Feb 18, 2016
According to the first ever global ranking by the London-based Child Rights International Network, Bangladesh leads, with the exception of India, South Asia in making the court ever more accessible for children to protect their rights. While the country secured 63rd spot globally, its neighbours Pakistan ranked 119th and Sri Lanka stood 123rd. Under the Children Act of Bangladesh, children's right to participate in all stages of court proceedings is guaranteed, making the national law consistent with the Convention of the Rights of Children (CRC) and other human rights obligations.
This week saw the government striking the biggest power purchase agreements with two private joint ventures led by S Alam Group for the construction of two projects with total electricity generation capacity of 1,224 megawatts. SS Power I Ltd and SS Power II Ltd, two joint ventures of the group and SEPCO III Electric Power and HTG of China, will set up the power plants in Banshkhali, Chittagong by November 2019. The project will require an investment of $2.4 billion of which $1.75 billion will come from Chinese lenders, while the electricity will be supplied for 25 years.
The much-sought-after "Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime" unit under Dhaka Metropolitan Police went functional this week. The 600-men police unit, first of its kind specializing in technology and counter terrorist techniques, has been formed to enhance police capability in combating militancy and terrorism. Meanwhile, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat has highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's strong leadership role in fighting terrorism, saying her statesmanship resembles an unwavering stance that made the country a difficult soil for international terrorists to operate in.
Given that the project has been fast tracked under the supervision of the HPM Sheikh Hasina, about 30% of the construction work of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge has been completed. Process is underway to set up the fifth pillar on the bed of the mighty river as the fourth one has already been installed. Plans have been proposed to construct a tourism centre like Hong Kong city and an international airport there was well. Last year HPM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the pilling work of the dream project which will connect the entire Southern Bangladesh with Dhaka.
Conversion work of two major highways into dual carriageways is in the final stage, which once operational, will boost trade and travel in a major way. Travel times will be cut drastically once the work of broadening the highways, Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh, is finished this June. Expansion of the Dhaka-Chittagong highway would make traffic movement easier and faster and boost import-export and trade through the country's economic lifeline. People are already benefiting from the widened parts of both the highways from shortened travel times.
Hopes run high that works on Dhaka’s first elevated expressway will be completed by 2019, a year earlier than the deadline, thanks to the dedication, perseverance and hard work placed by the concerned officials. 10% of the works on the expressway, to be implemented in three phases, has already been done while other important works including land acquisition and test piling have been completed. The 19.73-kilometre expressway will run from Shahjalal International Airport to Kutubkhali via Mohakhali, Moghbazar, Kamalapur and Jatrabarhi to connect the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway.
Given the government has proceeded with a move to brand Bangladesh as an ICT destination before the globe, the ICT Division has launched a competition -- Connecting Startups, to further foster digital innovation. Bangladesh aims to create and connect over 1,000 start-up companies by 2021. This week, a process was rolled out to select top ten applicants out of the 400 submitted entries. In the first phase, 60 companies will be selected by April this year, and the top ten among those will be awarded by July.
Singapore will provide training to 1,150 teachers and officials in the field of Bangladesh’s technical education in order to enhance their skills. To that goal, a deal was inked between the concerned authorities of the two countries this week. The training will consist of 60 courses, ranging from one week to six weeks, in the next three years. Moreover, the Singaporean institute will also set up 10 modern laboratories in 10 polytechnic institutes in Bangladesh under the ‘Skills and Training Enhancement Project’ of the Directorate of Technical Education.
The outflow of skilled manpower went up to 44% in the last calendar year due to vigorous efforts from the government, helping the country in receiving an increased volume of remittance. According to statistics of the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training, some 214,328 skilled workers travelled abroad for jobs in 2015, up from 148,766 in 2014. The number of professionals and semi-skilled workers was 91,099 and 1,828 respectively during the same period.
Culture and Heritage
Surrounded by the smiling faces of around 200 children, Part-2 of the graphic novel series on the life of Banganabdhu “Mujib” was unveiled this week by its publisher and Trustee of Centre for Research and Information (CRI), Mr. Radwan Mujib Siddiq at the Amar Ekushe Grontho Mela (Book Fair). Adorning yellow and other colors which resembled the theme of ‘Pahela Falgun’, and disregarding the sudden heat, the children were seen joyously accepting their copies of ‘Mujib’ from Mr. Radwan, who also happens to be one of the two proud grandsons of the Father of the Nation.
