Oct 08, 2015
The World Bank, in a recent report, has revised upward the growth forecast for the economy of Bangladesh, projecting that the economy would continue to grow at 6.5% in this year, up from its earlier prediction of a 6.2% growth in April. The return of political stability in April and domestic activity, coupled with stronger consumption and export growth, led the multi-lender to upgrade its outlook. Earlier, relaying the same tone, ADB forecasted Bangladesh's GDP to grow at 6.7% this year, up from its March prediction of 6.4%.
According to the latest Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, Bangladesh ranked second in South Asia to lead the table for lifting people from the clutch of poverty. The report, published for third consecutive year, puts Bangladesh in the 14th position among 45 developing countries, up from 20th in 2014. The report highlighted the successes the country has shown in the promotion of complementary feeding practices and administering vitamin A supplements among 94% of children aged 6-59 months.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has renewed her pledge to making Bangladesh a higher middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041. Addressing a civic reception for her winning the UN's Champions of the Earth award and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) award for ICT in Sustainable Development, the Premier said she has committed herself to making Bangladesh free from poverty and hunger. She expressed her determination to uphold the spirit of the Liberation War.
At a high level meeting on Monday, the government has assured the foreign envoys that an array of possible measures has been taken to provide them with full proof security in Bangladesh. In response, the head of missions expressed happiness over the security measures being put in place following the recent murder of two foreign nationals. Recently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that the BNP Jamaat had a hand in the recent killings, ruling out the possibility of the Islamic State's presence in the country, a sentiment echoed by her ICT Advisor Sajeeb Wazed too.
Officials of detective branch have arrested five members of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), including its military wing chief, from Chittagong. Nine grenades, one pistol, 120 bullets, several knives and huge bomb-making materials were recovered from their possession. Since coming to power in 2009, due to the wide ranging actions of the current government, Bangladesh has become a model for tackling terrorism, militancy and violent extremism.
Growth and Development
Bangladesh government has approved the proposal of International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector wing of the World Bank group, for issuing Taka bond worth $1 billion. According to the central bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman, these would be issued as soon as the IFC, Bangladesh Bank and the Finance Ministry finalize the details. This is an important development as for the first time the Bangladeshi currency will be incorporated in the international financial market.
Foreign currency reserves of Bangladesh have hit an all-time high, crossing the $26 billion-mark at the end of last month. According to Bangladesh Bank, the reserve currently stands at $26.379 billion, the second highest among the SAARC countries, and enough to meet the country's import bills for more than seven months. Besides the rising trend in remittance, the steady export growth and the fall in import cost also contributed to the historical high reserve position.
In the last month, inward remittance continued to maintain a highly positive trend as the remittance receipt reached $1.35 billion, marking a 12.6% rise compared to that of last month. Efforts placed by the government to explore and expand the horizon of manpower landing zones, successful labour diplomacy and other factors contributed largely to achieving this performance. Between January 1 and September 2 this year, some 333,382 workers left for jobs abroad. Last year, 425,684 persons went abroad with employment.
Further boost has been infused in the nation’s march to transform the manpower into an ICT skilled one as an ambitious project has been earmarked to build a national data center aiming to turn every bit of government work paperless. To that end, an amount of US$ 19.5 million has been sanctioned while three establishments – data centre, data recovery centre and remote data centre – will be built that is expected to improve the hosting capacity of the government’s shared data centre in existence.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
The government has endorsed a plan to upgrade the 53 kilometer Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga highway into a four lane one. Moreover, the entire road will be widened and strengthened with eight RCC bridges, 19 PC girder bridges, 42 box culverts, two flyovers, and three railway overpasses. With the implementation of the state funded project, traffic movement to and from the south western region would be eased, connectivity will gain further momentum and the process of industrialization will receive renewed revitalization.
Rivers across the country will undergo intensified dredging work owing to a government move to improve the navigability of water routes. To that end, a process is well underway to procure 20 more dredgers from abroad involving $263.32 million. As of now, a mammoth dredging programme worth $147.86 million is ongoing in 53 waterways of the country. During its previous tenure, the present government had procured 14 dredgers and overseen the revival of navigability in some key water bodies.
