Aug 13, 2015
Bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Vietnam are set to elevate to a newer height as Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung pledged to revitalize the economy and deepen the cooperation in boosting up development, security and defence and combating transnational crimes and irregular migration. The announcement was made when Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid flew to Vitenam last week. Both of the countries resolved to take the annual bilateral trade at a staggering US$1 billion by 2016.
Expressing deep condolence over the suicide bomb attack on a mosque in Saudi Arabia, and expressing worry over killings of bloggers in Bangladesh by violent extremists, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated her commitment not to allow anyone to do politics over people's religious sentiment. She commented that anyone committing crimes in the name of religion will not be spared and expressed optimism that Bangladeshi people would continue to practice their non-communal ideology.
The Digital Bangladesh Taskforce was formed to guide government’s vision to transform Bangladesh into a technologically advanced country. This week, in the second meeting of this high-level committee headed by the Premier, some historic moves were devised to further accelerate digitization, including, expanding e-tendering process, ensuring internet for all educational institutes, appointing international business consultants, and encouraging local assembly of digital devices.
After the milestone being achieved in elevating the country into a lower middle income status, the Awami League led government has now embarked on another mission to take the next giant leap in delivering its promise to build a hunger and poverty free Bangladesh. Under the next five year plan, seventh of its kind, the target has been locked to bring down extreme poverty rate to 8.9% from the existing 12.9% in the next five years and empower the country to bid farewell to the menace of hunger and poverty forever within 2030.
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has announced to oversee the finance of six mega projects worth of US$12 billion in Bangladesh that is expected to make revolutionary uplifts in the country’s connectivity. The assistance will be spent on constructing such projects as 61 bridges across the country and the city's building security and local development projects. A deal between JICA and Bangladesh is likely to be signed next month.
The nation’s vision to transform the garment industry into a $50 billion industry is set to mark another giant stride to become a reality as the government has unveiled new plans to build two more garment villages including one in the port city Chittagong. Currently a Chinese firm is developing the village at Munshiganj at a cost of $2.3 billion to house more than 200 factories. Meanwhile, efforts are underway to set up a specialised bank for the garment industry to provide easy loans for entrepreneurs.
The country has witnessed incredible gains in realizing its dream of getting the first High-Tech Park with the government coming up with a varied assortment of measures to boost foreign investment there. International standard business facilities and financial incentives including tax exemption for 10 years are being offered to draw more local and foreign investments. Meanwhile, the government struck a deal with another local company for investment of $25.8 million on the newly established park.
Given that the ever growing export led industries are encountering stiff battles to secure international markets, the government has drafted a new export policy that recommends inclusion of international testing centers, first of its kind, across the country that would oversee only quality goods being exported. According to the draft, tourism, architecture, engineering and consultancy services are proposed to be made as special development service sectors also.
According to Export Promotion Bureau, software exports in Bangladesh witnessed a 6.27% rise last year, with the total earnings reaching to $132 million from $124 million in 2014-15. However, experts feel that the export amount would have been greater had the BNP led alliance, upon the directives of Khaleda Zia, not unleashed a reign of terror during the 91 days of blockade between January and April. Moreover the government’s policy of “One Bangladesh, the Next Five Years Vision of Bangladesh Software and IT Services Industry” also helped in this regard.
In a bid to open up a new sports horizon for the capital dwellers, Abahani, one of the leading sports club in the country, has embarked on the task of building a sports complex fully equipped with modern facilities on its Dhanmondi field in a span of next two years. Named after the club’s founder, younger brother of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a known sports organizer of his time, the Sheikh Kamal Krira Complex will look to bring health, sports, and social recreation under the same umbrella.
Satellite clinic service has been launched in four former enclaves for enrolling eligible couples and providing logistic support and advice them for developing planned families through birth control and maternal health care. In a daylong camp, the officials first enrolled 130 capable couples, of whom 106 couples expressed their desire to adopt family planning methods in phases. Pregnant women of the enclaves would get priority for normal delivery in nearby union family welfare centers.
About a million ultra-poor families in different districts are getting assistance for improving their economic status, especially in the field of poverty alleviation and for improving nutrition over the last 7 years. That milestone, revealed in an international conference this week, has been achieved under the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina coupled with many other development partners stepping out to assist the government.
