Sep 10, 2015
According a recent opinion poll conducted by the US-based research organisation, International Republican Institute (IRI), the ruling Awami League has gained an overwhelming trust of the people in Bangladesh with most participants saying the country is heading in the right direction. In the 18 months since being voted back to power in January 2014, support for the government and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reached 66 and 67% respectively. 88% respondents said they did not have to pay any bribe to get government services.
A recent survey commissioned jointly by, British Council, ActionAid Bangladesh and the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), revealed that, majority of Bangladeshis have expressed high optimism about the economy. 75% youths see the country as a more prosperous nation in the next 15 years and 60% think it is heading in the right direction. This survey is yet another testament to the prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that have ignited hopes to transform Bangladesh into a developed nation by 2041.
Major indicators of the economic health of Bangladesh continue to show positive and upward trends. The foreign currency reserves have registered a record rise, crossing the $26 billion mark last Saturday. The reserves now stand at $26.17 billion, up 17.9% year-on-year, enough to meet the country's import bills for more than seven months. Moreover, millions of Bangladeshi migrants remitted $1.19 billion last month, marking a 1.1% rise compared with the same month from a year back.
As part of stepped up efforts to increase the enrolment rate in schools, the government has embarked on a plan to provide a total of 5.2 million more meritorious students with stipends on a monthly basis. Under several government programmes, around 78,70,129 students are entitled to stipend facilities. Steps have been initiated to bring every student under the coverage of education at the primary level. After assuming power in 2009, the Awami League government, has devised and is implementing multifarious initiatives to eliminate the menace of illiteracy form the country forever.
In a span of six years, tremendous advancements are being made in country’s power sector resulting in an unprecedented level of power being generated and highest number of people brought under electricity coverage. At present, around 120 million Bangladeshis were given access to electricity while the daily power generation capacity has reached 13,000 MW. The government has set a target of producing 24,000 megawatts of electricity by 2021 aiming to light every house of the country.
The government has laid out a plan to revamp and develop the country’s land ports involving $85.2 million, aiming to give an impetus to the growing regional trade. Under the projects, infrastructure, warehousing facilities, transshipment and inspection system, customs control procedure, institutional and regulatory framework of most of the land ports will be developed. It will cut border crossing time at selected border points, explore more opportunities and push up the growth further.
Train journeys to and from country’s South-eastern region are set to get faster, as the 72-kilometre single track, Between Laksham and Akhaura, will be upgraded into a double track. With financial assistance from Asian Development Bank and European Investment Bank, construction is expected to begin next February and scheduled to end within the next 48 months at a cost of US$780 million. The improvement will also result in low operating costs for users and increase the country's competitiveness for investment.
In a bid to restore the navigability of the main rivers, the government has announced to initiate two projects involving US$372 million for the re-excavation of rivers, rehabilitation of embankments and river bank protection across the country. Under the project, canals with a combined length of 3,000 km will be excavated or re-excavated while embankments with a total length of 5,850 km will be repaired or rehabilitated. Moreover, preparations are underway to implement another project titled “Flood and River Bank Erosion Risk Management Investment Programme" for permanent solution of four waterways of the country.
Exports earnings of the country have marked further growth in the last month, with the total earnings reaching US$ 2.76 billion, marking a 27.7% rise from the same period last year. In the recently concluded fiscal year, Bangladesh earned some $31.22 billion by exporting goods while the government has set an export target of $33.5 billion for the current fiscal year. Stable political environment, setting up economic zones and introduction of a wide range of incentives have largely contributed to this success.
Landmark progresses are being made in realizing the nation’s dream to transform the readymade garment industry into a $25 billion one by 2021. As demonstrated in the findings of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh earned US$2.27 billion in August from exporting readymade garments, up from $1.71billion in same period a year ago. In July-August of the current fiscal year, RMG sector fetched $4.49 billion, which is nearly 6% higher compared to $4.23 billion in the previous year.
Hamburg Port Consulting, a German-based international port-consulting firm, has unveiled a master plan that will help the container traffic at the country's principal seaport in Chittagong increase nearly threefold to 5.1 million TEUs, inclusive of transit trade, over the next 15 years. Moreover, the master plan also projects that 5.4 million TEUs of container traffic will take place in 2040. Painting a crescendo of growth, it says in 2020 the traffic load will be 2.7 million TEUs and in 2025 it will be 4.4 million TEUs.
The government’s effort to streamline the vocational education gets further impetus as South Korea has pledged to offer a grant worth $8.5 million in this regard. The money will be spent on establishing a new academic building, a dormitory and for upgrading the existing workshops in the Rajshahi Technical Training Centre. Necessary training equipment will be provided and 18 instructors will fly to Bangladesh in order to train up 360 TTC instructors.
Hopes are on the horizon that the bilateral ties between Bangladesh and USA will hit a newer height, as the fourth round of talks between the two countries is set to start from September 11 in Washington. Regional cooperation, traditional and non-traditional security, counter-terrorism, military-to-military engagement, disaster management, cyber security and peacekeeping will feature in this annual dialogue. The Secretary (bilateral and consular) of the Foreign Ministry will lead the Bangladesh delegation comprising officials from different ministries.
Bangladesh and Australia will work jointly to restrain various inter-states organized crimes including terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber crime, money laundering, illegal arms smuggling, piracy and human trafficking. To this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed last week between Bangladesh Police and Australian Federal Police. It is widely expected that the MoU would increase the cooperation between the police of both the two countries and check the crimes. It could also help to extend the area of security of this region.
In the wake of the growing demand for power, the state owned Coal Power Generation Company has agreed to build two coal-fired power plants, each with capacity to generate 600 mega watts (MW) of electricity at Maheskhali Island, Cox's Bazar, The projects involve an estimated cost of some $4.6 billion. Construction of the two power plants is scheduled to start in March next year and the plants are expected to go for generation in August 2022. Moreover, two Japanese companies have been shortlisted to build the largest coal-fired power plant at Matarbari.
Preparations are underway to initiate construction of a 400 MW gas based combined cycle power plant. Once the project is completed, an additional 230 MW of power will be added to the national grid from the existing power generation capacity of 170 MW. To that goal, already invitations are being extended from international companies. Eligible bidders must provide $3 million in the form of an irrevocable and unconditional bank guarantee issued by a scheduled bank of Bangladesh or a foreign bank duly endorsed by a scheduled bank.
Bangladesh awaits further boost in its trading as the seven-country regional organization BIMSTEC will sit for the final negotiation of Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Bangladesh has already achieved preferential market access to India and after completion of the negotiation, the country will get more preferential market access to Thailand, Sri Lanka and other member countries. To facilitate regional trade, the government has signed a number of instruments that will spur further growth.
Aiming to expand the horizon of bilateral ties with Iran, a trade delegation will visit Iran soon to showcase the investment potentials and various initiatives Bangladesh has introduced for foreign investors. The visit is expected to draw investments from the country as on many occasions Iran has announced its readiness to reinvigorate ties with a friendly country. Iran’s leading daily said in a report that Bangladesh with an approximate population of 160 million, with at least 90% Muslims, can be a very good market for high-quality Iranian products.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated a weeklong event last week in the capital with an aim to promote and spread the usage of ICT across the country. Called the 'Bangladesh Internet Week 2015', this event is simultaneously held in as many as 487 sub-districts throughout the country. Major e-commerce companies, mobile application developers, web portals, device manufacturers and internet product and service providers are participating in the exposition, where free internet browsing is being offered.
Intensified efforts are being demonstrated to enact "The Digital Security Act" to ensure safe, secure and optimum use of internet and information technology in the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement last week, pointing that digital technology should be particularly safe for children and it should not be used for terrorist and militant activities. Since assuming power in 2009, her government is making relentless efforts to bring everyone under internet coverage, as well as introduce digitization at all levels of public services.
As part of a massive digitization campaign, a total of 1000 union parishads will be brought under high speed internet facilities through optical fiber cables by next December. Internet penetration will be increased to supplement the efforts of building "Digital Bangladesh" by 2021. Target has been set to bring all union parishads under high speed internet services by 2017 aiming to boost development process of the country. As of now, digital centers are being set up in remote parts of the country, totaling around 4547 at present.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives