April 13, 2015
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has sought assistance of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the formulation of the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is primarily due to the robust contribution of the Premier in the formulation and implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). PM Sheikh Hasina is one of the few world leaders still in power when the 15-year MDGs campaign was initiated in the year 2000, making her experience that much crucial when the world community adopts the SDGS in September this year.
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.
The government has approved an amendment to the India-Bangladesh Trade Agreement that will facilitate trade with third countries by using India’s land, water, and rail routes. The amendment will enable Bangladesh to transport goods to and from any third country like Nepal and Bhutan using India’s highway, waterway and railway. India can enjoy the same facilities to trade with a third country through Bangladesh. According to Cabinet Secretary Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, the two countries would mutually determine the fees for the facilities.
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUITY
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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.
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.
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
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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.
According to the newly appointed Chinese envoy to Bangladesh Ma Mingqiang, foreign direct investment (FDI) from China will see phenomenal boost when the planned economic zone for Chinese investors starts operations. Bangladesh is likely to see a Chinese FDI growth of 50% as more and more private companies in China are interested to look at Bangladesh to invest, especially in sectors like quality leather. Dhaka has already completed acquisition of land for a separate economic and industrial zone in Chittagong for Chinese investors.
INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL COOPERATION
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Oman will hire more Bangladeshi workers, especially for their Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector. The Omani Minister of Manpower Shaikh Abdullah bin Nasser expressed this to Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam during his visit to Oman this week. During the latter’s visit, an MoU was signed between the two countries to hold regular Foreign Office Consultations (FOCs) to strengthen ties in politics, economics, agriculture, technology, culture, science and education, ICT, and a number of other areas.
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.
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