Aug 27, 2015
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for a united and unyielding approach among the Muslim nations for stopping the violence being inflicted upon several such countries and leading them to settle their disputes through talks in light with the true essence of Islam that safeguards peace, harmony and tolerance. The Bangladesh Premier came up with the view at a meeting with Secretary General of OIC Iyad Ameen Madani. Mr. Madani praised Bangladesh for its various peace initiatives.
Last week, UK Minister of State for International Development, Desmond Swayne, came to Bangladesh on a three day visit. During his stay, he applauded Bangladesh's successes in accomplishing the MDGs and empowering women. The Minister also appreciated Bangladesh's strong voice on behalf of developing countries to argue on climate change impacts. During his stay, announcement was made that UK would provide Bangladesh with 3 million pound as flood assistance.
Bangladesh has become the first country to get funds from the United Nations (UN) for its fast growing solar home systems (SHS), which are not only lighting up houses in off-grid villages but also showing the world the way to a low-carbon future. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) issued 395,286 carbon credits worth €3.56 million to two Bangladeshi organizations: Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL) and Grameen Shakti, last week. Government funded IDCOL's SHS programme has seen the fastest penetration rate of any solar home system in the world.
Hopes are on the horizon that development cooperation between Bangladesh and China will elevate to a newer height as Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Huchen expressed his country's interest to invest about US$350 million in Bangladesh's multiple sectors for product diversification, value addition as well as boosting exports. This was expressed during his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose government he termed as an integral development partner of his country.
Nation’s vision to attain the landmark of securing 7% GDP growth is set to gain momentum with Bangladesh Bank embarking on a plan to allocate US$ 2 billion fund for financing necessary infrastructure development. In 2014, at the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a total of eight mega projects were fast tracked for the first time that have reportedly been progressing fast overcoming all barriers. The new move is yet another testament of the government’s vision to change the progress of the nation.
The process has started for forging a contract with a Chinese company to implement the aim of setting up the country’s first floating oil terminal in the sea near Maheshkhali Island at a cost of US$703.18 million. Moreover, under a government to government agreement, another Chinese state-owned company has agreed to fund and help implement a big project worth US$255 million aiming to modernize and expand facilities at Mongla port.
Progress of Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the largest infrastructural undertaking by the country so far, is brisk. As part of the fast moving construction process, the first-ever consignment of boulder stone reached Bangladesh recently and boosted up works. Due to the priority placed, the project has already seen 23% construction done. Once completed, this much awaited bridge would connect the entire southern Bangladesh with the capital.
To further modernize and strengthen the country's railway network, the government struck a deal with one of India's leading rail construction companies to construct a railway bridge over the river Rupsha involving US$ 137.47 million. Moreover, alongside the Rupsha bridge, works are progressing fast to set up a new railway track on a stretch of 64.75-kilometers from Khulna to Mongla port.
Growth and Development
The growing number of capital dwellers will get improved sewerage facilities soon, thanks to a development project being initiated by the government costing US$ 423.6 million The "Dasherkandi Sewerage Treatment Plant" plans to treat the sewage using modern method with the capacity of treating 500 million liters sewage per day alongside construction of one sewage lifting station. Last week, the approval for this major project was given by the country's top economic body ECNEC.
Through a video conference, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, simultaneously has inaugurated nine bridges in country's five divisions including the Sheikh Russell Bridge in the tourist area Kuakata. Those were constructed on the districts' major roads creating enormous opportunity for socio-economic development of the people of the areas. Under the Eastern Bangladesh Development Project, a total of 18 large bridges are being constructed while as many as 61 bridges will be built in the western part.
The livelihood of people of the Southern region stand to be improved as the government has initiated steps to construct two more special economic zones on 604 acres of land in two districts namely Barisal and Bhola. On account of the gas reserves in Bhola, the government would also set up a 250 MW power plant and fertilizer factory in the district town.
Social Justice and Equity
In line with the government's promise to ensure former enclave people gain access to all major civic services, the Access to Information (a2i) Programme, under the supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has launched four digital sub-centres that will allow the residents to enjoy digital services for the first time. All the newly established centers will make sure the people of the area can get services like registering and getting birth certificates digitally, making phone calls, browsing internet and taking digital photographs.
With an aim to merge the people from remotest areas into the mainstream, the central bank has launched US$ 25 million refinancing scheme to provide loans to them for buying live stocks in the riverine island (char) areas at very low rates. According to Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman the government is providing them support with health services, primary and vocational educations and access to finance, to elevate the living standard of the people higher and enable them to contribute to the economy speedily.
A new project was launched by the Netherlands aiming to ensure better health for apparel workers in Bangladesh that would also increase their productivity. Initially, the three-year project would be implemented in 14 factories in Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar. Once implemented, it would be a bridge between the local NGO clinics and the factory so that workers get health services when they need, particularly during pregnancy and delivery. In the last two years, Bangladesh has made major reforms in the sector.
Power and Energy
The country’s first ever Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Ltd has started functioning this week through its first board meeting to develop the 2,000 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), under the Ministry of Science and Technology would own the company. The company would start functioning by setting up a new office in Dhaka and preparing an organogram to start manpower recruitment.
Supported by the current government's green energy policy, a total 170 megawatt solar power is being generated in the national off grid zones. Use of solar power in Bangladesh is the fastest growing technology in Asia and it is still expanding. The annual growth of generating solar power is 17% which is transforming lives of the rural people and helping farmers to irrigate crop lands. Till July this year 4 million solar home systems (SHS) and two hundred solar irrigation pumps (SIP) are generating power through solar panels.
International and Regional Cooperation
International prestige of Bangladesh's role on the global stage is set to become brighter as the headquarters of two international organisations will be set up in capital city Dhaka. The organizations are South Asian Regional Standards Organisation (Sarso) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec). The decision to set up a Sarso headquarters was taken during the Saarc summit in 2008, and establishing the Bimstec headquarters was taken during the annual summit held at Myanmar last year.
Bangladesh is going to sign a development cooperation agreement with Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to improve human rights, democracy, rule of law and independence of judiciary in the country. Under the deal, SIDA will give Bangladesh $213 million during a six-year period till 2020 to make improvements in the aforesaid areas. In addition, poverty will be addressed in all its dimensions through policies and plans, and in its patterns of public expenditure.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is expected to give $250 million more to help continue capital market reforms of Bangladesh. The proposed third capital market programme (CMDP-III) represents a continuation of previous works carried out. Negotiation for the fund is on and likely to be finalised by next month. After the agreement for the CMDP-III, $80 million will be disbursed in the first installment and the remaining $170 million by December 2017.
Bangladesh will build a 23-kilometre road from Gundam in Myanmar towards Kunming to connect with China to establish cross-border transport link among the three countries. According to Bangladeshi Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Bangladesh will build 23-km road out of 170 kms which reaches from Gundam to Kunming as part of regional connectivity initiatives. Bangladesh is also planning another TK 540 million project to build a road from Bangladesh to Myanmar via Ukhia and Bandarban.
Trade and Investment
Bangladesh's apparel exports continue to rise further. In the recently concluded financial year, readymade garments export to Japan increased 14.02% to $652.55 million partly due to relaxed rules of origin for Bangladeshi knitwear. On a similar note, garment exports to China rose 26% year-on-year to $304.24 million in 2014-15 fiscal year as demand for low-priced basic clothes is still high among middle-income customers. This is in line with the general upward trend the sector experienced last year.
A new customs law in the making holds out a bunch of beneficial provisions for local traders including an easy and automated trade clearing provision from the ports. The law, which is planned to be placed in the upcoming parliamentary session next month, incorporates provisions under which traders can expedite release of goods from ports upon giving prior declaration. The new law will also offer an accelerated customs processing and speedy release of perishables, goods imported by air express courier companies, and emergency disaster relief.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives