Mint

21 May 2015 | Issue 02

NEWSLETTER

Bangladesh a bright example of women’s employment: MasterCard

Bangladeshis happier than Indians: World Happiness report 2015

The people of Bangladesh are happier than any other South-Asian countries including India, reveals a new global report. The 2015 World Happiness report, prepared by Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which is a global initiative for the UN, ranked Bangladesh in 109th spot, placing India in at 117th spot. As indicators of happiness, the report takes into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.

BD Growth volatility is lower than many other countries : Moody’s

Moody's Investors Service, a global credit ratings agency, has once more projected Bangladesh's outlook as stable for the current year saying that the country's growth volatility is lower than almost all other countries they rated. In a press release, the agency said “Bangladesh's Ba3 foreign currency government bond rating reflects its track record of macroeconomic stability, a modest debt burden, and limited external vulnerabilities with an ample foreign reserve buffer.”

BD sets example on countering illicit financing: Global Financial Integrity (GFI)

Global Financial Integrity (GFI) president Raymond W. Baker commended Bangladesh for securing a steady progress in the area of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). "You've made good progress and can perhaps benefit from our further cooperation and indeed serve as an example to other countries dealing with similar problems", said the GFI chief while talking with Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman during a panel discussion on illicit financial flows.

Bangladesh's internet speed highest in South Asia: Ookla Net Index

According to a new global study, Bangladesh outperformed all the South Asian countries including India in providing fastest internet for its citizens. In the world reputed Ookla net index, the country secured the 99th spot, moving up 39 notches from last year. Cost reduction, expansion of bandwidth business both by public and private companies, an increase in mobile internet users have contributed largely to the rising net speed.

Follow Bangladesh's example in education: UNESCO DG Irina Bokova

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has commended Bangladesh's success in education saying that countries lagging behind in achieving Education for All (EFA) goal can follow its example. She said Bangladesh is moving forward towards inclusive education within the target of 2015 due to present government's political will and commitment to education. She also lauded the role and commitment of Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh's achievement in MDGs and EFA well ahead of 2015.

National Growth towards Sustainability

Employment created for 5,000poor women under climate project

Foreign exchange reserves hits a new record at US$ 24 billion

Bangladesh’s economy is continuing to march ahead under the present government. Country’s foreign exchange reserves reached US$ 24.09 billion for the first time. The central bank attributed the record reserves to a stable inflow of remittances and export earnings, satisfactory flow of foreign direct investment and foreign currency borrowing by the private sector. The reserves first crossed the $23-billion mark in February this year and are currently enough to meet import bills. Advancing technology to drive higher education and employment.

Huge increase in manpower export results in record remittances in six months

According to statistics by Bangladesh Bank, the country received $1.33 billion in March 2015 as incoming remittances, which is the highest in six months. This is principally due to the fact that migrant workers are finding jobs abroad in large numbers. The amount is 12% higher than in the previous month and 3.41% more than the same month a year ago. March's receipts take the fiscal year's total to $11.25 billion so far, which is a year-on-year increase of 7.21%. Bangladeshis going abroad for jobs rose 29% to 45,319 in March compared to February.

Japanese company Tsukamoto recruiting 10,000 Bangladeshi workers

Tsukamoto, a Japanese company, will recruit 10,000 Bangladeshi workers for its construction, care-giving and nursing concerns. Japan and Bangladesh will sign a MoU sometime in May in this regard. A delegation from Tsukamoto recently visited Bangladesh to discuss the recruitment process. The company will employ Bangladeshis in its priority categories and also arrange training for the selected candidates on Japanese language and other necessary matters.

FAO forecasts higher rice and wheat outputs for Bangladesh in 2015

According to its latest country report on Bangladesh, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) has stated that the country is likely to witness higher rice (especially of boro variety) and wheat crops in 2015 than last year, principally due to increased plantation and higher yields. The report noted that adequate water supplies, coupled with overall good input availability including fertilizer, seed as well as adequate power and diesel for irrigation, benefited planting operations and crop development for farmers.

Inclusive Development towards Equity & Justice

Employment created for 5,000poor women under climate project

New social safety net schemes developed for 35.7 million poorest

Under a new scheme, government plans to bring 35.7 million of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens under social safety. The National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) is supposed to start next fiscal year. The plan will require more than $4.7 billion, 20.5% more than the current allocation for this purpose. The aim of the NSSS is to ensure proper spending of government funds, reach out to those most in need of such handouts, and stopping leakages by bringing in all 145 social safety net schemes under a comprehensive programme.

Life expectancy rises to 70.1 years due to comprehensive socio economic development

The people of Bangladesh are living longer, reflecting a significant progress in the country’s health and population status. Life expectancy rose to 70.1 years in 2013 from 69.4 years in last year, according to the findings of the Sample Vital Resignation System. Experts attribute the progress to overall economic development, expansion of health services, better access to telecommunications and a rise in literacy rate. The survey also found remarkable drops in under-five mortality rate and maternal mortality rate.

USA to follow Bangladesh’s example in women empowerment

In pledging her support for Presidential aspirant Hilary Clinton, US Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has lauded Bangladesh’s empowerment of women in politics. She said: “We want to set the example of women empowerment that Bangladesh has established. Not only the PM, leader of the opposition and Speaker of the House are women, but women also lead major political parties. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now a global phenomenon in the realm of women empowerment.”

Plan, Policies and Legal Framework

Government undertakes massive afforestation plan in coastal belt

90 million Smart NID cards to be provided with World Bank’s help

The government will provide a total of 90 million Smart NID (national identification) cards to the country’s citizens under the Identification system for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEA) Project. The World Bank is supporting the government in strengthening the NID system through the $195 million IDEA project to establish a secure and reliable NID system in Bangladesh for efficient, inclusive and transparent service delivery. The cards will have robust security features and their production is expected to start by June 30.

New policies to ensure poor students’ access to education

The government is going to adopt a policy to provide financial assistance for ensuring admission of the poor and meritorious students to schools and colleges. Another policy is being framed to give financial support to the students in case of sustaining critical injury in any accident. These policies are aimed to ensure admission of poor and meritorious students to schools and colleges and to reduce dropout rate of the students and would be funded via the Prime Minister's Education Assistance Trust Fund established in 2012-2013.

Wide range of policies taken to attract foreign investors

The government came up with a series of timely initiatives including a huge tax rebate for hi-tech parks investors in a bid to draw foreign investors and ensure soaring cash inflow. According to a proposed incentive packages, investors in the technology parks will be entitled to full waiver of corporate tax income for 10 years and many other tax incentives. In another landmark feat, Dhaka will offer permanent resident permits investing $75, 000 and citizenship for $500,000.

Proposal submitted for separate railway bridge over Jamuna River

The government has decided to construct a separate railway bridge on the Jamuna River parallel to the Bangabandhu Bridge to facilitate smooth regional railway communication with neighbouring countries. The Ministry of Railway has recently sought approval of a $1.2 billion project to construct the bridge with dual-gauge double-track provision from the Planning Commission. The proposed bridge will ensure smooth railway communication both inside and outside the country. Once approved, officials expect the bridge to be built by December 2020.

Trade and Business

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Exports of garments, textiles and jute see significant growth

According to data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), export of readymade garments (RMG) rose 3.16% year-on-year to $18.62 billion in the first nine months (July-March) of the current fiscal year. During the same time, RMG exports to non-traditional markets grew by 7%. In the month of March alone, exports rose 7.43% year-on-year to $2.59 billion. Other sectors also experienced growth during this nine months timeframe, namely: export of jute rose by 6.62% to $652.84 million and home textiles by 3.47% to $592.45 million.

Bangladesh –Thailand ties elevated to new dimension

Thailand wants to further improve its economic ties with Bangladesh in sectors such as energy and infrastructure. The Thai energy minister expressed the country's interest to invest in base-load power generation and power transmission in Bangladesh by building coal-fired, gas-fired or oil-fired power plants. Moreover, the country is keen to work together with Bangladesh to put in place a formal anti-trafficking mechanism with the signing of a cooperation agreement soon.

Bangladesh secures 10% increase in industrial production

Despite the BNP led alliance’s violent political campaigns, Bangladesh has managed to increase its industrial production in the first half of this fiscal year, thanks to the higher growth in pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, and cement sectors. The industrial production in the July-December period of FY2014-15 grew 10% from a year earlier, showed data released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics recently. During the period, manufacturing output, which contributes about 20% to industrial production, rose 10% from a year earlier, while electricity output rose 10.8% and mining increased 10%.

Major Japanese steelmaker enters Bangladesh

Japan's Kobe Steel Group’s emergence in Bangladesh's welding market has once more proved that the country offers immense possibilities for the foreign investors. Kobe Steel will supply its welding products to the Chittagong-based firm, TSI Marine, which will sell the items in the local market. In their first year, they are aiming to sell 100 tonnes of welding electrodes in Bangladesh.

New industrial zone to be set up at country’s northwest region

The government is planning to set up a new industrial zone in the country’s northwest region. A variety of industries including agricultural services will be accommodated in this new zone. The zone will be set up on the unused land belonging to different ministries including the Industries Ministry. The government is also planning to form an authority for ensuring better coordination and development of existing industries. A new law will be enacted for these two purposes.

Science, Innovation and ICT

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

Bangladesh extends support for global fight against terrorism

International tender for constructing country’s first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, has been floated with anticipated launch in 2017. Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has already paid $5.6 million or 20% of cost to Russia-based Intersputnik as the first installment of purchasing the orbital slot for launching the device. The government expects to sign an agreement with the main satellite contractor in September this year. Only satellite companies with at least 15 years of experience can compete for the contract.

IT sector sees phenomenal growth in first eight months of 2014-15

Bangladesh has experienced tremendous growth in the Information Technology (IT) and IT enabled services (ITES) sectors in the first eight months of the current financial year thanks to maintaining international standards and offering diversified products. Demand for local IT and ITES increased by more than 14% during this period both in the domestic and international markets, earning the country around $86.07 million. Industry insiders expect 20% export growth by the end of the year.

People centered digital services for inclusive growth

In an effort to make the promise of Digital Bangladesh a reality, the government set up a 'dashboard' to monitor online teaching and learning at multimedia class rooms in 20,500 educational institutions across the country. Access to information (a2i) Programme of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) will create a technological platform for the judiciary.

Bangladesh ready to join global cyber forum expertise

Bangladesh has decided to join the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise, a new international cooperation platform to promote protection for the internet ecosystem. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali announced this while speaking at the Plenary Session of the Global Conference on Cyberspace.

Security and Defence

US diplomats laud counter-terrorism; highlight strategic location

Bangladesh extends support for global fight against terrorism

Appreciating efforts in combating terrorism and violent extremisms, the Netherlands government expressed its interest to explore the possibility of deepening bilateral cooperation in the UN peacekeeping operations. The Netherlands’ foreign Minister Bert Koenders made the revelation recently. In another related development, Interpol promised to provide need-based training support for Bangladesh police.New boats for Coast Guard to combat smuggling, trafficking and piracy.

India and Bangladesh to jointly combat maritime crimes

India and Bangladesh have reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation in fighting maritime crimes. High officials of Indian Coast Guard and Bangladesh Coast Guard held a meeting in New Delhi on Monday to explore ways to fight all forms of maritime crimes. Several key issues like training for Bangladesh Coast Guard personnel, maritime search and rescue, arms smuggling and response to marine pollution were discussed. Bangladesh delegation will be briefed on the shipbuilding industry in India before they leave.

Infrastructure and Power

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

$302 million World Bank project to improve rural connectivity

A $302 million World Bank project is helping Bangladesh improve its rural road networks. The project titled “RTIP II” is providing approximately 22 million people with facilities such as better access to schools, hospitals, markets and jobs. The project is also building the capacity of government institutions to better manage rural transport infrastructure. The project aims to improve and maintain around 5,250km of union and Upazila roads and 50 growth center markets in 26 districts.

Mawna Flyover completed, Moghbazar-Mouchak one progressing fast

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Mawna Flyover, ushering in a new era in road communication between Dhaka, Gazipur and greater Mymensingh district. This is the latest addition to the numerous flyovers the Awami League government has built since assuming power in 2009. In a related development, work is progressing fast on the Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover in Dhaka. 60% work of the 8.25 kilometre-long flyover has already been completed.

91-KM pipeline to be installed for supply of LNG in Chittagong region

The government has initiated the process of installing a 91-km pipeline to carry re-gasified imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal to Anowara in Chittagong to facilitate its transmission to the end users. Tenders have already been floated for installing the pipeline. This initiative comes at the heels of the agreement signed with US Excelerate Energy Ltd in January to build the country's first floating LNG terminal. LNG import is likely to start in early 2017.

$205.4 million projects approved to import 600 MW power from India

The government has approved two projects with combined cost of $205.4 million for importing a further total of 600-megawatts (MW) electricity from India. The first of the two, the $180.4 million Bheramara-Bahrampur grid interconnection project, would enable Bangladesh to import 500 MW power from India. The other one, costing $25 million, involves erecting a line from India’s Tripura to Comilla and building a sub-station on the Bangladesh side to import 100 MW power from the Palatana Power Station. Asian Development Bank is providing around two-thirds funding.

Government to create 12.1 million new power connections by 2015

The government is working to create 12.1 million new electricity connections within 2015 by setting up 323,000 kilometers (KM) of transmission line and 650 sub-stations. Already 270,000 KM line and 639 sub-stations have been set up through which 10.7 million people can be brought under electrification. The target is to set up another 355,000 km transmission lines and 800 sub-stations to provide 13.3 million connections by 2018, and further 15.6 million connections by 2021 by setting up 390,000 Km lines and 1086 sub-stations.

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

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