March 03, 2016
This week the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) bestowed Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with a special certificate and a crest in recognition of her far-reaching endeavours in disaster management. IFRC Secretary General Elhadj As Sey formally handed over the credentials to the HPM at a ceremony while the dignitary highly appreciated HPM for the leading role the Premier has placed in global efforts for building 100 crore disaster-hit people of the world as more "disaster-tolerant" ones by 2025.
Pakistan were knocked out of the 2016 Asia Cup final’s contention by Bangladesh on Wednesday when the tournament hosts beat Shahid Afridi and his team by five wickets, making it to the final of the mega tournament. The HPM Sheikh Hasina went to the stadium to lift up the team spirit while the Premier congratulated the entire team on their stellar performance. This historic win set the country in a frenzy of celebrations around the country.
Through a video conference, Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stones of 10 economic zones, the first of their kind in the country. With the economic zones, the HPM said, the living standard of the people would improve as those will generate employment, alleviate poverty and infuse dynamism into the economy. Spelling out government's steps for taking power generation capacity to 14,000 megawatts, the Premier urged all concerned to give proper focus on the environmental issues while setting up mills and factories in the zones.
Foreign exchange reserves with the central bank hit an all-time high, as the reserves rose to a whopping $28.06 billion this week, up from $27.9 billion a week back. Major driver of this milestone is attributed to the booming growth in remittance earnings while the total earnings from foreign trade surged to $3.19 billion in last month, the second highest in the country's history. Given that all other key indicators are riding on a positive trajectory, hopes run high that the country would become a higher middle income one before 2021.
Peter Thomas Drennan, under-secretary-general for Safety and Security of UN, has come up with high praise as regards the role of Bangladesh Police in establishing peace across the world. He stated that the skill, professionalism and bravery placed by the force in war-torn countries is unmatched and unparalleled. The UN official made the comments during a meeting with visiting Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque to Ivory Coast. It was stated that Bangladesh Police have demonstrated the highest morality, discipline and skills while discharging their peacekeeping duties.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
The government has signed a deal worth US$29.43 million deal with a consortium of five companies for the consultancy services of the 72-km Akhaura-Laksam double rail line project. Of the entire amount, the government will provide $7.52 million and the rest will be taken from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as loan. Completion of the constriction work will require 60 months; once the project is implemented the passenger and freight transportation services on the Dhaka-Chittagong route will become easier and hassle free.
Given that satisfactory progress is being marked in the ongoing projects, the Asian Development Bank has extended keen interest to provide Bangladesh with over US$ 5.0 billion in view of remodeling and revamping the road network, alongside building up the metro-rail project in the next five years. Of the total fund, about $3.0 billion is likely to be spent on three projects in the road sector for increasing regional connectivity, and over $2.0 billion for setting up metro-rail in the city.
Growth and Development
An array of development works, worth more than $2 billion and 38 million, has been put in place by the Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED) around the country aiming to elevate the nation to the path of growth and prosperity. Besides, the LGED has undertaken the responsibility of implementing special projects for speedy development of the erstwhile enclave-people at taka $24.2 million from the own resources of the government. In addition, a technical assistance loan is in the pipeline for preparing design and support tendering process in 2017, $1.0 billion for the first phase investment during 2018-19, and $1.0 billion for second phase.
As part of stepped up efforts to ensure uninterrupted water supply and sewerage system for the port city dwellers, the Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA) struck an agreement of cooperation with two leading foreign firms to implement the Karnaphuli Water Supply Project (Phase-2). Connection of new pipelines, repair of old pipelines, construction of water purification center, extension of Nasirabad Water reservoir and construction of Halishahar Elevated Tank are incorporated in the projects.
The government has proceeded with a mega project involving an outlay of $9.69 million to make the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarban free from black smoke and pollution. Moreover, an aim has also been set in motion to enhance the navigability as it would see the re-digging works on the beds of 83 canals and a river, along with, re-excavation of 310 kilometres of different water-bodies. This project is yet another testament to the prudent leadership of HPM Sheikh Hasina in building resilience against the disaster through preservation of environmental resources.
Trade and Investment
The facilities extended to foreign investors are set to be increased in the new industrial policy in yet another bid to accelerate the growing inflow of investment from abroad. According to the draft, provisions have been incorporated to introduce an integrated one-stop service and country-specific economic zones or industrial parks for the foreign investors. Specific investment incentives, including subsidies, tax and duty rebate, have been also been proposed for areas falling behind economically and in industrialization.
Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Russia reached almost US$1.0 billion in 2015 on a growth crescendo, while a number of potential sectors have been explored to push forward the trade cooperation. Expressing this view, the outgoing Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander A. Nikolaev has pinned hopes that Bangladeshi products, especially readymade garments, frozen foods like shrimp and prawn, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, jute and jute goods have a bright prospect in Russia.
An agreement was signed this week in an effort to increase the export of Bangladeshi products to Saudi Arabian market. Struck between Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO), the agreement earmarked at making the BSTI standard certificate acceptable in the middle-east countries as well as enhancing the bilateral technical assistance between the two organizations of the countries.
South Korean company CS Bangla Ltd has announced to pour in an investment involving $25 million to set up a tent and outdoor camping items manufacturing factory in Mongla Export Processing Zone. An agreement to this effect was signed between relevant authorities stating that the fully foreign-owned company will produce 4.3 million pieces of tents, sleeping bags, camping chairs, bags and other accessories a year. Moreover, this initiative will open up around 1,500 employment opportunities for Bangladeshi nationals.
Social Justice and Equity
As the first ever female contingent commander of Bangladesh Army to a United Nations peacekeeping mission, Col Dr Nazma Begum along with her contingent members flew to Ivory Coast from Dhaka on Saturday night. With this achievement, the country has marched another giant step forward towards the pursuit in upholding the rights of women and ensuring equity for all in every sphere of workplace. Prior to taking the new responsibility, Col Nazma was serving as the assistant director of medical services.
Envisaged, supervised and implemented by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the “Asrayan Prokalpo”, the biggest rehabilitation project in Bangladesh, has appeared as a big success in making the homeless people in the district of Rangpur self-reliant and changing their fortunes. Under the programme, as many as 249 tin-shed barrack houses under 22 projects have been completed. All the families got houses, addresses, better livelihoods through income generation activities and a brighter future for their children following the provision of social safety-net measures being offered by the government.
Power and Energy
Giving a major boost in regional power trade, Bangladesh is weighing a deal with Bhutan to invest around US$1.0 billion in hydropower in the landlocked country to re-import the electricity. The IFC, World Bank’s private sector wing, has already assured the government of financing regional power trade involving Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan. This move will diversify the country's energy sources and help enhance the country's overall electricity-generation capacity to 20,000 MWs by 2021 and to 40,000 MWs by 2030 as targeted by the Awami League government.
Full swing works are well underway to ink the final deal with the US-based Excelerate Energy Ltd by April next to build the country's first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal. To be built by 2017, the terminal will have a capacity of 5 million tonnes per year and a re-gasification capacity of at least 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd). It will have berthing and mooring facilities for LNG tankers with a capacity of 138,000-260,000 cubic metres (cum).
International and Regional Cooperation
Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar has taken an initiative to increase its outreach with the Myanmar society and people in order to project strengths of Bangladesh culinary and culture and dispel any misperception through public diplomacy. As part of that campaign, a Pitha Utsab (traditional cake festival) was organized in Yangon, drawing a quality crowd of over 200 from Yangon’s elites and civil society, ambassadors and diplomats.
Japan is set to hold a dialogue on its Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy with the government next month aiming at assessing its guidelines for involvement in different development projects in Bangladesh. According to news reports, the ODA policy dialogue, the second of its kind, is likely to review the projects being implemented under the funds of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and evaluate their progress. Besides, it will also discuss projects to be funded under the Japanese government's soft loan and grant arrangement.
Digital Bangladesh
The nation’s march towards transforming the future of Bangladesh into a Digital one gained a landmark momentum as the construction to build the country's biggest hi-tech park in Gazipur has been rolled out, thanks to a joint venture between two neighbouring countries. Once completed, nearly 70,000 youths would get jobs in the next 10 years while it will create a world-class business environment for the local and foreign investors at the park. Experts dubbed this project a specialized economic zone and a boost for the country's growing IT sector.
Bangladesh Bank has increased the purchase limit of International Credit Cards (ICCs) to US $300 for each transaction from the previously restricted $100, opening up a brighter prospect for the expansion of the thriving e-commerce sector. Owing to this move the authorized dealers will allow their cardholders to use ICCs for online payment up to $300 against every single transaction while the magazine or newspaper subscription fees were also allowed to be paid through ICCs.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives