Sep 17, 2015
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been honoured with the top environmental accolade-- “Champions of Earth” by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for her far-reaching and visionary initiatives in tackling climate change and ensuring environmental sustainability. Under her leadership, Bangladesh among others, became the first developing country to frame a coordinated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2009) and the first nation to set up a Climate Change Trust Fund with own resources.
According to a recent study by the World Economic Forum, Bangladesh has been put in the top position for achieving tremendous advancements in education and poverty reduction among low income countries. In a cross-country and sub-pillar comparison, Bangladesh scored 2.88 in education and 4.98 for poverty cut. Various government led purposeful initiatives have already graduated Bangladesh to the lower middle income status while 100% enrolment is being ensured in primary education.
During a recent visit to Bangladesh, UN Under- Secretary General of Department of Field Support, Atul Khare, has said that the professionalism demonstrated by the Bangladeshi peacekeepers' to UN missions is unparalleled and unmatched, citing the country has turned into a brand name in making the world a more peaceful planet for mankind. As Bangladesh is the top troops supplier, the special envoy said, UN is ready to get more Bangladeshis at its peacekeeping wing’s policy-making and command level.
Bangladesh, over the last six years, has earned the repute of being a forerunner in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) well ahead of the time. Remarkable progresses have been achieved in meeting the targets as regards poverty reduction, health, education and gender equity. Such milestones have ignited hopes that the country will fare well in implementing the newly formulated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well. Projecting the MDGs successes, the country is set to announce its full commitment to meet the new targets in the upcoming UN General Assembly.
Expectations run high that Bangladesh will mark a remarkable surge in Chinese investment, as the government has sanctioned a US$ 54. 34 million project to build a separate economic and industrial zone in Chittagong. Under the project, scheduled for completion in June 2016, Chinese investors will be provided with land on a long-term lease basis. The sanction coincides with the government move to create jobs for 10 million people and increase export earnings by $40 billion within the next 15 years.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
In a bid to ensure easy movement of capital dwellers, works are underway for setting up two more underpasses that would connect some four important establishments including the Airport and the Airport station in the capital. Both the underpasses would have facilities of plying cars and walkway that will help the pedestrians get a safe passage. At the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the feasibility study work is expected to begin soon.
Multifarious initiatives are being put in place to revamp, remodel and upgrade the entire railway network aiming to make train journey more comfortable. To that end, the West Zone of Bangladesh Railway has been implementing eight major projects involving around US$ 1.03 million focusing on improving tracks and other infrastructures on a stretch of 192 kilometers. Moreover, 141-kilometer new line will be constructed and 85- kilometer existing rail line already being upgraded in the northern part of the country.
Leading US-based KPC Group would construct a 100-floor convention centre, the biggest establishment of its kind in the country, in Purbachal in the outskirts of Dhaka. According to the proposal, the three-dimensional project would accommodate a convention, exhibition and a medical university with hospital. Construction work is expected to begin in next 15-40 days with the completion of the soil test of the site. Moreover, the Ministry of Public Works has agreed to give a 40-acre land for this venture.
Growth and Development
With financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the government has launched a project with an aim to scale up 260 ,000 workers and mid-level managers with training in different sectors over the last five years. The length of the training courses will vary from one month to six months and the educational qualification for the trainees has been fixed between primary school certificates and graduation levels. Under the just concluded first phase of the programme, 2,096 garment workers were given training.
As many as 34,000 students across the country will receive training on information and technology, thanks to the stepped up government efforts to transform the workforce in to a ICT skilled one before 2021. This initiative is designed in a way to turn the youths capable of working globally. Owing to a set of stellar initiatives, the number of active internet connections in Bangladesh has crossed the 50 million mark, while Bangladeshi freelancers earned US$ 135.76 million in last fiscal year.
Hopes are on the horizon that the scarcity of the water crisis in the port city will be reduced remarkably as intensified works are being demonstrated in the completion of one of the two water supply projects by the end of this year. Once completed, the project will enable the authorities to fulfill the current demands. Under the JICA funded project, construction of about 69 kilometre-long transmission and distribution line and three reservoirs has already been completed while the other one will end by 2019.
Four international oil and gas companies, partnered with the national petroleum and gas exploration agency BAPEX, will jointly carry out exploration and development of several geological structures in Bangladesh with the state owned company taking 30-35% of revenues. Initially, a number of well-defined four way anticline closures situated in Chittagong and the hill tracts area will be explored. Till date, a total of seven gas field has been discovered by BAPEX.
Social Justice and Equity
UNICEF, in a recent report, reveals that, Bangladesh has achieved stellar progresses in bringing down the child mortality rate by 73% in a span of last twenty five years, outperforming the global rate by a large margin. In 1990, the rate was 144 per 1,000, but now it stands at 38 per 1,000. Similar successes are also being displayed in cutting down the under-5 mortality rate. The number of under-five deaths has dropped to below 6 million for the first time this year.
Expressing satisfaction over the progresses in remediation work, The Alliance, a platform of 26 North American retailers for factory inspection, commented that as of July, most factories have completed 21 to 80 percent of repair work, while six have already passed their final inspections. In its annual report, it stated that, real, measurable improvements in garment factories are now well underway. They also noted the significant milestones achieved in the area of worker empowerment.
Trade and Investment
In an effort to bring in foreign investment in the country, a two day road show was held in UK where the immense possibilities and the business friendly environment that exists in Bangladesh were pitched. Attended by many of the global businesses, the programme has seen many investors showing interest to bring funds to power, energy and infrastructure sectors in the country. A company has even reportedly expressed interest to invest to the tune of $ 400-500 million in the said sectors.
On Monday, a group of Japanese businesses launched a mascot, Bantora Kun, as part of a project to brighten Bangladesh's image in Japan. With more than 230 Japanese companies operating in the country at present, Bangladesh exported goods worth $900 million to Japan and imported goods worth around $1.5 billion last fiscal year.Trade between the countries is close to $2.5 billion, but there is scope to increase it to $4 billion, especially by increasing Bangladesh's export, according to experts.
Talks are going on to set up a mainly readymade garment warehouse in Russia in a bid to increase trade with the Commonwealth of Independent States countries. Targeting the 2018 world cup scheduled to be held in Russia, the move will bring further expansion to the growing garment industry of the country. In this regard, the Bangladeshi Finance Minister has urged the entrepreneurs to find a suitable place in the CIS countries for building a warehouse, mostly for apparel goods.
International and Regional Cooperation
A day-long security dialogue between United States and Bangladesh was held at US capital Washington DC last Friday. Participated by senior civil and military officials, the event discussed various issues to enhance collaboration in countering extremism and terrorism, security assistance, United Nations peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Regional cooperation, traditional and non-traditional security issues were also part of the discussions.
Trade relations with 54 African countries is set to be elevated to a newer height , as the government is going to open a new mission in Ethiopia. The proposed mission will take the economic ties with this country - a resourceful and one of the fastest growing economies in Africa - to a level that now exist with China and India. Moreover, the two countries could work together in different sectors like hydropower, electricity, textiles, air connectivity, leather and meat processing.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives