India Agreed to supply at least 100 MW Power to Bangladesh

Dr. Dipu Moni, MP, Foreign Minister of the People?s Republic of Bangladesh undertook an official visit to India from 7-10 September 2009. During the visit, she held bilateral talks with the External Affairs Minister of the Republic of India Shri S.M. Krishna on a range of issues pertaining to India-Bangladesh relations. Dr. Dipu Moni also called on the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, Union Minister of Finance Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Union Minister for Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Pawan Kumar Bansal. She was accompanied during the visit by her spouse Mr. Tawfique Nawaz, Foreign Secretary Ambassador Mijarul Quayes, Director General ( South Asia ) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Muhammad Imran and Private Secretary to the Foreign Minister, Mr. Jishnu Roy Choudhury.

The visit was marked by warmth and cordiality and a commitment to strengthen bilateral relations. Each side showed a keenness to respond positively to the concerns of the other.

During Dr. Dipu Moni?s call on the Prime Minister of India, the Prime Minister mentioned that India attached the highest priority to its relations with Bangladesh . He reiterated his invitation to H.E. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit India at an early date. He expressed his hope that her visit would write a new chapter in India-Bangladesh relations.

During the official talks, the two Ministers noted the multifaceted nature of relations between the two countries and the historical and traditional bonds of friendship. They also noted that recent elections have provided both countries with a historical opportunity to take India-Bangladesh relations to greater heights. It was in this spirit that both Ministers discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and agreed on the following:

– Both sides recognized the need to expedite negotiations with a view to finalize an agreement for sharing of the waters of Teesta river. Towards this end, they agreed to mandate their respective Foreign Offices to meet and discuss the technical and other parameters of this issue. They agreed to immediately commence Joint Hydrological Observations on the river. They also agreed to undertake bank protection works, dredging of Ichhamati river and minor irrigation/drinking water schemes on Feni river.

– The Bangladesh side thanked the Indian side for the hospitality and cooperation extended to the Bangladesh Parliamentary delegation during their visit to the proposed Tipaimukh Dam site. In this context, the Bangladesh side welcomed India ?s reassurance that it would not take steps that would adversely impact Bangladesh .

– Both sides recognized the importance of bilateral and regional connectivity. In this context, both sides discussed designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under Article-23 of the Inland Water Transit and Trade Agreement as well as the use of Chittagong port by India . Bangladesh side agreed to provide access to Ashuganj Port to facilitate the transportation of the Over Dimensional Consignments for the Palatana Power Project in Tripura.

– Indian side agreed to facilitate Nepal-Bangladesh and Bhutan-Bangladesh connectivity.

– Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the power sector. India agreed to provide at least 100 MW to Bangladesh on a priority basis. Ahead of this, it will also undertake a feasibility study on power grid inter-connectivity for transmission lines, etc. from India to Bangladesh .

– Both sides agreed on the re-opening Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point as well as opening a land route at Demagiri-Thegamukh on the Mizoram border for bilateral trade.

– India agreed in principle to provide a Line of Credit for railway projects and supply of locomotives, coaches and buses. India offered to take up construction of Akhaura-Agartala railway link under Indian assistance.

– India also agreed to assist Bangladesh in the dredging sector.

– Both sides agreed to start Border Haats at the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border for mutual benefit of the people in these areas.

– Both sides agreed to movement of containerised cargo by rail and water for bilateral trade.

– Both sides welcomed the holding of the Joint Working Group on Trade last month and discussed broad economic issues with a view to fully activate all institutional mechanisms to promote two-way trade, initiate long pending trade facilitation measures and facilitate movement of businessmen and professionals. Bangladesh specifically raised the issue of duty free access to Bangladeshi commodities, removal of Non Tariff and Para Tariff Barriers and improvement of infrastructures on the Indian side. Indian side expressed its readiness to assist Bangladesh in strengthening the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute. It also requested for removal of barriers to Indian investments and port restrictions for specific commodities.

– Both sides agreed to comprehensively address all outstanding land boundary issues. Both sides expressed their intent to resolve outstanding issues relating to Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and the Tin Bigha Corridor. Both sides also recognized the need for electrification of Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves as a humanitarian gesture.

– The two Ministers reiterated their resolve to strengthen bilateral co-operation to deter the recurrence of terrorist incidents. Both sides also reiterated their resolve not to allow the use of their territories for activities inimical to each other?s security interests.

– Both sides agreed to conclude the following three agreements:

a. Agreement for mutual legal assistance on criminal matters,

b. Agreement of transfer of sentenced persons,

c. Agreement on combating international terrorism, organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.

The two Ministers reiterated their conviction that opportunities for fruitful collaboration between the two countries in furthering mutual interests were enormous and resolved to remain engaged to expeditiously address all bilateral issues.

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Cash Subsidy On 15 Products to export

Pay-OffThe government has announced a fresh list of 15 exportable products with inclusion of two new items that would receive cash subsidy in the current fiscal year, officials told AHN Media Tuesday. The exporters will receive cash subsidy on the products against net repatriation of the FOB (free on board) prices from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, according to the announcement. The central bank of Bangladesh issued a circular in this connection on Tuesday and asked the commercial banks to follow the provisions for providing cash subsidy on the exportable products. “We’ve issued the circular in line with the finance ministry’s decision on cash subsidy for the fiscal 2009-10,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, told AHN in Dhaka, preferring anonymity. “The rate of cash subsidies is almost the same for this fiscal compared to the previous one,” the official said, adding that the government has included two products – plastic pet bottle flex and finished leather – in the list, which will enjoy cash subsidies at 10 percent and 7.50 percent respectively from this fiscal. The government will provide 20 percent cash incentive for exporting agro-products, including vegetables and fruits, while it is 17.50 percent for leather goods, according to the BB circular, issued on Tuesday. Cash subsidy on home-made textile, frozen foods, bone dust, jute goods, bicycle, light-engineering products, day-old chicks, potato and ‘halal’ meat will be given at 5.0 percent, 12.50 percent, 15 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 10 percent and 20 percent respectively. The products, which are made of “hogla (an elephant grass product)”, “khor (straw)” and ” akher chobra (sugarcane bark)”, will be offered cash incentive at the rates between 15 percent and 20 percent, while 20 percent for liquid glucose, the central bank said.

The Energy Challenge for 21st Century Bangladesh – OIL & GAS

Bangladesh still remains an agrarian country. Because of the fast population growth, the amount of per capita cultivable land is dwindling very fast. In order to survive as a nation, and to prosper in the 21st century, Bangladesh will have to shift from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. Consequently, the power generation will have to increase drastically to achieve that goal. Electrification of the whole country should be taken as the top most priority. According to the Report of the Task Forces on Bangladesh Development Strategies for the 1990s, as s of 1991, 73.1% of the total energy consumption comes from biomass fuel, such as agricultural residues, tree residues, fuel wood, and dung. The use of biomass is not only an ineffective means of energy generation, it is also extremely detrimental to the environment. For instance, the forest cover in Bangladesh has been reduced from 15.6% to 13.4% between 1973 and 1987. According to some reports, the present forest cover is less than 9%. The decrease in forest cover contributes, among other adverse affects on the environment, to the increase in flooding propensity. Therefore, I believe, a drastic improvement of the power sector is an absolute prerequisite for the overall development of the country. To meet the growing demands of electricity in the domestic and industrial sectors, Bangladesh will have to come up with a plan for massive production of power. The country is not self reliant on energy production. As of 1983-84, imported fuels (petroleum and coal) accounted for 44% of primary commercial energy supply and required about 22% of the country’s export earnings. The dependence on exported oil eventually will create uncertainty. According to a recent report in the Scientific American (March 1998), the global production of conventional oil will probably begin to decline within next 10 years. Bangladesh needs to reduce its dependency on foreign oil gradually, while explore the feasibility of developing alternative sources of energy. The prospect of using natural gas to generate electricity is pretty bright for Bangladesh. In a recent article published in the Daily Star on June 4, 1999, Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal (ex-chairman of the PDB) mentioned that the amount of proven reserve of natural gas in Bangladesh is 10.47 trillion cubic feet (TCF). According to the Report of the Task Forces on Bangladesh Development Strategies for the 1990s, the data on natural gas usage in 1989 indicated that about 150 billion cubic feet of gas is used annually, of which 6% and 45% are used for domestic and power generation, respectively. The usage of gas by the domestic sector is very low, but is increasing at a rate of 12%. Only a fraction of Bangladesh population living in major cities has the access to gas. An increase in domestic usage of gas will help cutting back on the use of biomass fuel, which accounts for 73% of total energy consumption of the country. The amount of electricity production will have to increase drastically, should Bangladesh decides to bring all her citizens under a national electric grid, and to increase industrial activities. The natural gas can be used to produce more electricity. The natural gas burns cleaner than oil and causes less damage to the environment. Fuel derived from natural gas using Fischer-Tropsch synthesis creates fewer emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates compared to reformulated diesel. Research is underway to convert natural gas to liquid form. One research group in Canada, CANMET Energy Technology Center, made progress in converting natural gas into liquid form that is usable in cars. Another group of researchers in Syntroleum Corporation in Tulsa, USA, has developed a way to convert gas into liquid fuels using blown air. When these methods of gas conversion into liquid fuels become readily available in the future, Bangladesh will be able to rely on its own gas to meet most of the power needs. There have been lots of talks in the press recently about the possibility of gas export from Bangladesh to India. Apparently, some foreign companies and donor organizations are keen on the idea of exporting gas from Bangladesh. According to Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal, currently about 400-430 million cubic feet (MMCF) of gas is supplied per day for electricity generation. At this rate of consumption of gas only for the electricity generation (which uses 45% of the total gas consumption), the gas reserve will last 60 to 65 years. In other words, the total reserve of gas will last about 27 years when all other sectors of gas usage (fertilizer, industry, domestic, etc.) are considered. As mentioned earlier, only an insignificant fraction of population in Bangladesh currently uses gas for domestic needs. In addition, the amount of gas consumption will increase drastically should Bangladesh decides to produce more electricity to meet increased demands in the power and fertilizer sectors. If the rate of consumption increases by five folds during the next 15 years, as envisioned by experts, then the gas reserve will last less than a decade at the best. It is worth mentioning that about 10% of annual energy needs of the USA comes from natural gas, which (18 TCF) is more than the total proven reserve of Bangladesh (10.47 TCF). It is very clear that under no circumstances Bangladesh should consider exporting gas. Other possible means of alternative sources of energy include wind power, hydroelectric power, tidal power, solar power, and nuclear power. Generation of electricity using wind requires high wind speed and available open space. Valleys within mountains can funnel winds at high speed, and are suitable locations for wind turbines that can generate electricity. Parts of Chittagong and Hill Tracts might be feasible for generation of electricity using wind power. Despite abundance of surface water, the potential for hydroelectric power is limited at best. The Kaptai hyrdoelectric station is the only major power generating facility in the country. Building of the Kaptai dam in the early 1960s caused inundation of localities around the reservoir, which led to uprooting of many indigenous people, as well as to confrontation between the victims and the government. Because of low terrain and high population density, the prospect of developing hydroelectric power is not environmentally feasible in other parts of the country. Generation of electricity using tidal power is very similar to hydroelectric power. Tidal channels are dammed off and tidal water is forced to pass through a narrow gate to which a turbine is connected. The direction of the turbine can be changed to allow both incoming flood tide and outgoing ebb tide to work on the turbine. However, development of tidal power causes problems to navigation. Siltation behind dams also limits the life of operation. Since most tidal channels are used for navigation in Bangladesh, generation of electricity using tidal power will have to be limited to isolated channels inside the Sundarbans area. Solar power uses sun’s energy to produce electricity. Solar energy is plentiful in Bangladesh. Generation of electricity using solar power is environmentally feasible. Development of solar power should be a top priority for Bangladesh in the 21st century. Most of these alternative sources of energy discussed earlier are still more costly compared to the energy produced by conventional methods. However, with an increase in energy demands and with an invent of more efficient technologies in the future, the production costs and price will decline. To meet the increasing demands of energy, Bangladesh should also consider developing nuclear power as the sources of future energy. To meet the world’s energy demand in the future, further research and development of the nuclear energy will continue throughout the world. Many countries in North America and Europe heavily rely on nuclear energy. For example, France uses up to 75% of nuclear energy to meet the national demand. Canada, Germany, UK, Sweden, USA, and Japan also use a significant amount of energy generated by nuclear reactors. According to the Energy Information Administration, the USA produces about 15% of its electricity (477 billion kilowatt-hour) supply from 132 nuclear reactors. India produces about 2% of its electricity (5.5 billion kilowatt-hours) from nine nuclear reactors. Although nuclear energy is very efficient, it is relatively costly. Also, there are some risks involved in safety procedures and disposal of waste materials generated in nuclear power plants. Occasional accidents can be dangerous. However, “media overreaction” and “enviroscare” against nuclear power plants certainly play a major role in mobilizing public opinion on this issue. Except for Chernobyl disaster, which was caused by a faulty and outdated technology in the former Soviet Union, and the Three Mile Island incidence in the USA, there have not been any significant accidents associated with nuclear power generation. Operations in all other sectors of industry have some risks associated with accidents. For instance, the Bhopal disaster in 1984 was caused by a chemical industry (the Union Carbide), and was equally dangerous. The problem of radioactive waste disposal remains an unresolved issue. As far as the radioactive waste disposal is concerned (in the case of fission reactors), recent studies show that clay-rich seabeds can be suitable for disposal of such waste. The Bengal fan has one of the highest sedimentation rates in the world and could be one such location for burial of radioactive waste. There are different kinds of nuclear reactors. The most efficient type is the “Breeder Reactor” which are not only efficient, but also relatively safer. In addition, the nuclear fusion reactors, as opposed to fission reactors, use heavy deuterium and tritium (a form of hydrogen) as a source of reaction. Fusion reactors produce water as by products–not radioactive waste (i.e. absolutely no environmental risk is associated with them). One gram of deuterium-tritium can generate energy equivalent to burning 45 barrels of oils! These fusion reactors are still in research stage, but significant strides have been made in development of these reactors. Ditmire and others recently reported the findings of their research at the Centennial Meeting of the American Physical Society held in Atlanta, USA in March, 1999. According to the report the dream of sparking tabletop nuclear fusion has become a reality, promising not commercial energy but a promising scientific pay off. The feat took place on a lab bench only about 1 meter wide and 3.5 meters long. There, scientists zapped clusters of atoms of deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, with brief but extremely powerful laser pulses. In addition, research is ongoing in the USA and in Japan to develop cold fusion (i.e. at room temperature). These are all matters of future. We need to adopt a power generating technology that is economically feasible and environmentally sound. Bangladesh is not at the leading edge of technological research. This situation gives us an opportunity to learn from other people’s mistakes. Bangladesh needs to develop an action plan for energy production, transmission, and supply. With the current trend of globalization of trade and technology transfer, it will be possible to adopt technologies that are both efficient and environmentally feasible for Bangladesh in the 21st century.

Bangladeshi Ex- finance minister M. Saifur Rahman is no more!!

M. Saifur RahmanA National Hero of Development ,Bangladeshi ex-finance minister credited with setting the impoverished country on the path to economic reform died Saturday in a car accident, police said.
The car fell into a ditch when hit by a bus near Brahmanbaria town, 100 km east of the capital Dhaka. Doctors declared him dead at a hospital.

Saifur was travelling to Dhaka from his home in the northeastern city of Sylhet to attend an emergency meeting of the BNP on Saturday evening, to be chaired by party chief Begum Khaleda Zia, party officials said.

“He was pulled out unconscious from the car crash and was declared dead after being rushed to a hospital,” police superintendent Mukhlesur Rahman told AFP.

The 77-year-old politician was Bangladesh’s longest-serving finance minister.

He began his political career in 1979-80 as finance minister of the first BNP government. He also served as finance minister in the last BNP government before its tenure ended in 2006 when an army-backed government took over.

The BNP lost to the Awami League in the general elections in December 2008 that restored democracy in the South Asian nation.

He is widely credited with launching Bangladesh’s free market reforms and keeping its macroeconomic health stable during the dozen years he was at the helm of the finance ministry.

The percentage of Bangladeshis living below the poverty line dropped sharply during his years as finance minister.

Rahman gradually rolled back the government’s stake in businesses and privatised scores of state-owned enterprises.
A Short brief about
THE death of M. Saifur Rahman in a road crash brings to an end a life that was spent largely in public service from the late 1970s onward. In the years after he joined the government of General Ziaur Rahman as commerce and then finance minister, Rahman played a pivotal role in the way Bangladesh’s economy was to shape itself. He remains — and this is to his credit — the man who has presented the highest number of national budgets, to the country. That is testimony, in a broad sense, of his indispensability to the party and government he was part of almost to the end of his days. Saifur Rahman found himself on the national political canvas under Zia and then went on to expand his role in the two governments headed by Khaleda Zia. The economy, in a sense, came to be what he conceived it to be.

Saifur Rahman’s influence in government stemmed from the bold role he played in opening up the economy, thus freeing it of the fetters it had begun to stagnate in through state control. And he did the job at the right time, in the early 1990s, when state domination of economies around the globe was coming to a speedy end with the collapse of the Soviet Union and other communist regimes in eastern Europe. Of course, Bangladesh was not part of that controlled political process. But Saifur Rahman knew that unless the country moved out of the nationalization structure that had been in place since the early 1970s and on to a free market highway, it would be unable to keep pace with the rest of the world. He moved vigorously, an act that he would continue during his last stint as finance minister in the last BNP-led government. The concept of a value added tax came from him. It is a measure of how credible and acceptable his policies have turned out to be that governments succeeding those he was part of have carried those policies forward.

For all his decisive steps in taking economic policy to a new, more dynamic direction, Saifur Rahman remained hamstrung in quite a few areas. One can mention here the constraints he faced in dealing with black money and the eventual concession he had to make through allowing such money to be whitened. It is a syndrome the country is yet to come out of. Saifur Rahman’s final years, lived in the shadow of the caretaker government, were not particularly happy. The charges of corruption brought against his sons and his own brief association with the reformists in the BNP were to leave their mark on him.

All the same, Saifur Rahman was a man who did not mince words. He was outspoken in his criticism of ministries that did not perform. He was clear about his goals as a minister and went about achieving them. We mourn his passing

Biography :M. Saifur Rahman (March 1932 ? September 5, 2009; Bengali: ?????? ?????) was a Bangladeshi politician. A chartered accountant by profession, he was a popular leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and served as the longest serving Finance Minister of Bangladesh.

Early life
Saifur Rahman was born in the village of Baharmardan, Moulvibazar, in the Sylhet region. He was one of the participants of the language movement which took place in 1952 of whom he was the vice-president of the Dhaka University’s Muslim Hall.[1] He attended at the Dhaka University and graduated with a BA (Hons) in 1953. Later that year he studied in London, England until 1958, where he obtained a fellowship in chartered accountancy from the Institute of Chartered Accounts.[2] He became a specialist in Monetary, Fiscal and Development Economics.[3] He was the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh, a principal of Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs,[4] and president of Bangladesh Jatishangha Samiti. Rahman joined a political party coalition called the Jatiyatabadi Ganatantrik Dal in 1977, a coalition of political supporters of the late former president Ziaur Rahman, which then became known as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 1978.[1]

Political career
This section requires expansion.

Since 1978, Rahman was a member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the party came into power after a general election in 1979. Rahman was appointed as the finance minister of the first BNP government under Ziaur Rahman, which he served until 1980.

Minister of Finance
Saifur Rahman prepared a record 12 budgets in Bangladesh and has been hailed for opening up Bangladesh’s economy in the early 1990s and pioneering major economic reforms. Especially his role is cited positively for the expansion of Bangladeshi economy particularly after the country appeared to have entered into a process of consistent democratic practice.

?General Elections
General elections of 2001 came as triumphant to M. Saifur Rahman and according to the observers have reflected the position M. Saifur Rahman used to have in his constituency. Contesting on behalf of his party Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the parliamentary constituency Maulvibazar-3, he secured a 52% of the total votes pushing behind his nearest contestant Azizur Rahman of Bangladesh Awami League who secured 95,319 votes. In another contest at the constituency Sylhet-1, Saifur Rahman here too secured a 53% of the total votes having his categorical counterpart in Awami League Abul Maal Abdul Muhith defeated and satisfied with only 95,089 votes. As per the constitution Saifur had to leave blank one of his won constituencies to proceed the house session. He decided to left the Maulvibazar-3 seat which was later retaken by his son M. Naser Rahman also representing Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

However in the general elections in 2008, Saifur Rahman had to concede defeat in Sylhet-1 constituency to Abul Maal Abdul Muhith receiving 140,367 votes against Muhit’s 178,636 votes for the Awami League. Muhit like Saifur Rahman, has been the choice of his party to chair the Ministry of Finance, which made the idiom stood up that Sylhet-1 is being a sole provider of finance ministers. The Maulvibazar-3 constituency too went away Saifur Rahman where he had to conceded defeat to Awami League candidate Syed Mohsin Ali lacking 32,026 votes.

Personal life
Saifur Rahman had three sons and a daughter. His wife, Duree Samad Rahman, died of cancer in 2006. One of his sons, M. Naser Rahman, was a successful contender in by-elections for his left constituency of Maulvibazar-3 in 2001.

Saifur Rahman died in a road crash on September 5, 2009, in Brahmanbaria District on his way to Dhaka from his home district of Maulvibazar. He was pulled out unconscious from the car crash and was declared dead after being rushed to a hospital the same day. On Friday he was in Sylhet visiting the shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal and Shah Paran, then headed for Moulvibazar. A total of five janazah prayers were held for Rahman, the first of which took place in Gulshan Azad Mosque, then at the BNP offices, at the Parliament buildings, Shahi Eidgah Maidan and at Moulvibazar Government High School.The BNP began three day mourning for the passing. He will buried at his village in Baharmardan.

Bangladesh ministers ditch suits, A power saving policy

The Bangladeshi prime minister has ordered public servants to ditch suits and ties for short-sleeved shirts to cut air-conditioning use in the power-starved nation.

Sheikh Hasina first raised the idea at a cabinet meeting last month and asked her colleagues to set an example to other government employees.

“She told us to avoid suits and ties on hot days and to wear plain, simple shirts,” said communications minister Syed Abul Hossain.

“The prime minister pointed out that air conditioning is a luxury and if we wear the lighter clothing we will need to use the AC less. I’ve already noticed top public servants are no longer wearing suits and ties.”

The official dress code for civil servants, written in 1982, was this week altered to accommodate Hasina’s instructions.

Last month her government unveiled a six-billion-dollar power plant building programme to end a chronic energy shortage in Bangladesh’s fast-growing economy.

The country of 144 million people has long suffered severe power outages due to demands imposed by its economy, which has been growing at around six percent annually over the past five years.

Shortfalls are especially acute in the hot summer months from April to October.

The crisis also prompted the government to move clocks forward by an hour in June to make maximum use of daytime.