate was necessary to ensure uninterrupted production of natural gas in different gas-fields across the country. Currently, the average condensate production stands at around 8,800 barrels per day, which is set to increase significantly in future with the increase in overall natural gas output.
Road connectivity between Bangladesh and Nepal is set to explore a new horizon as the countries have agreed to introduce a bus service between the two capital cities. The decision came at a meeting between Road Transport and Bridges Minister of Bangladesh Obaidul Quader and Nepalese Physical Infrastructure and Transport Minister Bimalendra Nidh. Discussions were also held on implementation of Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement and further advancement of the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement.
Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are set to further strengthen the already warm and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on holding regular Foreign Office Consultations (FCOs). An understanding was reached in this regard this week when State Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam met his Saudi counterpart at Jeddah on Monday. During the meeting, the astonishing socio-economic progresses Bangladesh has achieved in the last few years under the current government was aptly highlighted to the Saudi delegation.
French Ambassador-at-Large for Climate for Asia-Oceania Philippe Zeller has acclaimed Bangladesh’s significant role being demonstrated to unite and awaken major countries to combat the ever growing risks of climate change. During his recent visit to Bangladesh, the scholar termed Bangladesh as a bridge between the developing and developed countries and hailed the progresses the country made working for decades in the COP framework. “We highly recognise how efficient Bangladesh is in terms of domestic solar solutions for example”, he added.
Bangladesh witnessed a series of revolutionary steps being introduced last week in realizing its vision of Digital Bangladesh before the 2021 deadline. The government purchase process is set to go digital as a recent move being made to get consultancy services valued at upwards of US$ 1.28 million in digitised format. Introduction of e-services in public offices have also increased transparency, improved governance, reduced costs of obtaining government services for under-served communities while digital labs have been helping teachers provide better eductaion.
With assistance from a reputed global cyber security firm, the government has undertaken the task of developing a timely and modern "National Cyber Defence and Cyber Security Doctrine" to fight such menaces as cybercrime, intellectual property theft, industrial espionage and IT infrastructure abuse. This is being done under the World Bank funded LICT Project of Bangladesh. Norwegian cyber security consulting firm NRDCS is being appointed to establish a "National Computer Incidents Response Team (CIRT)" for Bangladesh in three stages.
Highlighting the need to address the positive developments of the country, ICT Adviser to the Prime Minister, Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed participated in a Q&A and discussion session titled "Let's Talk" arranged by Centre for Research and Information. This particular session focused on Bangladesh's recently recognized lower middle income country status and the way forward towards higher middle income country by 2021 and transforming the country into a developed one by 2041. The participants comprised of students, activists, professionals, researchers and young achievers.
Kazuhiro Watanabe, who translated ‘The Unfinished Memoirs’ of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman into Japanese language, presented a copy of the Japanese version to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday. Thanking the translator for his heartfelt efforts, the premier said this initiative would provide an opportunity for the Japanese to understand Bangabandhu. Having a long career in NHK, Watanbe is now serving as the Chief Programme Director, Bangla Section, Radio Japan.
After conducting a six years long scientific research, Dr. Harun-or-Rashid, a senior scientific officer of BINA discovered three new bacterial species in Bangladesh that creates nodule in the lentil crops and increases productivity of it. Meanwhile, BRRI has developed a second breed of zinc-rich rice, named as BRRI dhan72, which grows faster, gives better yield and is of better nutritional values than its predecessor. That second aman variety was developed two years into the release of the world's first biologically fortified (bio-fortified) high-yielding variety zinc rice.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives