Nov 05, 2015
Bangladesh HPM Sheikh Hasina reached the Netherlands on Tuesday on a three-day official visit. In her visit so far, the Bangladesh Premier met the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen who assured Bangladesh of assisting in the implementation of its Delta Plan 2100. The PM also met the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen, where the former sought more Dutch investment in different sectors of Bangladesh to boost trade ties. Bangladesh and the Netherlands have also signed four instruments in the fields of education and diplomacy.
According to Bangladesh Bank, country’s foreign currency reserves has hit a new record crossing a $27-billion mark for the first time in the history. Buoyant remittance inflow, positive export income trend and stable exchange rate with local currency are attributed to achieve that milestone. While in 2001, Bangladesh had to defer its payments to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) for imports, the reserve, over the space of last three years, the country has shown strong resilience setting up new forex rserves records in regular intervals.
As part of stepped up efforts to streamline the vocational education in country, the government has rolled out an array of measures being devised to make the focus of students ever growing on that medium. Target has been set to ensure 20% of the students get themselves involved in such education by 2021 which currently stands at 10%. Moreover, the World Bank has sanctioned the allocation of an additional $100 million fund to create training opportunities for 200,000 poor students.
A major plan has been taken up by the government aiming to make the renewable sector capable of producing 3,100 MW of electricity from solar and wind resources by 2021. The landmark project comprising one or more solar-based power plants with an aggregate capacity of up to 230 MW is expected to be installed in the coastal belt while six power generation companies will be redesigned to produce 555 MW power. Currently, Bangladesh has the fastest growing solar home system in the globe with more than 4 million systems installed.
The Alliance, a platform of 26 North American retailers for factory inspection, expressed satisfaction over the progress in remediation work with 93% of the 1.2 million estimated workers in Alliance factories now trained in fire safety. Of the 662 factories used by member companies, over 500 factories have underwent major safety inspections conducted by the Alliance to create a safer environment for garment workers. All the factories completed 20 to 80% of repairs.
Full swing progress is being made in realizing the largest infrastructure undertaking till date in the country, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The Padma Bridge project has already seen its approach road, viaduct and river training aspects being completed with the main construction work supposed to start in December this year. To be opened to the public in 2018, this bridge would connect the entire Southern part of the capital and is expected to significantly boost the regional and national economy.
Construction of the tunnel under the river Karnaphuli is set to begin at the end of November this year. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Chinese premier are likely to visit the proposed construction site at the end of this month and inaugurate the construction work of the 3.5 kilometre tunnel, to be built at a cost of US$ 12 million. The tunnel will connect the proposed Asian Highway to the Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's Bazar Highway immensely benefitting the region as a whole.
In the wake of a government move to initiate a feasibility study for building two more mass transit lines in Dhaka city, Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended its interest to pour in investment in the metro rail project. A move has already been in the making to construct Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line-1 and 5 in the city's two important corridors in accordance with the guidelines of Japanese consultants. More plans are on the cards to set up MRT-1 from Airport to Kamalapur railway station through Progoti Sarani and MRT-5 from Gabtoli to Vatara through Mirpur, Cantonment and Gulshan-2.
Preparations are well underway to set up 2,000 computer labs and 64 language training labs in educational institutions across the country involving US$ 32.63 million. For computer labs, a list of the aforesaid number of institutions has been finalized while the language labs will be introduced in 64 districts of the country. This move bears another testament of the government’s vision to transform the manpower into an ICT skilled one by 2021 alongside boosting up the linguistic skills of the students.
Aimed at freeing the shoreline of waterways from all kinds of encroachment, the government has embarked on an initiative to set up an eco-park at the eastern side of the Buriganga River evicting all illegal establishments throughout the shoreline of the river. The length of eco-park would be around 2.5km and construction of walk-ways across the river bank is at brisk pace. On impact, the eco-park and walk-ways would be used for the city dwellers as a source of fresh air and morning and evening walk.
