Oct 01, 2015
Addressing the 70th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina urged world leaders to act against terrorism and extremism, saying that these phenomena are the greatest threats to global peace and development. Referring to the challenge of climate change, she commented that without effectively dealing with climate change issues, no country can sustain their development endeavours. Before her speech, the Bangladesh Premier participated in, and addressed, a number of events on the sidelines of the UNGA dealing with women empowerment, peacekeeping, and MDGs to SDGs. The full text of her speech can be read here.
During her stay in New York for the 70th UNGA, the Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina has received two awards, one for her stellar work in the area of climate change adaptation, and the other for using information and communications technology (ICT) for sustainable development. Due to her work in environment, she received the "Champions of the Earth" award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Her work in ICT was recognized by the award of ICT in Sustainable Development by International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
On the sidelines of the 70th UNGA, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held a number of bilateral meetings with the heads of government of various countries, including India, Netherlands and Japan. During the meet with Indian PM Narendra Modi, the two premiers discussed the status of bilateral relations and ways to take them forward. While meeting with the Dutch PM Mark Rutte, Netherlands expressed their interest to get involved with construction of seaports in Bangladesh. HPM also had a bilateral meeting with a valued friend of Bangladesh, the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
On the sidelines of the 70th UNGA, Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina co-chaired a high level summit of peacekeeping along with the US President Barack Obama. While addressing the summit, the Bangladesh PM pledged to do more, being the largest peacekeeping troops contributing country in the world. She added that Bangladesh understands the need to modernize peacekeepers around the world. She noted that Bangladesh is adopting a national peacekeeping strategy to better respond to the evolving needs of the UN peacekeeping missions.
Member of the US Congress Yvette Diane Clarke has called Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a "global pride". She commented: "Sheikh Hasina is not only your pride, she is also our pride. She is the champion of all of us". She was addressing a reception hosted in Bangladesh Premier's honour on her receiving the UN's "Champions of Earth Award" in New York on Sunday. She added that PM Hasina deserves the support of all Bangladeshis. She further said that PM Hasina received the UN award for her vision and action.
Growth and Development
According to a recent report by World Economic Forum, Bangladesh has moved two notches up in this year's Global Competitiveness Index, riding on progress in the areas of macro-economy, health, education and infrastructure. The country was ranked 107th in 2015-16, up from last year's 109th, among 140 countries. Driven by the resolute progress in health, education and infrastructure, the country has recently been graduated to the lower middle income status. Now the nation eyes to become a higher middle income one before 2021 and a developed one by 2041.
Leading Singapore-based Sembcorp Industries is set to make its foray into Bangladesh by building a 426-megawatt power plant with a total project cost of $390 million. The power plant will be fuelled primarily by natural gas with high speed diesel as backup fuel. It will supply power to the grid under a 22.5-year power purchase agreement with the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), when completed in 2018. Sembcorp will own a 71% stake in the project while North-West Power Generation Company, a subsidiary of the BPDB, will hold the remaining 29%.
Bangladesh’s biggest fertilizer factory, capable of producing 5.8 lakh tones, will start operating in full swing from January next. With the construction work already completed and production on trial basis being launched on September 19, the project has been established on 165 acres of area, of which 57 acres are for factory space and 108 acres for housing and other usage. Bangladesh has six urea fertilizer factories at present with annual production capacity of 1.8 million tonnes. As a country with a large agricultural base, the Awami League government has always prioritized farming facilities.
Trade and Investment
Given the striving potentials of the fastest growing solar home system in Bangladesh, Canadian solar-energy developer Skypower Global has announced that it will invest $4.3 billion in the country’s renewable energy sector. In the next four years, the company has agreed to invest the said amount to set up a 2000 megawatt solar power plant while an office will be set up that would employ 42,000 people. Moreover, the company would also donate Bangladesh 1.5 million home lanterns. The agreement was made at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in attendance this week.
A new chapter of optimism will be ushered in the bilateral trade ties between Bangladesh and China as the latter is set to invest around $4.5 billion in two designated special economic zones in Chittagong and Dhaka. Chinese Ambassador in Dhaka HE Ma Mingqiang has made the announcement this week. Both the zones will be built on 1274 acres of land which would create 200,000-250,000 employment opportunities in Bangladesh. Appreciating Bangladesh's stable economic growth over the last few years, the Chinese envoy expressed optimism the economy would grow at 10% or more in the future.
Landmark improvement as regards compliance and diversification of fashion and technology usage in garment production has enabled Bangladesh to draw higher than ever number of global buyers, turning the country into the second largest garment industry in the world. Acceding to the stunning potentials, German retail giant Lidl has embarked on a plan to increase its garment purchases from Bangladesh by 20% in 2015, with the company having already purchased 251 million pieces of apparel from Bangladesh worth $700-$800 million in the recently concluded financial year.
Social Justice and Equity
In an inspirational address at the Columbia University's 'World Leaders Forum', Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reiterated her pledge to make Bangladesh free from the menace of child marriage within 2041. Referring to the time-befitting steps taken by her government in this regard, the Premier said girls will come forward for nation-building braving all odds. She emphasized on the role of education and financial independence of women as social barriers against the practice. On child labour issue, she observed that social problems cannot just be tackled by law,rather mass consciousness holds the key to success in this regard.
Some 21,500 landless families are going to get their lives turned around owing to the government's plan to rehabilitate them in four new riverine islands across the country. The families will get a total of 33,400 acres of khas land and be provided with legal title to such properties. This initiative stems from the government’s vision to reduce poverty and hunger for the extreme poor living in newly emerged chars by improving their livelihoods. To that end, a set of measures are being implemented countrywide while an allocation worth US$75.47 million is sanctioned to help the cause.
International and Regional Cooperation
During a recent visit to Bangladesh, Annette Dixon, the World Bank's Vice-President for South Asia, has commented that the unique position of Bangladesh in the Eastern sub-region of South Asia, has bestowed the country with the unique advantage of becoming a centre point of different initiatives that seek to connect Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal with the rest of Asia and in particular ASEAN countries. Increasing trade in the region would result in direct investment and job creation in Bangladesh with the focal points being attached to manufacturing, agriculture as well as services.
A new initiative has been launched by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and funded by the Swedish government to enhance workers' rights and industrial relations in Bangladesh's garment sector. With an array of improved dialogue between employers and workers, this initiative would give labour relations a landmark boost. Sweden will provide about US$5.4 million for the project "Promoting social dialogue and harmonious industrial relations in the Bangladesh readymade garment industry" that will run between November 2015 and December 2020.
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