Sep 03, 2015
According to a recent report, as commissioned by McKinsey & Company, Bangladesh, will maintain its top garment sourcing destination status over the next five years and witness higher than ever number of global buyers streaming into the country that would result in a 7-9% growth year-on-year. In the last five years, the judicious leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned the country into the second largest hub globally and gave the nation a new vision to fetch $50 billion by 2021.
Fitch Ratings, a leading global credit rating agency, in a recent report forecasted that Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) would grow 6.5% in the current fiscal year while the economic outlook is rated to remain in a stronger state for the second consecutive year. Stable real GDP growth and persistently strong foreign-currency earnings have earned the country “BB” ceiling. Recently, Bangladesh has excelled to a lower middle income country and the government eyes to transform the country into a higher middle income one before 2021.
During a recent visit to Bangladesh last week, USAID acting Administrator Alfanso E. Lenhard has praised the country for accomplishing enviable successes in attaining many of the millennium development goals (MDGs), notably in health and women empowerment. Such landmark attainments, according to the expert, were achieved largely because of the implementation of multifarious initiatives introduced by the present government. He has pledged to open a new horizon of engagement with Bangladesh in various development fields and explore more opportunities in the post 2015 journey.
According to a survey conducted by the country's regulatory body, the number of active internet connections in Bangladesh has crossed the 50 million mark, revealing in the process that each year Bangladesh gets around 10 million people connected to the age of internet. Meanwhile, a FDIP report ranked Bangladesh second in terms of smart phone capacity scoring. In another stellar step towards building a technologically advanced Digital Bangladesh, the government has reduced wholesale bandwidth price by up to 43%.
At the height of her unyielding struggle and relentless work for the cause of mankind, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emerged as a leader beyond the boundaries. In recognition of her contribution in economically and socially developing Bangladesh, the Russian Academy of Sciences has decided to publish a book on her life and work in four different languages. The move is a part of an initiative undertaken by Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences to publish such books on the leaders of developing countries who are changing the world.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
In order to accommodate the growing flow of long-haul traffic, the government has decided to upgrade a stretch of 1752 kilometers of highways to four-lane from existing two-lane within a short period of time. It should be noted that the highways of Chandra, the gateway to north Bengal, has already been made three times wider than earlier while by-lane is being constructed there beside the highway. Meanwhile, works for expansion of four curves on south side of Bangabandhu Bridge are ongoing.
With the feasibility study reaching its final stage, officials of Dhaka Metro Rail project are optimistic about starting the construction works of the dream project from next February. Having stations at 16 spots, a total of 24 such trains would carry 60,000 passengers every hour to both directions. Envisaged by the present government, the $2.5 billion ambitious project is aimed at easing traffic congestion in the capital city through an improved, faster, comfortable and time-bound public transportation service.
Intensified efforts are underway to procure twenty more dredgers from abroad involving US$ 262.29 million, a move that will give steam to a newly initiated project to bring the endangered waterways back to its previous state. To that end, last week, the dredging of Meghna river, the water transport system on Dhaka-Narayanganj-Comilla route, has been started while plans are made to dredge a total of 14 lakh cubic feet soil on the 40-kilometre route.
Growth and Development
Over the last few years, world’s leading corporate houses have been flocking into Bangladesh in quest of software outsourcing, thanks to the innovative and industrious freelance engineers. According to the official statistics, Bangladeshi freelancers earned US$ 135.76 million in 2014-15 fiscal year, demonstrating a 6.5% growth from the previous fiscal's earnings of $128 million. With the under construction hi-tech parks, the growth stands to be further accelerated in the future.
A Chinese company has signed an agreement with Dhaka WASA authorities to finance the construction of Dasherkandi sewerage treatment plant that will ensure a better sewerage service for the capital dwellers. Involving US$424.82 million, the project, expected to become operational by 2019, will be able to treat sewage waste of as many as 12 areas across the city. The move coincides with a recently formulated master plan designed to develop a proper sewage service for the city.
Major advancements are being made to reviving the old glory of the golden fiber, jute, in Bangladesh. Earnings from the sector soared to $868 million from jute and jute goods exports in fiscal 2014-15, which is 5.34% higher than in the previous year. On impact, the price of raw jute in the local markets rose 13% to US$ 23 a maund (40kg) from last year, bringing back smiles on the faces of jute growers.
