GURUMIA.COM Towards The Developed Bangladesh Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:35:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7th Five Years Plan Fri, 02 Oct 2015 15:33:05 +0000 7th

7th Five Years Plan

General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission is in the process of preparing the 7th Five Year Plan (2015-16 to 2019-20). In line with that a series of Background Studies have been conducted by GED are as follows:

1_Improving Access of the Poor to Financial Services

2_Strategy for Development of SME in Bangladesh

3_Strategy for Education and Training_Final Version

4_Improving Land Administration and Management_Final

5_Prospect and Strategy for Tourism Development

6_Strategy for Mobilizing Foreign Resources

7_Strategy for Export Diversification

8_Fiscal Management and Revenue Mobilization

9_Financial Market Developments and Challenges in Bangladesh

10_Strategy for Infrastructure Development

11a_Climate Change and Disaster Management

11b_Environment, Forestry and Bioderversity Conservation

12_Governance and Justice _Final Draft

13_Strategy on Local Government Strengthening

14_Strategy for Food Security and Nutrition

15_Lagging Regions Study

16_Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

17_ Agriculture Sector Development Strategy

18_Achieving Digital Bangladesh by 2021 and Beyond

19_Strategy for Ocean and River Resources Management

20_South South Cooperation in the Regional Context

21_Health Strategy for 7th FYP

22_Impact of Demographic Transition on Socioeconomic Development

23_FINAL Nutrition Background Paper for 7th Five Year Plan

24_Linking Equity and Growth in Bangladesh

25_Final_Ending Extreme Poverty in Bangladesh_06_08_2015

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Dhaka-Chittagong City Corporation Election – Acid Test of Bangladesh Politics Tue, 28 Apr 2015 05:13:34 +0000 atToday . Election going on at 2 Dhaka City Corporation  and Chittagong City Corporation  . Due to last political chaos all the county people want to see the political game of winning . Here Awami-e-league supported candidates vs BNP supported candidates result will show the public wave of political support ,The question raised on democracy through last 5th January 2014 National Election against  Awami-e-league lead Government
Here people want o see the reflection of pure democracy ,people looks for free fair Election . If hampered !! the reaction may go anti Government support .


11.33( 28-04-2015)

Chittagong City corporation BNP Supported Mayor Monjurul Alam declared to boycott the election , he claims Vote robbery

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7.9 magnitude earthquake shakes up Bangladesh Sat, 25 Apr 2015 07:23:52 +0000 Bangladesh Shaked by The epicentre of the earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the Ritcher scale was located 35km east of Nepal’s Lamjung, according to the US Geological Survey.
Huge effected by the earthquake –updating……

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Japan PM Abe promises more assistance for Bangladesh Development Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:32:14 +0000 Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised Sheikh Hasina of mobilising more development assistance for Bangladesh.Japan Bangladesh

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised Sheikh Hasina of mobilising more development assistance for Bangladesh.
He hoped the ongoing Japan-funded projects in Bangladesh would be executed ‘fast’.

Abe and Hasina met on the sidelines of the 60th Asian-African Conference Commemoration in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Hasina’s Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhury said she also met Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Qatar Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud.

The Bangladesh leader also held bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jin Ping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Heisen Loong, Chowdhury said.

After the Hasina-Abe meeting, he told reporters at Borobudur Hotel that the Japanese premier said his country’s help to Bangladesh would continue and increase.

Japan has been Bangladesh’s top development partner since independence.

Abe told Hasina that relations between the two countries were deepening bilaterally as well as on various international issues.

He hoped the ties would reach new heights.

“The comprehensive partnership between Bangladesh and Japan will be stronger in future,” Chowdhury quoted Abe as telling Hasina.

Abe wanted the projects implemented with Japanese investment, including setting up of a 1,320-megawatt coal-run power plant at Matarbarhi, to progress fast.

He thanked Hasina for her support to Japanese candidacy for a UN Security Council membership.

Abe lauded Hasina’s leadership, too, saying it had taken Bangladesh’s economy to a position of strength.

Hasina thanked for the Japanese assistance and called for more Japanese investment.

She spoke about creating a separate economic processing zone in Bangladesh for Japanese investors during her tenure.

Bangladesh’s economic growth, she believed, would be over 6.5 percent this fiscal year.

Chowdhury said Myanmar President Sein emphasised high-level exchanges during the meeting.

He stressed government and army-level consultations.

Sein and Hasina also talked about the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) Corridor.

Hasina said her government wanted good relations with neighbours and emphasised commerce and security issues.

The prime minister returned to the hotel from the conference in the evening. She later attended a dinner hosted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

She went to Jakarta to attend the conference on Tuesday and is scheduled to return on Thursday.

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Acting with care and thought for the future- use of gas is essential Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:36:19 +0000 acting with or showing care and thought for the future.Bangladesh is an over-populated agrarian economy. There is hardly any scope for further absorption of human resources in the agriculture sector. Moreover, with the gradual introduction of modern technology, such as power tillers, threshers and harvesters in agriculture, the existing agricultural workers are losing work in this sector. New workers are coming in the job market at a growing rate in the face of 1.8 per cent growth rate of the 160 million already existing population. So industrialisation is essential to provide work to the ever-growing workforce. As a result, efforts are being made to industrialise the economy.

Industrialisation needs availability of adequate supply of energy resources. The available energy resources of Bangladesh are natural gas and coal. The reserve and supply of gas available in the mainland are on the verge of being exhausted. The possibility of the availability or discovery of new gas fields in the mainland is also not very promising.

The major source of our primary energy is natural gas. It is considered as one of the driving forces of our economy as three-fourths of the total commercial energy is provided by natural gas. As many as 23 gas fields have been discovered since 1955 when the first gas field was found in Sylhet. At the same time, the propaganda about exaggerated gas reserve created an illusion among the people and ultimately hindered economic use and conservation of the valuable resource.

Many of the modern industries built so far in Bangladesh depend heavily on natural gas. For that reason it has become urgent for Bangladesh to use mainland gas resources carefully, cautiously and in a planned manner until it can explore and discover gas in the Bay of Bengal. According to a survey made by the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company, the household sector uses per day 12 per cent amounting to 270 MCF (million cubic feet) of total production of gas i.e. 2.25 BCF (million cubic feet) per day out of total reserve of extractable gas (proven and probable) – 20.5 TCF (trillion cubic feet). It has been reported that if old boilers of the existing industrial units are transformed by new technology boilers 150 MCF of gas can be saved per day. The cost of such transformation of boilers is estimated to be not that much high. Moreover, if the household gas burners are made of improved technology and the gas lines from the roads to the kitchens are maintained properly then another 100 MCF of gas can be saved daily.

So, in the process of distribution of gas in the Titas area alone the wastage of gas amounts to 250 MCF per day. It means that if gas wastages can be controlled or stopped in the Titas area alone another equal number of household consumers’ demand for gas in the whole of country can be met. However, the Titas has taken initiatives to encourage the use of improved technology gas burners in the household level and to convert the industrial gas boilers to the new technology-based ones in the industrial level but the response is not encouraging. Same is the picture of wastage of gas in the regions beyond the Titas area.

The only hope about the availability of gas is the Bangladesh offshore territorial area of the Bay. Whether this hope will at all be materialised depends on the availability or discovery of new gas field(s) in the sea.

The coal reserve of Bangladesh is more or less satisfactory. But the question is how far it will be wise and profitable to exploit this fuel resource in a densely-populated agrarian country like Bangladesh. Moreover, the country lacks its own technology required to extract this energy resource. The government is not seriously thinking of tapping coal energy lest the lion share of the profit goes into the pocket of foreigners who will extract Bangladeshi coal.

Under these circumstances, the experts opine a total stop of additional or new household gas supply. They suggest to stop the supply of gas to the CNG filling stations and the use of gas in the production of chemical fertilisers. They also advise to take some other preventive measures for ensuring uninterrupted gas supply to the country’s gas-based essential industrial units.

The government has taken a grand master plan to accelerate the development of electricity sector on a priority basis to meet the country’s gradually growing energy demand. Moreover, aiming at mutual cooperation on a regional basis for the production of electricity Bangladesh has come to an understanding with Nepal, Bhutan and India. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that there lies a special importance in developing Bangladesh’s own energy sector. As a result, the country needs to make efforts to explore off-shore energy resources.

Currently there are many gas-dependent industries in the country. New industrial investments as per demand are difficult in the country at the moment in the face of scarcity of gas in comparison to industrial demand. Moreover, the new industries that have been built so far are lying idle as it is not possible to supply them with gas. Under such circumstances, it is possible to a large extent to meet the country’s current gas crisis by drastically reducing or totally eradicating the on-going misuse and wastages of gas.

What we need first and foremost for economic development is investment and growth of production and productive resources. Gas is now being used as a basis of investment, production and economic growth in the country. Nevertheless, per capita consumption of energy in Bangladesh is on an average 160 kgoe (Kilogram oil equivalent) while it is 530 kgoe in India, 510 kgoe in Pakistan, 340 kgoe in Nepal and 470 kgoe in Sri Lanka. The average consumption in Asia is 640 kgoe. It is evident that per capita average consumption of energy in Bangladesh is significantly lower than the average of Asia.

Per capita energy consumption is used as an indicator to determine the living standard and stage of development of a country. At present, from 79 wells of the existing 17 gas fields, only 730 BCF gas is being supplied against the average annual demand of 912 BCF. As a result, there exists a shortage of 182 BCF of gas annually. According to a projection, in 2014-15 total annual demand for gas will stand at 1335 BCF. If the present supply of 2.25 BCF per day remains unchanged then daily shortage may stand at 1.41 BCF on the basis of the projected demand. Hence, it is not possible to meet this shortage with the existing reserves. If the reserve capacity does not enhance according to the estimation of the Gas Sector Master Plan, then the difference between demand and supply that we observed after 2011 would be huge and the present reserve may decrease to a greater extent by 2015.

For overcoming the existing as well as projected shortage of gas supply in the coming years, discovery of new gas fields as well as enhancing gas reserve by re-assessing the present reserve of the existing gas fields is the best approach. In addition to these, attempts should be made for increasing the supply by drilling good number of wells. However, implementing these initiatives needs huge investment and a high level of technical, technological and professional expertise. Exploring and discovering oil and gas are a capital-intensive and risky investment. It can be seen from various reports that for discovering a gas field, it needs an investment of about Tk 7.0 billion, whereas the rate of success is only 20-25 per cent. So, even if unexplored gas fields may exist in the country, it is not possible for Bangladesh to make the such huge investments.

So the concerned authorities have to be careful and sincere about using appropriate gas-saving technologies in the existing industrial and household units. At the same time, indigenous capability needs to be developed for exploring and extracting gas and coal.

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Women’s empowerment and Digital Bangladesh Wed, 08 Apr 2015 06:19:39 +0000 Women's empowermentSources : Bangladesh is a least developed country (LDC) aspiring to become a middle-income country (MIC) by 2021 with a predominantly rural setting. It is a newly-independent country with a long colonial and traditional heritage. Historical and geographical factors combined with traditional culture contribute to disparity between male and female members in our society. But the overall development of a country depends on maximum utilisation of its population-both men and women. Moreover, women comprise nearly a half of the total population in the country. But the status of women is much lower than that of men in every sphere of life. With the advancement of time, now it is recognised that without ensuring women’s empowerment, national development cannot be achieved.

Empowerment means giving power and authority. By women’s empowerment we mean giving power and authority to the women. This requires the women to recognise their strategic needs and social position and understand how coercive it is. Women’s bargaining capacity should be enhanced, violence against them be reduced and they should play a greater role in the decision-making process.

The term “women’s empowerment” denotes that women can fully enjoy the same rights as men and are not discriminated against. It is also instrumentally valuable as it promotes economic development, if women can come out from the cocoon of their restricted life and can flourish and freely develop their full potential as talented and productive workers, mothers, caregivers and often more responsible managers of households than men in many countries.

But the ultimate path of women’s empowerment, especially in the third world countries like Bangladesh, is not a bed of roses. It is full of multifarious obstacles. The following key obstacles are found against women’s empowerment in Bangladesh:

n Family restriction

n Religious restrictions

n Early marriage

n Social prejudices

n Discriminatory treatment

n Lack of social awareness

n Socio-economic obstacles,

n Male-dominated society

n Social position

Women’s empowerment is the foremost issue in development of Bangladesh and many other Third World countries. Traditional socio-cultural practices circumscribe women’s opportunities in education, skill development, employment and participation in the overall development process. Women are also deprived from the right to participate in the decision-making process which is very important in the context of balanced development of the country.

Women’s empowerment is the key element in defining the process of development in Third World countries. In the rural areas of Bangladesh, many girls do not get the chance to be enrolled in schools. Even those who get the chance for enrolment can hardly continue their education due to early marriage and other socio-economic factors. In fact, there are no sufficient and significant studies on women’s education regarding dropout of girl students at the primary and secondary levels in rural Bangladesh. Education and training are very important for them. If they are given a greater access to jobs by enhancing the rate of educated women, the socio-economic condition of the country will surely change. In order to empower women in Bangladesh the following factors are very important:

n Giving them a greater role in the decision-making process

n Access to information and resources for taking proper decision

n A range of options from which one can make a choice

n Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision-making

n Positive thinking on the ability to make a change

n Ability to learn skills for improving their personal or group power

n Ability to change other’s perceptions by democratic means, and

n Increasing their positive self-image and overcoming stigma

In view of eliminating the gender gap, the government of Bangladesh has taken many initiatives in both rural and urban areas. Women are deprived in the family and society, in the decision-making process, in the administrative process of governance and most importantly in economic activities. Women can contribute to the process of social development, which has also its financial value. To ensure participation of women in the process they need to be empowered mentally, economically and politically. Empowerment of women is linked to the total human emancipation.

As far as the government activities are concerned, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs is the key organ to look after the development and interest of the womenfolk in the country. This government organ is working through the Department of Women Affairs and the Jatiya Mohila Parishad directly for the betterment of women. As Bangladesh is a part of the “Beijing platform for action”, several ministries including women affairs, education, agriculture, environment and forest, fisheries, health and family welfare, home, industry, labour, law, local government, rural development, social welfare and planning are working in an integrated manner for empowering the women.

A movement has already been launched to overcome social barriers women encounter. Still they are not empowered enough socially. They should be economically empowered by involving them with varied economic activities. This initiative has also started at the state and social levels. Employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship are the main segments of economic activities. To encourage women for performing in the economic arena, it is not only the responsibility of the government alone. Public-private partnership, NGOs’ role and initiatives at the private level are also needed to make the women economically empowered.

Women need to be empowered for building a digital Bangladesh in that area. Women are nowadays as important as men in society. So, there can be no denying the fact that they too possess equal rights and duties as men. They have noble missions to fulfill as men. If they get the opportunity, their talents and capacities will flourish fully. No nation can make the real progress keeping the half of its population in the dark. So, women’s empowerment is essential.

During the last few decades women’s status has been changed greatly. Bangladesh has already achieved many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the UNDP by improving gender parity and female primary and secondary education at the national level. Topmost positions like that of Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament, and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament are now held by women. Parliament also consists of more than 20 per cent women parliamentarians. This is rare in the world. The majority garment workers are women. The micro-finance sector of Bangladesh is more mature than that of any other country in the world and more than 80 per cent of the borrowers are women. Women and girls are more empowered, from enrolment at schools to becoming successful entrepreneurs.

Finally, if we want to keep pace with the challenges of the millennium, both men and women should work side by side. A number of positive things have happened due to some specific public interventions relating to girl students, such as stipends and exemption of tuition fees for girls in rural areas, and the stipend scheme for girls up to the graduation level. Bangladesh has made a significant progress in achieving the objectives of ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment, especially in rural areas. But when it comes to Digital Bangladesh, it is still a long way to go before we materialise the dream of equal participation of women in the field.

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Bangladesh at a crossroads of development Wed, 08 Apr 2015 06:03:04 +0000 bdCrossroadMany things are going good. Out of them The awareness on monetary policy in our country is gradually increasing. Dhaka University has been playing a pivotal role in making it understandable by students and other professionals. A time will come when we will hear a lot of discussion on monetary policy in different important venues including Jatiya Sangsad, our national parliament.

Explaining national policies in front of the students is a noble job, because it makes our students engaged in our country’s growth and development process. If we fail to do so, our march for growth and the uplifting of our standard of living will not be participative and inclusive. We want our students be best citizens to lead the country. That is why including them in the understanding of important national policies will benefit all of us in the future. In the past, we have seen that the Fed Chair Professor Bernanke delivered lectures even to undergrad students at George Washington University. His lectures were later on used in many seminars to educate college teachers.

As you have seen in the US, the Federal Reserve arranges an annual competition called the Fed Challenge. Hundreds of students read and learn about the Fed system while participating in such competitions. We can arrange similar types of competition that will enrich the knowledge base of our students and they will feel more engaged in understanding the whole banking system – which is crucial to ensure financial stability.

Our monetary policy has done commendable job in comparison to our comparable neighbours . But that should not be seen as a record that we are the best. We still need a lot of improvements every financial year, every month, and even every day. We need to maintain our stability at any cost to steer further growth in the years to come.

Although our stability in both inflation and growth is the best in the region, our per capita income is still not the best. Of course our trend is satisfactory, but we have to take the full advantage of liberalisation and economic reforms to grow as fast as 7-8 per cent per year. We have to include all segments of people, such as peasants, workers, women, and the poor to expand the activity base of growth. That is how we can make our growth resilient and sustainable.

Simply high growth cannot be prudential for an emerging economy like Bangladesh. Growth must be sustainable to ensure steady pace of development. Growth must be long-lasting to fight poverty and to take the economy to the middle income bracket by 2021. The activity base of growth must be expanded by empowering the masses. Herein lies the essence of inclusive growth, which is instrumental to strategising a new monetary policy for Bangladesh Bank.

Bangladesh is now at a crossroads of development. The growth momentum that the country has achieved over the last decade must be continued and should be further energised to help the economy graduate to the middle income bracket by 2021. In compliance with the government’s target, Bangladesh Bank designs its demand side strategies in support of that goal.

Bangladesh Bank monitors the recent rise of nonperforming loans with concern and care. While many of these figures are potentially alarming, Bangladesh Bank has already taken some corrective measures to clamp down on classified loans. Digital technology has been deployed to investigate big financial transactions and loans in order to stop the repetition of banking irregularities. The Real Time Electronic Dashboard is an example in this regard.

Bangladesh Bank initiatives on inclusive and green financing are yielding positive outcomes in terms of macroeconomic and financial stability, domestic demand driven broad based inclusive output growth and faster decline in poverty. Agriculture, SMEs, and green projects have faced no credit crunch in Bangladesh during or following the global financial crisis. Incremental output from the agriculture sector and SME (small and medium enterprises) financing has helped uphold output stability and price stability in the real economy.

To conclude, the noted central banker Alan Blinder asserted that both central banks and the academics should learn from each other and thus enrich a country’s policymaking so it can serve the nation in the best possible way. Let us all try best to make our country a role model of quality education and civic engagement. That is how we can ensure a prosperous Bangladesh and a dignified nation in the globe.

The article is adapted from a speech Dr. Atiur Rahman gave at a seminar on ‘Monetary Policy’ held at the Business Faculty, Dhaka University on March 21, 2015.

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Happy Independence day – Happy Bangladesh Thu, 26 Mar 2015 07:17:22 +0000 Independence is the 1st condition to capable to do good , 26 March 1971 Bangladesh as country achieved independence . Long way to go, the whole Nation is warming up the spirit with the Independence day : Happy Independence day – Happy BangladeshHappy Independence day - Happy Bangladesh

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Bangladesh : In need of a new breed of diplomats Sun, 15 Mar 2015 09:13:48 +0000 DiplomatsEconomic diplomacy is inseparable from political diplomacy. In the broader context of foreign policy and diplomacy the objectives are security and development; security not only physical or military. Non-military security involves, among other things, water, food, energy, ecology, climate change and, natural and man-made disasters. The formidable challenges of ensuring comprehensive security and development; of poverty eradication, hunger, malnutrition, health, disease, education and unemployment, among others, are essential prerequisites for peace – having peace within and without. Out-break of war and conflict is, therefore, said to be the vanishing point of diplomacy.

For Bangladesh, the major challenge is to graduate from the current status of one of the least developed countries to a middle income and developed economy. To achieve the goal of meaningful development, progress and modernisation, there is a need for infusing fresh dynamism into Economic diplomacy reflecting the current global, regional realities and compulsions. This would mean not only government to government relationships but crucially, people to people contacts and exchanges. This is essential in an age of public diplomacy to foster interactions at different levels; to promote comprehensive economic, trade, investment, cultural and intellectual exchanges.

Our vision should be one of a borderless region with no visa restrictions, free movements of people, goods and services. Irrational security concerns should not stand in the way. Stable, enlightened and prosperous societies are the best bulwark against terrorism and its manifestations in different forms.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our Noble laureate Professor Yunus for his innovative concept of Micro-credit symbolised by the Grameen Bank which has contributed significantly for the empowerment of women and replicated globally.

He has followed it up with the innovative concept of social business as an answer to the inadequacies of the capitalist system. The social business concept is now being increasingly embraced around the globe as a positive contribution to the solution of major global challenges including economic, ecological, huge unemployment – particularly that of youths – to the problem of deforestation as in Haiti. It is felt that it would help in overcoming the challenges of development facing Bangladesh if we increasingly adopt social business models to meet particularly the growing unemployment of the youths by tapping their entrepreneurial potentials.

An innovative polity, functional democracy, good governance with an inclusive economic system and a vibrant private sector fully backed by the government should enable Bangladesh to leapfrog from the status of a LDC to a middle income and developed economy.

A proactive economic diplomacy has become all the more imperative in the context of global and regional economic developments. While Europe is gradually coming out of economic slow-down, the economic prospect in the USA seems relatively more promising. It is, however, Asia, which serious scholars believe, has the most promising growth prospect for a number of reasons – most importantly perhaps the unprecedented emergence of three reform minded leaders in the three most populous Asian countries namely China’s XI Jinping, India’s Narendra Modi and Indonesia’s Joko Widudo. All these leaders are committed to the process of development and modernisation.
The recent successful visit of President Obama to India with a positive outcome involving signing of the India-US civilian nuclear agreement with emphasis on clean and renewable energy particularly the solar energy; the participation of US Companies for manufacturing products including pharmaceuticals and modern agricultural equipment are some of the positive outcomes. These should significantly boost not only India-US of economic, scientific, trade and investment co-operation but also benefit Bangladesh and other countries.

In the context of the Asian Century, both India and China are taking positive initiatives for peace and development through significant domestic reforms and farsighted diplomatic moves.

Following China’s achievements, India’s success in modernisation and progress is of paramount importance; our hope is that China and India, the two Asian giants, would resolve their conflicts bilaterally and would co-exist peacefully. This would enable us to reap the huge economic dividends of peace pulling millions within these and the neighbouring countries from the clutches of poverty to development and modernisation.

For Bangladesh, to be able to seize the opportunity of the Asian Century of development, there is an agonising need for a re-appraisal of its economic diplomacy including the tool of its implementation.

The Foreign Ministry and Missions abroad, as it is constituted at present, would have to be fully reorganised to achieve the objective. We would need to recruit the best candidates on the basis of merit and train these officers to be the finest professional diplomats for the implementation of Economic diplomacy. This is an age of specialisation; the jack of all trades and master of none is no longer relevant to meet the complex bilateral and multinational economic, diplomatic and global challenges facing us. To successfully negotiate, our diplomats would have to have in-depth knowledge and expertise; they would then be able to ensure win-win outcomes of intricate negotiations instead of making unilateral concessions detrimental to our national interest due to inept handling.

Our diplomats have to be the finest salespersons of Bangladesh abroad on the ground led by the Mission Chief; this should involve, among others, branding Bangladesh; handling with competence economic, commercial and technical issues and selling our products and attracting foreign investors.

A crucial element of our economic diplomacy, which is often neglected, is utilising the expertise, assistance and resources of the Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRB). The NRB’s are not only sources of remittance but our best ambassadors for projecting a positive image of Bangladesh through business, trade, cultural and intellectual engagements with the local people – a largely untapped source of investment for the development of Bangladesh. Currently most of the Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRB) invest in real estates or unproductive sectors for lack of special incentives for them to invest in other key sectors of our economy. Priority attention should be given to evolve a special incentive package to attract the investment of the NRBs in vital sectors of the economy. This would enable them to contribute significantly to the development process of Bangladesh.

The Foreign Ministry has to have a well-staffed and highly efficient economic diplomacy desk with experienced diplomats; representative from the ERD, BOI, the Export Promotion Bureau, the manpower Bureau, representatives from the private sectors including the FBCCI and other relevant Ministries and agencies. The Foreign Ministry officers should be posted to the relevant ministries involved with economic diplomacy before their postings abroad. The rhetoric of one stop service of the BOI has to be become a concrete reality; corruption, red-tape, bureaucratic inertia and inefficiency would have to be done away with.

The current policy of exporting unskilled or semi-skilled manpower and female workers including drivers, domestic maids and other essential manpower needs to be reviewed in keeping with our goals of modernisation and development. To attract FDI we need a pool of trained and efficient workforce for the factories and firms; to work in the multinational organisations and foreign companies. Training should include working knowledge of the English language, proficiency in IT and other essential skills.

Crucially, once Bangladesh is able to move from the present largely agrarian economy to a manufacturing one, after becoming a middle income and developed economy, there would be requirement for considerable number of skilled and semi-skilled workers. We could then be faced with the prospect of shortage of workers as experiences of a number of countries including Malaysia have shown.

We have to, therefore, plan now our manpower needs with a long term perspective in view in keeping with our vision of a modern developed country. There is also need for a significant expanding of our export base and productive capacity in agriculture and agro-based industries; manufacturing including RMG, pharmaceuticals, leather, IT, motor vehicles, spare parts, ship building, fisheries and other vital sectors. The creative genius of our enterprising people combined with the competitive cost of production and skill should make Bangladesh the manufacturing hub of the region including for relocation of industries from other countries.

Bangladesh diplomacy, including economic diplomacy, would need to focus with renewed vigour on the following key areas including water diplomacy. As there is shortage of water in India itself we would need to adopt a comprehensive approach involving a bilateral, sub-regional approach with India, Nepal, Bhutan and China. Through a collective approach we should be able to harness the huge water resources to ensure food security, hydro-electricity; boost agricultural production and overcome the challenges of development.

To meet the growing critical energy crisis, apart from the conventional non-renewable sources of energy, special emphasis would have to be placed on renewable energy – particularly solar, biogas, wind and clean nuclear technology; this is vital for us in the context of the threat of climate change. We would have to seek assistance for green technology from developed countries to preserve our ecology in the context of our drive for modernisation and development.

A new dimension has been added with the initiative taken by the government to explore and exploit the ‘Blue Economy’; the potentials for huge oil, gas, minerals and other resources under the Bay of Bengal. For this purpose we need modern equipment, technology, expertise and training with the assistance of our developmental partners.

Bangladesh diplomacy has rightly placed connectivity as central to the success of regional integration. At the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November, 2014, Bangladesh played a key role for Regional Transport Connectivity including the Regional Motor Vehicles Agreement, the Regional Railways Agreement and the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Co-operation (Electricity). Although the signings of the first two agreements were delayed; it was agreed that a meeting of the Transport Ministers of SAARC would be held within three months in order to finalise the agreements for approval. The Agreement for Energy Cooperation was, however, signed. It would be important for us to keep up the momentum so that these agreements on enhanced connectivity are finalised within a reasonable time frame. Concurrently, Bangladesh should continue in its efforts to concretise the decisions of the Bay of Bengal initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) to promote broader economic integration.

Another historic opportunity for peace and development is the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM-EC) which embraces not only physical connectivity but also an economic corridor – the BCIM-EC project is an important part of the objectives of Beijing and Delhi to open up their landlocked regions to the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Integration of the north-east region with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar and China through border trade and connectivity would foster greater economic development and other benefits to the region.

In the ultimate analysis the success of our economic diplomacy, would largely depend on our collective efforts at reordering our domestic polity to ensure a strong, stable genuinely democratic government based on good governance and rearranging of our priorities since diplomacy is said to be an extension of domestic policy and structure.

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Telenor aims to go big on mobile financial services Sun, 15 Mar 2015 07:52:52 +0000 go-bigTelenor Group, which owns the majority stakes in Grameenphone, is eyeing a stronger footing in Bangladesh’s mobile financial services landscape in its quest to become a regional market leader in this field.
“We have an ambition to become the market leader in Asia in mobile financial services,” Tine Wollebekk, Telenor’s head of financial services, said on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress that ended in Barcelona on March 5.
Telenor believes mobile financial services can act as a catalyst in helping connect the large unbanked population across much of the developing world.
“Our vision is not merely aimed at making money by boosting financial inclusion, but serving poor people as part of corporate social responsibility.”
For that end, the global telecom service provider is looking to introduce new mobile financial services models.
“We are now looking for different models to reach more people who have no access to cash machines or bank branches. We want to make entire mobile financial service processes much easier to reach more under-served remote population,” Wollebekk said.
To further explore the market opportunities, Wollebekk is due in Dhaka next month, where Telenor’s largest subsidiary already runs a mobile financial service, “Mobicash”.
Launched in 2007, Grameen-phone’s Mobicash has so far dealt with Tk 780 crore in transactions and 65 lakh of utility bills.
Grameenphone, which has more than 5.1 crore subscribers, has ample opportunity to bring more and more people under its umbrella as it has taken its network to every part of the country, she said. Less than a quarter of the country’s 16 crore people are using the normal banking system in their monetary transactions. “We will work more closely with banks, financial institutions and relevant authorities to reach our ambition.”
Referring to the traditional banking system where a customer needs two to seven days for the bank account to become functional, she said agents of mobile operators can complete the registration process much quicker such that the account can be used for transactions within hours.
“We have partnerships with six local banks in Bangladesh. But we need to think more in partnership, as banks will be benefitted,” Wollebekk said, adding that they have the ability and tradition to handle large volumes of customers at very low cost.
Formal economy as well as banks can be bigger by increasing the mobile financial services in a society, as the money will flow into the banks, she said.
“We are working with banks to get a better model to increase the mobile financial services and I am very encouraged that the regulators and banks are willing to form partnership with us to roll out mobile money services.”
Apart from Bangladesh, Telenor has also a strong and growing footprint in the mobile financial services area in other Asian markets such as Pakistan.
Launched in 2009, its Easypaisa scheme in Pakistan handled around $4.2 billon in transactions last year. Telenor also runs a similar service in Thailand and will introduce it in their newest market — Myanmar.
With operations in six Asian countries — Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand — Telenor is the only European telecom company that reaches across the region and has 16 crore subscribers.

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Bangladesh’s human rights and democracy report on 2014-15 -Foreign & Commonwealth Office Sun, 15 Mar 2015 07:22:19 +0000 Bangladesh’s-human-rights-and-democracy-report-on-2014The build up to the 10th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh on 5 January was tarnished by serious levels of violence, intimidation, enforced general strikes, and transport blockades. The 18-Party Alliance, including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), objected to the constitutionally valid electoral arrangements, and did not contest the election due to their concerns that the election would not be free and fair. Half of parliamentary seats were uncontested, and the Awami League won a second successive term. Election day was marked by violence: 21 deaths were reported, and over 100 school-based polling centres burnt down.

We repeatedly condemned all forms of violence and encouraged political parties to work together. On 6 January, the then FCO Minister for Human Rights, Baroness Warsi, deplored acts of intimidation and unlawful violence from all parties, and urged all of Bangladesh’s political parties to work together to address political accountability. We also raised our concerns with both the government and opposition parties privately. Baroness Warsi raised concerns with visiting Bangladeshi ministers, as did former Minister of State for International Development, Alan Duncan, and former Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, during visits to Bangladesh. All three ministers urged Bangladesh’s political parties to work together to strengthen democratic accountability, and to build wider confidence in future elections.

After the elections, the BNP committed to peaceful protest, although political tension at the end of the year led to the re-emergence of widespread political violence. There were significantly fewer enforced general strikes and transport blockades in 2014 and, overall, the country experienced a period of relative calm. However, there has been no political dialogue between the country’s two largest parties: the BNP and Awami League. NGOs report that impunity of all Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies continues to be a serious problem. NGOs condemned a post-election spike in numbers of reported extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances allegedly carried out by law enforcers. Allegations of involvement by the Rapid Action Battalion in the death of seven men in Narayanganj drew domestic and international criticism. Baroness Warsi called for prompt, transparent and impartial investigations when she met the Bangladeshi High Commissioner in May. As yet, none of the three investigations established to find those guilty have delivered findings, and no charges have been brought.

The government has proposed revisions to the Foreign Donations Act (pending parliamentary approval) and a new Broadcast Policy, while some using digital media to criticise the government have been detained under the Information Communications Technology Act. This has generated concerns about civil society space, media freedoms, and government power to suppress criticism or dissent. The government has also restored parliament’s authority to impeach judges, which, depending on how it is implemented, could compromise the independence of the judiciary.

Prime Minister David Cameron met Bangladesh’s Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina on 22 July. He noted our disappointment over the conduct of the election. Both agreed on the importance of an open society and political systems in which democratic political participation and media freedoms are respected.

12 March 2015
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Part of:
Human Rights and Democracy Report 2014
Promoting human rights internationally

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Shining future for Bangladesh leather sector Mon, 09 Mar 2015 07:43:13 +0000 ebook
Sources : Bangladeshi manufacturers are seeing bright prospects for the leather sector after the readymade garment industry because of a policy change in China, the world’s largest economy.
They expect Bangladesh to be an attractive destination for leather sector entrepreneurs as China, the world’s largest footwear manufacturer, is shifting focus away from this sector.

The manufacturers believe Bangladesh’s annual $550-million footwear industry may grow to a $15-billion sector within a few years, if the opportunity is seized.

Leather sector businessmen say foreign entrepreneurs are interested in Bangladesh’s footwear, thanks to the availability of raw hide, processing infrastructure, low labour cost, and a slew of government incentives including duty-free machinery imports.

Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (LGFMEA) President Syed Nasim Manjur said at least 51 foreign companies had already expressed interest in establishing joint-venture footwear units in Bangladesh.
“China, the world’s largest footwear manufacturer, is now withdrawing from the global market. And our country is ready with huge potentials to attract foreign investments in the sector,” he said.

According to a report on, China’s annual leather footwear production had dropped by 5.29 percent in 2012 and 7.45 percent in 2013.

Bangladeshi manufacturers are planning to fill the vacuum in the international footwear market being left by China.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh earned $ 1.29 billion from exports of leather, leather goods and footwear in the 2013-14 fiscal.

The amount accounts for 4.2 percent of the country’s total exports.

Footwear alone fetched $550 million in foreign exchange of the leather sector’s total export earnings.

In the 2012-13 FY, the footwear sector’s export earnings stood at $419.3 million.

Bangladesh has maintained the growth in the export of leather and leather goods in the current 2014-15 FY, too.

In the first eight months of the FY, the country posted a 7 percent growth in leather goods exports and 22.16 percent in footwear exports.

Nasim Manjur, also the managing director of Apex Footwear Ltd, says the country’s leather sector beats the RMG industry, the largest forex earner, ‘if their starting times are taken into consideration’.

He said China, Vietnam and Brazil, three big manufacturers of leather footwear, were cutting down on this sector.
“That’s why I think the leather industry is the most prospective sector after readymade garment for attracting foreign investments,” he added.

According to the LGFMEA, 110 export-oriented factories manufacture footwear in the country.

Of them, Apex, FB, Picard Bangladesh, Jenny’s, Akij, RMM Bengal and Bay have their own tanneries and leather processing units.

There are another 207 leather processing units in the country.

Asked about the reasons for China’s focus shift, Bangladesh Footwear and Footwear Accessories Association General Secretary Humayun Kabir said labour cost there had gone up.

He said footwear exports would grow if duties on import of shoe materials were cut.

The government has no specific information about the local footwear demand.

However, the footwear sector estimates it to be anywhere between 200 and 250 million pairs a year.

They said 92-95 percent of the domestic demand was met by local products.

Bangladesh is exporting raw leather since the early Seventies, but it got its first footwear exporter, Apex Footwear, in 1990.

Now Apex produces 20,000 pairs of footwear a day in its Gazipur factory.

Apart from catering to local demand, the company manufactures footwear for well-known known international brands such as Timberland, Aldo and ABC Mart.
Orion Group entered the leather industry last year after its successes in pharmaceuticals, power generation and infrastructure sectors.

Orion Footwear Chief Executive Officer Ruhul Amin Molla said Bangladesh’s footwear sector was poised for a big expansion.

Until 1990, Bangladesh used to export mainly raw hide, wet blue leather, and crust leather. But now it is concentrating on exporting finished leather and leather goods.

Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchant Association President Md Ali Hossain said the country annually produced 200-300 million square feet of finished leather, most of which is exported.

He said Bangladeshi leather is the best in the world after the French product.

Stakeholders believe the country’s leather industry would see greater potentials once the tanneries are shifted from Dhaka’s Hazaribagh to Savar.

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Bangladesh ongoing political crisis – for peaceful de-escalation of the situation Sun, 15 Feb 2015 10:12:29 +0000 11111Bangladesh started 2015 with political chaos !! still continuing .
People of the country , UN ,USA, INDIA, RUSSIA ,CHINA and all the stake holder countries who have deep diplomatic and business concern with Bangladesh are watching deeply the unknown political game .the situation in Bangladesh, expressing concern about the escalation of violence and stressing the need for peaceful de-escalation of the situation

Ruling party is confident with their vision, activities and success of electricity scenario , Digital Bangladesh , Education development ,Major infrastructure building . They believe they they have done as ever best governance through their last term and running term power hold . In this way they are confident enough that they are ruling with the mandate of Positive support of Bangladeshi people.

Same time with the mandate of a group general political aware people BNP with their alliance parties challenging the democratic system of power gaining through last Election 5th January election 2014. They demand discussion for a new Election same time Ruling Awami league and their alliance also arguing that why they should think about Election before scheduled time as they have followed the rule of parliament ,then why they should bother on such demand from their political opposition.

Both argument stands strength . So the fight is going on …Strike -Hartal , Blockade-Oborodh , burning car people is almost everyday .
General people are suffering , business weaken , no new investment ,, no new employment !!

Scenario 2.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernández-Taranco and US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal talked on the ongoing violence in Bangladesh, said a top UN official.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, disclosed of the meeting and its contents at a daily press briefing yesterday.

“About the work of Assistant Secretary-General Oscar Fernández-Taranco on Bangladesh, I can tell you that, as part of his functions, he is in regular contact with Member States, including the United States,” he said.

In his meeting with Nisha Biswal, Taranco talked, among other issues, the situation in Bangladesh, expressing concern about the escalation of violence and stressing the need for peaceful de-escalation of the situation, he added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is personally committed to the stability and positive development of Bangladesh, Dujarric said on Wednesday.

“Bangladesh, as you know, is a critical partner of the United Nations in many areas… we are very much concerned about the violence and loss of lives that occurred in Bangladesh since the start of last year,” she had said.

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Digital World 2015 – Success story of Digital Bangladesh Mon, 09 Feb 2015 19:19:22 +0000 Dogital world 2015 - Digital Bangladesh
Future is Here’.

Digital World 2015The Prime Minister said this while inaugurating “Digital World 2015”, the largest digital exposition of South Asia, in Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here this afternoon.

Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Division and Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services (BASIS) are jointly organizing the four-day mega event at the BICC to showcase technology-based innovations and achievements aiming to unlock economic potential of IT sector.

It is supported by Access to Information (a2i) & Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC). The theme of the event is “Future is Here”. Prime Minister’s ICT Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy was present at the function as the special guest, while State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak was in the chair.

BASIS President Shameem Ahsan delivered the welcome address and ICT Secretary Shayam Sundar Sikder also spoke on the occasion.

A video message of Silicon Valley Congressman of the United Sates Mike Honda was aired at the function.

Sheikh Hasina said there are some people in the country who don’t see the country’s development. “They are blind despite having eyes,” she said.

The Prime Minister called upon the countrymen to remain alert and put resistance against those who want to push the country towards darkness from development.

Reaffirming the present government’s commitment to build Digital Bangladesh by 2021, Sheikh Hasina said the goal of the government is to ensure proper utilization of information technology for socioeconomic development and socioeconomic development.

“Our goal is to make available the use of technology for improving the living standard of the people and build a “technology divide”-free country irrespective of the rich and the poor, the literate and illiterate,” she said.

To achieve the goal, she said, her government has been working relentlessly to ensure optimum utilization of mediums like mobile phones, radio, television and internet side by side with computer.

The Prime Minister said her government has taken various steps for development of IT industry and meet the demand of skilled manpower in the sector.

In this connection, she mentioned that 34,000 people are being groomed befitting with the IT industry through a project funded by the World Bank.

Lauding the role of the private sector in building Digital Bangladesh, the Prime Minister said the BASIS is creating 23,000 suitable manpower for the industry. Besides it is working on creating 10 lakh new internet users by 2018, she added.

Sheikh Hasina said the reputation of Bangladesh’s IT sector is on the rise both at home and abroad. Bangladesh’s software and IT services are being exported to about 50 countries of the world.

“The export earnings from the sector are boosting gradually and its average growth rate is 50 percent,” she said.

The Prime Minister said the government has framed the ICT Act and the ICT policy for further development of IT industry. “The work on setting up high-tech and software technology parks has started and infrastructures are being built in different districts to this end,” she said.

The Prime Minister also mentioned different measures for development of IT industry.

The measures include expansion of e-governance, raising bandwidth capacity of submarine cable, making available internet service by reducing the bandwidth price, launching 3G mobile service, setting up digital centres in 4,547 unions, 321 pourasabhas and 401 wards, arrangement of digital innovation fair and launching of e-service by all district administrations and introduction of the biggest web portal of the world with 25,000 websites.

Noting that Bangladesh’s IT sector is a potential one, Sheikh Hasina said the government is giving attractive incentives to the entrepreneurs side by side with infrastructure facilities to attract foreign investment.

“We are inviting the reputed companies of the world to invest in the IT sector and we are ensuring them to extend allout support,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s stride for IT-based development has been able to earn respect from people across the world. In this connection, she referred to the UN South-South Cooperation Visionary Award, WSIS Award from International Telecom Union and Global ICT Excellence Award from the WITSA.

The Prime Minister called upon all irrespective of party and opinion to build a welfare-oriented and peaceful Digital Bangladesh prosperous with knowledge, science and information technology.

Speaking as the special guest, Sajeeb Wazed Joy said the Awami League-led government introduced 3G technology and will roll out 4G technology soon.

Joy also said under the Leveraging ICT and Earning and Learning Project, 18,000 people have already been given training. “We have a plan to provide training for 50,000 more people under the project,” he said.

The ICT advisor said fibre optic would be reached to all Union Parishads to bring all the people of the country under internet coverage. “None can imagine where Bangladesh would march in terms of development in the IT sector,” he said, adding the IT sector would exceed the RMG sector in terms of foreign currency earnings by 2021.

Later, Sheikh Hasina visited different stalls set up at the BICC on the occasion of the Digital World 2015.

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Weak scenario of Bangladesh Political Strength Wed, 04 Feb 2015 06:41:00 +0000 Bangladesh Politics
Searching the current political back-lock for the past month Bangladesh, a country of nearly 160m people, has (yet again) been paralysed. The opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, has been confined to a party office in the capital, Dhaka. Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been staging a nationwide blockade of roads, railways and waterways. The trigger for the unrest was a banned protest to mark the anniversary on January 5th of last year’s election, in which the incumbent Awami League, led by the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, was re-elected easily thanks to an opposition boycott. Nearly 50 people have been killed and more than 10,000 opposition activists arrested. BNP leaders are mostly in jail, in exile or in hiding, and face criminal charges that will probably bar them from running in the next election. This week events appeared to be reaching a head. The government temporarily cut the electricity supply and internet cables to Mrs Zia’s redoubt. In addition to the crippling blockade, she called a three-day national strike from February 1st. Why has politics degenerated into this mess?
Bangladesh suffers a dysfunctional two-party system, in which the two party leaders, the “battling begums”, wage a personal vendetta at the country’s expense. From 1991 they have rotated in office. Because both parties know that the other will rig elections, polls used to be conducted under an interim caretaker administration. In 2006 Mrs Zia’s party, at the end of a particularly corrupt and incompetent stint in office, tried to rig that system too. The army stepped in to back a non-party “technocratic” government, which after two years held an election won in a landslide by Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League. The party has used its majority to entrench its power, and make it impossible for the BNP ever to win an election: by abolishing the caretaker system, hounding its leaders and banning its largest coalition partner, Jamaat-e-Islami, for its avowedly Islamic platform. Now the government claims it is combating acts of vandalism and terrorism by the BNP. The opposition accuses the government of trying to create a one-party state. Both sides have a point.

The personal animus between the begums has helped foster a winner-takes-all approach to politics in which the futility of rigged elections forces the opposition on to the streets. Both parties are entrenched across the country; attempts, during the technocratic interregnum, to encourage “third forces” to emerge to challenge them proved fruitless. Bangladesh’s neighbours are unable and perhaps unwilling to meddle in the political deadlock. Despite everything, the country has a fair record of developmental success. And India and the West distrust Mrs Zia, seeing her as both willing to allow China a greater role in the country, and as being soft on Islamist extremism. Sheikh Hasina likes to point out that on her watch no big terrorist attack has taken place in Bangladesh. Nor has one elsewhere been traced back to the country.

However, with the BNP’s transport blockade prompting growing unrest, and victims of arson attacks filling the burns units of hospitals, the climate of repression worsening, the army may feel compelled to intervene. Mindful of its reputation (and lucrative UN peacekeeping duties), it will be wary of an outright coup. But it seems highly unlikely the government can be persuaded to treat the unrest as a political crisis and call fresh elections. So the generals may feel, as they did eight years ago, that they have no option other than to call “time out” on a political brawl that neither side can win.

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Bangladesh becoming a hub for non-traditional garment products Sun, 01 Feb 2015 07:02:41 +0000 travel bags- backpacksBangladesh has become a hub for technical and non-traditional garment products as international retailers are coming with an increasing number of work orders.

Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter after China in woven and knitwear segments. Not only that, Bangladesh also supplies military uniforms, travel bags, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, outdoor jackets, jute slippers and other jute goods.

“Currently, Bangladeshi factories, especially the ones in export processing zones, are performing well in export of non-traditional items,” an official of Chittagong EPZ said, asking not to be named.

Bangladeshi factories supply uniforms for the British army and French navy, the official said.

Apart from non-traditional and technical garments, some factories in Chittagong EPZ produce computer accessories for renowned brands, wigs, spectacles, frames and lens of spectacles, and selection buttons of vending machines used in Western countries, the official said.

“Very few people know that Bangladesh is the top exporter of army boots for some European nations. The boots are made in the factories housed in the EPZs of Chittagong,” the official said.

He said Bangladesh produces high-quality ski jackets. The export prices of ski jackets, produced in the Bangladeshi EPZ factories, range between $1,200 and $1,500 apiece, he said. Bangladeshi workers, especially the female ones, are producing all these items in the factories. The factory owners, mostly foreigners, train the workers for two to three months for producing the technical products, he said.
Mainly foreign investors are allowed in the EPZs to set up their factories. In recent years, many foreign investors established factories in the EPZs to produce technical and non-traditional garment items mainly due to higher cost of production in China.

The US and some European countries are the main export destinations for such non-traditional and technical items, said Shahid Ullah, general manager (commercial) of HKD, a Korean company based in Chittagong EPZ.

The company came to Bangladesh in 1991 and now runs three units in two EPZs in Chittagong. It exports tents worth more than $80 million a year, the factory manager told The Daily Star by phone.

He said Bangladesh exports more than $100 million worth of tents a year from different factories. “The prospects for these products are bright as international retailers are coming with a lot of work orders every year,” Shahid Ullah said.

Mashrul Anwar, commercial manager of Eusebio Sporting Bangladesh Ltd, a tent and sleeping bag manufacturer in Karnaphuli EPZ in Chittagong, said the demand for these non-traditional items is rising fast among Western customers.

“We are also adding value to these products,” he said.

Germany-based Commerzbank in a survey said the demand for technical and non-traditional textile items will rise 2 percent year-on-year in 2015.

In the period from 2007 to 2013, the European manufacturers of technical textiles saw stronger growth than the European economy as a whole, said the survey released last month.

Technical textiles are conquering more and more new application areas and are superseding conventional materials, the survey said.

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Bangladesh Bank rolls out new monetary policy-2015 : Hopeful initiative for Capital Market Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:31:33 +0000 Bangladesh Bank (BB) has observed that the current political unrest has cast a shadow of uncertainty over achieving the target.Bangladesh Bank has set a target to reduce bank interest rate spread during January-June period of the current fiscal year, aimed at spurring the capital market of the country.

Higlights :
? Despite some upside risks, inflation will be kept under control to reach the target of 6.5
percent by June 2015.
? The economy is poised to achieve a respectable growth rate between 6.5 and 6.8 percent
in the fiscal year 2015 if political stability prevails. The bottlenecks of infrastructure and
energy must be addressed promptly.
? Over the last 20 years Bangladesh evidenced the highest amount of stability in inflation
and economic growth in the South Asian region that includes India, Pakistan and Sri
? Bangladesh’s growth performance is the second best (5.73 percent) after India (6.77
percent) and its inflation is the lowest (6.45 percent) in the region over the last two
? Bangladesh Bank will pursue a monetary policy of prudence to strike the balance
between objectives of moderate inflation and respectable growth. Money supply and
policy rates will be controlled accordingly while opening further avenues to promote
investment through greater financial inclusion.
? Banking governance will be up scaled further to clamp down on loan delinquencies.
While the cases of credit worthy borrowers will be reviewed, habitual defaulters will face
lawful consequences.
? Bangladesh Bank will endeavor to iron out excessive fluctuations in the exchange rate
which will remain largely market based.
? The central bank will continue to maintain comfortable amount of foreign currency
reserves to cover imports of 5 to 10 months. This safety net is required to avoid any
sudden collapse in the value of Taka and to ensure a healthy growth of imports of
productive inputs.
? Bangladesh Bank aims at supplying reserve money at the growth rate of 15.9 percent and
broad money at 16.5 percent at the end of FY2015.
? Private sector credit growth has been targeted to grow at 15.5 percent at the end of
? At the retail level both deposit and lending rates fell in July-December of FY2015 and the
interest spread has on average decreased from 5.31 percent in June 2014 to 5.17 percent
in December 2015. Bangladesh Bank will continue its effort to reduce this spread.

The target was set at the central bank’s monetary policy announced Thursday for the second half of the fiscal year (FY) 2014-15.

The policy was adopted to bring down the inflation rate to 6.5% from current 6.99% (12-month average) and achieve an economic growth within a range between 6.5% and 6.8%.

“I hope that our monetary policy issued today will play the same effective role as the previous issues in instilling and strengthening public confidence on Bangladesh Bank’s actions aimed at containing and stabilising CPI inflation,” Governor Dr Atiur Rahman said, releasing the Monetary Policy Stance (MPS) at Bangladesh Bank headquarters in Dhaka.

“I also believe that its attendant inclusive, environmental sustainability supportive credit and financial policies will make meaningful contribution in supporting the government’s pursuit of on the country’s path towards prosperity.”

Atiur said Bangladesh Bank’s attention in support of capital market stability will continue in seccond half of FY2014-15.

He said the central bank has the statutory responsibility of enforcing compliance of banks with the legal limits on their capital market exposures; but further to this, Bangladesh Bank has continued liquidity support for capital market transactions in volumes permissible within Bangladesh Bank’s monetary programs.

In the first half of this fiscal year, he said Bangladesh Bank has introduced a number of new investor-friendly regulatory reforms facilitating external transactions of foreign and local businesses including investors in the capital market.

Atiur said deposit and lending interest rates of banks and financial institutions have been coming down in line with decline in CPI inflation; intermediation spreads between weighted average deposit and lending interest rates of banks and financial institutions have come down to five percent or lower in the state owned banks and the majority of private sector banks.

The spreads are higher in the foreign banks and in some private sector banks with high engagement in riskier small enterprise lending, he said.

“Bangladesh Bank’s attention towards rationalization of these higher spreads will continue.”

The governor said competitive lending interest setting behavior not having yet fostered well in the local financial market.

Bangladesh Bank resorted to setting ceilings on lending interest rates in two priority areas – pre-shipment export credit and agricultural credit.

In the context of general declining trend in interest rates, in H1 FY2014-15 Bangladesh Bank has revised the lending rate ceiling for agriculture downward from 13% to 11%. Competitive rate setting behavior in the market would have rendered prescription of such ceilings unnecessary.

“Bangladesh Bank will therefore pursue ways of fostering of competitive price setting, rate setting attitudes and practices in our financial markets.” See the original policy new monetary policy

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Bangladesh can expand trade through Hong Kong: trade analyst Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:31:01 +0000 Hong Kong Trade Development Council -HKTDC.Many garment, leather and footwear factories in China want to relocate production units to Bangladesh to utilise duty-free entry benefits allowed to exports.

The companies want to manufacture in Bangladesh and re-export the finished products to the world through Hong Kong, said Dannie Chiu, regional director for Southeast Asia and India of Hong Kong Trade Development Council or HKTDC.

Chiu highlighted Hong Kong as a sourcing and distribution hub in Asia.

“We are here to create opportunities, provide information and help match business partners for companies from Hong Kong,” she said at the programme co-organised by HKTDC and Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at the Westin hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Bangladesh could expand its external trade through Hong Kong, which will help to get more foreign direct investment from China and other countries, she said. Hong Kong channelled $377 billion foreign investment through to other countries in 2013, she said.

There are enormous opportunities to expand Bangladesh’s trade, and Hong Kong can be the bridge, said Mahbubur Rahman, president of International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh.

“We should change our traditional approach and be more dynamic in dealing with trade issues,” Rahman said.

China and Hong Kong can invest more in Bangladesh to utilise benefits offered to foreign investors, as well as its duty-free access to many other countries, Subhasish Bose, vice chairman of Export Promotion Bureau, said.

China can relocate its sunset industries to Bangladesh to enjoy the general investment packages, said Hossain Khaled, president of DCCI.

“Hong Kong is a major sourcing and distribution hub in Asia and a gateway to world trade.”

China and Hong Kong rank as the first and 12th largest importing partners of Bangladesh and jointly account for $9 billion of the total import volume of the country, he said. Although bilateral trade shows an increasing trend over the years for both exports and imports; the total volume of trade is still very small and the balance of trade is in Hong Kong’s favour, he said.

HKTDC is a statutory organisation with a mission to create business opportunities for Hong Kong’s companies. It is the international marketing arm of Hong Kong-based traders, manufactures and service providers.

With more than 40 global offices, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the body promotes Hong Kong as a business platform for trade with China and throughout Asia, according to HKTDC.

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Dhaka Metro Rail project update : First tender for metro rail on January 31 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:03:31 +0000 Dhaka metro train

The first tender for pre-qualification of rolling stock (coach and locomotive) for the 20.1-km-long much-expected metro rail will be floated on January 31, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader.

The minister made the statement while briefing the journalists at the secretariat yesterday.

A total of 24 new locomotives and 144 coaches will cost Tk2,700 crore, said source in the ministry.

As per the rules, the estimated cost must be approved by Japan International Cooperative Agency (Jica), the major financier of the project, and then the Metro Rail authorities before the tender is floated.

The Metro Rail authorities are yet to approve the cost. They still need more time to verify it.

Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary MAN Siddique,
also the Metro Rail project chairman, said: “We hope to get the approval by the time.”

Meanwhile, about the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project Road Transport and Bridges Minister said: “The construction work of the project will begin in December this year and to be completed in November 2017.”

“Commuters can travel from Gazipur to Airport in only 40 minutes,” he said.

On Monday parliament passed an amended Metro Rail Bill, 2015 in a bid to curb traffic jam in the capital with providing quick and modern transport service to commuters.

Under the first tender, 24 locomotives and 144 coaches will be procured from manufacturers and suppliers. The 24 trains each having six coaches will run from Uttara to Bangladesh Bank.

The first part of the construction may end by December 2019 while the whole project to be completed by 2024.

The metro rail will run from Uttara Third Phase to Bangladesh Bank via Pallabi, the west side of Rokeya Sarani and Farmgate, Hotel Sonargaon, Ruposhi Bangla, TSC of Dhaka University, Doel Chattar and Topkhana Road.

The route was supposed to be extended up to Sayedabad from Bangladesh Bank through Atish Dipankar Road.

The Jica has committed to provide Tk16,594.59 crore while the government Tk5,390.48 crore.

A Japanese consortium is currently working on the detailed design of the project. It is also carrying out a topographical, traffic and geo-technical surveys in different parts of the project.
Metro Rail Act passed in parliament
Jatiya Sangsad on Monday passed the Metro Rail Act, 2015 which is aimed at providing fast and improved mass transport service in Dhaka city.

This act will give a legal framework to the overall activities of the proposed Metro Rail Project, including its operations, control and regulations.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader moved the bill in parliament that was passed by voice vote.

According to the act: “The government has taken initiative to build mass rapid transit (MRT) for easing traffic jam and rendering fast and improved mass transport service in Dhaka city. A specific law is needed for construction, operation and maintenance of the country’s first metro rail.”

The law will be effective in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Gazipur and Narsingdi districts initially. The government shall include other districts in the list by issuing gazette notification in the second phase.

It has kept a provision of Tk 1 crore fine and 10 years’ imprisonment for operating metro rail without license or illegal handover of license for operating Metro Rail.

The authorities concerned will fix the rate of passenger fare against metro rail service following directives of the government from time to time. There will be a seven-member committee to fix the fares.

There is also a provision of one years’ imprisonment or Tk 500,000 fine or both for creating obstructions to running metro rail and unauthorised entry into the reserved area of the metro rail.

The punishment for breaching the security of the metro rail and its passengers is five years’ imprisonment maximum or Tk 50 lakh fine or both.

For unauthorised printing of Metro rail tickets or pass, selling, distorting and producing fake tickets is ten years’ imprisonment maximum or Tk one crore fine or both.

If any employee of the Metro rail misuses it or its equipment that person will have to face one year’s imprisonment or Tk five lakh fine or both.

For travelling on metro rail without ticket or pass, the punishment will be a fine maximum ten times the price of the actual fare or six months imprisonment.

The punishment for not maintaining technical standard regarding anything of the metro rail, will be five years’ imprisonment maximum or a Tk 50 lakh fine or both.

For not having the insurance of Metro rail, its passengers and third party the punishment will be maximum ten years’ imprisonment or Tk 10 crore fine or both.

There will be separate committees for issuing licenses of metro rail and fixing the fares.

Executive Director of the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority will be the head of the committee for issuing license. The proposed law also kept provision for constructing and operating the metro rail under PPP basis.

The Cabinet on 10 November approved the draft of the Metro Rail Bill, 2014.

The Metro rail or Mass Rapid Transit Development Project (Line 6) is a priority project of the government and the Tk 220 billion project to build Dhaka’s first metro rail is expected to be complete by 2019.

A public limited company named Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL) will operate the Metro Rail while the DMTCL will be supervised by the Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority.

The proposed route of the MRT Line-6 is Uttara 3rd Phase to Bangladesh Bank via Pallabi-Rokeya Sarani-Khamarbari-Farmgate-Hotel Sonargaon-Shahbagh-TSC-Doel Chattar- and Topkhana Road.

There will be 16 metro rail stations under the project. The stations include Uttara (North), Uttara (Centre), Uttara (South), Pallabi, IMT, Mirpur 10, Kazipara, Taltala, Agargaon, Bijoy Sarani, Farmgate, Sonargaon, National Museum, Doel Chattar, Bangabandhu National
Stadium and Bangladesh Bank.

According to the government, the metro rail will be able to carry some 1800 passengers every four minutes, transporting an estimated 60000 people every hour

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Welcome Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernica -US Ambassador to Bangladesh Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:30:01 +0000 Marcia-Stephens-Bloom-BernicaWelcome Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernica -New US Ambassador to Bangladesh arrived in Dhaka on Sunday to begin her assignment.

She has replaced Dan W Mozena who retired on completion of his tenure in Bangladesh.
Ambassador Marcia Bernicat is going to start her tasks in Bangladesh at a critical period of bilateral relations, especially after reservations expressed by America about the 5 January 2014 elections.

On 17 November, the US Senate confirmed the nomination of Bernicat as 15th US ambassador to Bangladesh. Accordingly, she took her oath in Washington DC on January 6.

“I look forward to joining the US Embassy, Dhaka team and learning all about the people, rich culture and traditions of Bangladesh,” Marcia Bernicat tweeted on 25 November.

Bernicat said earlier that she would work hard to support efforts to promote accountability and strengthen human rights and democracy in Bangladesh

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Speech of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina- 5th january 2015 Mon, 05 Jan 2015 04:32:36 +0000 Sheikh Hasina
Following is the full text of speech of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina over radio and television on the completion of one year of the present grand alliance government.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Dear Countrymen,

Assalamu Alaikum

I am extending New Year greetings to you all.

Today is 5th January. You have given mandate consecutively for the second term to Awami League, a party of people of the country and the organisation of the greatest Bangalee of all time and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, through a free, fair and neutral election on this day last year.

On this day, I am expressing my greetings and sincere congratulations to all democracy-loving people of Bangladesh. I am remembering the greatest Bangalee of all time and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with due respect.


I am also remembering four national leaders — Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain M Mansur Ali and AHM Qamaruzzaman — who were killed inside jail on November 3 (in 1975).

I am also remembering all martyred freedom fighters, wounded freedom fighters, families who lost their near and dear ones, with due respect and extending my sympathy to the mothers and sisters who were tortured in 1971.

I am recalling with profound pain the victims of August 15, 1975 massacre — my mother Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib, my three brothers Captain Sheikh Kamal, Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal and ten-year-old Sheikh Russell, newly married wives of Sheikh Kamal and Sheikh Jamal — Sultana and Rosy, the only brother of Bangabandhu, Sheikh Naser, and all martyrs of the night including Colonel Jamil.

I am remembering Awami League leader Ivy Rahman and 22 other leaders and workers, who were killed in grenade attacks on August 21, 2004.

I am remembering 21,000 leaders and activists including former finance minister SAMS Kibria, Awami League leader Ahsanullah Master, Manzurul Imam and Momtajuddin who were killed during the BNP-Jamaat Jote (alliance) regime.

I express my deep respects to the deceased members of parliament (MPs) of the 10th Jatiya Sangsad.

Innocent bus drivers, bus-tempo-CNG passengers, presiding officers, police-BGB-Ansar, army personnel, schoolchildren and many others were killed being the victims of terror, arson and bomb attacks of BNP-Jamaat Jote. Many have been passing very miserable life with injuries.

I am remembering with deep respects those who lost their lives falling victims to the brutalities and atrocities of Jamaat-BNP alliance. I am conveying my profound sympathy to the members of their families and extending my compassion to the wounded persons.

Dear countrymen, the BNP-Jamaat alliance had established a reign of terror across the country to foil the January 5 election and protect the war criminals. They set ablaze hundreds of vehicles, damaged thousands of cars, cut down hundreds of tress beside the highways and roads in rural areas and killed 20 law enforcers, including police, BGB, Ansar and army.

Hundreds of innocent people were killed in terror and arson attacks and petrol bombs thrown by them (BNP-Jamaat elements).

Government offices, power plants, business establishments, roadside shops and even innocent animals were not spared from their brutality. Mosques, temples and pagodas were not spared. Hundreds of copies of the Holy Quran were torched in front of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.

They have destroyed hundreds of carriages and rail engines by uprooting rail lines and removing fishplates.

They launched arson attacks on 582 schools on the election day, killed 26 people, including presiding officers and unleashed attacks on the minority communities and the Awami League supporters on that day.

You went to polling centres by ignoring the terrorism, bomb and arson attacks, cast your votes and kept the democratic process moving.

We have tried to sit for a dialogue before election. We wanted to give all sorts of concession under the constitution to hold election. We were prepared to form an all-party cabinet for election period.

There is no scope for an unelected government in the constitution of Bangladesh. We have only one demand — to hold election as per constitution. We were prepared to give all possible concessions to this end.

The BNP-Jamaat alliance wanted to create an anarchic and wild situation.

They wanted to go to the power through backdoor by creating anarchy.

But the people of the country did not pay heed to the conspiracy.

Dear Countrymen,

I am grateful to you.

Because of your cooperation, we are able to complete the development works that we started. Besides, we have got the scope to take the country forward by undertaking new development programmes.

I am requesting you to prevent in unison any sort of anarchy and militant activities to uphold democracy.

We ruled the country for five years after forming government in 2009, winning the 2008 election. We formed the government in such a situation when the economic meltdown and acute shortage of foods established supremacy over the globe.

The economic conditions of the country suffered a great setback and there was indiscipline due to misrule, corruption and militant activities by BNP-Jamaat during the period 2001-2006 and for the repression of the two-year caretaker government.

We brought discipline in all sectors of the society after taking charge in such a situation. We infused trust and confidence among people and involved people to build the country with a fresh vow.

We took the 6th five-year plan and started its implementation. We took a long-term plan and started is implementation.

Today, the people of the country are well. The country is advancing.

The year 2014 is the year of pride in the history of the Bangalees for ensuring overall development, continuation of democracy and infusing the nation with the spirit of Liberation War.

The last year was for success of Bangladesh in local and international arenas.

Bangladesh became a role model for the globe due to successful implementation of the development programmes taken by us in the five years of last tenure and the immense progress in socio-economic sector in the first year of this tenure.

Currently, Bangladesh is one of the five countries which advanced for economical development.

We have achieved on an average 6.2 percent growth.

The volume of budget was Tk 61 thousand and 57 crore in fiscal year 2005-2006.

The volume of the budget is Tk 2 lakh 50 thousand and 506 crore in this current fiscal year 2014-2015.

The per capita income was 543 US dollars in the last year during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government and it increased to 1,190 US dollars now. Five crore people became the members of mid-income slab from low-income slab. The poverty rate was 41.5 percent in the last year of BNP-Jamaat alliance. We have reduced it to 24 percent.

The rate of hardcore poor was 24.2 percent in 2006. It has now declined to 11 percent.

The income of people has increased. Employment has increased. We arranged employment of one crore people both in government and private sectors.

Twenty-five lakh people have been employed abroad.

Remittance income was 4.80 billion dollars in 2006. It increased by three-fold and stood at 14.23 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2013-2014.

The reserves of foreign currency were 3.48 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2005-2006.

It stands at 22.39 billion dollars increasing by six times.

The foreign investment was 0.79 billion dollars in 2006 which was increased to 6.83 billion dollars in 2014.

Income from export was 10.53 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2005-2006, which was increased by three times as it stands at 30.19 billion dollars in 2013-2014.

The production of electricity was 4,500 MW (megawatt) in 2001. It shrank to 3,200 megawatts during the BNP-Jamaat alliance government.

Now our electricity production capacity is 13,283 MW.

The daily gas production in 2006 was 1600 million cft. The gas production in September 2014 was enhanced to 2,450 million cft on an average.

In the communication sector, we have made massive development. Hatirjheel Project, Kuril-Biswa Road Multipurpose Flyover, Mirpur-Biman Bandar Zillur Rahman Flyover, Banani Overpass and Mayor Hanif Flyover in Dhaka, Ahsanullah Master Flyover in Tongi and Bahaddarhat Flyover in Chittagong have been inaugurated.

The construction work of Moghbazar-Malibagh Flyover is underway, while the work on the elevated expressway and metro rail in Dhaka would begin soon. We have started the work of the Padma Bridge with our own financing.

Fourteen large bridges, 4,507 medium and small bridges, 13,751 culverts and 21,000 kilometer new roads have been constructed.

Nabinagar-DEPZ-Chandra Road has been elevated to four lanes. The work on elevating Dhaka-Chittagong Highway and Joydevpur-Mymensingh Highway to four-lane has been going on fast.

Conscious countrymen,

Bangladesh was a food deficit country during the rule of BNP-Jamaat alliance. The country achieved food autarky again during the period of the Awami League government.

The food grain production in 2005-06 was 2,78 crore metric tonnes. In 2013-14 fiscal year, 3,83,43,000 metric tonnes food grain were produced.

Since January 2009 till today, agri assistance worth about Tk 40,278 crore against fertilizers, irrigation, electricity and fuel has so far been given.

The fish production has been enhanced to 35 lakh MT. Bangladesh is now the fourth largest country in the world in sweet water fish production. We have started exporting rice.

Dear countrymen,

After coming to power in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat alliance had brought down the education rate to 44 percent from 65 percent. The rate of education in the country is now 69 percent.

The Awami League government distributed 159 crore textbooks among the secondary-level students in the last six years free of cost. On January 1 this year, 32,63,47,923 textbooks were distributed among the students. From 2015, the visually-impaired children are also getting books on Braille system.

Scholarship and stipends are being provided to 1,21,78,129 students from class one to degree level. Twenty-six thousand one hundred ninety-three primary schools and the jobs of 1.20 lakh teachers have been nationalised.

The status of the assistant teachers at secondary level has been elevated to class two from class three. The status of headmasters of the government primary schools has been elevated to class two from class three.

As many as 3,172 computer labs have been set up in the educational institutions across the country, while multimedia classrooms have been established in 20,500 secondary-level educational institutions. Multimedia classrooms would be introduced in all schools gradually.

Laptop, multimedia, sound system and internet modem have been distributed to 1,497 schools. Such tools would be provided to 3,930 more schools.

The healthcare services are now at the doorsteps of the people. Sixteen thousand 438 community clinics and union health centres are now giving medicare to the rural people. Thirty types of medicines are being provided free of cost. Over 12,500 physicians were appointed in the last six years.

The average life expectancy in 2006 was 66.5 years which has now been increased to 70 years. Almost all of the children have been brought under the immunization programme, while all the people have been brought under safe drinking water and sanitation programmes.

Dear countrymen,

“Digital Bangladesh” is now a reality, not a dream thanks to our relentless efforts.

Two hundred digital services are being provided through the setting up of 5,275 digital centres. The monthly income of an entrepreneur in the sector is Tk 20,000 to one lakh.

The number of mobile phone subscribers in the country is now 11.97 crore, while the number of internet subscribers is 4.30 crore. The government has introduced the largest web portal of the world with 25,000 websites.

ICT sector earns 125 million dollar from overseas.

Respected countrymen,

Our government announced National Women Development Policy aiming to ensure empowerment of women. Violence prevention law towards women has been formulated.

Maternal leave with salary has been extended to six months from four months.

Women have been appointed as vice-chancellors in the public universities.

Gender sensitive budget is being prepared in 40 ministries for ensuring women participation in public functions.

Bangladesh now ranks seventh among the top ten countries in the field of political empowerment of women.

We have turned Jatiya Sangsad into a centre of all activities. Regular meetings of parliamentary committees are being held. They are monitoring works of the ministries.

We have set up Sangsad Television for bringing transparency to the parliament.

Parliamentary functions are aired live.

Retirement age for public servant has been extended to 59 years and 60 years for freedom fighter public servants.

Salary of officers and employees for both military and civil will be increased for the second time. We have created opportunities for promotion by upgrading ranks in an extensive way.

Armed forces goal-2030 has been formulated in the light of the Defence policy formulated in 1974 by Father of the Nation. Armed forces have been equipped with most modern war machines.

Sub-inspector post of police has been upgraded to second class from third class and inspector post has been upgraded to first class from second class.

Risk allowances of Police, RAB, Ansar, BGB and armed forces have been increased.

Labour law and labour policy have been formulated. Minimum salary for workers has been fixed at Tk 4,175. Minimum salary for garment workers has been increased and fixed at Tk 5,300.

BNP-Jamaat alliance government had shut down jute mills. A total of 23 out of BJMC’s closed jute mills has been reopened. Three more will be reopened.

As many as 27,22,500 widows, divorcee women and elderly people are getting allowance of Tk 400 per month. Four lakh physically challenged people are getting allowance of Tk 500 per month.

Marginalised people are getting benefit from 128 safety net programmes including Ashrayan, Ektee Barai, Ektee Khamar, Ghore Phera programmes and destitute allowances.

A total of 55,000 acres of land has been distributed among the 1.20 Lakh landless families. Over one lakh families have been rehabilated through Ashrayan project.

Damaged places of worship, houses and shops for minority families who fell victims to the destruction of BNP-Jmaat-Shibir in Jessore, Satkhira, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts before January 5 general elections have been reconstructed through the BGB.

Various programmes have been taken for marginalised people like hijra, dalit, bede and horijan community for improving their living standard and ensuring social security. The government has recognised hijra people as third gender.

Dear Countrymen,

After assuming power, we have strengthened Anti-Corruption Commission. As a result, corruption has been reduced significantly.

Bangladesh was a country of robbing freedom of speech and repression of journalists during the BNP-Jamaat rule.

A total of 16 journalists were killed. Nearly 500 cases were filed and 750 incidents of threats and attacks happened against journalists during the five years. Many journalists were arrested and tortured in custody.

Media in Bangladesh is now enjoying full freedom.

Till now, Awami League government approved licenses of 32 televisions, 22 FM radios, 32 community radios. Rights to Information Act has been formulated and Information Commission has been established.

A total of Tk 1.10 crore under “Journalist Assistance Allowance or Grant Guidelines, 2012” has been distributed. Bangladesh Journalist Welfare Trust has been established.

Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad Dr Shrin Sharmin Chaudhury has been elected as chairperson of executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Parliament Member Saber Hossain Chowdhury has been elected as President of Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Bangladesh has made new history in the democratic world as the chiefs of two topmost democratic institutions of the globe were elected from here. The relation with democracy loving countries of the world has become very strong and thoroughly consolidated.

Last year, Bangladesh achieved its landslide victory in the elections to 12 international organisations including IMSO, ITU and Human Rights Council.

The UNESCO honoured me with the “Peace Tree” award.

South-South Co-Operation Office and Organization of American States of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) conferred me the Visionary Award -2104.

We achieved MDG four from one.

Bangladesh got MDG Award and South-South Award of the United Nations and “World Summit on Information Society” of ITU.

After achieving a large portion of maritime boundary, it has become easier to collect sea resources that would contribute significantly to the economy of the country.

With the existing foreign policy “Friendship to all, malice to none”, the relation has tremendously developed with neighbouring countries at present.

Bangladesh got honourable place in the international arena.

Peace-loving Countrymen,

When the development works of the roads and highways are going on with the help of all concerned, a quarter is trying again to create instability and unrest in the country.

The trial of war criminals, mass-killers, Razakars and Al-Badar is in progress. The verdict is being executed. Insha Allah we will complete the trial of war criminals.

The evil forces of darkness, who want to foil the trial and save the war criminals, don’t believe in the existence of Bangladesh and don’t want welfare of people and are trying to hatch conspiracies.

It was BNP’s wrong political decision not to take part in the polls. Why will the common people have to pay for that?

I call upon the BNP chairperson to stop the destructive acts, killing of people, grenade and bomb attacks, torching and damaging lives and properties of people.

Due to your wrong political decision, you and your party are not in parliament. Who is to be blamed for that? You have to hold yourself responsible for it.

Come to the path of peace after shunning destructive acts. Inform the mass people what you want to do for the socio-economic progress of the countrymen.

Then there will be a future in the days ahead of you.

The path, which you have chosen, won’t bring welfare to the people. Rather you would lose people’s faith and confidence.

People want security, peace and progress.

We want to come out of vicious circle of evil politics. We want to establish the politics of welfare in the country.

Dear Countrymen,

In the 2008 election manifesto, I announced to develop Bangladesh as a middle-income country by 2021. Insha Allah it would be possible before the stipulated time.

In 2014, we declared in our election manifesto that Bangladesh would be a developed country by 2041. Insha Allah we will be able to fulfil the target.

I seek your cooperation.

Our dear homeland Bangladesh will be built as a poverty-free developed country.

People of Bangladesh will be properly honoured in the world. We will build a Sonar Bangla as dreamt by Father of the Nation, Insha Allah.

Thank you all again. Khoda Hafez. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu. May Bangladesh last long.

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20th-dhaka-international-trade-fair Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:51:37 +0000 0 Foreign investment in Bangladesh : Niko dispute Mon, 17 Nov 2014 05:16:32 +0000 IN the era of globalisation, foreign private investment plays an important role for the economic and infrastructure development of developing countries, particularly Bangladesh. Bangladesh offers generous opportunities and environment for foreign investment under its liberalised legal policies and principle of compliance with international norms and principles concerning foreign private investment. One of the impediments in encouraging foreign private investment is legal restraint as to the settlement of disputes arising out of investment contract.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, Bangladesh has adopted a number of policies to increase the inflow of foreign investment. Ratification of the 1965 Conventions on the Settlement of Investment Dispute between States and Nationals of other States (ICSID Convention), (hereinafter Washington Convention) by Bangladesh fulfills its commitment to the protection of foreign private investment in Bangladesh. The ICSID Convention entered into force for Bangladesh on April 26, 1980.

Bangladesh has also concluded a number of bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with several countries in order to promote foreign investments in its territory. At present, Bangladesh has concluded 29 BITs — 24 of which have come into force. The Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act 1980 is an investment protection statute in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is also a member of the 1958 Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention), and the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 (amended 2006).

Bangladesh’s commitment to fair and equitable treatment for foreign investment has again been reflected in the recent decision given by International Central for Settlement of Investment Dispute (ICSID) in the arbitration proceeding initiated by Niko against Petrobangla.

The government had decided to develop marginal or abandoned gas fields in Bangladesh. Niko, a company incorporated under the laws of Barbados, proposed to carry out this development. Niko evaluated three such abandoned gas fields and concluded that two of them, the Chattak and the Feni fields, were sufficiently favourable to continue with a work plan.

With the approval of the government, Niko concluded a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) on October 16, 2003, with the Bangladesh Petroleum & Production Company, Limited (BAPEX) to develop those gas fields. The development of the Feni field was successful and gas supplies from two wells started in November 2004. The first dispute arose between Niko and Petrobangla as to the price of gas. BAPEX and Niko (the Joint Venture Partners) began to negotiate a Gas Purchase and Sale Agreement (GPSA) with the Bangladesh Oil Gas and Mineral Corporation (Petrobangla). Niko requested a price of $2.75/MCF and the buyer (Petrobangla) offered $1.75/MCF. On December 27, 2006, a GPSA was concluded where the price was fixed at $1.75/MCF. Petrobangla made some payments but much of the gas delivered remains unpaid for. As of April 1, 2010, it owed Niko and BAPEX $27.16 million and $8.55 million respectively. Niko served several reminders to Petrobangla for payment for the gas produced by Niko.

The second dispute that arose between Niko and Petrobangla and the government was over compensation for the damages caused by two blowouts that occurred during drilling in the Chattak field on January 7, 2005, and another on June 24, 2005. The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA) and others introduced a petition in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, High Court Division, against the Government of Bangladesh, Petrobangla, BAPEX, Niko and others, seeking inter alia a declaration that (a) the Joint Venture Agreement (AVA) reached between Niko and BAPEX was invalid; and (b) an injunction against Petrobangla restraining payments to Niko in respect to the Feni gas field.

The court issued the injunction against Petrobangla but denied the requested declaration on May 5, 2010. In May or June 2008, Petrobangla and the government of Bangladesh commenced legal action in the Court of District Judge, Dhaka, against Niko and others, seeking compensation on the order of Tk. 746.5 crore as damages for the two blowouts (the Money Suit). These proceedings are still pending.

As a result, the following three disputes arose between Niko, Bapex and Petrobangla and the government:

Niko claimed payment (payment claim) for the outstanding invoices for the gas delivered to Petrobangla;

Petrobangla and the government claimed compensation for the damages occurred due to the blowouts;

Niko sought a declaration that it was not liable for damages in relation to the blowouts (the compensation declaration).

Niko served a Notice of Arbitration on Petrobangla on January 8, 2010. Niko decided to refer these two particular disputes (payment claim and compensation declaration) for arbitration under the ICSID Convention. The ICSID Tribunal was constituted for the arbitration of such disputes, and proceedings began on December 20, 2010. The Tribunal delivered its decision on Niko’s payment claim on September 11, 2014, based on the argument and evidence before it. The Tribunal decided that Petrobangla owed Niko $ 25,312,747 plus Tk. 139,988,337 as per Niko’s invoices for gas delivered from November 2004 to April 2010, and Petrobangla must pay simple interest on Niko’s invoices at the rate of six month LIBOR + 2% for the US Dollar amounts and at 5% for the amounts in BDT.

But the present decision is not implementable due to the pendency of injunction given by High Court Division in the BELA proceedings; prohibiting payment to Niko by Petrobangla. The order of injunction given by High Court Division reads: “This order of injunction shall remain in force till disposal of the money suit or till amicable settlement amongst the parties, whichever is earlier.”

In the Tribunal’s decision, it invited the parties to seek an amicable settlement with respect to the modalities for implementing the present decision (payment claim).

The participation in the arbitration proceedings of ICSID by Bangladesh for the settlement of investment dispute between Niko and Petrobangla should be encouraging to foreign investors. Previously, Bangladesh complied with the decisions delivered by ICSID that involved substantial monetary awards against Bangladesh.

Compliance with the decisions given by ICSID in the Niko case will demonstrate Bangladesh’s positive attitude towards its commitment for the protection of the interest of foreign investors with the terms and conditions of BITs and the ICSID convention. This will be particularly important for those interested in investing in the growing marine resource sectors and energy sectors in Bangladesh. At the same time, the decisions of the ICSID Tribunals reveal the areas in which Bangladesh can build greater investor confidence. It is hoped that there shall be an amicable settlement between the parties as to payment claim owed to Petrobangla and compensation for damages caused due to blowout as per decision of ICSID. If this is done, it will increase the inward flow of foreign direct investment in Bangladesh as it will give confidence to foreign investors. The government should put emphasis on such an important issue.
Foreign Investment in Bangladesh

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Bangladesh urged Malaysian investors to Invest more in Bangladesh Sun, 16 Nov 2014 04:11:22 +0000 Bangladesh yesterday urged Malaysian investors to take up new investment ventures in the fast-growing manufacturing, services and infrastructure scoters to help the country reach newer heights of development.

Dhaka also sought technological support from Kuala Lumpur as it has developed expertise in the area.

Officials and entrepreneurs of Bangladesh made the call while addressing the inaugural session of a three-day trade show — “Showcase Bangladesh2014”, which began at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) in collaboration with Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia, Malaysia South-South Association, Malaysia External Trade Development

Cooperation and Malaysian Industrial Development Authority hosted the event for the third time.

Speaking at the function, Malaysian Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry Dato Lee Chee Leong said there is much that Bangladesh and Malaysia can do for further expansion of bilateral trade and investment. “Events like Showcase Bangladesh provide us with a good platform to explore the business potential,” he said.

Malaysia’s investment in Bangladesh is currently concentrated on energy and telecommunications sectors, he pointed out. “The involvement of Malaysian companies in Bangladesh can be further expanded.”
Several areas like infrastructure, power generation, telecommunications, education and hospitality have been identified as potential sectors for Malaysian involvement and investment in Bangladesh, mentioned Lee Chee Leong.

He said Malaysia would be an ideal gateway for Bangladeshi companies wanting to expand their businesses in the region as Malaysia will assume the chairmanship of Asean next year.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia Atiqur Rahman said Malaysia is among the top 10 investors in Bangladesh, but there is enough scope for further investment.

Relocation of labour-intensive industries, including the textiles and textiles accessories; furniture processing and agro-processing industries, from Malaysia might be the most promising options, said the diplomat.

BMCCI president Nasir A Choudhury, secretary general Raquib Mohammad Fakhrul, treasurer Syed Almas Kabir, chairman of the fair organising committee Syed Nurul Islam and former BMCCI president Syed Moazzem Hossain spoke, among others.

About 60 Bangladeshi companies from banking and insurance services, readymade garments, textiles, infrastructure, ICT and telecom and other sectors have joined the showcase with their products and services.

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Partnerships for development: A shared responsibility Mon, 10 Nov 2014 05:45:18 +0000 UN DayEVERY year on October 24, we celebrate UN Day, commemorating the founding of the United Nations. Since joining 40 years ago, Bangladesh has experienced significant gains in economic growth and human development. In 2000, world leaders met at the UN Headquarters in New York for the Millennium Summit, which introduced to the world the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals would guide development progress towards meeting basic needs and increasing quality of life for all. Bangladesh has become one of the best performing least developed countries (LDC) in MDG attainment, particularly for the goals on maternal mortality, child mortality, poverty reduction, and primary education. Nevertheless, there is still much to be done in the areas of gender empowerment and equality, nutrition, and environmental sustainability. This UN Day, the UN in Bangladesh shines the spotlight on MDG achievements and gaps through seven plays based on each of the human development goals of the MDGs, and performed in the seven divisions of Bangladesh. However, there is often one goal that is forgotten about — MDG 8: A global partnership for development.

What does MDG 8 currently look like?
Around the world, MDG 8 has had mixed success. Targets selected covered official development assistance (ODA), a fairer trade system, evening the competition in agriculture among countries, debt relief and services, and access to medicine and technology. While MDG 8 aimed to “untie aid,” development assistance is not immune from political realities, and can be influenced by shocks in a globalised economic system. Over the past years, ODA in Bangladesh has hovered around approximately $1.8 billion per year. Due to Bangladesh’s strong economy, this development assistance is declining as a percentage of the country’s gross national income even as absolute numbers of this assistance have increased, highlighting that the country has the lead role in its own development, and is better positioned to define the scope of development cooperation.

South-South cooperation and the intersection of global, national, and private sector actors
In Bangladesh, the UN has supported several initiatives in South-South cooperation between developing countries in areas of health, cultural preservation, social protection, homegrown school feeding and volunteerism in disaster management. Bangladesh and the UN are also members of substantive coalitions that identify regional priorities and mobilise on these issues together. As Bangladesh has a large migrant worker community, the UN in Bangladesh is active in the Colombo Process, which is a regional consultative process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labour for countries of origin in Asia. As a relatively nascent initiative, key achievements have included high level regional meets, a training curriculum for labour attachés of sending countries, agreed upon programmes and policies to ensure the safety and welfare of migrant workers, and implementation of recommendations at national level such as compliance of recruitment agencies in countries signatory to the Covenant of Ethical Conduct and Good Practices of Overseas Employment Service Providers.

In order to implement global agreements and protocols, it is also important to cast a wider net for development partners. An example of a multi-faceted partnership was Bangladesh’s approach to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol, which set out to eliminate “ozone depleting substances” that contributed to global warming. The partnership approach had three dimensions: the first was a global multilateral fund that resourced the implementation of various initiatives to meet Montreal Protocol targets; the second was strong government regulation and enforcement, along with UN capacity building initiatives and institutional strengthening of the Department of Environment; and the third was proactive private sector partnerships and compliance to phase out the use of substances harmful to the environment in their production methods. As a result, Bangladesh is phasing out the substances that contribute to ozone layer depletion, and it serves as an example of the efficacy of a partnership that involves a multitude of actors with the shared commitment to fulfill development objectives.

Partnerships for development: a national and global imperative
Although these are only two examples amongst many, they do illustrate that development is foremost a national imperative as much as it is a global one. While important, partnerships are not limited to financing but to find solutions together to meet development aspirations. Bangladesh’s performance in the MDGs has proven that political will, a strong local NGO community, civil society, and donors can work together effectively. This is apparent in the Local Consultative Group mechanism that brings together the different actors in the country’s development landscape, providing the policy environment and platform for sustainable and effective development partnerships to flourish. Beyond indicators and targets, MDG 8 is essentially a goal about shared responsibility. The MDGs were created to address the most pressing development issues in the world at the time, and as a result the world has seen the poverty rate halve well before the 2015 deadline. This UN Day serves as a timely reminder that we are all partners in development, that there is still work left to do, and that it is crucial to ensure that we maintain MDG momentum through delivering on the commitments made across all sectors both at national and global levels.

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China, Bangladesh to work for regional infrastructure development Mon, 10 Nov 2014 05:36:26 +0000 Silk Road BangladeshChinese President Xi Jinping said Bangladesh is welcome to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a founding member, and the two countries must enhance cooperation in trade, agriculture, infrastructure development and maritime industry.

Xi made the remarks Saturday morning during his meeting with visiting Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, who is in Beijing for a dialogue on strengthening connectivity partnership.

Xi said China’s vision to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will create chances for both countries.

The two countries should work together to push the building of an economic corridor linking Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, Xi said.

Describing Bangladesh as an important partner of China in South Asia and Indian Ocean region, Xi said the bilateral relationship features friendship, trust and cooperation.

China appreciates Bangladesh’s support in issues concerning China’s core interests and will as always support its cause to safeguard independence and sovereignty and realize stability and development, he said.

At the meeting, Hamid said Bangladesh expects to learn from China’s experience in poverty alleviation and seize the chance brought by the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to promote trade and connectivity.

Bangladesh will work with China in climate change and disaster control while helping promote cooperation between China and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, he said.

Twenty-first Asian countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing AIIB last month in Beijing, including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The dialogue on strengthening connectivity partnership scheduled on Saturday in Beijing will be attended by leaders from China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan.

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The Bangladesh Development Update: Economy Progressing, but Below Potential Mon, 10 Nov 2014 05:20:10 +0000 Bangladesh Young GenerationSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
Bangladesh continues to make progress on human development and reducing extreme poverty.
Political uncertainty and weak competitiveness are dragging acceleration of private investment and growth.
To sustain growth in the near- and medium-term, private investment need to increase significantly along with improving the quality of public investment.
The Bangladesh Development Update October 2014 notes that the economy is gradually recovering from prolonged disruptions, aided by political and macroeconomic stability. The challenge now is to consolidate this by accelerating economic growth in an inclusive and sustainable manner. Economic activities in FY14 suffered a setback due to political turmoil, declines in remittance and private investment. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has estimated a 6.1 percent GDP growth for 2014, compared to 6 percent last year.

Progress in poverty reduction and shared prosperity is visible. The poverty incidence, based on national poverty line ($1.13 per capita per day), is projected to decline from 31.5 percent in 2010 to 24.47 percent by 2014. Employment and wage growth appears to have boosted shared prosperity — increased the income of the bottom 40 percent. The UN Human Development Report 2014 says, Bangladesh graduated from Low Human Development (LHD) category to Medium Human Development (MHD) category in 2013.

Overall macroeconomic stability maintained though inflation is still high. Inflation increased to 7.4 percent in FY14 from 6.8 percent in FY13, driven by food price increases. This was due in part to the supply disruptions caused by political unrest in 2013. Stable international oil prices and exchange rate as well as prudent monetary management reduced non-food inflation to 5.5 percent in FY14 from 9.2 percent in FY13.

Despite a lower trade deficit, the current account surplus narrowed in FY14 because of a decline in remittances and an increase in services account deficit. The surplus in balance of payment increased from US$5.1 billion in FY13 to US$5.5 billion, creating an excess supply of foreign exchange. Bangladesh Bank (BB)’s interventions in the foreign exchange market limited nominal appreciation of taka. The real exchange rate appreciated by 8.5% in FY14 relative to FY13 due to small (2.7 percent) nominal appreciation and higher domestic inflation relative to international inflation. Foreign reserve increased to US$21.6 billion in June 2014.

Monetary management was challenged by fast reserve accumulation. BB managed to keep reserve and broad money growth within target by stepping up sterilization operations. BB’s net domestic assets and reserve money targets were met. Private sector credit growth remained subdued at 12.3%. BB increased Cash reserve ratio (CRR) from 6% to 6.5% in June 2014.

Financial sector is not out of the woods yet. Credit and risk management status is unsatisfactory in banking sector. Asset quality in the state-owned commercial banks (SCB) deteriorated in FY14 due to political unrest, poor lending decisions and change in loan classification standards. BB has started implementing the new provisions related to lending and bank’s exposure to stock markets. This should prevent excessive risk taking by the banks.

Fiscal policy is affected by revenue collection and development budget implementation shortfalls. The overall fiscal deficit in FY14 was a modest 3.1 percent of GDP. Public debt as a share of GDP is declining. However, there is little improvement in the quality of the Annual Development Plan (ADP) expenditures. Yet, the size of ADP in FY15 is envisaged to increase by 34 percent relative to the FY14 revised ADP.

Overall pace of structural reforms is slow, but there has been significant progress in the garments industry towards improving working conditions for factory workers, amendments to the labor and the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) laws, government’s capacity in assessing factory safety and agreement on common standards to assess structural building safety. Speedier progress is needed in the implementation of the new VAT law, liberalization of exchange regulations, infrastructure management, and financial supervision.

Growth and inflation outlook is favorable for 2015. Political stability since January, increase in remittance inflows, expected recovery in exports following a weak start, and a buoyant consumption demand than last year, bode well for growth in FY15, which is projected at 6.2 percent. Macroeconomic stability, improved governance in banking system, market development for long term financing, trade liberalization, and stronger attention to efficient implementation of infrastructure investments remain key factors in this process. Underlying inflationary pressures are expected to maintain a downward trend on continued policy restraint. Achieving this will depend on international price trends, domestic supply conditions and macroeconomic policies.

What needs to be done in the near term to sustain growth?

Stronger attention is needed to complete the transition in garments including implementing wage increases and the new labor legislations, recruiting more factory inspectors and completing building inspections followed by remediation measures such as relocation of closed garments factories. Priority should be on completing the ongoing road development projects, i.e. Dhaka-Chittagong and Dhaka-Mymensingh highway; Double Tracking of Dhaka-Chittagong Railway; the Padma Bridge; Dhaka metro rail; and the two Bibiyana gas field based power plants. Immediate action should be taken to enact the Public Private Partnership (PPP) law, and awarding contracts for building Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

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UN rights experts urge Bangladesh to halt the execution of opposition party leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:02:22 +0000 Justice GavelTwo United Nations human rights experts today urged the Government of Bangladesh to stay the execution of Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, leader of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, condemned to death for crimes against humanity.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, Christof Heyns, and on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, expressed serious concern at reports that Mr. Kamaruzzaman could be executed as early as Thursday 6 November 2014 at midnight.

Earlier this week, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court confirmed Mr. Kamaruzzaman’s sentence to death handed down by the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal on 9 May 2013.

The International Crimes Tribunal is a special domestic court with the jurisdiction to try and punish any person accused of committing atrocities, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in Bangladesh, including during the country’s 1971 independence war.

The UN human rights experts have on several occasions expressed alarm regarding serious violations of fair trial and due process guarantees in the judicial proceedings before the Tribunal that were reported to them.

“In countries that have not abolished the death penalty, capital punishment may be imposed only following a trial that complied with the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process,” the experts noted. “Any death sentence executed in contravention of a Government’s international obligations is tantamount to an arbitrary execution.”

“A person sentenced to death must also have the right to seek pardon or commutation of his sentence,” Mr. Heyns and Ms. Knaul stressed.

The UN Special Rapporteurs also reiterated their calls that all the defendants before the International Crimes Tribunal, including the Appellate Division, receive fair trials.

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Krispy Kreme plans Bangladesh entry with Orion Group Fri, 07 Nov 2014 05:52:17 +0000 Krispy Kreme’sKrispy Kreme has signed a development agreement with its newest international franchisee, Orion Group, for 20 new stores throughout Bangladesh throughout the next five years.

“We are very grateful to Krispy Kreme for choosing us as its franchisee in developing the brand in Bangladesh,” Orion Group’s Ifzal Ahmed said in a news release. “As the restaurant industry and consumer embracement of international food brands continue to grow in our country, we look forward to bringing Krispy Kreme’s unique products and in-store experience to Bangladesh consumers.”

Krispy_kreme_assortOrion Group has a presence in the hospitality, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics & toiletries, infrastructure development, real estate and development, power, high-tech agro products, textiles and garments, and aviation management sectors.

“Orion Group has positioned itself as a market leader across multiple business sectors in Bangladesh. Their proven business aptitude and first-hand knowledge of Bangladesh’s rapidly growing consumer market will be indispensable assets in establishing the Krispy Kreme brand and experience in Bangladesh. We expect Krispy Kreme to become an integral part of Bangladesh‘s culture for many years to come,” said Dan Beem, Krispy Kreme president — International.
About Krispy Kreme:Krispy Kreme’s story began in the 1930’
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. is an American global doughnut company and coffeehouse chain based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph bought a yeast-raised recipe from a New Orleans chef, rented a building in what is now historic Old Salem in Winston-Salem, NC, and began selling to local grocery stores.

Products are sold in Krispy Kreme stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, Wal-Mart, Target and Shaws stores in the United States. Internationally, doughnuts are sold in Loblaws supermarkets, Petro-Canada gas stations[citation needed], and as freestanding stores in Canada, along with BP Service Stations and BP Travel Centres and 7-Eleven stores in Australia.[ In the United Kingdom, Tesco supermarkets, Tesco Extra, and most Tesco service stations carry Krispy Kreme products. Service stations Moto, Welcome Break & Road Chef also carry self-service cabinets. The company’s growth was steady .

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European retailers pin high hopes on Bangladesh garment Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:40:31 +0000 Bangladesh's apparel sector

Bangladesh’s apparel sector will continue to thrive due to retailers’ growing confidence and the country’s ability to supply garments at competitive prices, said officials of Foreign Trade Association, a Brussels-based platform mainly of European retailers.

The platform with 1,400 active members has different wings such as Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) and Business Environmental Performance Initiative (BEPI).

“My guess is that Bangladesh’s garment sector will continue to grow. But it depends on how its competitors are doing. The buyers have good links with Bangladesh and a good relationship with the factory owners,” said Lorenz Berzau, managing director of BSCI.

Berzau along with Christian Ewert, director general of the association, was in Dhaka recently to see progress of a training programme on compliance in the garment sector.

The BSCI gives guidelines to the members on different issues, Berzau told The Daily Star at The Westin Hotel on October 23.

The association has continuously been running the training programmes as the retailers also have a responsibility towards sustainable business practices, he said.

Both the officials spoke about the prospects and problems of the country’s $25 billion garment sector that has been going through major reforms since the Rana Plaza building collapse in April last year.
“Bangladesh needs responsible entrepreneurship as garment is already a mature industry. If garment owners become more responsible, they will one day not require any foreign firm to coach them on compliance issues for sustainability,” Berzau said.

The BSCI, on behalf of Foreign Trade Association and the retailers, has been working with garment factory owners, managers and workers to improve their compliance with labour laws, workers’ rights, fire safety and environmental issues, he said. In Bangladesh, the BSCI held seven training programmes on fire safety, which were attended by more than 100 people from 110 factories this year. Around 230 people from 150 factories participated in eight programmes last year.

On price hike by retailers, Berzau said the retailers are probably ready to pay more, but they need to know that the extra amount will go to workers.

The government, employers and trade unions should regularly review workers’ wages, he added.

Berzau said, to help the sector grow further, Bangladesh needs a reasonable approach to compliance, including important issues like management styles, health and safety, wages and working hours.

On changing the management styles, the BSCI gives training to owners, management teams and workers on how to improve industrial relations to ensure a safe workplace, he said. “Industrial relations have improved a lot in Bangladesh. The incidents of unrest in the sector declined a lot over the years. We are continuing motivational training programmes in Bangladesh.”

“The key message is that we are working for greater capacity building and responsible business among retailers, factory owners, management and workers,” said Ewert of the Foreign Trade Association. Currently, Bangladesh is the second largest apparel supplier worldwide after China. Bangladesh exported garment items worth $24.5 billion in fiscal 2013-14 and the export target for the current fiscal year has been set at $26.90 billion.

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DFID seeks coordination in health Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:02:42 +0000 coordination in healthThe UK development agency, DFID, is seeking to strengthen coordination between different health service providers in Bangladesh to protect the poorest from unacceptable healthcare expenses.
Country Representative Sarah Cooke on Wednesday said the poorest families “must not have to choose between losing all their hard-earned savings risking livelihoods, and losing a family member who can be cured. ”

At least 5 percent of Bangladesh’s population slip into poverty every year after having to bear unacceptable medicare expenses.

The DFID Chief was visiting joint USAID and DFID health programmes in the port city of Chittagong along with the US development agency’s deputy mission director Paul Sabatine.

Cooke said their efforts to strengthen the coordination between different health service providers was aimed at creating “an effective referral system for patients”.

“It is important that they receive the right health care from the right provider, from community outreach services to comprehensive maternal care”.

She said through their urban health program and contribution to the NGO health service delivery project, “we want to protect the poorest in Bangladesh from catastrophic health costs”.

During the visit, they observed Smiling Sun’s static and a satellite clinic service delivery for local people and interacted with service providers.

The DFID chief said Smiling Sun clinics were an important part of the UK’s effort in the health sector.

The two major development partners earlier this year joined hands in the health sector through the Smiling Sun network of health clinics.

Under this partnership, DFID provided an additional $29 million to USAID’s five-year $54 million NGO Health Service Delivery Project.

Through the project, the USAID said, the Smiling Sun clinics are able to reach several million additional people by providing basic health services that focus on improving women’s and children’s health in urban areas.

Smiling Sun clinics provide essential healthcare services to the poorest people in Bangladesh through a network of 26 NGOs, 334 clinic locations and more than 6,666 community health workers.

With its nationwide network, the Smiling Sun clinics provide integrated family planning and health service coverage to 23 million people in both urban and rural areas.

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Bangladesh, Belarus Relation – Opens New Friendship corridor Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:29:55 +0000 Bangladesh Belarus  RelationBangladesh and Belarus Monday signed a dozen of deals and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in a number of areas, including business and investment, agriculture, education, and science and technology, reports BSS.
Representatives of the two countries signed seven deals and five MoUs in presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Belarus’ visiting PM Mikhail Myasnikovich.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Belarus counterpart Mikhail Myasnikovich witnessed the signing of the pacts, which are expected to boost better understanding in all fields and open a new chapter of bilateral exports.
Earlier, two prime ministers held bilateral talks at the Prime Minister’s Office.
At the meeting Sheikh Hasina sought expanded market of Bangladeshi products in Belarus.
“Our Prime Minister urged Belarus to import an increased volume of readymade garments, jute products, frozen food, ceramics and other exportables during her talks with the Belarus premier,” a senior foreign ministry official familiar with the talks said.
The Belarus side assured Bangladesh of extending her hands to ensure expanded entry of Bangladeshi products to Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia founded in 2010 as the three countries opted for economic integration removing all customs borders.
Sheikh Hasina, he said, noted with satisfaction that despite the past two decades of diplomatic ties with the former Soviet Union state, Dhaka- Minsk relations grew rapidly in the past 10 months with several engagements and exchanges.
The official said the Belarus premier told Sheikh Hasina that his country was interested in long-term cooperation with Bangladesh as it already proposed installation of plant of its world reputed Minsk Tractor Factory in Bangladesh and finalised several other investment projects at private sector level.
The two premiers, he said, expected the two countries will be able to give a tangible shape the proposals for enhanced cooperation for mutual benefit ahead of the first meeting of Bangladesh-Belarus Joint Commission, set for next year in Minsk.
The meeting held a day after Myasnikovich arrived in Dhaka on a three-day tour yielded a dozen of bilateral pacts, including seven agreements and five MoUs in areas ranging between investment promotion to military technical cooperation as well as collaborations in the fields of agriculture, education, science and technology and think tanks.
Earlier :Belarus offers $15mn for Bangladesh’s apparel industry development

Belarus has offered Bangladesh $15 million as long-term assistance for the development of readymade garment sector.
Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail V Myasnikovich made the offer during a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the UN Headquarters on Wednesday morning (local time).

Hasina is in New York to attend the 69th UN General Assembly.

Later, briefing reporters, her Media Advisor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said the prime minister had emphasised boosting cooperation in investment and trade.

He said Myasnikovich congratulated Hasina on her election as Bangladesh’s Prime Minister for the third time.

He said the Belarusian prime minister showed interest in exporting potash to Bangladesh and import pharmaceutical and agricultural products.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Hasina along with other heads of state and government attended a reception hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Apart from joining a luncheon hosted by the UN secretary-general, the prime minister is scheduled to attend a high-level meeting of the ‘Global Education First Initiative’ (GEFI) at the UN headquarters later in the day.

She will address the UNGA on Saturday.

Hasina will also meet her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that day on the sidelines of the UNGA.

She will spend two days in the United Kingdom before returning home on Oct 2.

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GURUMIA Wishes Peace Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:29:22 +0000 gurumia

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Bangladesh and China : Full use of ties can boost development Sat, 11 Oct 2014 20:29:08 +0000 Akbar Ali Khan, former advisorIf Bangladesh and China can fully utilise their friendship, then both the countries will benefit in all sectors, including economy and culture, said speakers at a seminar yesterday.

Speakers were addressing the seminar titled “Rise of China and Sino Bangla Relation” at a hotel in the capital.

Bangladesh Cultural Academy Foundation organised the programme marking the 65th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the 39th anniversary of Bangladesh China Diplomatic Relation.

Qu Guangzhou, charge d’ affairs of the Chinese embassy, said China is always with Bangladesh, and it wants to develop the bilateral relationship.

He further said that his country has become one of Bangladesh’s important trade partners, and that the Chinese government encourages export of goods to China.

Akbar Ali Khan, former advisor to a caretaker government, said China has shown great development in its economic sector.

He said the reason was the country’s great leadership, and urged Bangladesh to follow China’s example.

He further urged countries in Asia to develop connectivity among their people to see real development in the area. BNP standing Committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, former minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yousuf, former vice chancellor of Dhaka University Emazuddin Ahmed, President of the Communist Party Bangladesh [CPB] Mujahidul Islam Selim and Chinese Economic Councillor Wano Zijian, among others, also spoke in the seminar.

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Bangladesh promises better future for next generation: survey Sat, 11 Oct 2014 18:27:31 +0000 survey-future for next generationThe majority of the Bangladeshis are optimistic of their children’s economic future thanks to the steady economic growth the country has seen, a recent study found.

Around 71 percent of the respondents in the survey conducted by the Washington-based “fact tank” Pew Research Centre said their children will be better off than them in future in Bangladesh.

Zahid Hussain, lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office, said the results are not at all surprising as the country has done very well in poverty reduction and human development in the past three decades. “People are encouraged by these achievements.”

Bangladesh’s economy has been growing at a rate of 6 percent over the last one and a half decades, despite several complications. Poverty has been declining by 1.7 percent every year since 2000, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Bangladesh was part of the survey — Global Attitudes Project — that interviewed 48,643 individuals from 44 countries from March 17 to June 5. Bangladesh’s sample size is 1,000.

In general, the survey found that emerging and developing nations are more optimistic that the next generation will have higher standards of living. Furthermore, they see better opportunities at home than abroad.

Majorities or pluralities in 30 of the 34 emerging and developing nations surveyed say they would tell young people in their countries to stay at home in order to lead a good life, instead of moving to another country.

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Home textile exports slump Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:02:35 +0000 home TextileEuropean Union GSP facility for Pakistan, appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar and recent political turmoil are counted as major factors blocking the growth of country’s potential home-textile exports.

Industry-insiders listed out these impediments as the export earnings from the sector almost stagnated during the last two fiscal years while it posted a negative growth during the first two months of the current fiscal year 2014-15.

The industry fetched $115.99 million in July-August period of the current fiscal, showing a 0.79 per cent negative growth compared to the same period of last fiscal, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.

In the just-concluded fiscal year 2013-14, the country received $792.53 million from home-textile exports. The figure was $791.52 million in FY 2012-13.

Earnings stood at $906.07 million in FY of 2011-12, some $788.76 million in 2010-11, $539.28 million in 2009-10 and $313.51million in 2008-09 respectively.

“Pakistan is a cotton-growing country while now enjoying the new generalised system of preferences (GSP) on the EU market,” Jahangir Alamin, President of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, told the Media.

So, Bangladeshi-made home textiles are lagging behind Pakistan in terms of cost-competitiveness, he said about one of the major causes of setback.

Moreover, he added, the appreciation of taka against the dollar and recent political instability also cast a negative impact on the overall export growth in this sector.

According to a recent study by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) Bangladesh is likely to face strong competitive pressure from Pakistan in home-textile trade.

Pakistan has used the new GSP scheme more effectively than Bangladesh did. Bangladesh’s export to the EU market during the first five months of current calendar year grew by 11 per cent while Pakistan’s by 27 per cent.

“Due to the EU’s new GSP scheme, Pakistan will be the main competitor of Bangladesh on the EU market and our country may face pressure in the days to come,” BFTI director Dr Mostafa Abid Khan said.

Home-textile products will be the main victim of the new system, he lamented.

Shaikh Hasan Zaman, director of Sad Musa Fabrics, said buyers were worried over timely supply on their orders due to the political turmoil for last two years. During the period, many of them have shifted a portion of their orders to other destinations, he added.

Besides, an inadequate supply of gas and power to industrial units severely hampers production. The fuel crunch forced many to generate energy by alternative means, resulting in a rise in the cost of production, he said.

The western consumers’ buying capacity also fell in recent times due to economic recession over there. This resulted in a declining demand for such products, he observed.

Monjurul Haque, marketing manager of Zaber and Zubair Fabrics, country’s largest home-textile maker, said the export of home textiles during recent years increased in terms of value because the buyers paid higher due to the price hike of raw materials such as raw cotton and yarn.

Home-textile-export growth remained stagnant during the last two fiscal years, but quantity of export did not decline, he believed.

Now the prices of raw materials have fallen, so the rates of products, he said, adding: “Bangladesh is the leader on the EU market but yet to grab the US one.”

Bangladesh exports home textiles such as bed-sheets, bedcovers, pillow covers, cushion covers, curtains, rugs, quilt, kitchen aprons, gloves, napkins and tablecloths to European Union countries, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Dubai.

According to BTMA, some 17 mills produce about 556.39 million metres of home textiles annually.


Alltex Industries Ltd
139 Motijheel C/A
Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-02-9569192-96, 9566085
Fax : 88-02-9565569

The Dacca Dyeing & Mfg Co. Ltd
56-57, Motijheel C/A
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9550355
Fax : 88-02-9550155,9550666
E-mail :

Arkay Textile Mfg Co. Ltd.
House 27/1, Road 10/A, Dhanmondi R/A,
Dhaka 1207,Bangladesh.
Phone:88-02- 9111201, 9133240,8124276
Fax : 88-02-8113384.

Chowdhury Towel Ind (Pvt) Ltd.
13/A, West End Street, Central Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-02-9661120, 9665232.
Fax : 88-02-8616750, 9660441
E-mail :

Hashem Textile Mills Ltd.
20 Nazumiah lane, Boxirhat,
Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Phone : 88-031-634602.,682747
Fax : 88-031-610110, 614957.
E-mail :

Rony Textile Textile Mills Ltd
Plot # 53, Sector-1, 849/1, Nazumeah Lane, Boxirhat,
Chittagong, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-031-634813

Online Ltd.
36 Purana Paltan (3rd Flr), Daily
Sangbad Bldg, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9666637
Fax : 88-02-9565352.
E-mail : online@bttb.netbd.

Shabnam Textile Mills Limited
9F, Motijheel CA, DSE BLDG
(2nd Flr), Room No. 315,
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9554541, 9551976, 9563498.
Fax : 88-02-9554542, 9564721
E-mail :

Wiz Fashions Ltd
College Road, Tejgaon,
Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9113353
Fax : 88-02-9125197
E-mail :

Zaman Dyeing & Fabrics Ltd.
108/B, Siddeshwari Circular Road,
Dhaka 1217,Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-8319946, 9338361
Fax : 88-02-8313229
E-mail :

Zaber & Zubair Fabrics Ltd
Globe Chamber (4th Flr),
104 Motijheel C/A,
Dhaka 1217, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9565281-2
Fax : 88-02-9565280
E-mail :

Nipun (Pvt.) Ltd
38, Free School Street,Kathalbagan
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9661569
Fax : 88-02-8614184
E-mail :

Bangladesh Specialized Textile Mills & Powerloom Industries Association
Palton tower (2nd floor)
87, Purana Palton Lane
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Phone : 88-02-9360736
Fax : 88-02-9360736

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The spirit of sacrifice unites Bangladesh on Eid-ul-Azha Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:53:15 +0000 eid1Muslims in Bangladesh are celebrating the Eid-ul-Azha on Monday, the second most important festival in the Islamic calendar, by offering prayers and sacrificing animals.
On this day, Muslims slaughter cattle to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son at Allah’s command.

Much of the meat will be given away to others – the animal is cut into three pieces, with one portion eaten in a celebratory dinner by family, another portion offered to friends, and the remaining portion donated to those less fortunate and unable to afford a cattle.

But residents of more than 100 villages in the country celebrated the festival on Saturday in keeping with Saudi Arabia.

Like previous years, the biggest Eid congregation will be held at Kishoreganj’s Sholakia.

In Dhaka, the National Eidgah will host the main congregation at 8am, which will bring together people from all walks of life.

National mosque Baitul Mukarram will host five consecutive Eid congregations every hour starting 7am.

Eid prayers will be followed by sacrificing animals.

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Bangladesh ‘wildly adopting’ technology: Bill Gates Wed, 08 Oct 2014 06:38:09 +0000 Bill GatesBangladesh was a shining example of digital technology used for delivering financial services to the poor, Bill Gates has said.
In a keynote address at Sibos, a banking-industry conference in Boston, the IT mogul described the Bangladesh experience as ‘wild adoption of technology’, said a report by The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The Microsoft co-founder was co-chairman to ‘The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,’ which invested an undisclosed amount in company, bKash, a concern of Bangladesh’s BRAC Bank.

bKash lets customers transfer money and pay bills using their mobile phones.

The report claimed only about 15 percent of the population has access to formal financial services in Bangladesh but nearly 70 percent had mobile phones.

Thirteen million are “getting financial services — transferring money, paying up shops” — after bKash used mobile phones to deliver them, Gates said.

The Gates foundation, the world’s largest, supports services that enable digital payments for fees as low as 1 percent of the transaction as it has made financial services for the poor one of its priorities.

With a $40 billion endowment, it was targeting people who save less than $1,000 a year and for whom the average transaction is not more than $5.

Traditional banking services are unable to reach the poor because they consider it uneconomic and it’s not always feasible for a bank to set up an outpost in a rural area.

There is a ‘big waiting market’ and opportunity for technological innovation since 2.5 billion people have no access to bank accounts or other financial services, he said.

“Many of the world’s poor keep their savings in cash or physical assets such as gold or farm animals, sometimes at significant risk.”

He said they are not always able to transfer money to family members in need, or receive remittances from their kin working abroad.

“Cash meant for one purpose often gets used up for emergencies, while the lack of borrowing options frequently forces them into debt.”

“Money lenders rule your life,” but low-cost digital payment systems provide a compelling and secure alternative, Gates said. “People will have money problems, but they should have options.”

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Bangladesh PM accused of muzzling dissent after polls Sat, 04 Oct 2014 17:09:21 +0000 Prime Minister Sheikh HasinaHaving ridden out the uproar over her walkover re-election, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now attempting to silence any further dissent with the crucial backing of the military, say observers.

The United States was among a host of countries to demand new polls that “credibly express the will” of the people after Hasina’s ruling Awami League romped to victory in a January ballot boycotted by the

But rather than reach out to critics, Hasina has been accused of since seeking to hound them through the courts, muzzle the media and neuter the judiciary to cement her rule.

“The government hastily ratified these laws and policies to consolidate power,” Ataur Rahman, an expert on Bangladeshi politics from the State
University of New York, said.

“With a tamed media and judiciary, the government can easily continue to rule unchallenged for years and the opposition won’t be able to mobilise people to destabilise the regime.”

Few eyebrows were raised when opposition leader Khaleda Zia’s attempts to prevent corruption allegations from coming to trial failed, as her enmity with Hasina dates back years. Her trial began last month.

But almost the entire leadership of Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party is now fighting multiple court cases, many over claims they were accessories to molotov cocktail attacks that injured no one.

According to the Prothom Alo daily, police filed cases against 355,908 people for violence since the turn of the year while thousands more are on the run.

“Now most leaders spend the better part of the day on court premises fighting charges and seeking bail,” Nur Khan Liton, a leading rights activist, said.

Accusations that judges took their orders from politicians were raised last year when a special government-appointed tribunal convicted a number of Islamists of war crimes dating back to the 1971 liberation

The Supreme Court has generally been seen as independent, its judgements embarrassing military and civilian governments alike over the years.

But legislation ratified last month means parliament now has the power to sack Supreme Court judges.

In August the government also rolled out new regulations for broadcasters, including a ban on speech deemed “anti-state”.

Mahmudur Rahman Manna, a popular television host until his recent sacking, says he lost his job due to government

“The management told me the show was becoming very critical of the government and they were dropping me because of pressure from the government,” Manna, who worked for the private
Channel 24, said.

Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch said the government was imposing “draconian restrictions” on the media to allow it “to take arbitrary action against those it sees as its political

“This policy exemplifies how little appreciation the government has for free speech,” said Adams, the New York-based group’s Asia director.

Officials say such criticism is unfair and deny democracy is being undermined.

“It is absolutely not true that the government is trying to cement its power by introducing the new laws,” Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, the prime
minister’s media adviser, said.

“Rather the legislation empowering the parliament to impeach the judges and the media policy are to make these
institutions more democratic.”

Insisting there was no government pressure to sack Manna, Information Secretary Martuza Ahmed said broadcasters and newspapers would continue to “enjoy full freedom” as
enshrined in the constitution.

Chowdhury said the legislation on sacking judges was in Bangladesh’s original constitution which was repealed after a 1975 coup.

“We have just restored that provision to strengthen
democracy,” he said.

The military has a long history of intervening in politics and the former territory of East Pakistan has seen more than a dozen coups since its bloody war of secession from
Islamabad in 1971.

As the widow of general-turned-president Ziaur Rahman, Zia was once seen as a natural ally of the army.

In contrast, Hasina’s father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman — Bangladesh’s founding leader — was assassinated in a coup less than four years after independence. She faced down a mutiny weeks after she took power
in 2009.

But relations have improved markedly and the military stood firm with the government when protests leading up to January’s polls turned violent.

While there were suspicions that recent anti-government protests led by Imran Khan in Pakistan had the army’s tacit support, analysts say Hasina has no need to watch her back.

“For the first time, the military is absolutely under the grip of Hasina,” said Rahman.

And diplomats who raised questions about the legitimacy of the polls back in January have tempered their language.

US ambassador to Dhaka Dan Mozena last week called future elections “an internal issue” that Bangladesh’s political
parties need to resolve.

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Bay of Bengal more secure with US Collabration Fri, 03 Oct 2014 17:18:45 +0000 Bay of Bengal “more secure”,Bangladeshi and American maritime partnership has made the Bay of Bengal “more secure”, the US ambassador in Dhaka has said.
Dan Mozena on Tuesday said Bangladesh could slash piracy at the Bay of Bengal by 70 percent, an achievement that he said brought the shipping insurance rates down by 40 percent.

“Chittagong is no longer listed as a high-risk seaport,” he said at the closing of the fourth US and Bangladesh joint naval exercise at Chittagong.

According to him, Bangladesh’s success in securing its maritime borders and its vast maritime domain is “good for all nations that support freedom of the seas”.

“Safe and secure sea lanes are vital for the economic well-being of the people of Bangladesh, the people of America, and the people of South Asia,” he said, adding that those sea lanes today were “ever more safe”.

The annual exercise known as Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) is the bilateral exercise series between US Navy and nine countries of the South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of this exercise mostly focused on non-traditional threats that littoral countries face including disasters and piracy.

Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral AMM Aurangzeb Chowdhury at the closing ceremony said the exercise helped Bangladesh Navy to enhance their professional skills.

He said in the present world, threats were trans-national in nature that needed co-operation and partnership of all.

“The (exercise) outcome was splendid,” he said.

This year’s exercise was special to Bangladesh Navy as the US Navy’s newest and most advanced P-8 marine aircraft joined the six-day exercise that took place both on shore and off the Bay of Bengal.

The P-8 aircraft is a specially designed naval aircraft that conducts both anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, among its numerous roles.

During the exercise in the Bay, the US Navy’s diving ship ‘Safeguard’ joined the Bangladesh Navy’s BNS Bangabandhu, BNS Somudro Joy and AW-109 naval helicopter.

Somudro Joy, which was a US Coast Guard cutter before being transferred to Bangladesh last year, joined this training for the first time.

Ambassador Mozena said Bangladesh and America were both “maritime powers”.

“Exercises like CARAT help our respective navies get to know each other better, understand each other better, and learn from each other to defend the maritime domain against those who seek to do us harm.”

The US has helped Bangladesh to set up a naval commando base Special Warfare, Diving and Salvage Command (SWADS) than can response rapidly to any maritime situation.

It has also provided 16 high-speed boats to Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Coast Guard.

The ambassador said joint efforts of the navy and coastguards helped to slash piracies.

He said his country’s partnership with Bangladesh helped it “build ever greater capacity to secure its maritime border against those who seek to use the seas to advance terrorism and violent extremism.

“…against those who seek to traffic drugs, people, and arms, against those who seek to steal Bangladesh’s fish and other maritime assets.”

The US earlier announced that Bangladesh Navy would get a second cutter, the Rush, to complement the Somudro Joy.

A naval team is now in Hawaii undertaking a joint visual inspection of the cutter, the ambassador said.

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British Islamic State suspect arrested in Bangladesh Mon, 29 Sep 2014 17:13:47 +0000 Samiun-Rahman_British Islamic State suspectDetectives in Bangladesh say they have uncovered a British-led Isil recruitment cell in the capital Dhaka.
A British Muslim convert has been arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of recruiting volunteers to fight with Islamic State jihadists in Syria.
Samiun Rahman, 24, was held in the Bangladeshi captial, Dhaka, six months after he is believed to have arrived in the country.
His arrest came two days after detectives revealed they were searching for a London-based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) agent who had had recruited a number of young men who were arrested in recent weeks.
They first learned of a British man from East London allegedly recruiting Islamic State fighters when they arrested seven young Islamic militants, including an associate of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the 21-year-old student behind the failed 2012 attack on New York’s Federal Reserve Bank.
Three alleged recruits were arrested last week, including the son of a retired judge and the other the son of a senior civil servant.
They had been told they would travel to Syria via Turkey posing as followers of the Tabligh Jamaat, a moderate Islamic religious study group.
At Mr Rahman’s family home in Holborn, east London, a woman who said he was his sister said the family had “no idea what was going on”.
She said: “We don’t know what he was doing out there. We don’t know anything about it. I can’t really speak to you.”
A neighbour said Mr Rahman had converted to Islam while serving a prison sentence.
She said: “Before he went to prison, he wasn’t religious at all. He drank all the time and took drugs. He was completely antisocial and always arguing with his older brother about this and that.
“He’s lived here with his mum and sisters for years. Then he got put inside. When he came out after a few months he was wearing the full Muslim gear, the hat, the robe, the beard – everything. I couldn’t even recognise him.
“I assumed he was putting it all on so he could get out of prison early. But instead of standing around on the streets, he started going to the mosque all the time. All the drink and drugs stopped.
“But then he went away to the Middle East. I know his mum told one of the neighbours she was worried he’d gone to fight with Isil. It must be terrible for her.”
Mr Rahman is accused of recruiting would-be Isil fighters in Dhaka and in Sylhet, in the north of the country, where his family are believed to have relatives.

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Bangladesh Court Commutes Death Sentence of Delwar Hossain Sayedee Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:48:16 +0000 Delwar Hossain Sayedee Denied Playing Role in Atrocities During Country’s War for Liberation.
A Bangladeshi court commuted the death sentence of a senior opposition politician convicted of war crimes to life in prison Wednesday, sparking clashes in the capital.

An appellate bench of the Supreme Court sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, to life in prison for his role in atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s fight for liberation from Pakistan in 1971.

Mr. Sayedee, one of the country’s best-known Islamic preachers, was sentenced to death last year by a special tribunal that found him guilty of murder, rape and religious persecution during the war. He denied all charges. The sentencing triggered violence across the country in which dozens of people died.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in the 1971 war, many at the hands of Islamist militia who opposed independence and wanted Bangladesh—then East Pakistan—to remain part of Pakistan.

for Delwar Hossain SayedeeOn Wednesday, a rival group of protesters took to the streets in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, laying bare the deep divisions caused by the war crimes trials, which were started three years ago by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Ms. Hasina’s detractors say she has used the war crimes tribunals as a weapon to quiet her political opponents; she denies these claims.

Activists clashed with police in the University of Dhaka area shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision, demanding the death penalty for Mr. Sayedee and other men on trial for war crimes.

The Jamaat-e-Islami—Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, which often has allied itself with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party against Ms. Hasina’s Awami League—called a nationwide strike for Thursday and Sunday in protest of the court ruling, which it said was flawed because Mr. Sayedee is innocent.

Bangladesh’s attorney general, Mahbubey Alam, said the state was disappointed with the sentence commutation.

“The court confirmed his guilt and ordered him to be imprisoned until the end of his biological life,” he said at a news conference. “I had hoped for the death sentence.”

Tajul Islam, a lawyer for Mr. Sayedee, who has been in prison since 2010, said the defense would seek a review of the appellate bench’s decision.

“My client is innocent, and we had hoped he would be acquitted on appeal,” he said. “The evidence against him was flawed, and there were numerous irregularities in the trial process.”

Mr. Sayedee’s original trial sparked controversy last year after a Human Rights Watch report said a key defense witness might have been abducted by security forces shortly before he was due to testify.

Tensions in Bangladesh have been particularly high in recent months, amid policy moves by the ruling Awami League that critics say are aimed at consolidating control over the country and silencing naysayers.

The opposition is calling for the government to withdraw a recent constitutional amendment that gives parliament the power to impeach Supreme Court judges. Some lawyers have argued the move would undermine judicial independence.

The ruling party has said the amendment is necessary to prevent misconduct in the judiciary branch.

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Bangladesh-Turkey businesses stress FTA Sun, 14 Sep 2014 16:45:58 +0000 Bangladesh turkyThe Turkish government imposed 17 percent duty on import of textile and garment items from Bangladesh in June 2012 to protect its domestic apparel industry. All Bangladeshi products, except garment items, enjoy zero-duty benefit in the Turkish market.

“We are working on the FTA. We sat with the officials of the Turkish economic ministry on August 26 and 27 in Turkey to fast track the process,” said Monoj Kumar Roy, additional commerce secretary of Bangladesh.

“The ongoing negotiation for signing the deal should be continued, and it should be signed soon,” Rizanur Meral, chairman of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (Tuskon), had told The Daily Star at the Turkey-World Trade Bridge-2014 in June.

Tuskon is a non-governmental and non-profit umbrella organisation, representing seven business federations, 202 business associations and more than 50,000 entrepreneurs of Turkey.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had announced during her Turkey visit in April 2012 that an FTA will be signed to utilise the business potential of the two countries.

“Bangladesh is a good destination for business. We should collaborate with Bangladesh,” Meral said.

He also said the Turkish businesspeople now want that all Bangladeshi products get duty-free access to their market.

“The FTA is a win-win situation. We have many things to sell to Bangladesh, and on the other hand, Bangladesh has also many things to sell to Turkey.”

Yusuf Akgun, the board chairman of the Turkish Akgun Construction Company, said he is ready to help Bangladesh government develop an industrial zone.

Akgun is now developing an industrial zone in Ethiopia at a cost of around $2 billion with a target to export goods worth $15 billion from the zone.

“My next target is to build up an industrial zone in Kazakhstan.” He also developed the Ikitelli industrial zone in Istanbul in 1984.

Fatih Alparslan, general secretary to the Association of Development Industrialists and Businessmen of Turkey, said Bangladesh has a lot of business opportunities to explore in Turkey.

Alparslan said businesses in the Kayseri province in Turkey import leather and leather products paying high duty. “Bangladesh can easily grab this leather and leather goods market.”

Bangladeshi businesspeople can also invest in industrial areas in Kayseri, which is also famous for furniture products, doors and natural marble stones, he said.

“Bangladesh and Turkey have been maintaining a friendly relation for a long time, but the economic relations have failed to reach the expected level,” said Fikret Cicek, president of Turkey-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We need to sign the FTA for better business between the two countries,” said Cicek, who led a Bangladeshi business delegation to the Turkey-World Trade Bridge.

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Mamata Banerjee to meet Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh. Sun, 14 Sep 2014 09:09:32 +0000 download

Mamata Banerjee has called the Deputy High Commissioner to discuss the issue,” sources said

In the wake of allegations against one of the MPs of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) for providing money raised from the Saradha Group to Jamaat-e-Islami-Bangladesh (JMB), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will meet Abida Islam, Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Kolkata. The Chief Minister will meet the Mr. Islam at the State Secretariat at 4 p.m. on Monday. However, an official of the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission has confirmed that the meeting has got nothing to do with the ongoing probe related to the Chit Fund scam.

“Ms Islam is leaving the country (India) shortly, so we have asked for an appointment with the Chief Minister. It is a routine courtesy call,” the official said. The meeting, however, is significant, as it is going to take place at a time when several intelligence and media reports have indicated that an MP of AITC, Ahmed Hassan Imran, had given money to Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JMB), to destabilize the Awami League government in Bangladesh. The media reports — mostly originated from internal and external intelligence inputs — have also indicated that the money was acquired by Mr Imran from Sudipta Sen, CMD of the Saradha Group. Awami League is considered a pro-India party in Bangladesh, while the JMB is one of the key opposition parties and opposes Indian policies.

Mr Imran, who was earlier interrogated by the CBI, for selling his newspaper to Sudipta Sen at an allegedly astronomical amount, denied any involvement in the scam.

“The amount is properly accounted. No money was handed over to anyone in Bangladesh and it was duly explained to the CBI,” Mr Imran told reporters after he was interrogated by the investigating agency, couple of weeks back.

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Dhaka launches global initiative to fight autism Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:21:45 +0000 Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh,Health experts suggest ensuring quality of traditional medicines at WHO conference.
Bangladesh yesterday launched a global initiative to address the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the South-East Asia Region of World Health Organization.
Saima Wazed Hossain, chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism in Bangladesh, will lead the initiative titled “Global Initiative on Autism”, to be supported by WHO.
“In the last two to three years, we have already created awareness on autism, but much more needs to be done,” she told a press briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing sixty-seventh session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.
Saima, also a school psychologist and an expert adviser of WHO on mental health, said more global partnership, involving WHO and development partners, was crucial to take forward the cause of those having autism.
Around 0.8 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 17 years have autism or neurodevelopment disorders in Bangladesh, said Prof Golam Rabbani, chairperson of Neurodevelopment Disability Protection Trust of the social welfare ministry.
He said early diagnosis of children with any neurodevelopment disorders was better to treat them.
Autism spectrum disorders are a complex medical condition, characterised by a lack of language development, impaired social communication, hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation, repetitive mannerisms and restricted interests.
These conditions, in turn, affect a person’s health, social, educational and economic functioning, says WHO.
“We must empower families and communities with information and services to create a more inclusive world for children who suffer from ASDs,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia.
“There is an urgent need to develop innovative ways and embed appropriate interventions into health systems to reach the affected,” she said at a side event of the regional conference.
In another session of the event, health experts suggested maintaining rigorous standards to ensure quality of traditional medicines.
“If appropriately integrated into the existing health systems, traditional medicines can play an important role in achieving Universal Health Coverage,” said Dr Poonam.
She mentioned that traditional medicine practitioners remain the primary healthcare providers for millions of people in South-East Asia.
In Bangladesh, around 70 people in the rural and semi-urban areas prefer to use traditional Ayurvedic or Unani medicines, Dr Gaur Mani Singh, line director of the Directorate General of Health Services.
WHO in a statement said it had launched a strategy to meet the increasing demand of traditional medicines, improve quality, safety and efficacy.
In a plenary session on harmful drinking of alcohol, Health Minister Mohammed Nasim called upon the South-East Asian countries to wage a movement against drug abuse, saying that such abuses of drugs were destroying many of the youths.
Meanwhile, Nasim on Wednesday called upon Maldives Health Minister Hussain Rashid to provide health insurance to the Bangladeshis working in the Maldives.
During the bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conference, Rashid assured of considering the issue.

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Accelerate Japan Bangladesh Relations: Abe arrived in Dhaka Sun, 07 Sep 2014 17:15:04 +0000 Japan is a tested Fried of Bangladesh.Bangladesh sacrifices UNSC candidacy supporting Japan.Bangladesh has withdrawn its candidature for the non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in support of its ‘long-tested’ friend Japan, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced.
The announcement came at a joint briefing after the summit talk with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Saturda.
In a first visit by any Japanese prime minister in 14 years, Abe arrived in Dhaka around 1pm on a less than 22 hour tour.

Bangladesh and Japan were the two contenders for the non-permanent seat for 2016-2017.

But only one will be elected from Asia Pacific region.

Japan has long been trying to lure Bangladesh for its support for Tokyo’s candidature.

Hasina during his Tokyo visit told Japanese media at a briefing that Japanese people would definitely get “good news” during Abe’s tour in Dhaka.

She invited him to visit Bangladesh during their meeting in Tokyo in May.

“I will have to go back and discuss the matter with my cabinet colleagues. But we will definitely value the friendship with Japan,” Hasina had then said.

“We always remember with gratitude the Japanese support… Japan is our tested friend and Bangladesh is ready to make any sacrifice for the tested friend,” she also said.

During that visit, Abe promised $6 billion development assistance for Bangladesh for the next four to five years.

In his first speech on Saturday before the summit meeting he also said he would “promote” trade and investment in Bangladesh.

Making the announcement at her office, Hasina said Bangladesh and Japan have “an excellent understanding and long history of cooperation” in the field of international affairs, including at the UN.

She gave a broad context before announcing the withdrawal of Bangladesh’s candidature.

“….in view of Japan’s continued and strong support in Bangladesh’s development process, and in the interest of solidarity and unity of the Asia-Pacific Group at the UN, it is my pleasure to declare that Bangladesh would support Japan’s candidature from the Asia Pacific Group for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the term 2016-17,” Hasina announced.

“We would also withdraw Bangladesh’s candidature in favour of Japan,” she said.

Abe thanked Hasina for the announcement.

Hasina said Japan has always been supportive of Bangladesh role in particular in the “UN Peace keeping and Peace Building”.

She recalled her May visit, and said Japan has further offered technical assistance in setting up a “Peace –Building Centre” in Dhaka for which preliminary works have already commenced.

“We deeply appreciate Japan’s offer for this cooperation as well as Japan’s commitment and contribution to establishing and maintaining global peace and stability,” she said.

Hasina said Bangladesh served on the UN Security Council “successfully” winning elections in New York with overwhelming support from friends in the years 1979-1980 and 1999-2000.

“Few years back we had launched a fresh candidature to the Security Council from the Asia-Pacific Group for the term 2016-2017.

“In 2011 our long-tested friend Japan also launched their candidature for the same term from the Asia Pacific Group.

“Since then our two governments have been closely consulting with a view to upholding our mutual cooperation and Group solidarity in multilateral fora”.

Hasina also recalled with “deep gratitude the support and empathy of the friendly people and the government of Japan during our War of Liberation”.

She said she had “a frank, warm and fruitful discussion” with her counterpart.

The prime minister appreciated Shinzo Abe for bringing Japanese businesses leaders along with him.

She also highlighted the bilateral relations, and said both sides enjoy “excellent friendly relations”.

Japan has emerged as the largest development partner of Bangladesh over the years by providing over $12 billion financial support since independence.

Hasina also referred the fresh commitment Abe made during her visit in May and said “we understand the Japanese commitment would not be limited to the amount”.

She said both countries launched “comprehensive partnership” in order to further broaden and deepen the bilateral cooperation in all areas.

Japan has also launched a programme for Bangladesh under the “Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B)” to what, Hasina said, “help us achieve economic developments through improvement of investment climate and infrastructure”.

“I have also expressed our readiness to contribute to the Japanese construction works as well as health and nursing sectors,” she said.

Shinzo Abe in the joint press announcement expressed his gratitude to the people of Bangladesh for supporting Japan in its bid for the non-permanent seat on the UNSC.

He said this decision would “further strengthen” bilateral relations and enhance international cooperation.

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Bangladesh seeks ‘Bay of Bengal partnership’ for blue economy Wed, 03 Sep 2014 06:07:51 +0000 Bangladesh has sought ‘Bay of Bengal partnership’ for sustainable economic growth leveraging the blue ocean to its south.
“Blue economy must be inclusive and people-centric,” the foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali said on Tuesday at the end of the two-day international workshop on blue economy in Dhaka.

Bangladesh hosted this workshop for the first time bringing together more than 30 experts and representatives of 20 countries.

The foreign minister gave an idea of the collaboration that could take place and said it must be based on certain universal principles of engagement — mutual trust, respect, mutual benefits, and equitable sharing of benefits.

“And collaboration will have to be in research, observation, surveillance and in respect of sharing of analyses, outcomes, observations,” he said while concluding the two-day discussions.

The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world that forms the north-eastern part of the Indian Ocean.

It is bordered mostly by India and Sri Lanka to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east.

Bangladesh took interest in hosting the workshop after it has settled its maritime boundary disputes with neighbouring India and Myanmar “peacefully”.

Sovereign rights have been established on more than 118,000 sq km of maritime territory, 200 nautical miles (NM) of exclusive economic zone, and 354 NM of continental shelf after positive verdicts in international courts.

It has raised hopes of extracting “plenty of resources” from the Bay of Bengal, considered by Bangladesh as its “third neighbour”.

But Dhaka lacks expertise and technology to exploit the resources, which is believed to have prompted the minister to seek global partnership.

The foreign ministry earlier said they were planning to draw up a maritime policy.

“Bangladesh is at a nascent stage of development and assessment of blue economy,” the foreign minister said.

He said the blue economy was “much more robust and key to sustainable development”.

Ali said it was “essential” to create robust ‘maritime domain awareness’ among people-at-large, communities, policy-makers across legislature, and executive.

It was also “crucial” to assess, observe and analyse the profound yet unmeasured and uncertain impacts of climate change on oceans and seas, including the Bay of Bengal, he said.

“This is besides the analyses done by IPCC,” Ali said.

He also pitched for generating knowledge and data that he said has to be particularly relevant to the needs of coastal and island states, whose economy are still developing.

“And, data will have to be relevant to the greater benefit of lives and livelihoods of larger population,” he said.

It was “equally important for developing countries to gain access to available, contemporary and critical data from across-the-world”.

Based on two-day discussions, the foreign minister said development of adaptive technology, transfer of critical technology to developing littoral states was a “common space” one needs to learn to share.

The role of private sector is vital and for this the minister suggested creating policy frameworks to attract critical private investment for blue economy.

He said the need of “effective governance” in policy came out clearly during the workshop as far as strategies for overall maritime and related sectors are concerned.

“The need for cooperation has come out robustly,” he said.

Based on the discussions, the minister said, “let us move together and ahead with a ‘Bay of Bengal partnership for Blue Economy’ to secure sustainable development among the coastal or littoral States”.

“…..let us go back from Dhaka with these messages,” he said.

Blue economy became a buzzword for sustainable development particularly in drafting the post-2015 development goals.

The foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque said about 1.4 billion people were living along the Bay of Bengal coast line.
“It’s a people’s highway,” he said.

But there is a strategic and geo-political interest to countries around the Bay.

“Next time we’ll discuss more on political aspects,” he said as the workshop focused solely on development issues.

Secretary of the maritime affairs department of the foreign ministry Khurshid Alam said all have to cooperate and combat the menace that damages sea, referring to the potential impacts of climate change.

“Sea unites, land divides,” he said as there is no boundary in the sea.

Reaz Hamidullah, director general of the foreign ministry’s economic wing, read out a summary of the two-day workshop and said all participants proposed for engagement based on “mutual trust, respect, equitable benefits and equitable benefit sharing”.

He said in partnership and collaboration, the state would be responsible primarily, but private sector must play crucial role.

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Bangladesh no longer in pirate prone countries Wed, 03 Sep 2014 05:52:24 +0000
blue economy

blue economy

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said journey in the sea route is safe now as Bangladesh is no longer in the list of pirate prone countries.

‘Blue Economy’ is a concept that can significantly contribute to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“Blue economy concept has ushered in a new horizon for economic development of the coastal countries through utilising the sea and marine resources at national and international level,” she told the inaugural ceremony at an international seminar on the issue here on Monday.

She said the role of marine resources in poverty alleviation, acquiring autarky in food production, protecting environmental balance, facing adverse impacts of climate change and other economic possibilities are unlimited.

“Alongside the existing land-based development activities, the marine-based economic activities through the management of sea and its resources through Blue Economy may be considered as a new horizon for development of the coastal countries and the small island developing states,” Hasina said.

Describing the Bay of Bengal as Bangladesh’s ‘third neighbour’, the Prime Minister said: “There is no doubt that sea-related subjects like expansion of international trade, use of marine mineral resources for long-term energy security, proper management of marine fish resources and protecting marine environment and bio-diversity would determine Bangladesh’s future development and economic growth.”

“We have to ensure sustainable development through proper utilization of the potentials of the sea and marine resources,” she said.

Hasina said that her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman enacted the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act 1974 to establish Bangladesh’s sovereign rights over the sea and its resources.

Consequent to this some of the important provisions of Bangladesh’s Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act of 1974 were also included in the UNCLOS 1982. Especially the articles 7(2) of the UNCLOS on deltaic base line for highly unstable coastline were incorporated on Bangladesh’s insistence, she claimed.

But the Prime Minister regretted that Bangladesh could not harness resources of the sea due to non delimitation of maritime boundary with neighbours India and Myanmar for a long time.

She blamed ‘successive governments in Bangladesh’ for not taking appropriate and realistic steps to settle the issue of maritime boundary and alleged they instead ‘ created various complexities’.

“Owing to the absence of maritime boundary demarcation, people of Bangladesh were not able to take any effective steps to exploit and explore the marine resources of the Bay of Bengal,” she said, adding that while Bangladesh fishermen faced difficulties in exploiting the resources, those from other countries ‘easily plundered fish resources due to unsettled maritime boundary’.

She said after coming to power in 1996, her government ratified the UNCLOS in 2001 with a view to ensuring legal rights over marine resources.

After the ratification, Bangladesh was supposed to submit relevant scientific and technical data to the UN for establishing extended continental shelf, she said.

“In March, 2010, we conducted the first marine seismic survey in the history of Bangladesh. After completing all the technical and legal documentation details, we lodged our submission with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) on 25 February 2011; five months before the scheduled deadline.”

Hasina said ‘sustained efforts’ by her government led to the favourable verdict by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany in the delimitation case with Myanmar on 14 March in 2012.

“The award helped us establishing sovereign rights over the living and nonliving resources of the Bay of Bengal in the Exclusive Economic Zone within 200 nm and in the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. In the same way, the verdict with India declared on 7 July 2014 also allowed Bangladesh’s sovereign rights on all the living and mineral resources of the Continental Shelf extending upto 354 nautical miles.”

She claimed Bangladesh has set an example in Asia in settling maritime boundary peacefully with her neighbors, the allusion clearly pointing to the tensions in the South China Sea.

“A huge stock of living and non-living resources is available under the seabed and water column. But we have a dearth of skilled manpower to ascertain the availability and explore the resources. Besides, there is also lack of proper technology for exploiting deep sea fishes and seabed resources. To build skilled manpower in these sectors, we have taken steps to impart higher education on Oceanography at the Dhaka University and Chittagong University. The first National Oceanographic Research Institute’ is being established at Ramu to create marine scientific community for research,” Hasina said.

The Prime Minister insisted on strengthening the navy and the coast guard to fight piracy and protect the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone and its Continental Shelf that held the key to the steps for establishing an effective ‘blue econom
The PM inaugurated the workshop where some 32 experts, academicians and government officials from 20 countries are taking part.

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Bangladesh and Japan need comprehensive partnership Wed, 03 Sep 2014 05:37:02 +0000 Bangladesh and JapanIn this exclusive interview, Matsushiro Horiguchi, former ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, talks to Tokyo-based Bangladeshi journalist Monzurul Huq and reflected on various aspects of bilateral relations that the upcoming visit of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bound to give a new impetus.

What are the main outcomes that the Japanese side is expecting from this visit?

It is epoch making that two leaders are meeting again only three months after they met last time in Tokyo at the end of May. Another milestone of the visit is that there is a record fourteen-year gap between the current visit of the Japanese prime minister to Dhaka, the last one was in 2000. This long interval was the result of political difficulties faced by Japan when the country’s prime ministers changed every one year since Junichiro Koizumi left office in 2006.

I believe the main outcome of Mr. Abe’s visit would be to show to the people of Bangladesh the real importance Japan attaches to her relationship with the country.

The visit is coming at a time when political situation in Bangladesh remains tense after the January 5 elections that the main opposition party boycotted. There remains the scope that supporters of the ruling block in Bangladesh will try to use the visit as a sign of Japan’s endorsement of election results. How do you see the visit from that perspective, and do you think Japanese prime minister should give a clear hint of Japan’s desire to see democracy in Bangladesh guarantees inclusivity, which is the essence of democratic principles?

In many of his speeches Mr. Abe mentioned very clearly about the importance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. I believe this position is well known to everybody and Bangladesh is also not an exception.

Japan is trying to win the support of Bangladesh for Japan’s bid for a non-permanent member seat in the UN Security Council. Bangladesh is still in the race against Japan as it has not yet withdrawn its candidacy, though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had given a clear hint during her visit to Japan in May that she might convey the good news to her Japanese counterpart at the time when the Japanese prime minister’s Dhaka visit materializes. Now as the visit is indeed materializing, how far are you optimistic about such an outcome?


In answering this question, I would like to remind you that Bangladesh has never faltered and never had been shaky on its pledge of support for Japan’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.

During Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Japan in May this year, the two countries issued a joint declaration pledging to initiate a comprehensive partnership. What are the areas that this comprehensive partnership mechanism is supposed to include?

At the summit meeting last May, the two prime ministers launched the Japan-Bangladesh Comprehensive Partnership and decided to work out the details and modalities of such a partnership at the earliest. The Joint Statement issued after the summit had outlined various ideas and programs under three specific areas. The first is cooperation toward attaining global peace and stability; the second is economic cooperation leading towards the promotion of mutual interest and regional prosperity; and the third is promotion of cultural and people to people exchanges. The modalities are to be detailed based on these ideas.

Japan has committed significant economic assistance for Bangladesh during Sheikh Hasina’s Tokyo visit. What are the priority areas that Japan would like to see such economic assistance funding are channeled for the development of Bangladesh?

In my view, industrial diversification is one of the top priorities that Bangladesh needs to work out for achieving the goals of “Vision 2021”, which is to become a mid-income country by that year. In view of the remarkable economic success of China, foreign investment should play the leading role to diversify Bangladesh economy. Wider regional development, including developing infrastructure for industrial growth and improving investment environment to attract foreign businesses has already been mentioned in the Joint Declaration, and therefore very important.

At the same time, we need to keep in mind that our highest priority in economic assistance is always on areas of enhancing social development, which is, contributing to the improvement of lives and livelihood of people.

Is this economic assistance coming at the expense of some form of political support that Japan is now trying to gain from various countries around the world as the situation in East Asia is increasingly turning tense?

For many decades before the situation in East Asia started turning tense, Japan had almost always been the biggest donor for Bangladesh. A large volume of aid has been pledged as Japan-Bangladesh relationship is now being elevated to a new comprehensive partnership.

We presume that a high level business delegation too will accompany Prime Minister Abe to Bangladesh. What are the prospects of increasing Japanese investment in Bangladesh, and why Japanese investor’ are still not that enthusiastic in investing in Bangladesh compared to the enthusiasm that they have shown in investing in Myanmar, a country that in many ways not ahead of Bangladesh in creating a business-friendly investment environment?

One reason I know is that, foreign investors in Bangladesh have been requesting Bangladesh government to improve the manifold investment impediments for many years. But as the process of improvement of such impediments remains very slow, investors might have been getting a pessimistic message about the prospect of improvement. On the other hand, foreign investors in Myanmar may have a favorable view on the possibility of improvement of investment impediments in coming years, even though the present level of impediments might be quite like, or even worse than, what we see in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is also well known as a source of human resource supply. Several million Bangladeshis are working overseas and helping the economic uplift of countries where they work, as well as that of their own country. As Japan faces a serious shortage of human resources due to declining population and aging of the society, do you think there is any possibility for Bangladeshi labor force to join the labor market in Japan?

Yes, there is. An increasing number of foreign workers are now being employed by many Japanese companies for the necessity of adapting to the process of “globalization.” However, the problem is, no consensus has yet been reached on the question of accepting foreign work force in unskilled labor market for the fear of a negative impact on the wage level of Japanese workers in that category. But I believe that in this category of labor too, Japan, however, will be obliged to depend on foreign workers in not a distant future.

Last time a Japanese prime minister visited Bangladesh was in 2000, fourteen years ago. Prime Minister Abe’s visit after a long gap is being materialized at the backdrop of a number of significant developments that both the countries had gone through during that period. Though Bangladesh has achieved significant gains in political, social and economic aspects of the country, Japan, on the contrary, had faced, and still facing, a number of difficulties. Do you think these reverse trends are bringing the friendly nations closer than before?

As for the reason for a fourteen-year gap of a Japanese prime minister’s visit to Bangladesh, it was mainly because of the political confusion the country had been going through, which I have already mentioned while answering your first question. It is true that Japan faced and is still facing a number of difficulties. But, under Mr. Abe’s leadership, Japan has been recovering in many respects. The main reason that lies behind closer relationship between Japan and Bangladesh is the fact that interdependence between the two countries has been strengthening due to the deepening of globalization process.

In Japan a new non-governmental body with the participation of people from various civic groups has been formed recently with the aim of fostering a better understanding between Japan and Bangladesh. We congratulate you for being elected the first president of that organization, the Japan-Bangladesh Society. What are you aiming to achieve and what message do you intend to convey to the policy makers in Japan for further improvement of relationship between the two countries?

Japan-Bangladesh relations have been developing satisfactorily in the past decades through mutual efforts. These relations have been diversified in many ways, responding to the remarkable development of Bangladesh in recent years, and now being elevated to a new stage of comprehensive partnership. Its modalities have to be detailed by both sides.

In handling such broader concepts and related projects, non-governmental organizations like the Japan-Bangladesh Society can play an important role, as they have the participation of people from various civic groups. Our Society will be helpful to the government in finding appropriate solutions to problems extending over various sectors.

The Society is going to share a deeper understanding and professional knowledge on Bangladesh among its members, and through discussions, deliver qualified messages on pertinent issues to the government.

The Society will also undertake such projects as deepening mutual understanding and exchanges between Japan and Bangladesh on the recognition that our relations are now at a turning point from one based mainly on aid to one on closer interdependence.

Since press coverage in Japan on Bangladesh are not necessarily reflecting the actual situation of rapidly developing Bangladesh, the Society also intends to play an active role in disseminating fair and balanced information of the changing situation in Bangladesh to the people of Japan and to the world.
About Matsushiro Horiguchi
Matsushiro Horiguchi served as ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh from 2003 to 2006. A career diplomat, Mr. Horiguchi also was Japanese ambassador to Lebanon prior to his assignment to Dhaka and served in various capacities at overseas Japanese missions in countries like South Korea, Myanmar and Malaysia; as well as at the headquarters of the Japanese foreign ministry. After retiring from diplomatic service, Mr. Horiguchi joined academia as a professor at Tokyo’s prestigious Waseda University. A prolific author with his critically acclaimed book on history of Bangladesh, Mr. Horiguchi is currently teaching at Nihon University. He has been elected president of the newly formed the Japan-Bangladesh Society in July, where representatives of a cross section of various civic groups like the business community, retired civil servants, academia and non- governmental bodies joined together with the aim of fostering a better understanding of Bangladesh in Japan.

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Bangladesh eyes ‘blue economy’ for sustainable growth Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:41:38 +0000 Dhaka is going to host an international workshop on ‘blue economy’ with experts and representatives from 20 countries.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will open the two-day workshop on Monday.

This will be the first such workshop Bangladesh will host.

Officials say the decision came following Bangladesh’s landmark settlement of maritime dispute with neighbouring India and Myanmar.

Dhaka established its sovereign rights through international court verdicts on more than 118,000 sq km of maritime territory, 200 nautical miles (NM) of exclusive economic zone, and 354 NM continental shelves from the Chittagong coast.

It has raised hopes of extracting “plenty of resources” from the Bay of Bengal, considered by Bangladesh as its “third neighbour”.

Bangladesh, which lacks expertise and technology to exploit the resources, will seek global partnership, particularly from neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh is also considering drawing up a maritime policy.

The workshop will help establish links and build relations with countries having expertise, feels the maritime affairs department of the foreign ministry.

Officials say Bangladesh also wants to better understand through the workshop the dynamics of an ocean-based blue economy.

At least 32 delegates from Australia, Seychelles, Sweden, Oman, China, South Africa, Iran, the Philippines, Japan, India, the Netherlands, Thailand, South Korea, Sri Lanka, United States, Kenya, Mauritius, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Mauritius would join the three-sessions of the workshop.

Sri Lanka has sent its minister for fisheries and aquatic resource development Rajitha Senaratne.

A senior official said the Bay of Bengal is understood to have a “geo-strategic link” but the workshop would focus solely on development issues.

The meeting is aimed at exploring the ways to utilise the blue economy as a development tool, he said.

Blue economy became a buzzword for sustainable development particularly in drafting the post-2015 development goals.

Earlier, small island nations used to discuss this at their own forum.

“It (blue economy) is not marine fishing,” said Md Khurshed Alam, a secretary (maritime affairs) in the foreign ministry.

“It means sustainable economic development, taking into account advantages and strategy of managing the resources of the blue ocean,” he said.

Estimates suggest some 30 million Bangladeshis directly depend on oceanic economic activities like fisheries and commercial transportation.

The foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali earlier said Bangladesh believed poverty alleviation was possible by fostering the growth of “blue economy”.

He advocated this recently at a global forum in the Dutch capital, The Hague, when he suggested inclusion of oceans and seas in the post-2015 development agenda.

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