Social Justice and Equity
Bangladesh has become one of the developing world's biggest success stories in ensuring sanitation for the entire population. The stellar progress has lifted the country in global spotlight while high praise is being bestowed upon the country as well. At an international conference, sanitation experts lauded Bangladesh for its stunning progress in reducing the rate of open defecation and improving access to sanitation. The country has been able to achieve sanitation coverage for 99% of the population.
In line with the government promise to ensure a better livelihood for the people of newly defunct enclaves, banks and other financial institutions were directed to include the micro, small and medium enterprises of the 111 former enclaves in their group-based lending programme. Earlier, the central bank asked all locally operational banks to extend farm loans to the citizens of the former enclaves to boost agricultural activities. Moreover, solar power being installed and community clinics were set up to serve them.
The concept of community clinic, as envisaged and implemented by HPM Sheikh hasina led Awami League government in Bangladesh, has emerged as a role model across the globe for localized primary healthcare. The Daily Star has looked at one such clinic at Notabari village in Dimla upazila under Nilphamari district, which has become a trusted name for treatment seekers in the surrounding villages. Currently, a total of 13.500 such community clinics have been in operation to take the health care service at peoples’ doorstep.
Digital Bangladesh
According to a global report jointly published by ITU and UNESCO, Bangladesh has outshined all the South Asian countries including the likes of India on account of growing number of people using internet in their cell phones. The report stated that broadband users in Bangladesh account for 6.4% of the country’s total internet users. The hike highlights the younger generation's preference for the medium of smart phones, a habit boosted by fast 3G services and availability of low-cost devices in the country now.
Progress to set up the first ever high tech park in the country marked a new boost as a leading Japanese company Re-Team Corporation announced to assist Bangladesh government on technological issues and attracting foreign investors to invest at the Kaliakoir Hi-Tech Park in Gazipur. Last week, the company authorities and the government have inked a memorandum of understanding in this regard. This park is one among many in the pipelines that the government envisages for creating a large pool of IT skilled workforce.
Trade and Investment
In the wake of growing interests as showed by Japanese investors in shifting their production bases to Bangladesh, the government has agreed in principal to provide them with a new economic zone in the country. Moreover, India has agreed to extend part of its fresh $2 billion loans to develop two economic zones in Bangladesh for its investors. The sanctions coincide with the government move to create jobs for 10 million people and increase export earnings by $40 billion within the next 15 years.
A group of visiting investors from Spain has expressed high optimism to pour in their investment in Bangladesh with their attention being attached to sectors including energy transport and environment. In a related development, visiting German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr. Gerd Muller expressed his satisfaction with the progress achieved by Bangladesh in improving the working standards in garment factories.
Power and Energy
The government has approved a proposal for setting up a 200 MW solar park in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar, the largest in the country, on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis with the private sector. American solar power giant Sun Edison will carry out the project as an independent power producer (IPP). In a related development, Bangladesh's State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid stated that the government will install 13.4 million prepaid meters over the next five years, replacing most of the existing conventional meters.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide financial assistance to help increase transmission capacity of a cross-border electricity link between India and Bangladesh.This will allow Bangladesh to better meet sharply rising power demand and support increased power exchanges across South Asia. The money will be laid out to double the capacity of the existing interconnection system which links the power grid of western Bangladesh at Bherhamara with the grid of eastern India at Bharampur.
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh has once again leapt into world stage with dignity and pride as the country has been elected the new Chairman of the Global Coordination Bureau of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam formally took over the role from the Minister of MDGs and SDGs of Benin, the immediate past Chairman of the Group. This Bureau works with the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide fresh assistance to expand a water resource project in Bangladesh, which has sharply increased agricultural production in the southwest part of the country. In the second phase of the project "Integrated Water Resources Planning and Management", the ADB will provide US$45 million as loan to increase the scope of the project area. Earlier in 2005, a joint initiative by the ADB and the Netherlands government benefitted over 191,000 people over the years.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives