21 April 2015 | Issue 01


Bangladesh a bright example of women’s employment: MasterCard

Bangladesh a bright example of women’s employment: MasterCard

According to MasterCard’s Index of Women's Advancement 2015, Bangladesh has made significant progress in women's employment thanks to better education and wider opportunities. Since 2009, the country has gained more than 80 points in overall employment, making particular improvements in such aspects as regular employment, female participation in workforce, tertiary education enrolment and women in leadership. Bangladesh fared better than many of its Asian neighbours.

Bangladesh becoming a top destination for Muslim tourists: MasterCard

According to the Global Muslim Travel Index 2015 developed by MasterCard, Bangladesh has come out 18th among 100 top destinations for Muslim travellers from around the world. In a related development, the government has announced that 2016 will be the year of tourism in Bangladesh. To that end, they have embarked on a mega plan to develop present and potential attractions for foreign tourists in Bangladesh at a cost of US$ 25.6 million.

Bangladeshi tourism video wins diamond award at ITB Berlin 2015

A television commercial made in 2014 by Bangladesh government’s Tourism Board titled “Beautiful Bangladesh – Land of Stories” to highlight the various tourist destinations, has won the diamond award in the prestigious travel trade fair ITB-Berlin 2015. It won the award under the best film category. Chief of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism Faruk Khan received the award on behalf of the board on March 5. The video can be viewed here.

World Economic Forum lauds Bangladesh’s gender successes

World Economic Forum (WEF) has cited Bangladesh as one of the shining examples of successes in gender empowerment. It has stated that economic empowerment of Bangladesh through such means as micro-loans has given them a voice that has played a role in boosting the quality of life not just of the women themselves but entire households, resulting in the sharp improvement in the country’s social indicators, such as female education, life expectancy, children’s health and so on.

Bangladesh gets WIP Global Forum award for women empowerment

Bangladesh has received the prestigious Women in Parliament (WIP) Global Forum award for women empowerment and reducing gender gap. State Minister for Foreign Affairs MdShahriarAlam received the award on behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at WIP’s Annual Summit at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday. The government has dedicated the award to more than 200,000 women violated in 1971 war of independence. This adds to the long line of awards received by PM Sheikh Hasinaover the years due to her role in advancing causes of women in Bangladesh.

National Growth towards Sustainability

Transformation of Agriculture into a Dynamic Sector: Putting the New Vision into Action

Incredible progress in primary education

In the last six years under the present government, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in primary education. The present rate of admission in primary schools is 97.70%, up from 93.90% in 2009. Conversely, the dropout rate has fallen from 45.10% in 2009 to 20.90% in 2014. Several initiatives undertaken by the government has contributed to this overall improvement, including making provisions for separate washrooms for girls and providing mid-day meals for students.

Advancing technology to drive higher education and employment

Majority of the public and some selected private universities would be connected with a high-speed data communication network within next six months under the BdREN (Bangladesh Research and Education Network) programme of the government with support of World Bank. In a related development, the State Minister for ICT Division has stated that the government will offer courses and degrees in the proposed Digital University in Gazipur keeping in mind the needs of technology-based jobs.

Bangladesh doing well in creating jobs, cutting unemployment rate

According to the Labour Force Survey of 2013 by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), by the end of 2013, the total labour force in Bangladesh stood at 60.7 million, up from 56.7 million in 2010. During the same timeframe, 4 million new jobs were created due to increased economic activities in non-farm sectors, recording an entry of 1.3 million new workers annually. Between 2010-2013, the unemployment rate fell to 4.3% from 4.5% and gainful employment rose to 58.1 million from 54.1 million.

Bangladesh now seventh largest potato producer in the world

Owing to the sustained efforts by the farmers and the government, Bangladesh is now the seventh top potato producer in the globe surpassing countries like Poland, France and Holland. Bangladesh's potato production increased nearly three times by achieving 14% output growth on a year-on-year basis since 2000. According to FAOSTAT, an agro data provider under UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bangladesh achieved the rank with 8.6 million tonnes of production in 2013.

Government targets producing 3.5 million tonnes of fish by end of 2015

Under a project involving around $16.5 million, the government of Bangladesh has targeted to produce 3.5 million tonnes of fish by the end of 2015. The project is aimed at providing training to the private sector hatchery owners to increase production of fishes. The target is to increase market value of fish production from $6.4 billion in 2013 to around $6.7 billion in 2015. In order to boost production, the government has already set up 120 hatcheries across the country to provide training.

Inclusive Development towards Equity & Justice

Employment created for 5,000poor women under climate project

Employment created for 5,000poor women under climate project

The government has created employment opportunities for 5,000 poor women in 12 southwestern districts of the country through its Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project (CCRIP). Implemented through the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), the $158.7 million project started in 2013 with priority to create income opportunities for rural women by hiring them as day-labourers for infrastructure development. The project will continue till 2018.

Foster care facilities to be arranged for differently-abled children

The government has decided to introduce a foster care system in the country for family less children with neurodevelopmental disorders and autism. The plan has been taken as part of the government’s overall efforts to prioritize addressing the needs of children with neurodevelopmental disorders and autism and making them worthy citizens of the country so that they can contribute to its socio-economic development. Currently, a concept paper is being prepared in this regard.

Telephone helpline introduced for garment factory workers

The government has launched a pilot project of a telephone 'helpline' for garment workers to help resolve their grievances related to workplace safety or worker rights. The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) will run the helpline (0800 44 55 000), which has been established with the support of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Norwegian government. In the initial phase, the helpline will help workers in Ashulia, to be spread nationwide gradually.

Government to build modern 500-bed Burn Institute at Kurmitola

The government will set up an international standard Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute with 500 beds capacity in Dhaka's Kurmitola area to provide better services to the burn victims. The government will finance the facility to be built on approximately three-acres land. The hospital would provide different treatment facilities including modern skin bank for burn and plastic surgery, specialized diagnostic center, microsurgery laboratory and hyperbaric oxygen cylinder.

Cash incentive project launched for poor pregnant women and children

Bangladesh government has launched a project to introduce cash incentives for poor pregnant women and mothers of under-5 children in some selected districts to incentivize health and growth check-ups. Mostly funded by the World Bank, the project will cost more than $305.3 million and would be implemented in 42 Upazillas of seven districts in the next five years. The programme will cover at least 600,000 mothers and they will be tracked through the Bangladesh Poverty Database.

Bangladesh and Denmark sign agreement on RMG workers’ safety

Bangladesh and Denmark have signed an agreement under which Denmark will provide assistance to ensure garment workers’ safety in Bangladesh by deploying a special adviser to work with the labour ministry in Dhaka with the view to improving the working conditions further. Secretaries of Labour Ministries of the two countries signed the deal at Dhaka last Thursday. Demark acknowledged the progress Bangladesh made in workplace safety and labour rights in RMG sector since 2013.

Agent banking introduced for a more inclusive financial sector

Bangladesh’s central bank has issued licenses to four commercial banks to operate agent banking in areas of the country where conventional banking has not yet reached. Of the four, two banks have already started recruiting agents at the grassroots level to offer banking services. The other two are going to launch the service soon. The central bank initiated the process to bring the large portion of the population still out of traditional banking services within the official banking stream.

Plan, Policies and Legal Framework

Government undertakes massive afforestation plan in coastal belt

Government undertakes massive afforestation plan in coastal belt

The government has started a process to bring 6,538 hectares of land and 621 km from nine coastal districts under a social afforestation as part of the “Climate Resilient Participatory Afforestation and Reforestation Project” financed by Bangladesh Climate Change Resilient Fund. The plan would contribute to the national economy; help maintain the balance in ecology, environment, and biodiversity and reduce risks of natural calamities and desertification.

International road shows planned to attract foreign investment

Bangladesh government is undertaking a number of plans to boost influx of foreign investment. As part of the plans, the Board of Investment (BoI) will arrange a number of road shows and meetings abroad to highlight the country’s business potential. In the third week of April, road shows will be held in UK, Netherlands and France, while a similar event will be held in the third week of April in Japan. The Bangladeshi delegations will comprise of government officials and private entrepreneurs.

Government targets 100% electricity coverage by 2021

Various multifaceted steps undertaken by the current government has brought up electricity coverage in the country to an unprecedented 70% at the moment. Now, the target is to produce and supply electricity to 100% of the population. Power generation capacity now stands at 11,265 megawatts (MW), which was only 3,268 in 2009 when AL came to office. Target is set to generate 13,301 MW by the end of this year and 24,000 MW by 2021 to bring all citizens under the coverage of electricity.

Trade and Business

Rmg Bounty Surprises the World

Bangladesh’s export earnings and remittances continue to rise

Bangladesh’s expert earnings rose 5.46% year-on-year to US$ 2.51 billion in February 2015. According to data by Bangladesh’s central bank, export earnings in the first 8 months (July-February) of current fiscal year stands at US$ 20.31 billion. During the same period, the country also saw rise in its remittance inflow. During July-February of 2014-15, it received 7.63% higher remittance amounting to US$ 9.90 billion, up from US$ 9.20 billion during corresponding period of previous fiscal.

Dhaka and Colombo to sign bilateral investment promotion deal

Bangladesh will sign a deal with Sri Lanka for promotion and protection of investors of two countries. The agreement titled “Capital Investment, Development and Protection” is expected to be signed within a short time. According to the proposal, the two countries will promise to protect the interest of their respective investors and both countries will get the most favoured national treatment, transfers of investors business profit, and facilitation of returns and payment to their own countries.

Bangladesh’s exports to Kuwait increased 133% in last three years

Owing to such measures taken by the government as trade Fairs, Bangladesh’s exports to Kuwait has increased by more than 133% to $35 million in the last three years. Following the success of the first Bangladesh Trade Fair, the second such fair will be held in April this year. The sectors represented in the fait will include: overseas employment firms, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, banks and insurance, garments and textiles, leather goods, real estates, tourism, food and ICT.

Huge potential for export of bicycles globally from Bangladesh

According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh exported bicycles worth $84.7 million in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, registering a 30.23% growth compared to the corresponding period of previous fiscal year. Bicycle exports began only in 2000, and already Bangladesh is the fifth top bicycle exporter to the European market. Bangladesh is eyeing to get a large chunk of the global bicycle market, which according to a report by Lucintel, will reach $68 billion in 2018.

Science, Innovation and ICT

100,000 IT literate secondary teachers to be created in two years

100,000 IT literate secondary teachers to be created in two years

The government plans to establish ICT training and resource centers in 125 Upazilas and create 100,000 IT literate teachers at secondary school level within the next two years to spread e-learning across the country. This is part of AL government’s e-education project which itself is part of the broader Digital Bangladesh vision. Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics has just completed training of 760 teachers in training of trainers (TOTs) course on March 18, 2015.

Tech giant Dell highlights Bangladesh’s IT successes and potential

US based technology giant Dell has commented that Bangladesh is an impressive example of what can be achieved if government’s goodwill and a skilled workforce work together. They applauded the rapid development of Bangladesh’s ICT sector under the current government and expressed their comment to stand as a partner in the country’s goal of becoming a technologically advanced ‘Digital Bangladesh”. In particular, they highlighted the effective use of ICT in education in Bangladesh.

Digital Bangladesh: Cyber-city and high-tech park in Chittagong

As part of the current government’s vision of a Digital Bangladesh, a cyber-city and a high-tech park will be built in Chittagong. According to State Minister of ICT Division, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, the government has undertaken a plan to build a cyber city on a 98-acre stretch in Bakolia and a high-tech park on a 300-acre piece of land alongside the CUET in Raozan. Also being implemented is a “Learning and Earning” project to provide three-month long training on freelancing to youths in Chittagong.