Social Justice and Equity
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) jointly with the UK's Department for International Development will provide financial assistance to 35,000 flood victims in southeastern region of Bangladesh. With the first payments beginning this week, WFP, has opened mobile bank accounts for the affected families which will receive an amount per month over the next three months. To ensure that the assistance reaches those most vulnerable, hotlines have been activated for participants to lodge their concerns.
As many as 150,000 burn patients would get treatment annually from the proposed 500-bed international standard burn and plastic surgery institute to be built by the government, which would also produce 15-20 specialists every year. The proposed burn institute would also train doctors on burn and plastic surgery subjects for enabling them to provide better treatment to burn patients across the country. Initiatives have already been taken to establish burn units at all government medical college hospitals in the country.
The adoption of raised plinths have again proved to be a real blessing for over 133,000 extremely poor families living in low-lying remote char areas on the Brahmaputra basin in effectively escaping the current floods. Moreover, properties and cattle heads were saved and shelters were given to the other displaced flood-hit people as their houses remained inundated in neighbouring areas. Under the comprehensive char livelihoods programme (CLP), plinths of 517,000 people belonging to 133,000 landless char households have been raised.
Trade and Investment
Four private borrowers, mostly from the power sector, got loans of $120.72 million from seven banks and financial institutions under an investment promotion programme of the World Bank. To that goal, the WB and the government jointly reviewed the implementation status of IPFF project. Since 2010, the WB has been implementing the project through Bangladesh Bank and till date the lender financed seven small power plants, an inland container terminal, three water treatment plants and a nationwide fiber optic cable network.
US-based KPC business group has expressed its willingness to invest in the construction of an international convention and an exhibition center under a township project at Keraniganj on a stretch of 95.5 acres of land. Out of 95.5 acres of land, 94.83 would be “khash” land while rest of the land would be acquired from private owners. Bangladeshi-origin US businessman Dr Kali Pradip Chaudhuri, owner of the KPC Group, is scheduled to meet Finance Minister AMA Muhith on September 7 to discuss the prospects further.
Policymakers, economists and private sector stakeholders last week convened at the Asian financial hub, Singapore, to present the lucrative opportunities for foreign investors across retail, industrial and consumer sectors in Bangladesh. The third Bangladesh Investment Summit highlighted the country's macroeconomic fundamentals, growth sectors, investment outlook, the associated challenges and the potential mitigations for the relevant investment.
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh and Mexico have agreed to start a dialogue to expand bilateral relations including strengthening trade and commerce. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) to that effect. Bangladesh and Mexico have also agreed to look into the possibilities of joint investment in ceramic, shipbuilding, IT, leather and pharmaceutical sectors. The developments took place during the recent visit to Mexico by Md. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Armed Forces and US Army Pacific began the sixth civil-military annual disaster preparedness exercise in Dhaka this week. More than 150 participants took part in a phased table-top exercise and 350 participated in a field training exercise of the Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange. The five day exercise reviewed and evaluated Dhaka city earthquake response plans, practice logistical and medical emergency scenarios, and identify current gaps in plans and procedures.
Climate and Environment
Bangladesh is set to prepare its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) with the projection of cutting more than 5% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. According to the draft INDC, the county will cut its greenhouse gas emission by 5% of the total emissions by 2030 under business-as-usual scenario without any condition. And it could cut up to 14% of total emissions during the period, if it gets cooperation such as modern technology and finance from the developed nations.
The government has decided to ensure the access to solar power for all the families in the now-defunct enclaves of the country’s bordering districts to meet their daily power requirement. Concerned officials said the solar photo-voltaic lantern system would be given to more than 7,600 families in the enclaves at a subsidized rate within next 2-3 months as these areas do not have any on-grid electricity supply yet.
Digital Bangladesh
China has announced to assist Bangladesh in designing and setting up a digital forensic lab. State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak has made the announcement during a recent visit to China. Responding to the state minister’s request to China of assisting Bangladesh in preparing a “digital security act,” the Chinese ICT industry minister assured him that his country would provide strong support in implementing “Digital Bangladesh.”
With a vision to bring down the public sector corruption to a zero level, the government has planned to introduce electronic government procurement (e-GP) or e-tendering system in all of its ministries and divisions by January next. The introduction is also expected to discourage the trend of taking work with much less than the tender time. To make the best use of public money and enhance transparency and accountability, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the national e-GP portal on June 2, 2011.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives