Dec 18, 2015
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World Bank's Chief Economist Kaushik Basu highly praised Bangladesh for the country’s efforts in securing rapid economic development braving the global meltdown. In the recently concluded financial year, Bangladesh experienced GDP growth of 6.5%. Mr. Basu, also a Vice President of the multilateral lender has pinned hopes that Bangladesh is poised to be the next Asian Tiger owing to its social and economic development. He also expressed hope that Bangladesh has the potential to achieve GDP growth at an annual rate of 8%.
This week HPM Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the main works of the country's largest infrastructural undertaking to date, Padma Multipurpose Bridge. Once complete in 2018, the bridge has the potential to transform the lives of 30 million people in Bangladesh's southwest region. The government has stated that massive road and rail development will take place to complement the bridge. The HPM has commented that this bridge is testimony to the fact that Bangalis can achieve anything if they are united.
Prof Muhammad Rafiqul Islam, who teaches law at Macquarie University, Australia, has said that Bangladesh has set a new standard in conducting the trial of international crimes, so the process should be followed by other courts dealing with such crimes. Referring to many of such tribunals that had stumbled due to financial crisis and failed to bring justice, the Professor said that achievements of ICT have to be looked at in ending impunity and delivering justice to victims that international community has failed for decades.
An array of measures devised by the Bangladesh Bank for economic emancipation has put the country as role model on the global attention. This time, the central bank has been bestowed with the ‘Child and Youth Finance International Country Award’ for its school banking scheme and other activities including the financial inclusion of children. Students in Bangladesh can open bank accounts with just $1.2 as deposit with over 900,000 accounts by children exist, and total deposits worth $90 million.
Thomas A. Shannon, US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Designate, highly acknowledged the leadership role demonstrated by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to unite and pursue the world to work together on key issues for sustainable development including climate change, security, peace keeping and women empowerment. On regional connectivity, the foreign envoy said Bangladesh has also played a key role in regional connectivity, and can become a top economy in South Asia.
Infrastructure and Mega Projects
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To push up the growth prospects of Bangladesh, the government has signed a deal with Japan for soft loans worth $1.11 billion to finance the works of six mega projects. The amount, the largest ever financial assistance for Bangladesh from Japan till date, will be laid out to remodel, build and develop infrastructure for economic zones, power stations, bridges, health services and earthquake-proof buildings. The loans will be disbursed through financial institutions.
Preparations are well underway to compile and submit a report illustrating suggestions and action points for construction of the Kalurgaht Rail Bridge. Moreover, works had gained steam to set up new tracks on a stretch of 53 kilometer. The said moves come as part of the government plan to bring in a wholesale upgrade in the sector, aiming to ease the existing inconvenience of the travelers alongside removing the outmoded systems and transforming the communication mode into a time bound and modern one.
Growth and Development
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While the global steel industry experienced a consistent slowdown, Bangladesh has secured surprising gains in the sector by registering 15% growth last year. Besides, hopes run high that the incredible march would continue into the future owing to the government's increasing spending on bridges and other major projects that will require the key construction material. As of now, Bangladesh has carved out its name as one of Asia's emerging steel markets as the local sector grew from producing a meager 47,000 tonnes in 1971 to four million tonnes in 2015.
The European Union (EU) has promised to provide Bangladesh with €20 million in view of developing skilled manpower to help the government deliver on its promise of “Vision 2021”. This assistance will fund a newly undertaken project titled “Skill 21” that will look at ensuring adequate training opportunities for the citizens, increasing the productivity of the workforce and adding value to the human capital. It is expected that the project will begin form next year.
Plans are laid out and have been set in motion to develop green tourism in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region to attract more nature and organic product loving tourists in Bangladesh. Along with promoting green tourism, the government will provide full-proof security to tourists during their stay in the CHT. To that goal, the government has devised and held a three day programme in the region where over 50 stalls displayed traditional textiles, dresses, and food and trekking, mountain biking and camping took place.
Social Justice and Equity
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With a greater number of women getting involved in economic activities, the country's female labour force will account for more than one-third of the total workforce by 2021, according to a census of BBS. Female labour force increased to 5.5 million in 2011 from 2.7 million in 2001. Given the growth rate, it will be 33.5 million of the entire workforce of 82.4 million by 2021. This survey testifies the efforts devised and being implemented by the government to accelerate women's economic empowerment in Bangladesh.
The International Labour Organization has completed training of 150 people in business ideas to help them launch their own ventures soon. The training was meant to generate new business ideas under ILO's Start and Improve Business (SIYB) course. In addition to the 150 new entrepreneurs, 16 local trainers were trained by the Sri Lanka SIYB Association. According to another scheme, a pool of 100 trained and qualified SIYB trainers will also be created in the coming months.
Power and Energy
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The government has earmarked a landmark plan involving $1 billion to set up a hydro-power company in Bangladesh which will not only generate but also import this kind of pro-environment electricity from the neighboring countries. Tri-nation discussion has been started already to set the company which will be the pioneer in the sector. According to a recent study, 58.33 MW power can be generated from the Sangu River and 20.83 MW from the Matamuhuri River in Bangladesh.
The government will sign the final deal with Singapore-based Excelerate Energy Limited Partnership this month for building the country’s first floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal.The firm will also carry out a geo-technical study and detailed engineering design before starting the construction. It will build the terminal within 16 months of signing the final deal. LNG import might start in early 2017.
Trade and Investment
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Fully Japanese owned TS Tech Bangladesh Limited, an automobile interior manufacturing company, has promised to invest US$5.51million to establish a Car Seat Trim Cover industry in Adamjee Export Processing Zone (AEPZ). A 9012 square meter standard factory building has been allotted for producing 0.3 million pcs car’s seat trim cover per annum. It will be the first of this kind of non-traditional product manufacturing plant in EPZs of Bangladesh that will create 508 employment opportunities.
According to a recent report by the Asian Development Bank, Bangladesh’s textile value chain is rising faster than any other Asian countries because of low-cost manufacturing firms shifting out of China. Apart from rising domestic value added shares, the foreign value added to Bangladesh exports is also growing rapidly than that experienced by the rest of their peers. Over the recent years, Bangladesh has attracted FDI in garments and generated new trade, and witnessed success in upgrading and diversifying economic zones.
A varied assortment of incentives has been devised and introduced to help the export industry grow to tap the potentials of the global export market and draw foreign investment in the country as well. Fresh cash incentives has been introduced to four more export items while the investors of high-tech park are entitled to enjoy a zero-duty privilege for importing materials needed to build the zones. Moreover, works are progressing fast to ensure the economic zones get gas connection on a priority basis.
International and Regional Cooperation
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The government has struck a $45 million loan agreement with ADB to expand a water resources management project in the southwest area of Bangladesh for improving agriculture and fisheries production and livelihoods of residents. This assistance will increase the scope of the “southwest area integrated water resources planning and management project” that has sharply increased agriculture production and benefitted more than 191,000 people, including landless farmers and women.
The road connecting Tamabil land border will be upgraded to a four-lane highway to facilitate trans-border connectivity for trade with India and some other countries. As of now, a preliminary development project proposal worth US$426 million has been framed to reconstruct and remodel the said route. The initiative, in the first place, is aimed at expanding trade and commerce among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan through this land port, turning the Tamabil land port into an important regional trade hub.
Bangladesh Awami League Bangladesh Insight Archives