Bangladesh to have its first locally made sedan cars from next year

Bangladeshi business conglomerate PHP, has joined hands with Malaysian automobile giant Proton to manufacture the country’s first locally manufactured sedan cars, to be available from beginning of 2016. A deal in this regard was signed by the two entities last Thursday at Selangor, Malaysia. The industry will be set up at Anwara, Chittagong on 30 acres of land with a capacity of manufacturing 1,200 cars per year. The cars will be cheaper than reconditioned cars available in Bangladesh.

Security and Defence

US diplomats laud counter-terrorism; highlight strategic location

US diplomats laud counter-terrorism; highlight strategic location

US Secretary of State John Kerry has praised the role of Bangladeshi law enforcers in combatting terrorism. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali stated that Mr. Kerry made the comment during the FM’s US visit in February. In a related development, visiting Deputy Director of US Department of State (South Asian Regional Affairs) Neil Kromash commented that Bangladesh enjoys an advantageous geography that makes it an 'ideal hub' for connectivity and promoting pan-Asian connectivity.

New boats for Coast Guard to combat smuggling, trafficking and piracy

Two harbor patrol boats have been added to the fleet of Bangladesh Coast Guards (BCG) to strengthen its capacity to stop smuggling, trafficking and piracy. The newly built patrol boats would be used to ensure security at port, harbor and coastal areas along with carrying out disaster-time relief works in coastal areas. State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman khan handed over the two harbor patrol boats to the coast guard officials at Sonadanga Dockyard in Narayanganj on Sunday.

Infrastructure and Power

Dhaka’s Metro Rail project expected to be complete by 2020

Dhaka’s Metro Rail project expected to be complete by 2020

Plans for construction of Dhaka Metro Rail have now been finalized. The portion of Metro Rail that will run from Uttara to Farmgate will be complete by 2019 and construction of the remaining portion from Farmgate to Bangladesh Bank will end by 2020.Tenders for Metro Rail are being invited by dividing the whole project into eight packages. Tenders have already been floated for two packages of the project, while tenders for the remaining packages would be floated by December this year.

Four-lane Dhaka-Mymensingh highway to be completed by June

Construction work of the four-lane Dhaka-Mymensingh highway is expected to be complete within June this year, with 96% of the work already having been completed. The Mawna flyover, built at a cost of over US$ 9 million at Sripur intersection will also be open to traffic on the first week of April. According to Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, the government is overseeing the implementation of the project on a priority basis. The highway upgrade consists of four separate projects.

Ghorashal re-powering project to add 246 MW electricity to national grid

Government has launched the “Ghorashal 3rd Unit Re-Powering Project” involving nearly US$ 323 million to add 246 mega-watt power to the national grid. The project, to be completed by December 2017, involves a 260.3 MW gas turbine generating unit, gas booster compressor and auxiliaries diesel generator, rehabilitation and modification of existing 210 MW steam turbine generating unit, procurement of heat recovery steam generator, a combined cycle power plant and maintaining old plants.

$170.5 million project for 200,000 new power connections in Rajshahi

The government has approved a US$ 170.5 million project for Rajshahi area to provide new power connections, improving power distribution systems and reducing system loss. Once implemented, the project would create new power connections for 200,000subscribers and cut down system loss by 4%.The project also aims to improve the qualitative standard and distribution system by renovating some 1,808 km of existing distribution lines and set up 1,375 km of new distribution lines.

Russian energy giant Gazprom interested to work in hydrocarbon sector

Russian energy giant Gazprom is eyeing a big role in Bangladesh's hydrocarbon sector under a joint venture (JV) with the latter's state-run oil and gas exploration company BAPEX on a government-to-government basis. They have already submitted a proposal to the government to create the JV to implement projects in exploration, development and production of hydrocarbon in Bangladesh under production SHARING contracts (PSCs), licenses, service contracts and other means.

Centre for Research and Information (CRI)
House 2, Road 32 (old) 11 (new), Mirpur Road, Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209, Bangladesh.

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