In a big achievement for handicraft producers in Bangladesh, The World Trade Organization has certified four Bangladeshi handicraft producers and organizations as “guaranteed fair trade organizations” for meeting the growing demand for ethical and sustainable products. With the fair trade label, Bangladesh made products would appear in the international marketplace as a brand having maintained all the economic, social and environmental sustainability criteria.
Social Justice and Equity
The government has decided to carry out a survey jointly by several ministries to find the number of street children across the country in the next six months for bringing them back into their normal lives. Rehabilitation and education will be the special features under the scheme. To this end, works are going on in full swing to develop and construct six children development centers including one exclusively earmarked for girls.
The cabinet this week gave the nod to the draft Bangladesh EPZ Labour Law 2016, with provisions for forming legal trade unions in factories inside the Export Processing Zones (EPZ) along with the introduction of a separate wage board. Allowing trade unions in factories was the last of the 16 conditions set by the US to be fulfilled by the Bangladesh government for regaining the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) in the US market. It allows workers to form their own representative body, which is like other trade unions while the body will be able to handle issues of collective bargaining.
In another move to ensure garment workers enjoy their labour rights to the fullest, a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed to strengthen family planning service provisions within the premises of garment factories. The specific objectives are to ensure DGFP family planning commodities and other applicable services available within the factories and improve knowledge on family planning information and services among garment workers, who are mostly women.
Trade and Investment
A report carried by a Turkish daily stated that the bilateral trade ties between the former and Bangladesh has marked a meteoritic rise over the last three years. It is in this context that Bangladesh has set the target to fetch $3 billion from bilateral trade with Turkey by 2020. According to Bangladesh's Consul General in Istanbul F. M. Borhan Uddin, Bangladesh has glossed its resume and offered promising trade relations with Turkey, with a particular interest in boosting exports in glass fiber and building up its ship building sector.
According to the latest data published by the Board of Investment (BoI), local investment has increased more than 50% in the second quarter of the current fiscal year as a total of 376 projects have been registered in BoI between last October and December. As many as 26 foreign companies have registered with the BoI so far in the current fiscal year. About 332 investment projects have been registered in BoI from July to September of the current fiscal year.
International and Regional Cooperation
During a discussion at the UN General Assembly, Masud Bin Momen, Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to the UN, revealed that Bangladesh will work with the United Nations in implementing the Secretary General’s new action plan to prevent violent extremism. All the seven points of the UN Secretary General’s action plan are similar to the existing measures undertaken by Bangladesh to resist militancy and prevent it. The envoy also highlighted different government programmes -- including promotion of education and religious values at the grassroots, and empowerment of women and youths -- on preventing spread of terror in the country.
The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has expressed keen interest to deepen its engagement in Bangladesh's digital financing looking at new areas in support of the government's vision. Proposals were placed by UNCDF incorporating a visit of a high-level delegation in Bangladesh to discuss the issues and find possible areas of cooperation. Recently, Bangladesh got membership at Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA), a partnership of governments, companies, and international organisations that facilitates the transition from cash to digital payments.
Last week saw the UK Minister of State for Immigration James Brokenshire arrive in Dhaka on a two-day visit to share and open up new scopes to build up mutual cooperation on priority issues including tackling illegal immigration, organised crime and violent extremism. Stating that a vibrant bilateral relationship exists between the countries, the UK Minister pinned hopes to build on the joint efforts to combat the global threats of terrorism and illegal migration.
Digital Bangladesh
The government is going to introduce National e-Service Bus to ensure sharing of digital information, improve e-services accessibility and facilitate interoperability of inter-government agencies. Software driven middleware platform, the portal will incorporate principles, standards, specifications, reference models, architecture design guidelines, e-Services, tools, and roadmaps for organisations in-line with the 'Digital Bangladesh' vision.
Over the last seven years, Bangladesh has seen digitization taking place across the country at a rapid speed. One of the core aspects of this digitization has been the use of ICT in education. The government has already distributed thousands of schools with equipment necessary to impart education to young children using digital learning tools. As a result, the quality of education has been improving speedily, while also allowing the learning of children to be more global and fruitful. In recent times, the government's steps in digitizing primary schools have received accolades, both at home and abroad.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives