October 2009


31.10.2009, Saturday

PM pledges power decentralisation

Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government will decentralise power for people’s empowerment at the grassroots level. She observed that power is very much centralised in Bangladesh as the country was ruled by many military dictators for a long time after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. The prime minister was addressing the inaugural function of a two-day training workshop titled ‘E-Governance, Service at Doorsteps’ arranged for the UNOs by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at a PMO auditorium. The workshop was arranged as part of the PMO-supported Access to Information (A2I) Programme under which 60 UNOs will be trained on e-governance in the first batch at the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) Bhaban. The PM said upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) have to work together with people’s representatives, including upazila chairmen, to ensure people’s maximum welfare. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009]

Govt to probe all extra-judicial killings: Minister

The government will investigate all cases of extra-judicial killings and try them, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said yesterday. The present government is against any kind of extra-judicial killing and committed to protect the fundamental human rights of people, he said, adding that the government in its nine months in power has taken many steps to implement these commitments. Addressing as chief guest at the inauguration of a pilot scheme titled “Human Rights Training for Law Officers and Legal Practitioners” at Hotel Sonargaon yesterday morning, he said the government would hold trials for crimes against humanity that took place since 1971 to 1975 in the country. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009]

Tongi erupts in violence: 2 killed, over 100 injured as RMG workers clash with cops after protests against factory closure, non-payment of wages

At least two persons were killed and 100 others injured including 15 police personnel in Tongi yesterday in a string of clashes between the law enforcers and several hundred garment workers who were protesting sudden closure of their factory without payment of arrears. Confirming the deaths, Second Officer of Tongi Police Station Zahidul Islam said one of the dead was identified as Bablu Sheikh, a rickshaw van puller, whose wife Roksana works at the factory. He said Bablu received bullets when, hearing the news of the clash, he went near the factory to look for his wife. Roksana had also told reporters in the afternoon that her husband died when he came to the factory during the clashes to save her. The other deceased aged around 48 could not be identified. A number of workers and locals claimed that police killed several workers inside the factory of Nippon Garments Industries Ltd at Ershadnagar of Tongi although they could not specify the names of those killed. Locals showed reporters and police bits of brains they claimed to be of humans in pools blood near the entrance of the factory. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009].

More News: Arrears main reason behind unrest: BGMEA sees `sabotage‘;  Agencies gave hints a week ago; PM orders effective action; Regular salary to stop unrest in RMG sector: Pannalists tell BBC sanglap; 2 killed, 100 hurt as police fire into RMG workers; Take actions RMG authorities: PM asks home ministry; BGMEA senses sabotage

Knitexpo kicks off tomorrow

Knitwear manufacturers are going to host the three-day fifth Knitexpo-09 tomorrow with an aim to get a huge response from buyers. Fazlul Hoque, president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told a press briefing yesterday that the exhibition will be held at Sheraton hotel to showcase different apparel items. “So far, we have confirmed participation of 139 international buyers in the show,” Hoque said. He said one of the purposes of holding such an exhibition is to offset the bad impact of global recession in the domestic apparel sector. The knitwear export declined 3.26 percent in August compared with the same month of the last fiscal year, Hoque said. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009]

Climate Talks: EU parliament body team arrives today

An eight-member delegation of the European Parliamentary Committee on Development today arrives at Dhaka on a three-day visit to discuss overall impact of climate change with policy makers and international partners of the country. The delegation will also discuss other issues related to climate change, especially its impacts on food security in this country. Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Nirj Deva leads the delegation. Four other MEPs and three officials comprise the team. The European Union (EU) gives high priority to the climate change issue and is committed to help the countries on the front row battle the consequences, said Nirj Deva ahead of the visit. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009]

9 British MPs due today

Nine British MPs from the three main parties arrive in the capital today for a weeklong visit to Bangladesh. The International Development Committee, chaired by Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce, is scrutinising the UK’s aid partnership with Bangladesh and the work of the Department for International Development (DFID). The terms of reference are to review and assess the scale and scope of the UK development programme, with a particular focus on social services, work with local communities, climate change, governance, private sector and aid effectiveness. [The Daily Star, 01 November 2009]

30.10.2009, Friday

Climate Change victims: EU agrees on euro 100b for poor state

EU leaders have agreed to enter world climate talks arguing that poorer nations will need 100 billion euros a year by 2020 to tackle global warming, but failed to set levels for Europe’s contribution, a draft text said Friday. “The EU is ready to take its fair share of the global effort by setting an ambitious mitigation target, allowing for offsets and providing its fair share of public support,” said the text, drafted for a summit in Brussels, without saying how big that share might be. “The European Council endorses the (EU) commission estimate that the total net incremental costs of mitigation and adaptation in developing countries could amount to around 100 billion euros annually by 2020,” the draft said. [The Daily Star, 31 October 2009]

Team of EU parliament due tomorrow

An eight-member delegation of the European Parliamentary Committee on Development led by Nirj Deva MEP (UK) will come on a three-day visit to Bangladesh tomorrow. The delegation constitutes four Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Ms Franziska Keller (Germany), Niccolo Rinaldi (Italy), Jean Lambert (UK) and John Attard-Montalto (Malta) and three other officials. The delegation will discuss with policy makers in Bangladesh as well as its international partners the overall impact of climate change especially on food security in the country. A EU release said the climate change issue is of high importance to the European Union and it is committed to help the countries in the front row in the battle against climate change. [The Daily Star, 31 October 2009]

Govt adopts right tone with IMF, but needs to beware of inequity 

In a refreshingly rare show of pluck uncharacteristic of key government office bearers, especially as far as multilateral lending agencies are concerned, the current finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, lashed out at the reservations expressed by a visiting delegation of the International Monetary Fund. The delegation, while reviewing the state of the economy, had expressed strong disapproval about the substantial government subsidies for fuel and fertilisers. According to a report in New Age on Friday, the finance minister had told the delegation that in order to keep the economy stable and provide it with a firm footing, the government would continue to support key sectors that needed its assistance. [The Daily New Age, Editorial, 31 October 2009]

Lenders term PRSP II projections overambitious

International lenders have termed the present government’s projections on increasing infrastructural investment and the literacy rate, by implementing the second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, ‘quite overambitious’.    They expressed the above view in a meeting held late last month between them and the government’s representatives to discuss the draft of the PRSPII, titled ‘National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction II’.    The NSAPR II includes five strategies – macro-economic management, enhancement of investment, infrastructural development for economic growth, social security and human resources development – for poverty reduction.    The lenders, led by head of the UK-based DFID Chris Austin, observed that the revised plan on poverty reduction strategy was particularly ambitious in term of delivery, according to the meeting’s minutes. [The Daily New Age, 31 October 2009]

Fix Tk.5000 as minimum wage for RMG workers

Speakers at a programme yesterday demanded steps to fix Tk 5,000 as the minimum wage for garments workers and implement the wage within the shortest possible of time. They placed the demand at a human chain formed by Bangladesh Centre for Workers’ Solidarity (BCWS) at Muktangan in the city. The speakers said RMG workers are facing a lot of problems in leading their life with their poor salaries, because the prices of essentials are increasing daily, adding that even they have to face starvation. Under the circumstances, it has become necessary to announce the minimum wage as Tk 5,000 for their survival as well as to protect the garment sector, they mentioned. Kalpana Akhter, executive director of BCWS, Babul Akhter, director, Nasrin Akhter, finance secretary, and Shakhawat Hossain, coordinator of a BCWS project, spoke. [The Daily Star, 31 October 2009]

Take steps to implement National Education Policy

Speakers at a discussion yesterday called on the government to initiate the process of implementation of the National Education Policy 2009 based on the broader consensus of opinions on this issue. A vested quarter has been running a smear campaign against the policy in order to foil the government’s effort to implement the policy, they said urging the countrymen to be united against such campaigns so that a modern, timely, scientific and realistic policy can be formulated. Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) organised the discussion titled ‘National education policy-2009: Review and call for implementation’ at Shaheed Col Taher Auditorium in the city. JSD President Hasanul Haque Inu MP said the new policy is a realistic proposal for ensuring a modern, timely and scientific education system of the country, though there is some incompleteness in it. [The Daily Star, 31 October 2009]

29.10.2009, Thursday

Climate Chagne: PM for UN body to monitor impacts

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for forming an international committee through United Nations to oversee the impacts of climate change on different countries and expedite the efforts for rehabilitating the victims of global warming. She made the proposal while talking to visiting French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Planning Jean-Louis Borloo at her office yesterday. The minister during the meeting conveyed French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “special greetings and respects” to Sheikh Hasina, her press secretary Abul Kalam Azad said after the meeting. In reply, the Bangladesh prime minister also conveyed her respects to the French president. Sheikh Hasina, who is also vocal in various global forums for a coordinated global combat against the hazards of climate change, emphasised united global effort to tackle the challenges from the climate change caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

Future trial of BDR under army act

The government is planning to issue a gazette notification stating that any future mutiny and other offences in paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) will be tried under the army act. Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder confirmed The Daily Star that the matter has been under the government’s consideration. Meanwhile, highly placed sources said the government already drafted the gazette and will finalise its content today at a meeting in the law minister’s official residence. The move came as the BDR headquarter in its recent proposal to the home ministry had said the gazette notification is very necessary prior to the start of the trial process of the recent mutineers, which is likely to start early next month. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

$5.4m climate adaptation project launched

The government along with United Nations Development Programme launched yesterday the first ever climate change adaptation project of $5.4 million at the city’s Ban Bhaban in Agargaon.At the workshop organised by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Department of Forests and UNDP Bangladesh, the four-year long “Community-based adaptation to climate change through coastal afforestation in Bangladesh” project was undertaken. The project focuses on coastal afforestation and diversifications of employment, which is a top priority in the National Adaptation Programme of Action for climate change. An aim of the project is to plant mangrove trees on coastal areas in five districts–Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Noakhali and Chittagong–that would help prevent the areas from inundation, building up a natural embankment. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

PM to lead delegation to CHOGM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lead a delegation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago from November 27-29 where the global challenges of climate change, poverty and financial crisis will be discussed. The 3-day summit will be held in the city of Port of Spain with the participation of 53 member states to discuss the current global and Commonwealth issues and the collective policies and initiatives. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

IMF warns of double-digit inflation

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday warned Bangladesh that excess liquidity and resurgent international commodity and food prices might push inflation to double-digit levels by year-end. “Food and commodity prices are showing a rising trend. If global recovery takes place strongly, the price may go up further,” Masato Miyazaki, adviser for Asia and Pacific Department of IMF, told reporters in a news briefing at the central bank. A four-member IMF mission led by Miyazaki visited Bangladesh from October 26-29 to conduct the annual Article IV consultation discussions with Bangladesh authorities. The mission also issued a statement at the conclusion of its work yesterday. The Article IV of IMF Mission provides fielding of an economic mission in member countries annually to discuss economic development progress and constraints. Besides sluggish demand for investment, the mission chief said inflows of huge remittances also resulted in a rise in liquidity in Bangladesh. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

Entrepreneurs seek alternative energy policy: Seventy companies showcase solar products at four-day fair in Dhaka

Entrepreneurs yesterday suggested the government make right policy and pricing for renewable energy, as investment is pouring into the sector to meet demand for power. The potential of renewable energy might not be harnessed if the government and the private sector do not make proper policy and pricing for renewable energy products and spare parts, they said. The suggestions were made at a roundtable on ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ on the sidelines of a four-day fair on renewable energy and its technology at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. The government should consider alternative sources of energy, such as renewable energy, as an insufficient supply of energy is one of the major obstacles to boosting the economic growth of Bangladesh, said Feroz Rahim, managing director of Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd.

Copenhagen climate Talks: take leadership for LDCs to get maximum benefit: French deputy PM tells Dhaka

Visiting French Deputy Prime Minister Jean-Louis Borloo yesterday said Bangladesh should take the leadership in the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December so that the least developed countries (LDCs) get maximum allocation to the fund to be created at the climate talks. Talking to Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque at his secretariat office, Borloo assured that his country would give Bangladesh all kinds of support to get the fund and fight the impacts of climate change and global warming. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

Global Climate Change: Frame policy to face impacts

Speakers at a seminar yesterday urged the government to formulate appropriate policy to face the adverse impacts of global climate change and warming. They also stressed the need for strong alliance of the least developing countries (LDCs) to keep pressure on the developed nations to reduce emission of carbon dioxide. The seminar titled ‘Climate change and its impact on Bangladesh’ was organised by the local office of Press Information Department (PID) at a city hotel. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

BNP meet with foreign diplomates Sunday

BNP, the main opposition in the parliament, is likely to host a tea party in honor of foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh on Sunday, party sources said. Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia, also leader of the opposition, is expected to attend the party, which would be organised by her foreign affairs sub-committee at a Gulshan restaurant. Party insiders said the BNP chairperson may draw the attention of the foreign diplomats regarding the country’s latest situation though the party did not make any formal announcement regarding the programme. Leaders of the BNP, which faced a humiliating defeat in December 29 election, have often alleged that the leaders, workers and supporters are being tortured and repressed across the country since the polls. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

Stem terror financing, ensure good governance in NGO sector

Representatives from government and non-government organisations yesterday called for concerted efforts to combat terror financing and establish good governance in the NGO sector. “To rein in terror financing and monitor NGO activities, Bangladesh Bank has already taken some measures and instructed all the public and private banks to keep strict vigilance on suspicious transaction,” said Mohammad Abdur Rab, assistant director, anti-money laundering department of the central bank, at a view exchange meeting. The meeting on ‘Problems regarding good governance in the NGO sector and solutions’ was jointly organised by NGO Affairs Bureau, Manusher Jonno, BRAC, Oxfam and Transparency International Bangladesh at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital. Presenting a paper on ‘An overview on financing of extremism: vulnerability of NGO sector in Bangladesh’, Abdur Rab stressed the need to engage the law enforcement agencies to track the suspicious transactions and the persons or groups involved. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

C’wealth needs reform for playing due role

Commonwealth needs reform and modernisation so that it can play its due role in alleviating poverty, strengthening democracy and combating climate change, said the diplomats, academics and youth leaders at a roundtable yesterday. They stressed on a collective approach to face the challenges of global climate change, poverty and financial crisis ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that would be held in Trinidad and Tobago from November 27-29. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lead the Bangladesh Delegation at the summit. Media Initiative for Public Policy (MIPP) organised the roundtable titled ‘Modernisation and Reform of the Commonwealth’ at a city hotel. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

Padma Bridge construction to end by 2013

Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain said pre-qualification tender from firms for construction of the Padma Bridge will be invited at the beginning of 2010 and the construction will be completed by 2013. The minister said this to journalists at his secretariat office yesterday. Earlier, Japanese envoy in Bangladesh Tamotsu Sihinotsuka and JICA Chief Reprehensive in Bangladesh Dr Takao Toda met with the communications minister at his office. The communications minister said he urged Japan to continue its assistance in communications sector and the Japanese side gave a positive response. [The Daily Star, 30 October 2009]

28.10.2009, Wednesday

Shelve MRP, go for e-passport

A parliamentary body yesterday asked the government to cancel the machine-readable passport (MRP) project and introduce electronic passports instead to save public money. The parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry made a set of recommendations including relocation of Kamalapur railway station to Tongi to ease gridlock in the capital. Committee Chairman Col (retd) Oli Ahmed, also chief of Liberal Democratic Party, unveiled the recommendations before reporters at his office at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban following a committee meeting. [The Daily Star, 29 October 2009]

Govt plans sky rail for Dhaka: PM unveils measures to contain traffic jam

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government plans to construct elevated and underground railways, flyovers, orbital waterways, and circular roads in and around the capital to ease traffic congestion and to solve transport problems. Replying to lawmakers’ queries in the parliament, the premier said the government took up a project to upgrade Zia International Airport, construction of a bridge linking the Aarong point at Tejgaon and the Gulshan Shooting Club point, and a coordinated development project in Hatirjheel area. She said the government also took steps to keep the Buriganga river and its adjacent lands free from encroachment. For reducing the problems caused by air pollution in the capital, the government took measures to gradually remove from roads automobiles aged over 20 years. “The program for increasing the number of buses to carry large numbers of passengers is now at the final stage. Numbers of three wheelers and other small transports will gradually be reduced,” she said. The premier said the activities of mobile courts will continue, and bus bays and parking spots will be designated in the city. [The Daily Star, 29 October 2009]

Smile, hope all over: Farmers in Monga prine Nilphamari see end to their misaries, hervesting new lean session rice

The villagers of Laxmichap under Nilphamari sadar are over the moon unlike the time in the past when Monga (seasonal and localised famine) cast the long dark shadows of suffering with wholesale unemployment and mass exodus to towns turning the village into a bleak landscape. Once Monga compelled a large number of villagers, mainly farm labourers and marginal farmers, to leave for other districts to forage for food and jobs during the lean period of October-November. Quite contrary to this feature, people are now passing hectic time with harvesting the newly invented variety of aman rice and selling them in the markets as their misery suddenly disappeared. The short-duration varieties like BRRI dhan-33, and BINA dhan-7 developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) brought smiles on the faces of these marginal farmers. The inhabitants of Laxmichap are now celebrating the metamorphosis of Kartik (a Bengali calendar month), known as “Mora Kartik” in the North. [The Daily Star, 29 October 2009]

27.10.2009, Tuesday

New rice tames Monga: Two short-duration varieties bring relief to marginal famers, farm labourers in greater

Gone are the days when Monga (seasonal and localised famine) used to stalk the landless farm labourers and marginal farmers of five northern districts during the lean period of October-November each year. Thanks to modern rice science that has bred short-duration varieties like BRRI dhan-33 and BINA dhan-7 much to the relief of over 37 lakh hard-hit poor, who have now started saying goodbye to Monga. Both the high yielding rice varieties (HYVs) mature in 115 days and can be harvested at least a month before the other HYV — BR11– that farmers have been growing so far during aman season. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

Solar irrigation pumps on cards

Grameen Shakti and Nahean Enterprise, a concern of MAKS Group of Companies, have teamed up to introduce solar-based irrigation pump system, says a statement yesterday. An agreement was signed in this regard between the two companies. Grameen Shakti will purchase the Lorentz solar irrigation pumps, made by Germany’s Bernt Lorentz GmbH & Company KG, from Nahean Enterprise. With maintenance costs much lower than the fuel based irrigation system, these solar-based irrigation pumps can ensure continuous irrigation in those areas of the country where there is no electricity, added the statement. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

Commerce minister off to Nepal

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan left here for Nepalese capital Katmandu Tuesday to attend the 4th meeting of Safta Ministerial Council, beginning today. Enhancement of trade among Saarc-member countries under Safta agreement, Saarc economic cooperation, latest progress of Saarc Framework Agreement on Trade in Services Negotiation, non-tariff barriers and reduction of duty rate are likely to be discussed in the meeting. The minister, who is leading a six-member home delegation, is expected to return home today. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

Indo-US deal soon to liberalise trade, investment

India and the United States will expedite framework of an agreement to liberalise bilateral trade and investment and cooperate in intellectual property rights (IPR). The decision was taken at a meeting visiting US Trade Representative Ron Kirk had with Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma here on Monday. “We will work on a framework on cooperation for trade and investment and two agreements on IPR and traditional knowledge digital library”, Sharma told media persons here. He said the deals will be signed soon but there is timeline for it. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

Dhaka to build capacity to fight cliamte change: IUCN

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) wants Bangladesh to enhance its capacity to negotiate a long-term cooperative action to manage the adverse impacts of climate change, says an IUCN release. “Bangladesh is already experiencing the impacts of a changing climate. We must take an active role in building Bangladesh’s capacity to negotiate a long-term cooperative action to manage the adverse impacts of climate change,” said IUCN Asia’s Senior Adviser on Climate Change Dr Ainun Nishat yesterday. The famed environmentalist was speaking at a consultative meeting at Biam auditorium in the city where experts from across the country gathered in the lead up to the December global climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

China to increase aid in dev sectors: envoy tells food minister

The Chinese government would increase its assistance for different development sectors, including agriculture and communication infrastructure, of Bangladesh. Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Zhang Xianyi made the remarks during a meeting with Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque while he was handing over a cheque for Tk 10 lakh for helping Aila-hit people at the ministry yesterday. [The Daily Star, 28 October 2009]

26.10.2009, Monday

Dhaka pushes for SAARC Food Bank

Bangladesh desires Saarc Food Bank to be effective as soon as possible and the central banks of the region to frame monetary policies to boost food production and accessibility to fight climate change impacts. We are at a critical moment due to frequent natural catastrophes. Saarc Food Bank is an opportune concept to practise humanity since the countries of the region have serious food shortage. Such food bank enhances confidence,” said Finance Minister AMA Muhith. The minister was addressing the inaugural phase of finance governors’ symposium styled “Food Security: the role of Saarc central banks” organised by the Bangladesh Bank at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital. Central bank officials from the Saarc countries attended the daylong programme. [The Daily Star, 27 October 2009].   More: The Daily New Age, Food Security: SAARC Central Bank Chiefs stress market interventions

200m more people go hungry: FAO:::: Developing world paying more for food

Most of the developing world is paying more for food despite drops in commodity market prices during the global economic slowdown, with 200 million people joining the ranks of the hungry in the past two years, the UN World Food Programme said Monday. The agency’s executive director Josette Sheeran blamed climate change, escalating fuel costs and falling incomes. She said the number of “urgently hungry” had now reached its highest ever 1.02 billion. “One out of six people in humanity will wake up not sure that they can even fill a cup of food,” Sheeran told reporters. “We have to make no mistake that hunger is on the march.”

Deals signed with ADB to get bailout fund 
The secretary of the Economic Relations Division, M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, and the country director of the ADB’s Bangladesh Mission, Paul J. Heytens, signed the loan agreements at ERD in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city on Monday.    The board of directors of the Manila-based lending agency approved on October 13 a loan of $500 million under the countercyclical support facility and three loans totaling $244 million under the public expenditure support facility for Bangladesh. The government on Monday signed four agreements with the Asian Development Bank to access a package of loans amounting to $744 million for overcoming impacts of global recession on Bangladesh and implementing public policy reforms. [The Daily New Age, 27 October 2009]. More: The Daily Star, 27 October 2009::: ADB signs $744m recovery fund

WFP assures Bangaldesh of more food aid

The World Food Programme (WFP) has assured Bangladesh of providing more food assistance for social safety net programmes to help the poor. WFP Deputy Director Staffan de Mistura gave the assurance during a meeting with Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque in the city yesterday, says a food ministry press release. The minister said the government had to spend a huge amount of money on social safety nets for the vulnerable people, which ultimately hamper other development activities. [The Daily Star, 27 October 2009]

Maternity allowance scheme plays major role in poverty cut

Women who are receiving maternity allowance under the government’s social safety net have a prominent role in decision-making level in the family, revealed a recent study. The study also said the nutrition required for safe childbirth are being fulfilled. The number of mothers visiting clinics has also increased as well as the number of pregnant women receiving vaccines, it added. Conducted on a random sample of 104 extremely poor pregnant women both under the government social safety net of maternity allowance and mothers not receiving the allowance, the study concluded that the maternity allowance scheme would play a major role in eliminating poverty. Carried out by researchers at Development Organisation of the Rural Poor (DORP), the result of the study was revealed at a discussion at the National Press Club yesterday. [The Daily Star, 27 October 2009]

Budget preparation begins December

Officials said the parliament might discuss issues related to supplementary budget nearly one month before the placement of new budget in next June.   The present government started the budget preparation process for the current fiscal in February.    It has to convene the budget preparation meetings with ministries and divisions ahead of schedule to facilitate sufficient discussion on supplementary budget by the members of parliament, said its officials.
The finance ministry is going to begin the next fiscal budget preparation process in December, two months earlier than the previous year’s schedule. [The Daily New Age, 27 October 2009]

Draft health policy draws criticism

Mahbuba Zannat

The draft National Health Policy-2009 suggests ‘user fee’ to be given by the patients for getting health services from public hospitals, which the health experts describe as a blatant attempt to commercialise the health sector.

The health experts strongly criticised the draft health policy saying that imposing the ‘user fee’ would deprive poor people of their health rights at public hospitals and ultimately force them to seek health services from the private sector.

Public hospitals provide health services without making any profit. So, why does the policy suggest realising user fee, they ask.

25.10.2009, Sunday

Aila victims sink deeper: woes of waterlogged victims compounded as they slip out of spotlight; thousands still live on embankments aid flow stopped

Lutfar Gazi doesn’t even tries to recall that disastrous day when cyclone Aila ripped through the area he lives and wrecked havoc on his life in May this year. Since then he is too busy struggling to cope with the plight with little time to look back to his past. Staring blank at the Kobadak river that left him homeless, he tries to figure out in vain how to maintain his family with no source of income and no-one for his rescue. He was a resident of Shora-9 under Gabura union in Shyamnagar upazila, which was one of the worst cyclone-hit areas in Satkhira. In the last four months he knocked door to door to make a living for his six-member family. But eventually he returned to his family with the ‘solution’ of starvation every now and then. In a worn-out, makeshift shack on the embankment, Lutfar now spends most of his time thinking of a living but only sees a bleak future ahead. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

Public Procurement: Govt to leave the act alone

Pressurised by developing partners including the World Bank, the finance minister has moved to restore in Public Procurement Act the previously dropped provision for having prior experience and discontinue the lottery system for getting government work up to Tk 2 crore. A cabinet meeting had recently dropped the provision and included the lottery system in the act. A few senior colleagues of Finance Minister AMA Muhith, however, raised objection to the move at a meeting yesterday, but no decision was finalised. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

Nuke agreement with Russia signed: Deal aims at setting up power plant

Bangladesh signed with Russia a protocol deal on cooperation in the field of peaceful usage of atomic energy as the country plans to install a nuclear power plant. The agreement was signed in the Russian capital, Moscow, on October 21 during the visit of a nine-member Bangladesh delegation headed by State Minister for Science and ICT Yeafesh Osman, according to a message received here yesterday. M Neazuddin Miah, additional secretary of the Ministry of Science and ICT of Bangladesh, and Mikhail N Lysenko, director of the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom” of Russia, signed the accord on behalf of their respective governments. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

ETP issue irks apparel buyers

A delay in setting up effluent treatment plants (ETPs) is annoying international apparel buyers as they have been putting pressure on manufacturers over the years to make products following internationally recognised compliances, industry insiders said. Although most of the apparel factories are already following other compliance issues like avoiding child labour in line with the demand of the buyers, very few have set up ETPs until now, said an international buyer requesting anonymity. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

German delegation seeks shipbuilding partnership

A visiting German business delegation yesterday expressed its interest in forming a sustainable, long-term partnership in shipbuilding and other sectors in Bangladesh. “German companies operate with long-term perspective, including transfer of technology and know-how and involvement of local partners in value creation,” said Peter Clasen, head of the visiting delegation of OAV-German Asia-Pacific Business Association. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

Govt urged to run EPB, BoI under private management

Industrial entrepreneurs yesterday called upon the government to immediately improve the supply of gas and power, and law and order situation to attract domestic and foreign investments. Entrepreneurs, businesspeople and their leaders also urged the government to run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and Board of Investment (BoI) under private management, as they said these business promotion bodies are unable to perform under public management. They also expressed concerns over the high cost of business and the risks of losing competitiveness due to poor infrastructure and performance of Chittagong Port. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

Ineterview: WB promises to fact-track credit

Bangladesh will get increased access to The World Bank’s funding and the lending amount may be more than for many other countries, said Robert L Floyd, interim country director of the World Bank, Bangladesh. The World Bank (WB) has taken up internal reform plans to make its lending more efficient. With these reforms in place, accessing WB credit will be faster and more flexible. The bank is also ready to help Bangladesh recover from the impact of the global economic crisis along with other poor countries. Its new strategies to reallocate the unused IDA (International Development Association) credit for a specific project to other projects within the country will also help Bangladesh access the bank’s fund. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

Govt to fix price limit for food grains

The government will fix a price limit for food grains in the food procurement policy to make sure that farmers get due profits and produce adequate crops to cut dependency on food import, Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque said yesterday. “We must help farmers keep their interest to grow more food grains. For this, we shall fix the highest and lowest price. If anyone crosses the limit, the government will make market intervention,” he said. Razzaque said this while presiding over a discussion at the ministry on domestic food procurement policy, procedures, problems and prospects. [The Daily Star, 26 October 2009]

24.10.2009, Saturday

Raise realistic fund for climate Change: Hasina asks int’l community to wake up to reality, recect all myopic practices

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for establishing a realistic fund for Bangladesh and other least developed and developing countries for their climate change requirements. Addressing the European Development Days 2009 events, she said the financing to the climate victim nations should not be loans, and the scale of finance should be revised with changes in the adaptation needs. She also urged the international community to reject all myopic, self-centred discords, reject the culture of excess and waste, to embrace one another’s responsibility, burden, prosperity, and live in harmony within the planet’s capacity. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Money now rules JMB recruitment

Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh is now providing money along with motivation to entice new recruits in the banned outfit. In the past, only motivation would do the trick but now it has changed its recruitment strategy, said law enforcers dealing with the militants. The dawati (invitation) unit of the outfit first select young simpletons from ultra poor families in rural areas or by visiting mosques. After that the militants get close to the target people and start discussing about Jihad. “If the targets respond positively the JMB operatives start giving them some religious books, particularly those on Jihad. They also give them a certain monthly amount to gain their confidence and slowly make them dependent on the outfit,” said a senior official of the Rapid Action Battalion intelligence wing. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Cor Rashid’s daughter held for blast link

Police yesterday arrested the eldest daughter of Col (retd) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, a fugitive condemned to death in Bangabandhu murder case, for suspected links to Wednesday’s bomb attack on Awami League lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh. The Detective Branch picked up Khandaker Mehnaz Rashid from her father’s residence at Gulshan-2 in the morning. Later in the day, a court placed her on a five-day remand. Mehnaz is the second to be arrested from among the families of convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Earlier on Thursday, police held Kamrul Haque Swapan, younger brother of Major (retd) Shariful Haq Dalim. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

August 15 culprits attacked Taposh

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina said those who were behind the August 15, 1975 tragedy, hurled bomb on Barrister Fazle Noor Taposh to kill him. Addressing a reception arranged by Bangladeshi expatriates in Sweden at the Hallunda Folkethus in the Swedish capital on Friday evening, she categorically said whoever the attackers, they would be identified through fair investigation and brought to book immediately. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Zia helped Rashid’s family after killing

Late president Ziaur Rahman used to pay $100 a day to the family of Lt Col (retd) Khondker Abdur Rashid as hotel expenses in Thailand on their way to Libya following the assassination of Bangabandhu on August 15 in 1975, Rashid’s eldest daughter yesterday disclosed. Wife of Bangabandhu’s self-proclaimed killer Rashid and his four daughters were sent to Thailand in late September 1975 where they stayed in a hotel for several months, said Assistant Commissioner Ali Akbar quoting Rashid’s daughter Mehnaz Rashid. She divulged the information to Detective Branch officials during a preliminary interrogation following her arrest early yesterday in connection with Wednesday’s bomb attack on ruling Awami League lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Torture on Jouno: Prosecute Rab men, Rights body asks govt

The Bangladesh government should prosecute the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) officers who arrested and tortured FM Masum, a journalist of the daily New Age, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said yesterday. In a statement, the New York-based watchdog said the new government had promised to put an end to abuses by the paramilitary law enforcement agency long implicated in tortures and the extra judicial killings termed “crossfire”. But the government is yet to take any action in this regard. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

US wants deeper ties with Dhaka to fight militancy

The United States intends to deepen relations with Dhaka in combating terrorism in view of Bangladesh’s growing exposure to “extremist groups”, a US embassy spokesman said in the city yesterday. “We hope to work with Bangladesh’s police to help build capacity to fight crime and build stronger ties with local communities,” he said when asked for comments on a recent newspaper report saying Washington to offer increased assistance to fight militancy in the country. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Govt paying way for its fall: Says Khaleda

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia last night said the present government will have to step down before completing its tenure. “A movement against the government is already underway over its education policy and the fifth amendment to the constitution. Government itself paved the way for the movement,” she said at a meeting with the leaders of Jatiyatabadi Lawyers’ Forum, a pro-BNP organisation, at her Gulshan office. Khaleda said BNP will articulate its strong stance against all conspiracies against the nation after the party’s national council slated for December 8. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Call to save rivers

Environmentalist groups held different programmes yesterday demanding to free Buriganga river and other canals from grabbers and pollution and to cut green house gases and to ensure compensation to the people of coastal area. Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) demanded containing greenhouse gas emission below 350 ppm – the danger level. The speakers in a citizen’s rally in front of the National Museum at Shahbagh with its president Prof Muzaffer Ahmed demanded adopting a resolution on making the emission limit mandatory for all countries at the United Nations’ Copenhagen Conference to be held in December. “They [the Awami League] want to change the country’s map instead of changing the fate of the people. But the people are now united to resist this conspiracy,” she said. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Coal, Power Plant: Road shows mulled to woo investors

The government plans to stage road shows in London, New York and Singapore in early December to attract investors for several of its large power projects including 2,000-megawatt coal-fired power plants. The Power Development Board (PDB) sent a proposal in this regard to the power ministry earlier this month suggesting the show may be held in mid-November. “But now it looks like the shows cannot be held before early December,” said a top PDB official. The power projects include four 500 MW coal-fired projects, Meghnaghat phase two 450 MW, Bibiyana phase two 450 MW and Bhola 150 MW projects. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Convention of Protection committee: Frame new law to halt export of oil gas

The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports yesterday demanded formulation of a new law to stop export of oil, gas and coal resources to foreign countries or companies. The leaders of the committee also called for strengthening Petrobangla and Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Limited (Bapex) for exploring gas, oil and coal in the country. They placed the demand at the national convention of the committee at the Institution of Engineers in the city. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

German delegation arrives today

A 20-member German business delegation arrives in Dhaka today, the first visit of European shipbuilders to Bangladesh. The delegation, comprising representatives from shipbuilding, engineering and energy sectors, is expected to explore the potential of booming sectors such as shipbuilding and IT, on a six-day visit. OAV-German Asia Pacific Business Association organised the visit in cooperation with Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the German embassy in Dhaka. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Bangladesh Bank inject Tk. 200 crore into housing scheme

Bangladesh Bank Housing Refinance Scheme, a popular housing project, is going to get Tk 200 crore in fresh fund, as it has nearly exhausted the entire amount of Tk 500 crore. “It’s a good project. We’re going to inject Tk 200 crore into the project … it’ll continue,” Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman told the news agency. The fresh fund is being pumped into the project amid increasing demand for the housing loan by the middle class. The central bank launched the refinancing scheme initially with Tk 300 crore for housing loan in fiscal 2007-08. Later, the fund was increased to Tk 500 crore. Under the scheme, borrowers are entitled to loans of up to Tk 20 lakh at a 9 percent interest rate for 20 years. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

Law for welfare of persons with disablities soon: Azad

Information Minister Abul Kalam Azad yesterday said the government would create every opportunity for the welfare of persons with disabilities so that they could move freely on the roads and lead a dignified life in society, says a press release. A law will be enacted for the welfare of the disabled suiting the needs of the time, he added. The minister said this as the chief guest at the handover ceremony of Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah Gold Medal-2008 at Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) auditorium in the city. The life and deeds of Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah will remain as a source of inspiration to the new generation, Azad said, adding that his high ideals should be spread among them. He formally handed over the award to Valerie Ann Taylor, founder of the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) at the function. [The Daily Star, 25 October 2009]

 23.10.2009, Friday

War Crimes Trail, Campaigners frustrated as govt drags its feet: Political and human rights campaigners, who fought for years together for realising the demand for holding war crimes trial, have been frustrated by the ‘go-slow’ policy of the Awami League-led alliance government despite its electoral pledge to put war criminals in the dock. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]
 

PM urges Sweden to import lether, ceramics products: The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has urged the Swedish government to import leather and ceramic products, pharmaceuticals and ships from Bangladesh.  The prime minister made the request when the Swedish minister for trade, Ewa Bjorling, paid a call on her at her suite at the Grand Hotel in the Swedish capital Friday afternoon. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Security beefs up across country: Security was tightened across the country on Friday, especially at the key-point installations and sensitive establishments, after the government banned operation of Islamist outfit Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh on Thursday.    The government on Thursday banned all activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh in the interests of public security. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Tortured on Masum decried:Judicial inquiry demanded: Various national and international organisations on Friday strongly decried inhuman torture by the Rapid Action Battalion on New Age staff correspondent FM Masum.The RAB 10 team on Thursday had tortured severely Masum in his rented house and in detention in the unit’s headquarters for about 10 hours and a half.[The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

  RAB expresses regret, starts inquiry: The Rapid Action Battalion in a statement on Friday regretted the ‘unwarranted incident’ that had taken place with New Age staff correspondent FM Masum on Thursday when the battalion was conducting a raid to arrest some drug peddling suspect.[The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Khaleda denounces RAB torture on Masum: The BNP chairperson and leader of the opposition in parliament, Khaleda Zia, has denounced the torture on New Age staff correspondent FM Masum by members of the Rapid Action Battalion.    ‘The country’s situation has deteriorated to such a level that journalists are also being tortured by law-enforcers,’ she said in a statement on Friday. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]
NCTB moves to assess needs after printing textbooks: The National Curriculum and Textbook Board, which on Sunday claimed most of the textbooks had been printed by the time, on earlier October 5 formed a three-member committee to assess the quantity of papers that would be needed to print the textbooks for the 2010 academic year. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Cooperatives miss out on govt priorities: Most of the cooperatives have become non-functional for want of policy supports although hundreds of crores of taka are allocated every year in the budget to promote collective ownership for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Maritime boundary arbitration: Yangoon frustrated with Dhaka’s decision: Myanmar is disappointed as Bangladesh decided to take the maritime boundary delimitation issue to arbitration at the United Nations instead of finding a negotiated settlement, but ruled out any military move over the dispute.    As India and Myanmar have started developing their offshore resources, the Bangladesh government opted for arbitration, Myanmar ambassador in Dhaka Phae Thann OO told UNB in an exclusive interview at a time when reports are rife about tension on the Bangladesh-Myanmar frontier. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Attack on Tapash: Two placed on 8 days remand : A Dhaka court Friday remanded Kamrul Haque Swapan and Abdur Rahim into police custody for eight days in connection with the bomb attack on Awami League lawmaker Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.    Swapan, brother of Shariful Haque Dalim, a convict on death row in Sheikh Mujib murder case and Freedom Party leader Abdur Rahim were arrested Thursday in connection with the bomb attack that damaged the car of Taposh Wednesday evening and left 12 injured Wednesday night at Motijheel. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

Abuses of mom’s may stunt kid’s growth: Children of abused mothers may be smaller at birth and show stunted early growth, according to research from Bangladesh.    Prior studies have shown that physical and sexual violence against women is associated with low birth weight of the offspring, as well as with an increased risk of early infant death.    To investigate further, Kajsa Asling-Monemi, at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues determined the birth weight of 3,164 children and followed their early growth patterns until they were 2 years old.    Their mothers – 4,436 altogether – were mostly married and not employed. They were 26 years old on average at the start of the study. [The Daily New Age, 24 October 2009]

22.10.2009, Thursday

Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor, Bangladesh Bank in RDRS Seminar at Rangpur: Poverty and Climate Change is a inter-related issue. Poverty increases due to changing the climate. Rich Countries must pay compensation to Bangladesh for climate change, because they are absolutely responsible for climate change. He also said, Bangladesh Bank ready to provide loan for agriculture and Bio-gas Plant. Bangladesh Bank allocated Tk.200 crore for Bio-gas plant.  [The Daily Ittefaq, 22 October 2009]

FAO Head claims to produce 70% more Food Grain within 2050: FAO Head Jackuous Dieuf claims that the world would have to produce 70 percent more food grain within 2050 to feed the increasing number of hungry people. He said , now the number of hungry people in the globe 100 crore; Last years added more 10 crore 50 lac. He suggested to rich countries to provide financial assistance to poor nations to increase their agricultural production and productivity. [More: The Daily Ittefaq, 22 October 2009]

Sufferings of illegal migrants to Maldives: 30 thousands Bangladeshi travelled Maldives with tourist visas and stayed there. They are suffering more there due to illegal migrants that will hamper image of Bangladesh. Taking the opportunity of on arival visa by Maldives, some recruiting agencies conduct these illegal business. [More: The Daily Ittefaq, 22 October 2009]

Dhaka to ask Male to Regularise workers: The government will raise the issue of regularising an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 unauthorised Bangladeshis with the Maldives. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

WB interests to support in Export Infrustructure Development Project (EIDP): [More: The Daily Ittefaq, 22 October 2009]

9000 Monga-hit women to get training, jobs: The government with the support of the World Bank (WB) would provide 9000 women of the Monga-hit northern districts with training and jobs in the garment sector, Labour and Employment Minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said yesterday. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

AL Lawmaker Taposh escapes bomb attack: Assailants hurled a bomb at ruling Awami League lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh’s car in front of his law chamber at Motijheel last night leaving at least 13 people injured. MP Taposh survived the incident. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

BGMEA seeks policy support to raise competitiveness: BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy yesterday said the country’s apparel industry suffered a negative growth since June this year and sought the government’s policy support to increase its competitiveness in the international market. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

RMG workers go berserk: Several hundred garment workers, demanding arrears, vandalised a factory at Hajipara in the capital and barricaded the DIT Road disrupting traffic for over an hour yesterday morning. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

BDR Mutiny, Trial in 6 Divisional courts by early Nov: Law Minister Shafique Ahmed yesterday said six separate courts would be constituted in six divisional headquarters to begin Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny trial at the end of this month or beginning of November. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

Delwar urges president to bring parties to dialogue: Welcoming the president’s call for unity on national interest, BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain yesterday urged the President to bring all political parties in discussion table on the national issues. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

People should get direct assistance after disaster: A certain portion of the Multi-donor Trust Fund meant to face impacts of climate change should be earmarked for disaster management and immediate help for the affected people after disasters, Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque said yesterday. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

36pc women say `wife beating justified’: A large number of women who are the worst victims of spousal violence believe that husbands have the right to beat up their wives if they neglect their children, argue with husbands or disobey the elders, specially mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, revealed a government survey recently. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

Govt farm to implement RTI law: The government will meet all the challenges to implementing the Right to Information (RTI) law, lawmaker Shahriar Alam said at a seminar yesterday. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

Huji man Obaida shown arrested in Sylhet case: Harkat-ul-Jihad (Huji) member Abu Obaida, charge sheeted in the case for murder attempt on Sheikh Hasina in Sylhet, has been shown arrested in Feni in one of the two cases now under trial at Sylhet courts. [The Daily Star, 22 October 2009]

20.10.2009, Saturday

Metro Rail and Express Way Project: Rejecting the communications ministry’s proposal for considering an unsolicited tender offer, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs yesterday okayed the ministry’s other recommendation for floating an open invitation for tenders for construction of a metro rail and an elevated expressway in the capital at an estimated cost of Tk 15,000 crore. More: the Daily Star, 21 October 2009

05.10.2009, Monday

Human development index: Bangladesh ranks slightly better

Bangladesh has moved two positions up to 146th place among 182 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking but still holds the last position among South Asian nations, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report said yesterday. Human Development Report 2009, released worldwide yesterday, showed Bangladesh has been making progress in the category since 1980. The report titled “Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development” was revealed at a press conference at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in the capital yesterday. This year Bangladesh has got 0.543 HDI value to secure 146th place. Norway has topped the list with 0.971 HDI value while Niger sits at the bottom with 0.340 HDI value, said the report.

Money transfer by mobile: The electronic transaction will be take off in six month

Money transfer is about to go digital in six months, as Bangladesh Bank has approved the launch of an electronic prepaid card system that will have a mobile payment option. The central bank permitted Trust Bank Ltd to act as a settlement bank for digital money transfer. “The Electronic Prepaid Card System will be a multiple bank,  multiple channel platform, where Trust Bank will act as the settlement bank,” BB said in a recent notice. With the card, a customer will be able to deposit and withdraw cash directly from ATMs and all other channels. A card will have a secret PIN to access the service. Also, the system allows an authorised user to transact by mobile. In case of foreign remittance, any amount could be withdrawn by prepaid card, but the amount is limited to a maximum of Tk 10,000 for now, Bangladesh Bank officials said.

Bangladesh to seek lower RMG tariff for US market

Ashuganj Feritliser counts Tk.6 lakhs in daily loss

Banks asked for progress reports on farm loan

Petrobangla starts talks with conoccophilips

Spain pledges 4b euros for IMF

Brazil switches roles with helping hand for IMF

04.10.2009, Sunday

Draft health policy draws criticism

The draft National Health Policy-2009 suggests ‘user fee’ to be given by the patients for getting health services from public hospitals, which the health experts describe as a blatant attempt to commercialise the health sector. The health experts strongly criticised the draft health policy saying that imposing the ‘user fee’ would deprive poor people of their health rights at public hospitals and ultimately force them to seek health services from the private sector. Public hospitals provide health services without making any profit. So, why does the policy suggest realising user fee, they ask.

Project for clean air begins: better air to save up to $500m health bill a year

A five-year long 71.2 million US dollars clean air project formally begins today to improve air quality in the capital and five other divisional cities. State Minister for Environment and Forest Hasan Mahmud will inaugurate the clean air and sustainable environment (CASE) project at a city hotel. The aim of the project is to improve air quality and safe mobility through better management of transport and application of clean technology in brick making industries. If people’s exposure to polluted air in Dhaka could be reduced by 20-80 percent, it would save health costs of 170-500 US dollars every year, Dr Mohammad Nasiruddin, project director of the CASE, said at a session on the project at a city hotel yesterday.

Poor countries hit hardest: WB tells of climate change

The developing world will suffer about 80 percent of the damage from climate change despite accounting for only around a third of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the World Bank said yesterday. “The damage of climate change, about 75 to 80 percent, will be suffered by developing countries although they only contribute about one third of greenhouse gases,” World Bank chief economist Justin Lin told reporters. Lin spoke in Istanbul, host city of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings this year, at the presentation of the World Bank’s new development report for 2010 entitled “Development and Climate Change.”

US pledges more aid to combat climate change

US Ambassador James F Moriarty yesterday said the US would provide Bangladesh with more assistance to face the impacts of climate change and global warming. Moriarty said this when he met State Minister for Environment and Forests Hasan Mahmud at the latter’s office. The US is now working for development of the areas affected by climate change under the project Integrated Protected Area Cooperation Management with the assistance of USAID in Bangladesh. Moriarty assured the state minister that the US assistance would be increased in this regard. The state minister informed the ambassador that Bangladesh needs $500 million on an emergency basis for reconstruction and rehabilitation in the areas affected by the climate change.

Dhaka wants Nepal, Bhutan in transit talk: says PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh wants to include Nepal and Bhutan in establishing the transit with India. Bangladesh raised the issue for inclusion of Nepal and Bhutan in the transit during the talks with India on different occasions in the past. The PM said this when visiting Economic Affairs Minister of Bhutan Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk paid a call on her at her office in the capital yesterday morning. PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad briefed the newsmen after the meeting. During the meeting, they discussed issues on bilateral interests, including expansion of trade and people-to-people contact between the two countries, and facing global warming and climate change.

Atiur spotlights downside of high remittance: BB chief speaks at Istanbul Forum

Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman said yesterday high remittance inflows have created a liquidity overhang in the country’s financial markets and put strain on macroeconomic management. Dr Rahman’s comment on the downside of high inward remittances came in his speech to the Small States Forum 2009, sponsored by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, in Turkey’s biggest city of Istanbul. Growing remittance is a lifeline to Bangladesh, but it threatens to create risks of a bubble with a partial use of the funds in productive investment activities. “Rising labour migration and the attendant high remittance inflows are not altogether unmixed blessings. They pose some challenges to macroeconomic management that require careful handling,” said the central bank chief.

WB pledges to stand by Bangladesh

World Bank President Robert Zoellick yesterday assured Bangladesh of all-out cooperation in the country’s efforts to face the challenges of the global recession. Zoellick gave the assurance while talking to Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman at a session ahead of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Istanbul. The Bangladesh Bank governor presented a keynote paper at the conference on “Strengthening Remittance Flows and Impact: Policies, Practices, Prospects” at Istanbul Congress Centre.

Britain, France mobilise $4b for poor countries

Britain and France said Saturday they would mobilise four billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) for poor countries by giving up part of a recent IMF allocation of an international reserve asset. “With this initiative, Britain and France show the necessary solidarity between nations…. I hope all countries that can do it will follow this initiative,” French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said in a statement. International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the plan to help support the streamlined lending for poor countries, which he has called the “innocent victims” of a global crisis not of their making. “This is incredibly helpful for low-income countries,” Strauss-Kahn told reporters. “It’s a beginning and I hope that other countries including the richest countries in the world will follow the same route.”

Barua urges Bhutanese investment

Industries Minister Dilip Barua yesterday urged Bhutan to come up with joint ventures investment in different fields, including textile engineering, information technology, pharmaceuticals and education. He said there is also scope for increasing cooperation in the sectors of skilled manpower, information technology and mineral resources and the opportunities could be tapped through bilateral and regional cooperation. The minister was talking to Bhutanese Finance Minister Khandu Wangchul at his secretariat office here. During the meeting, they discussed issues of mutual interests and also touched on the proposed trade policy of the present government.

03.10.2009, Saturday

Bhutan keen to FTA with Bangladesh

The Bhutanese economic affairs minister said his country is keen to make a free trade agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to boost economic relation between the two countries, Lynopo Khandu Wang-chuk said this while speaking at a meeting with the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the DCCI auditorium in the capital yesterday. [04 October 2009]

300m pound DFID support for poverty alleviation

The British donor agency, Department for International Development (DFID), is to provide £300 million assistance in next six years for reducing of poverty in Bangladesh. “The fund will be given from this year and onward,” DFID senior official Penny Davies told UNB yesterday. She said of the total fund, £ 50 million would be used  to tackle climate change impact. The rest will be used for different programmes, including employment generation and poverty reduction. [The Daily Star, 04 October 2009]

Extend long-term support to tackle climate change, Razzaque says to donors

Food and Disaster Management Minister Abdur Razzaque yesterday urged the donor agencies to provide long-term supports to Bangladesh to tackle climate change impacts and ensure its sustainable development. “The government seeks long-term financial support, not a little amount of donation, to tackle the climate change impacts,” he said recalling Cyclone Sidr’s devastating experience. The minister was addressing a seminar at the LGED auditorium in the city as the chief guest. Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and Brac Development Institute (BDI) jointly organised the seminar titled ‘Extreme poverty and graduation dynamics’. [The Daily Star, 04 October 2009]

02.10.2009, Friday

Mega Plan for 7,000 mw Power: Banks pladge part of $10b financing, Demand transparent bidding; govt seeks lower interest rates, long term lending

Bankers told the government Thursday though they were new in financing power projects, they were eager to provide a part of US 10 billion dollar required for implementing the power projects of around 7,000 megawatts (mw) in the next five years. The bankers instantly pledged more than Tk 1,500 crore loan for the upcoming 530-mw rental power projects at a meeting between the power ministry, power development board (PDB) and representatives of local and foreign banks and financial institutions. [The Daily Star, 03 October 2009]

01.10.2009, Thursday

Huji first to use hills: It set up training camps in early 1990’s, ran those till crackdown after aug 17 serial blasts in 2005

Harkat-ul-Jihad al Islami (Huji) was the first militant group to use the remote hill areas in Chittagong for arms training. t set up training camps in the hills in the early 90s. It packed up when the law enforcers began cracking down on the militants after Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh staged countrywide serial blasts on August 17, 2005. JMB, which used to have training facilities mainly in plains, however moved to hill forests. Militant camps in the hills have become an issue much-talked about with Rapid Action Battalion’s recent busting of a JMB camp in Khagrachhari. [The Daily Star, 02 October 2009]

Detained Lashkar man new chief: The Indian given charge aftr his 2 predecessors arrested

Detained Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Indian national Emadullah alias Mahbub alias Mamun had been overseeing trespassing of militants into Bangladesh and shipment of explosives. Emadullah who was arrested from the capital on Wednesday night uses at least nine pseudonyms to escape law enforcers’ dragnet, Detective Branch (DB) of police at a press conference at its office yesterday said. A case has been filed against him under the passport act. He will be produced before the court today seeking a 10-day remand. DB police said Emadullah became the Bangladesh chapter chief of Pakistan-based militant organisations Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkatul Zihadia Islamia Azadia and Indian militant outfit Asif Reza Commando Force after the arrest of top two Taiba leaders and Indian nationals–Mufti Obaidullah alias Zafar and Maulana Monsur alias Habibullah in July from the capital. [The Daily Star, 02 October 2009]

30.09.2009, Wednesday

Target 7,000mw power in 5 years: Boday to map ways to raise $5-10b

The government yesterday formed a committee to sketch a rapid strategic plan to raise $5-10 billions which would help the country finance 7,000 MW electricity generation in next five years. The committee will frame the plan on how this fund can be raised, which authority would take care of it or under which law should it operate and address many other issues related to this first of its kind fund. Ziaul Hasan Siddique, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, will head the committee that was formed at a meeting chaired by State Minister for Power Enamul Haque. Energy Adviser to Prime Minister Dr Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Bir Bikram was also present. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Padma bridge looks to market for tk.42 crore

The government plans to raise Tk 4,200 crore from capital market for the construction of the country’s largest civil engineering project — Padma Multipurpose Bridge. The amount, which will meet the fund deficit to construct the bridge, may be raised through issuance of equity shares and securitised, convertible, zero coupon and amortised bonds. A proposal for raising the fund is awaiting approval of the cabinet committee on economic affairs, finance ministry officials said. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Earthquake ravages Indonesian island: 75 confirmed dead, 1000 feared killed

A massive earthquake wreaked havoc on the Indonesian island of Sumatra yesterday, with officials saying it could have killed more than 1,000 people as homes and buildings collapsed. At least 75 people were confirmed dead after hospitals and hotels crumbled, and as fires raged in the coastal city of Padang, home to nearly a million people, in the wake of the 7.6-magnitude quake. “People are trapped, hotels have collapsed, schools have collapsed, houses have collapsed and electricity has been cut off,” Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters in Jakarta. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Kushtia millers manipulated it: reveals govt investigation into rice price scam

Price manipulation by Kushtia mill owners is one of the main reasons behind the recent rice price hike in the capital as well as some other parts of the country, according to a government-commissioned probe report. The probe committee, formed on Tuesday by the Kushtia district administration, found out that the millers in Kushtia’s Khajanagar arbitrarily hiked rice price on the pretext of increased paddy price but failed to show documents on any recent paddy purchase. Khajanagar is one of the country’s biggest rice trading hubs with concentration of around 500 rice mills there. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Another BDR Jawan dies at CTG hospital

Another BDR jawan ‘died of severe chest pain’ yesterday at Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH), raising the BDR death toll to 47 since the BDR mutiny on February 25-26. The deceased was identified as lance nayek Abul Khayer, 38, of BDR Training Centre at Satkania, reports our Chittagong Office. Khayer, hailed from Panchbibi upazila of Joypurhat district, was earlier sent to Chittagong Central Jail after his arrest on May 13 this year in connection with the mutiny at BDR Training Centre of Baitul Ijjat in Satkania. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Gang-rape by BCL Men: Victims family, not rapists, on the run

Family of the Kalapara gang-rape victim went into hiding leaving home on Tuesday after police remained inactive against the rapists amidst reprisal from the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Kalapara Police Station Ishaq Ali claimed that the girl (victim) submitted a written statement to the police station yesterday declaring she was not raped. Father of the teenaged schoolgirl, who was kidnapped and gang-raped by 10 Bangladesh Chhatra League activists on Friday, left his house along with his wife, three daughters and a son. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Road blocked for four hours: Garment workers protests death of collegues

Vehicular movement on Begum Rokeya Sarani road in the capital’s Shewrapara was disrupted for four hours yesterday as agitating garment workers put up blockades on the road protesting the death of a fellow worker in a road accident. Marufa Akter, 20, a worker of unit-2 garment factory of Outfit Fashion Ltd, was run over by a bus of Shikor Paribahan while crossing the road on Tuesday noon. She was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where she succumbed to her wounds yesterday morning.

Shrimp exports dogged by environment worries

Policymakers and diplomats yesterday called on shrimp industry operators to diligently work towards protecting the environment from degradation and ensure health and labour issues for sustainable growth and continued shrimp exports. “We have attached importance to growth of the fisheries sector in our election manifesto. At the same time, protecting the environment is also a priority for us. We have to do farming, but not at the cost of the environment,” said Commerce Minister Faruk Khan. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Draf of telecom law finalised: Minister

The draft of the amended Telecommunication Law-2001 has been finalised with a provision to realise a maximum of Tk 300 crore in fine for setting up illegal voice over internet protocol. The amendment of the existing law is required to make it updated and make the process of foreign investment in the telecommunication easier, Post and Telec-ommunication Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju told the news agency yesterday. He said they have proposed to amend some clauses of the law keeping most of the law intact. The minister also said they would give more licences of international gateway (IGW) and interconnection exchange (ICX) to discourage VoIP. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Loan, tax defaulters eligibale for contesting UP polls: JS standing committee finalise scrutiny of local govt bill

A parliamentary standing committee yesterday finalised its recommendation for deleting the provision of appointing government administrators at the union parishads terming the provision undemocratic and unconstitutional. The parliamentary body on local government, rural development and cooperatives ministry also recommended to drop the provision of submitting affidavit of the contestants containing their personal information and wealth statement saying that many poor and less educated candidates will not be able to submit affidavits due to its complex formalities and lack of lawyers at the union level. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Separation of Judiciary: Measures underway to resolve problem: Chief Justice

Chief Justice (CJ) MM Ruhul Amin yesterday said necessary measures are already underway to resolve the problems arisen after the separation of judiciary. “We are trying to sort out the problems first to find out their possible solutions,” he added. The CJ said this at a reception organised by Sylhet District Bar Association at the Bar Library Hall with its President Dewan Golam Rabbani Chowdhury in the chair. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Bangabandhu Murder: No impediment to appeal hearing Oct 05: Says chief counsel

 Chief Counsel of Bangabandhu murder case Anisul Haq yesterday said there is no impediment to appeal hearing of the case on October 5 despite filing of a petition regarding the delayed submission of concise statement. “The Chief Justice will form a bench before October 5 for the hearing,” he told reporters after meeting Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shafique Ahmed at his Secretariat office in the afternoon. Defence lawyers earlier filed a petition to the chief justice as the concise statement of the case was not filed within 30 days as directed by the High Court. They appealed for the hearing on this matter before the hearing of Bangabandhu murder case begins. The CJ said bar and bench should work together to ensure justice of the people. Besides, cordial as well as effective relation between them is a must for quicker disposal of cases. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Change mindset to ensure rights of sex workers: State minister calls at workshop

Sex workers are not safe even in police custody and often they are forced to have sex there, revealed a draft report at a workshop in the city yesterday. It said sex workers are often arrested in Rajshahi on Thursday so that they can be kept in police custody on Friday and Saturday to be produced before the court on Sunday, and forced to have sex during custody. The draft report on the ‘Analysis of situation regarding the practice of legal rights by sex workers’ was placed by Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) with the support of Centre for Development Service (CDS) and Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) at the Cirdap auditorium. It was prepared on the basis of a study in six districts Jessore, Rajshahi, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Natore and Ishwardi. According to the report, 77 percent of sex workers are arrested as they do not give money to police while 53 percent police do not pay the sex workers after having sex with them. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

’78 killed in crossfire in 09 months’

A total of 78 people were killed in crossfire, 80 BDR men died after joining offices and 31 women fell victims of fatwa across the country in the last nine months, revealed a report of Ain O Salish Kendra yesterday, says a press release. The report was prepared based on news on crossfire, fatwa, torture, death in custody and other incidents published in different national dailies during the time. It also said 37 people were killed in police custody and 64 domestic helps fell victims different types of violence. Three journalists were killed, cases filed against 47 journalists, and 16 received death threats and 90 journalists fell victims of harassment in different ways, the report said. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

Raped schoolgirl rescued, criminal held in Jessore: Army man arrested on rape charge in Rangpur

Police rescued an abducted schoolgirl from Noldanga village under Kaliganj upazila in Jhenidah and arrested her alleged rapist on Monday night while Mithapukur police arrested an army man on Tuesday night on charge of raping a nurse in Rangpur. Police said Shishir Parmanik of Shastitola area in Jessore town and his gang abducted a schoolgirl from Shankarpur on September 24, reports a correspondent from Jessore. Following her father’s filing an abduction case against six people with Jessore Kotoali Police Station on Sunday, police arrested Shishir and rescued the girl from his relative’s house at Noldanga village on Monday night. In her statement before a Jessore court on Tuesday, the girl said Shishir forcibly brought her to his relative’s house and raped her several times. [The Daily Star, 01 October 2009]

The criminal also marked her forehead with red line, the sign of a Hindu married woman, although she is a Muslim girl, she said.

05.07.2009

Abdur Razzak in a press conference, Honorable Food and Disaster Minister: The international donors and lenders are not eager to support Bangladesh topossibly world’s largests social safety net programme worth over Tk.6000 crore this fiscal. So, the government has to divert a significants portion of budgetary resources for running huge social safety net programme by cutting allocations required for higher development spending of long term priorities. (Source: The Daily New Age, 06 July 2009)

03.07.2009

Dr. Akbar Ali Khan at Discussion on `Role of Mass Media in Natural Disaster and Climate Change’ , ogranised by Manobadhikar Paribesh Sanbadik Samity, National Press Club: One third of land of the country would go under water if effective measure are not taken to tackle the climate change impacts. Bangladesh never faced such environmental and economic crisis in the past. The natural environment of the country is very sensitive. Poverty and environmental pollution create a vicious circle here. We should take effective steps immediately to resolve the crisis in the costal aread due to climate change impacts. We should also raise our voice across the globe to realise compensation from the developed countries who are mostly responsible for the global climate change.  A large portion of land of the coastal areas would be salty and it would affect agriculture as we are yet to develop salinity-tolerant seeds suitale for salty land. Besides there would be an acute shortage of pure drinking water in the areas. A large portion of our population would be climate refugees in their own country if we do not take initiatives to resolve the existing crisis.

World Environment Day 2009

Paper presented by WaterAid Bangladesh at World Environment Day 2009 at Osmani Auditorium: To get away from the crisis of climate change, it would be the first step for us to save our rivers, resist river pollution and maintain their navigability. (Source: The Daily Star, 06 June 2009)

ILO: Global Employment Trends Updates, May 2009

The global unemployment could increase by between 29 million (lowest scenario) and 59 million (highest scenario)
unemployed people in 2009 versus 2007, with a middle scenario of 39 million.

 

October 2009

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