According to the Global Nutrition Report (GNR) 2015, Bangladesh has outshone its neighbors including the likes of India and Pakistan in gaining a faster dropping rate of stunting among under-5 children as the rate has been slashed down to 35% in 2015 from 51% only a decade back. Hopes are pinned that continuation of this incredible success will steer the country towards meeting the global target in this regard. Stunting rate is over 40% in Pakistan and 39% in India.
A wholesale reform is set to be initiated in the existing government feeding assistance scheme in order to make the programmes work more effectively, benefit more lives and ensure the highest level of accountability. Under the new move, the government will sell rice at a token price of only Tk15 per kg, replacing the existing no-price-tag TR and VGF programmes, while the reforms will allow the government to provide cash instead of food grain to people working in special TR projects.
Bangladesh Bank has directed all banks and financial institutions to give agricultural loans to the residents of erstwhile enclaves who have had dispute-free arable land. The former enclave dwellers will have to submit land ownership certificates obtained from the Upazila Executive Officer or the sub-registrar while applying for the loans under the Agricultural and Rural Credit Policy and Programme. Farmers are also entitled to take special group loans.
During a recent visit in Bangladesh, Bhutanese Economic Affairs Minister Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk came up with a view that his country can provide Bangladesh with hydroelectricity at the cheapest rate that would feed the country's growing demand for electricity. The idea was pitched by the Bhutanse envoy when he paid a courtesy call to Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina this week. Meanwhile, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid has said Bangladesh can get 10,000 MW of electricity from Bhutan with $13.5 billion investment.
A new power distribution project is going to be implemented in Rajshahi region in a bid to upgrade its power distribution system besides bringing 200,000 new subscribers under electricity coverage. Under this project, works of new power cables and lines of 1,375 kilometers and renovation of electric power cables and lines of 1,808 kilometers will be installed. A total of 952 new transformers will be procured and 638 transformers will be repaired alongside acquiring 11 acres of land and developing 49,150 cubic meters. System loss is expected to be reduced by 4%.
History was set in motion this week as the trial run for the landmark four-nation motor vehicle agreement began with a goods-laden truck from Kolkata reaching Agartala in north-east India by travelling through Bangladesh in a span of three days. In the past, that journey took eight days, implying from now on a huge amount of time and money would be saved. Signed by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal in Thimphu in June, the agreement will allow seamless transit of passengers, goods and transit cargo between the four countries.
Bilateral ties between Bangladesh and Thailand are set to be lifted to a newer height as both of the countries are set to hold the 4th meeting of Joint Trade Committee in Dhaka early 2016. The announcement came when the Commerce Minister held a meeting with his Thai counterpart at the latter’s office. It was decided that Bangladesh would hold the first ever single country trade fair and business summit in Bangkok in the first quarter of next year to draw international investors to the country.
With the graduation of Bangladesh to the lower middle income status, the government has been working to diversify its export products and expand export market to increase the export earnings to US$60 billion in 2021. Currently, the earnings from export stand at a whopping $32 billion and the market has been expanded to 196 countries. Besides remarkable progress in social and economic sectors have been demonstrated while a number of internationally reputed research organizations have forecasted that the country would be able to accelerate this progress in the days to come.
Bhutanese Ambassador to Dhaka, Pema Choden, has shown keen interest to import -electronic products including refrigerators, motorcycle, air-conditioner and home appliances produced by the Bangladeshi conglomerate Walton. This week, the envoy visited the Walton production unit in Gazipur and expressed her desire to expand bilateral trade relation between two countries. Currently, Bhutan’s trading corporation is importing LED (Light Emitting Diode) and colour line televisions from Walton.
A plan was unveiled this week for amending the existing public procurement act and rules with a view to ensuring transparency and accountability in government purchases. E-payment system will be applied to a greater extent so that the process requires accountability higher than ever. The revelation was made by the Finance minister at the concluding session of the 3rd South Asia Regional Public Procurement Conference.
In order to develop skilled freelancers, government and private initiatives have set a bright example in providing outsourcing trainings for educated young people in different upazilas of Dhaka district. Many freelancers, who have just completed one-month training, started earnings from outsourcing and other freelancers are getting good response from their potential buyers. Upon successful completion of training, enthusiastic new freelancers are participating in three-month language courses to improve their English language skills as well.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives