Bangladesh asks World Bank to review cancelled loan

Bangladesh has asked the World Bank to review its decision to cancel a $1.2 billion loan for a major road and rail bridge, saying that a senior minister had resigned over the graft allegations.
The Washington-based lender cancelled financing for the Padma bridge, which would transform the country’s transport network, in June, explaining the government did not cooperate in probing “high-level” corruption in the project.
“Though no evidence has been found… former Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain has resigned to help the probe, though he claimed his innocence,” Finance Minister A.M.A. Muhith said late Wednesday.
“We’re still hopeful that the World Bank will reconsider the matter,” he said.
Hossain was alleged to have sought a bribe from a Canadian firm bidding for part of the bridge project.
The cancellation embarrassed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the 6.2-kilometre (3.8-mile) bridge was one of her key election pledges.
The World Bank recently said it was “technically possible” to reinstate the loan, but only if its demands were fully met to investigate and remove tainted officials.

Bangladeshi Cultural Father of New Generation Humayun Ahmed is to the eternal life

The Man who created the Modern and easy thoughts of our culture ,Humayun Ahmed has left his last breath at New York Yesterday .
He is an inventor of our new generation feel .Through his writings ,Dramas , Movies he picturised a simple philosophy of Human being . He made things easy .He describe the reasons of  various emotions and behavior. He guided us a lot .

We owe to Him a LOT.
We honor Him GURU AWARD

May Allah place Him in Haven !!- gurumia

Outsourcing companies under spy radar in Bangladesh

According to those close to the issue, a growing number of companies are at an increased risk of fraud. How so? Because they’re joining the ranks of businesses that are outsourcing critical functions to third parties.

Intelligence agencies in Bangladesh have started monitoring activities of at least 52 “outsourcing” companies, which are giving promise of “earning from home” thus cheating thousands of people around the country. The ministry of home affairs instructed strict monitoring of the activities of such companies when at least five of such companies disappeared only during past two months after robbing off millions of Taka from the people. Meanwhile Bangladesh Police has suggested people to refrain from responding to alluring advertisements of these companies, which promise “attractive income from sitting at home”. During June this year, two of the largest outsourcing companies named Dolancer and Skylancer masterminds went into hiding after grabbing large sum of money from the people. On July 12, masterminds of another company named bdsclick.com went into hiding after cheating hundreds of people. It may be mentioned here that, a large number of companies are giving alluring advertisements in local dailies with the motive of trapping people by offering attractive income every month by sitting at home. Cheated clients of Dolancer have already written complaint letter to the Bangladeshi Prime Minister seeking her help in recovering their money as well as punishing the culprits of this fraudulent enterprise. Mastermind of Dolancer, Rokon U Ahmed fled the country in June this year after cheating a few thousand people. This fraudulent company started activities after establishing an office at Dhaka’s Kalabagan area. According to information, number of members of Dolancer is above half million. Similarly a number of criminal cases had already been filed with various police stations in Bangladesh against the owners of Skylancer and bdsclick.com. Police said, most of the masterminds of these fraudulent companies went into hiding after cheating thousands of people.

A source inside Bangladesh Police told Weekly Blitz that currently they are investigating activities of at least 53 companies of such type and necessary actions will be taken soon against many of them on completion of the investigation process. Companies which are under radar of Bangladesh Police are: dolancer.com, bdfreelancing.com, skylancer.com, lanstec.com, newshearaton.com, visionadworld.com, makegame.com, googleadclick.com,newshareasian.com, dignity.com, quickearns.com, workfordollar.com, adreview.com, airapple.com, clicknet.com, mids.org, adslinkbd.com, eyelancer.com, alertpayclick.com,mircobiz.com, adzone.com, uniquelancer.com, ptcbank.net, bestlance.com, lancingforce.com, freedesklancer.com, intedfoundation.com, padadiseusink.com, earnigship.com, skyworkerlimited.com, uniquesot.com, microclicker.com, onelineadclick.com, onelinenettowork.com, esource.com.bd, esselsence.com, schemeadvertiser.com, foxclicks.com, allictsolutions.com, worldforearn.com, dreamkit.com, megatypers.com, minutelancer.com, 3gclick.com, affairtrack.com, clicksworld.com, microlancer.com, orkitnet.com, freelancerit.com and classicadsclicks.com.

One of the owners of an outsourcing companies, who are genuinely earning foreign currency criticized government’s attitude in harassing all of such companies grossly said, “In every country in the world, outsourcing is becoming a lucrative business, where people can earn foreign currency by working from their personal laptops of PCs. In India alone, more than twenty three million people are provided full-time income sources through the outsourcing business. The outsourcing industry was just booming in Bangladesh and it has certainly fallen into prey of unscrupulous elements both within and outside the country. The government surely needs to trace those fraudulent companies, which are collecting money from people with false promises of large sum of profit, while the government equally needs to give protection to the genuine companies, which are contributing to country’s foreign exchange earnings by running this business thus competing mostly with companies from India.”

IMF Says World Economy Getting Worse

The world hangs in the balance of the U.S. and European economies. Until they turn the corner, the emerging economies of the world will remain in slow motion, the International Monetary Fund said Monday in yet another reduction in the multilateral lender’s global growth forecast in their World Economic Outlook report.

The IMF said in a statement on its website that the global recovery showed signs of continuing weakness in the second quarter, mainly because of ongoing financial problems in Europe. The latest World Economic Outlook projects that the global economy will grow 3.5 percent this year, down 0.1 percentage points from the April forecast, and 3.9 percent in 2013, 0.2 percentage points lower than a previous estimate. By comparison, the world economy grew at 5.3 percent, thanks to emerging markets, in 2010.

But now the emerging nations of China, India, Brazil, China and smaller markets are slowing down worse than expected.

China’s growth hit a three year low in the second quarter at 7.5 percent. Brazil will release it’s second quarter data soon, but estimates are that the largest economy south of Texas grew under half a percent yet again after growing just 0.2 percent in the first.

The IMF also published an update to its Global Financial Stability Report said that risks to financial stability in the banking sector had increased in the second quarter of this year because of the continued slow global recovery and fears about the quality of bank assets in Europe.

“More worrisome than these revisions to the baseline forecast is the increase in downside risks,” said Olivier Blanchard, the IMF chief economist and director of the IMF’s Research Department, which prepared the report.

According to the report, the IMF is forecasting U.S. growth at 2 percent this year, rising to 2.3 percent next year. Both have been reduced by 0.1 percentage point. The Euro area is expected to be recessionary, contracting 0.3 percent this year and just 0.7 percent next year for the world’s largest economy.

In the big emerging markets, the IMF lowered its China growth forecast to 8 percent from 8.2 percent this year, rising to 8.5 percent in 2013. India faced the biggest reduction in the IMF’s forecast, with this year’s GDP target falling 0.7 basis points to 6.1 percent in 2012, rising to 6.5 percent in 2013. Brazil is also seeing a big correction in its growth forecast, now down 0.6 basis points to just 2.5 percent in 2012 and growing to 4.6 percent in 2013.

Good news!! Discovery of new gas field at Comilla !!

The state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) has announced the discovery of a new gas field at Srikail in Comilla district, an area rich in hydrocarbon deposits. The gas field having a probable reserve of 300 billion cubic feet is of a medium-size one. Bapex plans to start extraction of gas from the field at a rate of 30 million cubic feet per day from December next.

The discovery, though a modest one, comes as a piece of good news under the given circumstances. The country, which was once said to be ‘floating on gas’, is now severely gas-starved. Its mills and factories, cooking stoves and filling stations are not getting the gas as per requirement. Hundreds of industrial units are either shut or operating below their installed capacity because of the shortage of gas supply. The government has been forced to suspend production in urea fertiliser factories, where natural gas is the main ingredient, to keep the gas-based power plants operational.

The plight of the real estate developers and their clients who have bought new apartments is not anyway better. The developers are finding it hard to sell hundreds of flats, constructed at substantial costs, since the government has kept suspended gas connection to residential buildings for quite sometime. The failure to provide gas has also given rise to a discriminatory situation. Many residents in Dhaka city are forced to spend a good amount of money per month on bottled gas (liquefied petroleum gas) while their neighbours are using low-cost piped gas.

The power and gas supply shortage – power shortage is directly linked to gas supply deficit – is placed at the top of the list of factors responsible for causing much of the economic woes to Bangladesh. No investor, foreign and local, would put in their money in new ventures unless and until he or she is assured of uninterrupted supply of both. However, it is not that no new investments are taking place in the country. In fact, many are still setting up new mills and factories with the expectations that the situation would improve in the coming days. The government’s plans and programmes relating to power and energy sector have made them optimistic.

Now, it remains the responsibility of the government to be true to its promises concerning the improvement of gas and power supply situation. Any improvement in gas supply situation through the discovery of greater number of gas fields in offshore or onshore areas would, undoubtedly, help ease the power situation since gas is the cheapest and the cleanest of fuels for power generation.

Offshore blocks remain the most prospective areas of finding new gas reserves for the country. The government had earlier invited an international bidding for these blocks. But the response was poor mainly for maritime boundary dispute with neighbours like Myanmar and India. Since the dispute with Myanmar is now settled, the government should float another round of international bidding for the offshore blocks without any further delay. The country can hardly waste anymore time on energy issue on which is dependent its future progress and prosperity.

Bangladesh fruit export receive boost

Bangladesh optimistic about the future of the country’s fruit export sector in light of recent developments
The UK has eased restrictions on citrus from Bangladesh igniting hopes amongst the industry there it could revive exports to Europe.
The UK’s Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) imposed restrictions on the importation of citrus from Bangladesh in 2008 following repeated arrivals of fruit infected with canker, leaf spot and black spot, the Financial Express has reported. As a result exports to the UK and other markets in Europe fell away.
Officials at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation, Department of Agricultural Extension and the Hortex Foundation, however, have established the diseases do not affect citrus grown in the Narsingdi and Bandarban districts. Treatments for the diseases have also been developed that do not require pesticides that are banned in the EU, the newspaper reported.
Since the easing of restrictions Bangladesh has sent six citrus shipments, totalling 107 tonnes, to the UK.
Meanwhile a separate report by the Financial Express stated Bangladesh could soon begin exporting bananas for the first time to markets in Europe, Middle East and North America.
The news comes in light of a recent study into the shelf life of green bananas that addressed concerns as to maintaining post harvest quality.
Testing has shown the quality and freshness of bananas from Bangladesh can be maintained for at least one month allowing produce to be shipped to Europe, the Middle East and North America

Growing Internet trends in Bangladesh

The rapid growth of digital technology is fundamentally changing the world as we know it. Global internet penetration in 2010 stood at 1.9 billion people and is expected to grow to 5 billion by 2015. It is unsurprising that with this in mind, information in the world (videos, music, documents etc.) that is stored online is also projected to grow from 800 exabytes to 53 zetabytes (eMarketer, 2011).

To put this into context, Google recently announced that there is 60 hours of video (YouTube Blog, 2012) uploaded onto YouTube each and every minute.

Mobile adoption is another factor that is further accelerating access to the internet. The “Queen of the Net” Mary Meeker forecasts mobile internet usage to outstrip desktop/large screen by 2015.

So why is this relevant to us in Bangladesh?
In Bangladesh, with mobile subscribers just over 92 million and mobile internet access over 25 million users (BTRC, March 2012), it is fair to say, that these “pocket computers” will be the first entry point into the internet for many people in this country.

As access to internet explodes, the internet will increasingly become where people, of all ages and demographics, spend their time and as a result it will lead to significant changes in the way we go about our daily lives.

It is second nature for an individual in New York to purchase a flight via the internet and changes such as these are soon to take place here.

G&R Ad Network, a company that manages internet ad campaigns across over 150 local websites reaching over 90% of Bangladeshis online, has built-up unique insight into how users within the country and abroad browse the web.

G&R analysed millions of data points and put together 3 key trends that can help show where the internet in Bangladesh is going.

1. Internet consumption is accelerating
The internet subscriber base in Bangladesh (excluding mobile) currently stands at just over 1.5 million (BTRC, Feb 2012). However, total desktop internet users in Bangladesh is actually far greater than that number, likely driven by heavy usage in offices, internet cafes and multiple users accessing the internet from a single household. Local industry estimates suggest that in 2011 access to the web was closer to 8 million users, having grown 300% since 2010 and expected grow a further 500% by 2012 (BCG, 2010). This acceleration of internet consumption is undoubtedly fueled not only by the growth in access, such as through WIMAX modems, but also through the proliferation of increasingly affordable laptops, desktops and tablets.

2. Those with access browse a lot
Until now, it wasn’t clear how people in Bangladesh actually spend their time on the web on a daily basis. The data G&R gathered sheds some more light on consumer behaviour online.

The average user accesses the web on 3 separate occasions throughout the day, with usage peaking during the morning hours. In addition, a total of 4 different websites are typically visited during these sessions.

While usage of social networks and email services account for a considerable portion web activity, the data collected by the G&R indicates that Bangladeshis also spend a lot of time browsing the web. Such users are actively seeking information and content online and this is only going to grow further as more local websites and web applications start to enter the public domain.

3. Web usage varies considerably by day of week
Which days are Bangladeshis most online is a question that has been asked a lot at G&R. As visualised in the chart on left , web usage varies considerably based on the day of the week. Internet traffic among local Bangladeshis peaks on Mondays and is generally higher during the working days. Fridays represent substantially less traffic, but it is worth noting that internet consumption remains high for non-resident Bangladeshis visiting local Bangladeshi sites on Fridays.

Final thoughts

The rapid development of the online space in Bangladesh is very exciting and promising. The frenetic popularity of global platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter as well as the innovation and growth of local websites, Bangla content, localised online tools and ecommerce which indicates that the internet will have an increasingly positive impact on the daily lives of people in this country.
Nazimuddaula Milon is COO, G&R Ad Network (milon@gandr.com.bd)

Bangladesh all set to form a strict MLM law !!

Bangladesh all set to form a strict MLM law
Millions of Bangladeshis lost their hard-earned money to fraud MLM companies. After massive allegations of cheating people by MLM companies, the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh, is all set to form a strict all in coming months. In future all MLM companies will come under tough monitoring.
Some Highlights of legislation draft:
Sale of any imaginary product, tangible assets like trees, apartment, and land etc, any kind of bonus scheme, collection or disbursement of funds by installment or savings, lottery ticket selling, trading of gold/platinum/bronze are remarkable fields where the MLM companies would not be allowed to do business.
In the new law, it has been proposed to allow the controller to punish the unscrupulous people of the companies with five years’ prison or financial punishment or both.
Mustafa K Mujeri, director general of government-sponsored Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) said “The lawshould not be prepared with inputs from MLM companies, as it will uphold their interest”.
The new law will make it mandatory for the all MLM companies to apply for the licence before their operations from the authority, the procedure will be strict and will include checking of products, quality of goods and price tag offered by the company, if products are found sub-standard, the concern authority will file a case against the company.
Companies like Unipay2u & Speak Asia got away easily, due to the loop holes in the law. Currently Unipay2u’s bank accounts have been frozen by the authorities, where as in Speak Asia’s case, there is no update neither from the authorities nor from the company. When finally law is enacted, it will be interesting to see how Speak Asia will apply for the license, as under new law, sale of any imaginary product will not be permitted.
We have some information that on the similar lines, the ministry of corporate is looking forward to draft a strict MLM law in India.

Beware of online cheating by MLM companies

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) has urged all concerned to be aware of online cheating as a number of MLM (multi-level marketing) companies are alluring the people to earn foreign currency in the name of outsourcing.

BASIS has observed that recently some organisations of the nature of MLM companies have built a network in the country by focusing on outsourcing and finally they are siphoning off public money.

The association organised a press conference at its office Sunday expressing its grave concern over the issue.

The trade body in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and ICT-based organisations will start an awareness programme from June 30 in different universities relating to this issue. At first, the programme will be held at Jahangirnagar University.

The gangs are trapping mainly the students of different universities and colleges by offering an easy earning process through internet and at a stage the students cannot be able to withdraw their deposits and benefits, the organizers of the press briefing said.

BASIS President Mahboob Zaman said the situation is ominous for the potential outsourcing sector.

When the country is achieving reputation in the outsourcing sector, then some unscrupulous people are choosing the means of trapping people, he added. The position of Bangladesh is third in the oDesk, the world’s largest marketplace of outsourcing, where 12 per cent work is done by the people of the country, Mr Mahboob mentioned.

In the press conference, victims of different MLM companies, especially of Dolancer Outsourcing Ltd and Skylancer, described their experiences as to how they cheat people.

They said the MLM companies took a registration fee of Tk 5,600 to Tk 8,000 for opening an account and then they have to invest more money for different purposes. At one stage, when their amount of deposit money and earning for online work stood at a handsome level, then the companies started showing lame excuses.

Police have already arrested the top executives of Skylancer and Dolancer Outsourcing Ltd following the protest of the victims.

Apart from the organisations, BDS Click Centre, Bravo IT, Lance Tech, Online Ad Click, Paid to Click, Safety Click, PTC for Bd, Ad Sourcing etc are doing such online business in the country.

BASIS senior vice president Fahim Mashroor said the real outsourcing sites do not take any registration fee. So freelancers should be aware of online working. He also mentioned some sites which are recognised globally for outsourcing.

Life on Mars !!

This full-circle scene combines 817 images taken by the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. It shows the terrain that surrounded the rover while it was stationary for four months of work during its most recent Martian winte

See the full scale picture on NASA’s site Photo: 

This is about as good a view of Mars most people will ever see.
NASA has released a panoramic scene, compiled of 817 images, of the Red Planet.

The images were taken by a mast-mounted panoramic camera on the US space agency’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between December 2011 and May 2012 when the rover was stationary for maintenance during the Martian winter
NASA described the picture as the “next best thing to being there”.

The image shows new rover tracks and an old impact crater, known as the Endeavour Crater, which can be seen just below the horizon in the right half of the picture. It spans 22 kilometres in diameter.
The rover’s solar panels and deck can be seen in the foreground.
Opportunity, which has been working on Mars since January 2004, completed its 3000th Martian day on July 2, when the US space agency marked 15 years of robotic presence on the Red Planet.
NASA’s Curiosity rover, formally known as the Mars Science Laboratory but nicknamed a “dream machine” by NASA scientists, blasted off from Florida in November and is expected to land in early August.
It is the most advanced machine ever built with the aim of roaming the surface of Earth’s nearest neighbour. The rover cost $2.5 billion to construct and launch, carries its own rock-analysing lab and aims to hunt for signs that life once existed there.

Padma bridge project by own fund :Govt to issue $750m sovereign bond for Padma Bridge : PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Wednesday Bangladesh will construct the much-talked-about Padma Bridge with its own fund, if necessary, reports UNB.

“We’ll go for it with our own fund, if needed,” she informed parliament amid table thumping by MPs.

Hasina said she already had a meeting with the Bangladesh Bank governor, the Economic Relations Division and Finance Secretary Tuesday regarding funding of the project.

“Our economy isn’t in that much bad shape. I asked them how much money it (Padma Bridge) will require. I also enquired about using our own reserve for this purpose by taking one or two billion dollars a year,” she told the House in response to a supplementary question from independent lawmaker M Fazlul Azim (Noakhali-6) during the PM’s question-answer session.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the country which can move forward on its own strong feet during the global economic recession can also go for building a mega project like Padma Bridge with its own fund.

“At this time of recession many countries across the globe feel the pinch, but Bangladesh is moving towards the right direction,” she said adding, “Inshallah, we’ll start the construction work of the Padma Bridge.”

About Malaysian proposal for the constriction of Padma Bridge, she said, “Any proposal will have to be acceptable to the country and its people first.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Sunday the government would issue sovereign bonds worth US$750 million this fiscal to mobilise funds for construction of the Padma Bridge, reports BSS.

The government is also actively considering realisation of surcharge, issuance of internal bond, pruning some development programmes and maintaining austerity at all levels of the national life to pump in funds for the bridge, she said in her valedictory speech on the concluding day of this year’s budget session in the Jatiya Sangsad.

The Prime Minister assured the countrymen of launching the construction of the much-waited bridge this year and sought support of the countrymen and expatriate nationals in this regard.

Criticising the World Bank for unilateral suspension of the credit agreement for the bridge, the Prime Minister said, “I have received many phone calls from fellow citizens at home and abroad. I have seen a national spirit in them which has made me inspired to go ahead with the project at our own source”.

“We have already calculated how much money we will need yearly for the bridge. And, with the help of the countrymen, we will begin the construction this year,” she said.

“Bangladesh economy is now much stronger to offset the worldwide recession. We have declared development budget of Tk 550 billion for the next fiscal from which we will keep a provision for the bridge,” she said adding that “for this we have to follow some austerity measures and make sacrifice”.

The Prime Minister said she had already talked to different ministries to slash some of their development projects and divert the saved fund for the Padma Bridge. By this time if any foreign country or company shows interest to provide support to the project, then we will certainly consider it giving the highest priority to national interest.”

Sheikh Hasina again outright rejected the World Bank allegation of corruption in selection of the consultant for Padma Bridge Project, saying the WB’s delay in taking the decision to suspend the fund caused immense financial loss for the country.

She said the government spent about Tk 15 billion from its own sources for land acquisition and rehabilitation of the affected persons, which was closely monitored by lenders including the World Bank.

“The task was accomplished with the highest transparency and accountability and no question they (WB) could raise about any corruption at that time. So, how the World Bank raises the allegation of corruption now whereas they did not disburse any single penny for the project,” she said.

The Prime Minister said, ” I had requested the World Bank to float tender afresh if they found any irregularities or corruption. But, they adopted a dillydallying practice and refrained from taking any quick action in this regard”.

“The World Bank not only dillydallied on the project but also asked other co-financers not to release their fund,” she added.

“As a nation we cannot accept this disgraceful decision of the WB with which we came to an agreement for Padma Bridge as they voluntarily showed interests to finance the project,” she said.

“In the past the World Bank prescribed us not to give subsidies to agriculture, power and energy sector. But, defying the WB recommendation we continued subsidies to those sectors in our own economic interests,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said, “Whenever we have received any allegation of corruption in any project, we have sent those to the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) for necessary action”.

At that time the Bank gave no document or paper on the alleged corruption in the Padma Bridge Project.

“Even though as the World Bank was insisting, we have changed the concerned minister, the secretary and the Project Director without any proof of corruption against them,” she said adding the World Bank came up with many prescriptions which were destructive for the country’s economy.

“Bangladesh has achieved the hard-earned independence after massive movement and struggle. So, we want to reach the fruits of independence to the people and ensure socioeconomic development of the people,” she said.

She said the country witnessed stunning successes in the fields of agriculture, education, health, power, economy as well as Digital Bangladesh.

The country, she said, has maintained over six percent growth in the last three and a half years despite the global economic recession.

“The annual development programme (ADP) achieved 93/94 percent success last fiscal year,” she said.

The country would have experienced more successes if fuel price had not been increased globally and the Middle East crisis not created, she said.

The Prime Minister said the government ensured food security of the people by increasing food production and expanded the social safety net. “There is a food stock of 14 lakh tonnes in the country,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the income of the middle class people and low income group went up substantially, while salary and allowances of the government staff and garment workers had been raised.

“The government has also constituted the 8th Wage Board for journalists and employees of the newspaper industry,” she said.

The Prime Minister said the government created employment for 75 lakh people, including 4.50 lakh in the public sector.

Highlighting various steps for development of the power sector, Sheikh Hasina said 1.30 crore people had been brought under the electricity network as 25 lakh new subscribers had emerged in the last three and a half years.

“The country produced more electricity in the last three years than the amount the present government pledged in its election manifesto,” she said.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh received 1.13 billion dollars worth of foreign direct investment proposals in the last year, while local investment was increasing rapidly.

“The country earned 12 billion dollars in remittances in the last fiscal,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the government was continuing its struggle to strengthen democracy and ensure people’s empowerment. “We have ensured voting and constitutional rights of the people, she said.

In this connection, she mentioned the holding of 5,202 elections in the last three years which were staged in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere. Not a single question was raised from any quarter about the elections, she said.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh was once recognised as a country of Bangla Bhai, militancy and terrorism. But the present government has been able to free the country from that stigma by curbing these social menaces with an iron hand.

She said her government ensured good governance and fulfilled the hopes and aspirations of the people by strengthening the Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and setting up the Information Commission.

“We have been working relentlessly to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 keeping our election manifestoes,” she said.

Mentioning Bangladesh’s tremendous success in foreign policy, Sheikh Hasina said the country’s image had been brightened in the outside world due to this success.

The Prime Minister underscored the need for making the country self-reliant instead of dependence on others. “We want to stand to our own feet in all sectors,” she said.

Bangladesh Fires Back At World Bank Over Bridge

First, the World Bank cancels a $1.2 billion loan to Bangladesh to build a bridge, citing corruption. Now, Bangladesh’s finance minister is blaming the World Bank itself for irregularities in the project.

The World Bank said in a statement Friday that it had “credible evidence” of “a high-level corruption conspiracy” among Bangladeshi officials to misuse money related to the $2.9 billion Padma bridge project.

The bank first aired its suspicions a year ago that a Canadian firm, SNC-Lavallin, had offered improper payments to senior government officials to win a contract related to the bridge. Canadian police have launched an investigation and SNC-Lavallin says it is cooperating with the probe.

The World Bank suspended the loan in October. On cancelling it Friday, the bank said the Bangladesh government had failed to take action since the suspension to address the graft concerns.

On Sunday, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, the country’s finance minister, denied all corruption and fired back with his own accusations.

It was the World Bank, he claimed, that had put pressure on Bangladesh to select a Chinese contractor that Bangladesh had earlier disqualified in the pre-qualification process following “fraud by its Bangladesh representative.”

He went on: “Ever since, we felt that the World Bank commenced delaying tactics and our suffering of the last nine months began.”

Officials at the Bangladesh country office of the World Bank were not immediately available for comment.

Mr. Muhith said Bangladesh had reassigned a government minister who oversaw the project only to please the World Bank, not because of concerns over corruption.

If the bank was hoping to spur Bangladesh into some kind of action by pulling the plug on the loan for the Padma bridge, it doesn’t seem to be working.

For Bangladesh, the current strategy is risky. As Mr. Muhith himself notes, the poor country has spent $180 million of its own money on the bridge, some of which was supposed to be refunded by donor money.

On Monday, the Asian Development Bank said it also was pulling funding from the bridge, making it unlikely the project can move ahead soon. Bangladesh has talked about turning to Malaysia for alternative funding, but that’s unlikely to be at concessional rates.

Bangladesh relies on foreign donor aid to fund 40% of its development spending. Last year a drop in aid flows, in large part because of donor concerns over graft in the Padma bridge project, led to a widening of the country’s budget deficit. Instead, the state borrowed heavily from the country’s banking system, sparking inflation and crowding out private investment.

Meanwhile, a large trade deficit, in part due to the high cost of oil imports, caused large declines in the value of the taka currency. In April, the country signed an agreement to borrow $1 billion from the International Monetary Fund and has been working to rein in its deficits, although concerns over corruption remain.

Some Bangladesh officials say the World Bank jumped the gun by canceling the loan before the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission had completed an ongoing probe into the matter.

The World Bank, in an attempt to spur government action, sent a team to Dhaka last month to discuss how to punish those involved in the alleged graft, Bangladeshi government officials say.

World Bank officials demanded several actions, including suspending from office of all persons related to the alleged corruption and the appointment of an independent supervisor to monitor the Anti-Corruption Commission’s probe, according to officials in the government’s economic-relations department. The government was reluctant to take action against ministers unless graft was proved, the officials said.

“Their credible evidence will be credible under our law when witnesses can be found,” Mr. Muhith said on Sunday.