July 31, 2014
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The holy Eid-ul-Fitr, the most important and biggest religious festival of the Muslims ending Ramadan fasting, was celebrated across the country on Tuesday amid religious and cultural passion and enthusiasm. President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the nation as well as the Muslims across the world on the occasion of holy Eid-ul-Fitr. In her message, the Prime Minister called upon all to reflect the teachings of Eid-ul-Fitr in personal, social and national lives. "After the month-long self-restraint, Eid has brought the message of happiness," she said, adding, "Eid teaches peace, sense of fellow feeling and fraternity." Greeting the nation on Eid, the Prime Minister asked for everyone’s cooperation in developing Bangladesh.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
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In light of the UNDP’s projection for a strong performance next year, Bangladesh has become one of 18 countries that made “extraordinary progress” in terms of global Human Development Index this year. Bangladesh has risen in ranking to 142 (among 187 countries), graduating from last year’s position of 143, thanks to its better performance in the health, education and gender issues. The 2014 HDI report said Bangladesh had scored 0.558 on the index with 70.7 years of life expectancy at birth, average per capita education of 5.1 years and $2,713 per capita gross national income (GNI). The newly introduced Gender Development Index (GDI) shows that Bangladesh has made the maximum advancement in South Asia in reducing gender discrimination. Apart from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, none of the countries in the South Asian region have been able to change its previous ranking this year.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in the last four years in reducing poverty and extreme poverty. According to the latest statistics released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) between 2010 and 2014, poverty has been reduced by 5.9% and extreme poverty has been slashed by 4.2%. The Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) shows that 49% of the population lived in poverty in 2000, which came down to 40% in 2005, 31.5% in 2010 and 25.6% in June 2014. This reduction signifies excellent progress on part of Bangladesh in achieving the MDG 1 of reducing poverty.
The Lancet report published on July 22 depicts that fewer people are dying from Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in Bangladesh. Bangladesh had a large reduction in malaria deaths; from 2000 to 2013, the rate dropped from 114 in 2000 to 32 in 2013.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
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To widen the investment and trade opportunities between Bangladesh and Japan, a broad-based joint forum including private and public sectors is going to be launched soon. First meeting of this Forum is intended to be held on 21st August. This Forum is being formed as a follow up to the joint statement signed between two premiers during the visit of Bangladesh’s premier to Japan in last May.
Bangladesh’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs attended a LDC ministerial meeting on “New Partnerships for building productive capacity” in Cotonou, Benin from July 28th to 31st. Ministers and high-level dignitaries from around 50 countries including Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and donor countries as well as Head of different UN Agencies attended the meeting. The discussions in the ministerial meet emphasized the issue of developing productive capacity in the LDCs for tackling challenges in social, environments and economic sectors. At the forum, the State Minister shared Bangladesh’s ‘Vision 2021’, the target to reach the middle-income status by the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence, the year 2021.
South Asian Regional Cooperation
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Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on last Thursday laid emphasis on bringing dynamism in the South Asian economy by utilizing the service sectors and expanding bilateral trade among the SAARC countries. The Minister addressed the 8th meeting of the Ministerial Council Committee of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, and called upon the SAARC countries to take more proactive steps in removing barriers to trade.
There is huge demand for border haats (markets) in the border area between Bangladesh and the Indian states of Tripura and Meghalaya. Currently, works on eight such border haats are under way, with four in Tripura border and four in Meghalaya. However, there are demands for more than one hundred such haats in the Bangladesh-India border region in Tripura, and twenty two in the Meghalaya owing to sharp increase in export and import between the two countries. These markets will sell local agricultural and horticultural products, spices, minor forest products (excluding timber), fresh and dry fish, dairy and poultry products, cottage industry items, wooden furniture, handloom and handicraft items. No local tax will be imposed on the trading. Both Indian and Bangladeshi currencies will be accepted.
Bhutanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Aum Pema Choden met with Bangladesh’s Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim on July 23rd. She praised the advancement that Bangladesh achieved in the health sector and the quality of Bangladeshi medicine. The diplomat expressed her country’s keen interest to import medicine from Bangladesh following Government-to-Government collaboration framework.
Bangladesh Awami League