Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad and
Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Dr Shirin Sharmin
Chaudhury said recently gender equity and women empowerment should be ensured
for a comprehensive and sustainable development of the country.
"A half of the population of Bangladesh is women . . . No sustainable development is possible without changing their fate," she said.
Terming women empowerment in Bangladesh as role model in the world, the Speaker said women must involve in doing future plan to ensure women representation and gender equity in all sectors.
"Involvement of women in economic, social and political activities to ensure women empowerment lauded by the international quarters in a large scale," Dr Shirin categorically said.
She emphasised proper female education, training and modern technology to make them well-skilled for their participation in different economic activities.
Referring to the present government's various development activities; she said the Bangladesh achieved its desirable target to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through Bangladesh gender equity, mother and child mortality rate and poverty alleviation.
About readymade garment (RMG) sector, the Speaker said most of the workers in the sector are women who have contributed a lot to the country's economy.
She urged all concerned to ensure different necessary demands including housing and setting day-care centers for working women as an urgent basis.
Dr Chaudhury also called upon all people to work unitedly to face the negative impact in the environment caused by the climate change.
Public Service Delivery
Call to ensure gender equity, women empowerment
Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad and
Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Dr Shirin Sharmin
Chaudhury said recently gender equity and women empowerment should be ensured
for a comprehensive and sustainable development of the country.
Govt to expand NSP in 20 poor upazilas
government has taken decision to expand the National Service Programme (NSP) to
20 upazilas to create employment for the unemployed youths.
In this regard, the cabinet meeting held recently with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair has given the approval to a proposal of the Ministry of Youths and Sports.
According to cabinet secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, a total of 1,500 youths would be given training in each of the 20 upazilas to be selected on the basis of their poverty level classified by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).
He said according to the cabinet decision, the most impoverished 20 upazilas would be selected from the list of BBS for the national service programme and it would continue till 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The government launched the NSP in 2010 in line with its election pledge to provide the educated youths with jobs for two years after giving three-month training.
The youths will also be given a certain amount of money as their daily allowance during their training. In the beginning the NSP was operative in 19 upazilas of Kurigram, Barguna and Gopalganj districts for youths aged between 18 to 35 years, who passed secondary and higher secondary education.
Later, the age limit of the youth for the service was fixed from 24 to 35 years, who have the background of higher secondary education.
In the second phase the programme was expanded to eight other upazilas of Rangpur Division while in the third phase more than 17 upazilas of 17 districts were brought under the programme according to the BBS poverty map.
Experts for reducing carbon emission to cut disaster
Experts at a workshop in the Dhaka recently
stressed the need for launching a campaign to reduce carbon emission and stop
harmful practices on environment to cut disaster risk.
As earth atmosphere is warming at an alarming rate, industrialised nations must set a target to reduce carbon emission for protecting the planet from its harmful impact, they told the workshop on "Disaster Risk Reduction".
Speaking at the workshop, Vice Chancellor of the Dhaka University Prof. AAMS Arefin said, "Our global environment is rapidly becoming more erratic due to various harmful practices including deforestation, carbon emission, burning of fossil fuels."
He described Bangladesh as a disaster prone country as it faces various natural disasters including flood and cyclone almost every year.
"So, we must take adequate preparedness developing coping capacity and acquiring knowledge to make Bangladesh a disaster resilient country," he added.
Govt to prepare effective housing plan for urban poor
The government has taken an initiative to
formulate an effective housing plan for the urban poor.
With support from UNDP, Bangladesh Urban Forum (BUF) Secretariat, Ministry of Housing and Public Works and Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) will work for the project.
An UNDP documents shows that the cities and towns of Bangladesh, numbering more than 525, suffer from problems of deteriorating infrastructure in the form of poor housing, inadequate availability of drinking water, paucity of drainage and sewerage facilities, logjam of urban transport, and pollution.
The homeless population in most cities is on the rise and slums and squatter settlements have become integral parts of urban life in the country.
More than 65 percent of urban people are living in semi-permanent and temporary shelters. In cities, the housing backlog is estimated at 1.0 to 1.5 million, with 500,000 houses added annually.
Moreover, permanent housing accounted for only about 28.0 percent of the total urban housing stock. The distribution of urban households by occupancy status is 52.42 percent owner, 38.58 percent renter, and 2.01 percent squatter.
More than 90 percent of informal settlements in different cities are located on government and private land.
In Dhaka, slums and squatters occupy 5.1 percent of the city's total land area, while accommodating 37.4 percent of the population.
Tenure insecurity is a dominant characteristic of these informal settlements and constitutes a strong vulnerability factor for their inhabitants.
Tenure is therefore a major focus of organiaations and institutions that aim to provide sustainable housing in these communities.
Due to the serious housing backlog and unaffordability of housing, the urban poor end up finding accommodation in slums and squatter settlements.
Govt urged to ensure energy supply to industries
The government has been urged to ensure
uninterrupted power and gas supply to industries to ensure targeted growth in a
bid to become a middle-income country within the expected target.
Leading businesses made the appeal while speaking at a discussion organised by organised by the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI) on ‘Energy Efficiency Improvement in Industries’ in the city on Monday.
They also urged the government to adjust prices of fuel oil so that the domestic industries could contain their competitiveness in the global market against the industries of other countries where the prices had already been adjusted in line with the international market.
Speaking on the occasion, BCI president AK Azad said that the government should ensure adequate and quality gas supply for the industries for achieving an annual 8.0 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Pipeline gas connection for the household and vehicle use should be replaced with cylinder gas which will save a huge quantity of energy, he mentioned.
‘If the industries get gas connections as per their demand, it will obviously help in achieving the target growth,’ Mr Azad continued.
He also urged the government not to increase prices of gas and electricity any more.
Vice-president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) Shoaib Choudhury said the government should adjust prices of oil as majority of the countries had already adjusted the prices following decline in the international market.
‘For sustaining industrial competitiveness, adjusting oil prices with the global market is very much needed for our industries,’ he said.
Maintaining at least 60 percent energy efficiency will be mandatory for industries to get electricity supply from the captive power plants, said energy adviser to the prime minister Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury.
The industries will have to reach within this limit after six months of getting electricity supply from the plants, he said.
The government will issue a directive within next few days in this regard, Mr Tawfiq said.
Mr Tawfiq also said that the government is giving importance in importing LNG to cope with the growing demand for gas. LNG connections will be available in next two years, he said.
Professor Ijaz Hossain of BUET while presenting his keynote paper, said around 20,000MW of electricity would be needed by 2030 to cope with the growing demand for industries and other purposes.
He, however, also said that the demand could be contained within 14,000 by efficient use of electricity.
Chairman of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission AR Khan said, ‘People always tell us not to increase prices of gas and electricity and we also don’t want to increase of the prices. But, we have to make decisions considering both the state of the consumers and the government.’
Speaking about the energy efficiency, Mr Khan said around 3.0 per cent of total shortage could be saved by efficient use of electricity.
‘Most of the power plant owners say that the efficiency of their plants is high, but the fact is different. Nevertheless, we cannot suspend the plants as that could intensify power shortage,’ he said.
143 ‘killed in 2015 political violence’
About 143 people were reportedly killed and
nearly 5,000 injured in political violence across the country until September
this year, according to Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) record disclosed in the city
The human rights body recorded a total of 740 incidents of political violence in the country during the period.
Among them, a total of 52 people died in jail custody. Some 35 people were killed by Indian border security force (BSF) while 58 people injured and 53 others abducted, showed the latest statistics of the ASK.
It shows that 148 people were allegedly killed by the members of law enforcing agencies during January-September 2015 while 43 people reportedly picked up by them.
A total of 191 incidents of harassing journalists took place in the country during the period while 12 journalists received death threats from the ruling party members or its affiliates, and 17 were harassed by members of law enforcement agencies.
The ASK also found incidents of violence against minority in the country.
The bulletin recorded that 103 homes and 146 temples, monasteries or statues of the Hindu community were destroyed during the period in which 56 people were injured.
BNP urges govt to revive healthy politics
Voicing deep concern over what it said a
serious slide in law and order, Bangladesh Nationalist Party urged
the government recently to revive healthy politics by giving up using law enforcers
against opposition parties.
In a statement, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also blamed the government for the deterioration in law and order situation saying it has happened as the regime let loose the law enforcers to suppress opposition instead of properly using them.
The statement was issued denouncing and protesting the arrests of BNP national executive committee member and former Dhaka-13 contingency MP Dewan Mohammad Salauddin and Savar municipality mayor and local unit BNP president Refat Ullah in a ‘politically motivated case’.
Fakhrul said the government is arresting BNP leaders and activists implicating them in ‘false’ cases to hide its failure to maintain the law and order and divert people’s attention to a different direction.
He alleged that the government is also snatching the arrested opposition men’s right to having legal remedy.
‘The only motive behind this move of this isolated regime is to terrorise opposition leaders and activists not to involve in political activities, he added.’
The BNP leader also alleged that the current administration is making various evil designs to cement its one-party rule.
As part of the evil plans, Fakhrul said Dewan Salauddin and Refat were arrested to obstruct BNP’s party overhauling process.
The BNP acting secretary general demanded the government immediately release the two BNP leaders after withdrawing the ‘false and politically motivated’ cases filed against them.
In their separate drives, police arrested Dewan Salauddin and Refat Ullah in connection with a sabotage case.
Local polls under party banners criticised
Now there is no environment in the country
to arrange local government elections under the banners of political parties.
"It's not irrational, but there's no environment right now. You'll have to create the atmosphere," Former Election Commissioner Shakhawat Hossain said at a discussion meeting in the city recently.
The Election Working Group (EWG), a coalition of 28 non-government organisations, arranged the roundtable discussion on 'The State of Elections in Bangladesh'.
Mr Shakhawat said the government's move to make the local body elections partisan ones came without discussions with anyone. "It'll create a problem. Nomination business will increase at the grassroots level as well."
The Cabinet on October 12 approved amendment proposals to some laws for holding all local elections on party lines.
About illegal use of money in elections, Mr Shakhawat said controlling money use is a very difficult job as evidence is hardly found about that. "It's the biggest problem also in India despite having a monitoring committee there."
Candidates transfer money through flexi-load, bkash and many other channels, and even pay the dues and small loans of voters they owe to local grocery shops and banks, he added.
In the keynote, EWG Director Dr Md Abdul Alim said the EWG recorded 683 cases of election irregularities --stuffing, refusal to facilitate balloting, intimidation and driving out polling agents--in the three city corporation elections held on April 28 last in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Saying that the city corporation elections 2015 were not considered credible, he said 253 cases of fraud were recorded in Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), while 229 in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and 201 in Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), he added.
Among the frauds, 55 incidents of ballot stuffing in DSCC, while 46 in DNCC and 37 in CCC.
Besides, 66 incidents of violence occurred in DSCC, 26 in DNCC and five in CCC.
The EWG also detected that 24, 19 and 31 polling agents were thrown out of polling stations respectively in DSCC, DNCC and CCC.
The coalition of NGOs recorded 1,873 cases of election fraud or irregularities in the six-phase 4th upazila election, held last year.
PM reiterates zero tolerance for terrorism
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said recently that
Bangladesh would continue to do its part in promoting a culture of peace and
non-violence and uphold a policy of zero tolerance for all forms of terrorism
and violent extremism.
‘We need to better harness the UN’s ability to forge consensus on ending deadly conflicts and other drivers that continue to give rise to a series of humanitarian crises,’ she said in a message issued marking the United Nations Day.
October 24 is celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly recommended that the day be observed by member states as a public holiday.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh would remain in the forefront of the UN’s much-valued work in peacekeeping and peace building in conflict-torn settings.
‘We shall continue to draw inspiration from the vision of our Father of The Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to pursue peace, justice, development and cooperation as the cardinal principles of our engagement with the UN and the wider international community,’ she said.
The prime minister reiterated Bangladesh’s unwavering commitment to the international rule of law and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being.
CPB, SPB-launched road march concludes
ADB to provide $30m for regional connectivity dev
The government signed a $30 million
technical assistance loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently
for developing high demand domestic transport corridors having regional
The financing, which is in addition to an ADB technical assistance loan of $23 million for the ‘Subregional Transport Project Preparatory Facility’, aims to accelerate growth and stimulate economic activity across South Asia and beyond.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) Senior Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin and Country Director and Bangladesh Resident Mission of ADB Kazuhiko Higuchi signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides.
After the formal signing, ERD Senior Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin hoped that this project would eventually help boost regional connectivity.
ADB country director Kazuhiko Higuchi said, "The assistance will help make domestic transport projects with high impact on regional trade ready for investment."
Rooppur nuclear power plant to cost $13.5b
The construction of the proposed Rooppur
Nuclear Power Plant would cost around US$13.5 billion and
Russia would provide 90 percent of the total cost as loan on maximum four per cent interest rate, according to Finance Minister AMA Muhith.
He was talking to reporters after a meeting with Rosatom, the Russian state owned atomic corporation, officials including first deputy director general Nikolay Spassky at his office.
The government will provide 10 percent of the cost, he said.
Mr Muhith said the Russians had apprised him of various aspects of the power plant construction which is expected to be started in 2018-19 and complete in 2024-25.
Rosatom, which will build the 2400 megawatt capacity plant, would strike the final deal next year, said the minister.
He said the country would pay back the loan in 28 years with 10 years grace period.
Russian ambassador Alexander Nikolaev was present during the meeting.
NBR upset over Q1 revenue earning
Earnings by the National Board of Revenue (NBR)
fell short of the target by Tk 57.9854 billion or 15.81 percent in the first
quarter of the current financial year 2015-16.
Revenue board officials attributed the shortfall to fall in domestic consumption and sluggish economic activities in the country.
According to the provisional data of the NBR, taxmen managed to collect Tk 309.1067 billion in the July-September period against the target of 367.0921 billion set for the time.
According to NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman, revenue collection grew by 9.51 percent year-on-year in the July-September period.
The growth target has been set at 29 percent for the entire fiscal year.
Taxmen from all the three wings of the NBR — income tax, value-added tax (VAT) at local stage and customs duty — failed to meet the target set for the period.
The revenue board, however, has yet to officially publish the revenue collection data for any month of the current fiscal year, though traditionally it publishes data every month.
According to the provisional data of the revenue board, local VAT collection grew by 10.40 percent, income tax collection grew by 8.80 percent and customs duty increased by 8.16 percent in the period.
In the July-September period, VAT collection faced the highest shortfall with Tk 24.17 billion followed by income tax collection with shortfall of Tk 20.2691 billion and customs duty with deficit of Tk 13.5958 billion.
VAT wing collected Tk 114.99 billion against the target of Tk 139.16 billion set for the period.
On the other hand, income tax wing and customs wing managed to collect Tk 95.51 billion and Tk 98.5567 billion respectively against their respective target of Tk 115.7791 billion and Tk 112.1525 bilion for the period.
According to the NBR officials, the revenue collection experienced such a huge shortfall in the first quarter mainly because of dull economic activities both in domestic and external sectors.
The trend of revenue collection shows that domestic consumption, industrial production, trading activities and import-export performance was not good in the period, they said.
Growth in VAT and customs duty collection is totally depended on domestic consumption, trade and business in the domestic market and export-import activities.
The revenue collection will not pick up, if the performance of economy remains dull, they said. Similarly, income tax collection also faced the shortfall due to the slower business activities, the officials said. According to Bangladesh Bank data, in July-August, overall import grew only by 8.0 percent while Export
Promotion Bureau said export grew only by 0.83 percent in the July-September period.
The government has set the revenue collection target at Tk 1763.70 billion for the NBR for the FY16.
Of the total amount, the highest collection target has been set for income tax wing at Tk 659.32 billion followed by VAT at local stage at Tk 639.02 billion and customs duty at Tk 465.36 billion.
Remittance inflow drops in Q1
Remittance inflow has dropped in the first
quarter of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of the last year
due to the sharp fall in manpower export amidst growing global recession.
Country received US$3.93 billion remittance in July-September quarter of the fiscal year 2015-16, which was down from $4.0 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year, according to the latest data of Bangladesh Bank.
The amount of remittance received in the first quarter was also down slightly from $4.05 billion in the last quarter of FY2014-15. Among the gulf countries, inward remittance from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait has increased in the first quarter but dropped from the other countries like Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, according to the central bank data.
Expatriates from Saudi Arabia and UAE sent remittance of $848 million and $723 million respectively in the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared to $785 million and $704 million in the same quarter of the last year. Remittance inflow from Qatar dropped to $73 million in July to September quarter this fiscal year compared to $91.67 million in the same quarter of the last year followed by Oman to $235 million from $243.82 million, Bahrain to $135.51 million from 143.10 million.
On the other hand, remittance from Kuwait increased to $284.37 million from 261.58 million. However, remittance inflow from the western countries also increased slightly in the first quarter of the current fiscal year compared to the same period of the last year. Country received $678.70 million remittance from USA in the July-September this year, higher from $648.38 million in the same period of the last year while remitter sent $347 million remittance from Malaysia in the first quarter, which was higher from $334.53 million in the same period of the last year.
Again, remittance inflow from the UK was dropped to $232.42 million in the July-September compared to 240.36 million in the same period of the last year. Country’s foreign exchange reserve has crossed a milestone of $26 billion recently with the major contribution of remittance inflow. Bangladesh Bank projected 10 percent growth in remittances for the current fiscal year in its recent monetary policy for first half of fiscal year 2015-16.
The foreign reserves are projected to keep rising to reach $26 billion in the FY16 from $25 billion in the FY15. The inflow of remittance in the country hit record $15 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15. The amount was 7.60 percent higher compared to $14 billion in the fiscal year 2013-14.
Thrust on cultivating drought-tolerant rice
Mobile users now 13.14cr in country
The active mobile phone users of the
country reached to 131.40 million in September as the mobile companies added 0.60
million new subscribers in the month.
According to the latest data of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), leading operator Grameenphone added 0.50 million new subscribers in the month which took its total subscriber base to 55.50 million.
Banglalink lost 0.20 million subscribers in the month which brought down its total user base to 32.60 million. According to a senior Banglalink official, because of streamlining the distributor and retailer channels for proper SIM registration the operator lost some customers.
‘The government has already initiated a move to properly verify the SIM registration. As we have streamlined the registration process as mush we can, the active user number took some hit,’ he said.
Robi’s subscribers inched up to 28.30 million as the operator added 60,000 users in the month.
Airtel added 0.325 million new subscribers in the month which took its total subscriber base to 9.717 million.
Citycell lost another 25,000 subscribers in September which brought down its total subscriber base to 1.113 million.
State-run Teletalk added 29,000 new subscribers in the month which took its total user base to 4.108 million.
The government has recently directed the mobile phone companies to launch test run of biometric verification of mobile SIM registration from November 1 which will be mandatory from December 16.
Trade deal could boost global exports: WTO
Full implementation of the world trade
accord reached two years ago could increase global merchandise exports by up to
US$1.0 trillion annually, according to a new World Trade Organisation (WTO) report
The World Trade Report offers the first estimates of the consequences of the December 2013 accord concluded at the WTO conference in Bali, noting in particular that emerging economies would capture more than half the gains.
The report ‘provides new evidence of the significant boost that the Trade Facilitation Agreement will provide by expanding world trade, reducing costs and helping developed and least-developed countries to integrate into an increasingly globalised production system,’ said WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo.
‘The world is more connected than ever before. More and more developing countries are seeking to join global trade networks,’ he added in a statement, stressing the need for quick implementation.
The WTO’s landmark TFA deal on overhauling global customs procedures was the first multilateral agreement concluded by the organisation since it was founded in 1995.
The measures however will only take effect when ratified by the parliaments in two thirds of the 161 member-states. To date only 50 countries have done so.
It has been held up in part due to disagreements on the trade of agricultural goods and industrial goods, pitting bigger economies against smaller ones.
But without a deal, major barriers to trade remain.
‘Outdated and uncoordinated customs processes slow down the movement of good and raise costs to prohibitive levels,’ Azevedo said.