ICDDRB, a leading medical research facility in Dhaka, will establish an urban health surveillance system to monitor and improve the health of over 30,000 households (HH) in Dhaka city and Gazipur. This surveillance system will collect data on fertility, mortality, migration, marriage and divorce, family planning, violence against women, morbidity, car sickness, health expenditure and impart knowledge of health problems among slum dwellers of these urban areas. Information will be used for making policies, allocating resources and delivering services.
Headed by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Cabinet has sanctioned the draft of the national nutrition policy that aims to ensure nutrition for mothers, children, adolescent girls and the poor people. The objective is to provide better nutritious food to people, particularly mothers, adolescent girls, children and the deprived and to improve the quality of lives to expedite national development. The National Food and Nutrition Policy (NFNP) was formulated in 1997, during the previous Awami League government.
During a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali joined ASEAN Regional Forum meeting where he reiterated Bangladesh’s pledge to remain open, expand and explore the horizon of regional cooperation so that the mankind could inhibit a better planet. Meanwhile, amidst the recent wave of risky illegal immigration stories, Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur on the sidelines, have agreed to closely work together for a permanent solution to the protracted problem.
Bangladesh has extended its efforts to help the lives of flood hit people of Myanmar, chocking into a worst ever humanitarian crisis by the recent devastating floods, with the allocation of a varied assortment of assistances. In response to the call for international aid made by the neighbouring government, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina immediately initiated measures to stand beside Myanmar. On Saturday, a consignment of medicine and supplies reached the country.
Owing to the intensified diplomatic efforts, as demonstrated by the government, Malaysia has given approval to hire more Bangladeshi workers who have relevant education and basic training for employment in a wide range of sectors. The workers will also be groomed up by the employing firms before engaging them in relevant fields and sectors. Last June, the key destination for manpower landing consented to employ 1.5 million in sectors including plantation, construction and manufacturing.
Bangladesh's apparel exports to the USA bounced back in the first quarter of the year, thanks to political stability and safety drives, helping the country regain confidence of buyers. According to the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) under the US Department of Commerce, shipment of local garment products to its single largest destination reached US$ 2.68 billion during January to June of 2015, reflecting a 9.47% growth.
An investment summit focusing on Bangladesh will take place in Singapore on September 1 as international investors have been expressing a growing interest in the country. The Bangladesh Investment Summit, Asia will examine the trade and investment opportunities for Asia's sovereign wealth funds, public and private pension funds and other financial investors in Bangladesh's markets. It will delve into the backstory to underpin the opportunities by examining merger and acquisitions prospects.
The Bangladesh government is close to approving an $88 million project to set up a special economic zone for Indian investors in Mongla and Bheramarha as the first venture of the $2 billion line of credit given by India. To this end, works are progressing first to formulate a Development Project Proposal (DPP) soon. Concerned authorities are instructed to consider it as a fast track project and expected to initiate the required measurers to make it a reality within 2017.
Bangladesh Bank has widened its anti-money laundering initiatives beyond financial institutions, in a bid to effectively put it in check. The central bank has now asked real estate developers, precious and semi-precious stone businessmen, jewelers, consultants, lawyers and accountants to abide by the rules and regulations stipulated in the money laundering and terrorism prevention laws. Businesses and professionals will have to develop their own policies on their anti-money laundering measures.
Bangladesh and India have reached a consensus to bring down border killings to zero level and ensure a peaceful atmosphere in the frontiers with the number of such tragic deaths coming down significantly since Awami League came to power. The pledge was made at the biannual BGB-BSF conference held in India's New Delhi last week. Issues of trans-border crimes, stopping arrest of Bangladeshi citizens in border areas, preventing illegal trespassing, prevention of illegal migration and human trafficking were also discussed.
According to the regulatory commission reports, the internet bandwidth price has brought been down to US$35 per unit now from US$ 337.5per unit (in megabyte per second or Mbps scale) in July 2008. The mobile internet bandwidth price is reduced to 30% on average in last one year. There are some 48.3 million internet users in the country, according the regulator, whereas some 46.8 million users are connected over mobile.
Bangladesh’s oldest public university has launched the largest e-Library in Asia that will connect the university with 35 internationally renowned libraries and publication houses in the world. Dhaka University teachers, students and researchers will be able to read all journals, books, research papers and articles of these leading libraries, including Oxford University and Cambridge University libraries, by using the e-Library facilities.
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