November 2009


21 November 2009, Saturday

Govt won’t sell, privatise any industry: Barua

The present government will not sell or privatise any industry in future, industries minister Dilip Barua said on Saturday.    The minister while inaugurating a daylong workshop on ‘Guidelines on professional health and security’ held at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh in Chittagong, the minister said that the industrialisation is indispensable for creating jobs for unemployed people.    Terming the industrialisation as the main instrument for building ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021, Dilip declared that the present government would not sell any industry and no industry like Adamjee Jute Mill or Chittagong Steel Mill would be privatised in future. [NAGE22NOV]

6 Ways agriculture impacts global warming

Sure, agriculture provides us with the food we all eat every day. But do you know how those agricultural practices impact global warming? Turns out there’s some pretty big impacts, on both the sustainable and industrial sides of the equation; employing sustainable practices, like organic agriculture, has huge potential to help in the fight against global warming, and maintaining the status quo with widespread industrial agricultural practices will continue to be terribly detrimental for the climate. Dig deeper to learn more about the ways agriculture impacts global warming.

19 November 2009, Thursday

Doubt over benefit from Nepal Rail Link: Analysts emphasise two way transit, use of Chittagong and Mogla ports by the Himalayan country

A rail transit between Bangladesh and Nepal, as desired by India at the foreign secretary level talks in Dhaka, could only be fruitful if Nepal is given a go-ahead for external trade through the use of Bangladesh’s Mongla and Chittagong ports, say analysts. “This is not very clear whether Nepal will be allowed to use Bangladesh ports for its exports and imports,” said Dr M Rahmatullah, a noted transport expert and former director (transport) of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap). No side will benefit from the proposed transit facility unless the Himalayan landlocked country does its foreign trade via Bangladesh, viewed Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). [DS20NOV]

WTO: World has avoided serious protectionism

The World Trade Organisation on Wednesday said governments have managed to avoid serious protectionism, with trade-distorting measures introduced amounting to at most one per cent of merchandise trade. However, in a report to its 153-member states, the trade body noted that governments were facing pressure from the private sector to protect domestic industries, and rapped industries for such “unhelpful” behaviour. “No WTO member has retreated into widespread trade restriction or protectionism, nor has there been any significant instance of trade retaliation,” said the WTO report seen by AFP. [DS20NOV]

18 November 2009, Wednesday

Compensation Negotiation for Climate Fallout: Govt focuses on people at threatBangladesh will lose 8 percent of its rice and 32 percent of wheat production by 2050 if the sea level rises by one metre engulfing 20 percent of its land and displacing 20 million people. Fahmida Khatun, additional director of research of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said this yesterday citing an Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in 2007. State Minister for Environment and Forest Hasan Mahmud said Bangladesh would demand a deal in Copenhagen that would ensure compensation measuring its vulnerability and number of people exposed to the impact of climate change. “If we negotiate over the vulnerability due to climate change and people exposed to the risk, we will be the most benefited,” he said while speaking as the chief guest of the dialogue on “Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change Advancing Bangladesh’s Interests” organised by CPD. [DS19NOV]PM pledges food for education for 2m children The government will launch a food for education programme this year targeting two million children in the most food-insecure areas to prevent school dropouts there, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said. Hasina disclosed this at a meeting with World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran on the sidelines of the World Summit on Food Security, Rome 2009 at the headquarters of Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday evening. She also sought WFP’s support to address nutrition problems and create a social safety net in Bangladesh, prime minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told journalists after the meeting. Hasina told the WFP executive director that Bangladesh has been facing adverse impacts of climate change. [DS19NOV] http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=114639

Ensure nat’l interest in Tifa deal

JS body asks govt

Staff Correspondent

The parliamentary standing committee on the commerce ministry yesterday asked the ministry to ensure country’s highest interest before it seals the much-debated Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) deal with the USA.”The discussion between the two countries about Tifa is moving in the positive direction. Our counterpart the USA is now showing more positive attitude in comparison to their earlier stance, especially on the sensitive issue of child labour,” Lutful Hai, chairman of the parliamentary body, told The Daily Star after the meeting.”We, on behalf of the committee, asked the commerce ministry to uphold country’s interest and evaluate pros and cons of different sections of the proposed Tifa deal,” Hai, also a ruling Awami League lawmaker, added.

17 November 2009, Tuesday

BB governor contradicts: WB observation defends Bank-MFI partnership in farm lendingBangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rhaman on Tuesday expressed dismay over a World Bank observation regarding banking sector’s partnership with the microfinance institutions.    In a recent stocktaking, the World Bank observed that channelling money from the banks to farm loan projects through the microfinance institutions was risky.     ‘It [WB observation] is very much theoretical,’ the central bank chief said while addressing a ceremony to deliver Tk 150 crore syndicated loan to Buro Bangladesh, a leading MFI. [NAGE18NOV]Give priority to worst victims: Hasina tells the UN, rich nations about climate change impactsPrime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the UN and the advanced developed countries to give priority to the most vulnerable countries (MVC) and least developed countries (LDC) and keep them in a separate group to face the effect of the climate changes caused by global warming. And there should be a separate adaptation and mitigation fund for MVCs and LDCs to face the consequences due to climate change, the premier said while addressing a joint working dinner with heads of 10 government and state here in the Italian capital Rome Monday night. The dinner was organised jointly by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Italian Foreign Minister Frattini. [DS18NOV]
More News: US, China pledge to fight climate changeDhaka sets WTO agendaBangladesh has fixed recovery from the global recession, duty- and quota-free market access and services sector as agenda for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Geneva. Also, Bangladesh will demand benefit from the developed world as a “disproportionately affected country”. Commerce Minister Faruk Khan will lead a 17-member negotiation team on November 28 with Bangladesh’s position paper, said Amitava Chakraborty, director general of the WTO Cell, a wing under the commerce ministry, at a post-meeting press conference. Amitava also said leaders of the participating countries will mainly discuss the global recession. “Since Bangladesh has also been affected by recession, it will be on our agenda.” [DS18NOV]

16 November 2009, Monday

Hasina calls for fair food governance: Tells global leaders available food in world must be accessible to all

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the global leadership to create an equitable food-governance system both at national and international levels to make food available and accessible to the hungry people across the world. “Only production of food alone cannot guarantee food security. Available food must be accessible, particularly to the marginalised and the vulnerable, for which a fair and equitable food-governance system is required at both national and international levels,” she said. The PM mooted the proposal while addressing the World Summit on Food Security at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Headquarters in the Italian capital at 4:00pm (local time). [DS17NOV]
More: Food Summit kicks off

Stimulus-plus of Tk.2000 cr soon: Ship building, frozen food, apparel sectors to get the recession package

The government is likely to announce an additional recession package of Tk 2,000 crore within this month to promote different sectors suffering from the global meltdown. Finance ministry sources say they are considering allocating the money to the new areas like product diversification, ship building, frozen food and apparel sector. A committee, recently formed by the government and headed by former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, already submitted its report on the issue to the finance ministry. The finance ministry is now finalising the stimulus package on the basis of the report. [DS17NOV]
More: Bangladesh now a hub of sportwear outsourcing.

Tifa to deepen trade ties with US

US Ambassador James F Moriarty said yesterday the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (Tifa) is crucial for Bangladesh to win greater access to the US market. Tifa became a topic of debate after Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Central and South Asia Michael J Delaney visited Bangladesh last month. The US has been saying Tifa is a non-binding agreement that only commits parties to hold regular annual meetings, although many Bangladeshi stakeholders are still unaware of the matter. At a discussion at the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Moriarty said both countries could sign Tifa to foster greater dialogue on entrepreneurship, market access and labour issues. [DS17NOV]

British MP to help Dhaka fight climate change

Visiting British Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Dr Greg Clark yesterday said he wants to develop a strong personal relationship with Bangladesh and speak for the country in international forums. Describing Bangladesh as a country adversely affected by global climate change, he said he would strongly support Bangladesh at the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen in December. “My visit [to Dhaka] has reinforced the idea that Copenhagen deal is essential for countries like Bangladesh, which are adversely affected by climate changes,” Dr Clark said at a ‘Meet the press’ session at the office of the Christian Aid in the city. The British MP said it would be easier for him to represent countries like Bangladesh at the conference after observing the adverse effects of climate change in the country during this visit. [DS17NOV]
More: Climate Change: Dhaka to play strong role for developing countries.

Form taskforce to establish women’s right

Speakers at a seminar yesterday demanded the government form a taskforce comprising women representatives for establishing their rights, especially at the workplace. Karmojibi Nari organised the seminar on ‘Working Rights of Women and Women Development Policy’ at the National Press Club in the city yesterday. Addressing the meeting, Rasheda K Chowdhury, former adviser to a caretaker government, urged the government to implement the National Women Development Policy for ensuring rights of the women at the workplace. [DS17NOV]14 November 2009, Saturday

India `positive’ on rail transit to Nepal: 2 foreign secys finalise issues for PMs’ Dec 19 meeting in Delhi; 3 deals to be signed;  Dhaka focuses on Teesta Water Sharing Agreement

India agreed to give Bangladesh railway transit to transport goods to Nepal, said Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes yesterday. Three important agreements with India will be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s three-day visit to India beginning from December 19. Bangladesh will also emphasise striking a deal on sharing water of the river Teesta. The foreign secretary, after meeting his Indian counterpart, told journalists at the foreign ministry “We want to remove cobwebs on different issues and understand each other’s position in transparent manner so we can take joint efforts to resolve the problems,” Mijarul Quayes said. [DS15NOV]

EU not happy with rights records

The European Union might intervene to prevent human rights violations in Bangladesh unless the scenario improves, head of the delegation of European Commission to Bangladesh Stefan Frowein said yesterday. “If need be, we will intervene through dialogues and diplomatic means to defend human rights,” he said at a national advocacy meeting organised by rights group Odhikar in the city. “However, we would like the Bangladesh government to address the issue at national level,” he said. Frowein said that extra-judicial killings, torture in custody, cruelty, inhuman and degrading treatment are just unacceptable and no one should be subjected to any of those abuses. [DS15NOV]

FAO Summit: Hasina flies to Italy today

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today leaves for Italy on a four-day visit to attend the World Summit on Food Security 2009 in Rome. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will organise the three-day summit beginning on November 16 at a time when the world is facing food crisis due to climate change and global economic recession. The prime minister, leading a high-profile government delegation to the summit, will fly to Rome via Dubai by a Bangladesh Biman flight in the morning. In Dubai, she will attend the 11th International Aerospace Exhibition and hold a meeting with her United Arab Emirates (UAE) counterpart in the afternoon. [DS15NOV]

Krishi Bank plans citizen’s audit for farm loans

Bangladesh Krishi Bank will introduce ‘citizen’s auditing system’ in its branches to ensure transparency and accountability in farm loan disbursement, its Chairman Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled said recently. In line with the plan, a list of borrowers will be made available in each of its branches to allow citizens in every area to examine whether real farmers are getting loans. An official order is expected to be issued by the bank in this regard within this week, said Khaled. “It’s a ‘citizen’s audit’ under which everybody will be able to check if loans are going to the real farmers,” said the chief of the state-run agriculture bank, operating across the country through 822 rural and 130 urban branches. [DS15NOV]

Magura bazar: A desperate lifeline to women

A little tin-roofed market let poor women come out of the curse of poverty in Magura. The market, known as Boubazaar, mainly operated by women, is situated close to the Satdoha cremation ground in a suburb of Magura town. The bazaar opened in 2004 amid hopes of welfare for distressed women. The local elite and a committee that oversees the cremation ground established the market where women — either divorced or widowed at early ages — are the shopkeepers. Nine women set up shops at their own expenses now running smoothly. Of them, some are greengrocers, some own stationery shops. One of them is engaged in fish trading. The shopkeepers are: Alladi Biswas, Jyotsna Biswas, Suchitra Biswas, Jamuna Rani Sarkar, Niva Rani Biswas, Rekha Rani, Bhanu Sarkar, Minoti Rani and Urboshi Biswas. [DS15NOV]

National Agriculture Day Today

With bumper Aman production on the horizon, the nation celebrates the National Agriculture Day today, the first of Bangla month Agrahayan. The government is observing the day with the slogan ‘Agriculture is Prosperity’ for the second time in the country to encourage farmers. Rallies and processions will be held at district and upazila levels with the participation of officials, farmers and students. Parliament Speaker Abdul Hamid will lead a procession from the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban to Khamar Bari in the capital and then attend a discussion at the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council auditorium. The agriculture ministry will organise a harvest festival at Tentulia in Savar. [DS15NOV]

13 November 2009, Friday

Climate Change makes winter unpleasant

Recreation in winter is an important part of Bangalee culture but that pleasant winter is feared to become a rarity due to adverse effects of climate change, affecting the public health and the national economy in many ways. “Cold days and cold nights are very likely to become less frequent here due to climate change and this change has been apparent in the trend of this winter too,” said AFM Shahidur Rahman, an environmentalist. [DS14NOV]
Read More: Carbon Trading: A spectacular Failure

Food rationing for RMG workers stalled: Hardly 5,000 benefited so far through owners pledges to covers 6.5 lakhs initially

The government’s much-expected food-rationing programme for readymade garment workers (RMG) went into hibernation apparently for factory owners’ indifference toward it. After the inauguration of the programme on August 27, BGMEA and BKMEA members had withdrawn only 200 metric tonnes of rice, which was distributed among 5,000 workers [20 kilogram each per month] for two months although they announced they would initially distribute rice to around 6.5 lakh workers. [DS14NO]

12 November 2009, Thursday

WB-Funded Projects: Govt to follow WB guideline: But changes to PPA to stay, says Mohith

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the projects funded by World Bank would be implemented as per its guideline but no change would be made in the recent amendments to the Public Procurement Act. “The changes made in the Public Procurement Act would not be altered. However, where they [the WB] have any objection, they would follow their own guideline,” Muhith told reporters after a meeting with the WB’s new country director in Bangladesh Ellen Goldstein at his secretariat office. In the meeting, they discussed recent changes in the Public Procurement Act, among other issues. [DS13NOV]

Garment stimulus next week: Muhith

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday the government would announce a stimulus package for the garment sector anytime next week amid falling exports of apparel items. The stimulus is meant to revive shipments as the country’s main export earning sector suffered a double-digit blow: apparel exports declined more than 27 percent in September compared with the same month last year. [DS13NOV]

UNICEF Report: Over 40pc children suffer from malnutrition

Most of the world’s chronically undernourished under-fives — 8.3 crore children — are in South Asia, according to a Unicef report titled ‘Improving Child and Maternal Nutrition’, released yesterday. More than 40 percent of young children are undernourished in Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the five countries hit hardest by the problem, it said. [DS13NOV]

Bangladesh-US millitary exercise ends

US-Bangladesh joint military exercises codenamed ‘Tiger Shark’ concluded here yesterday, training up naval commandos under an agenda of ensuring maritime security in the region. A total of 59 new Naval Commandos received specialised training during the exercises held at Bangladesh Navy Special Warfare and Diving Salvage Center (BN SWADS) at the BNS Issa Khan Naval Base. US Ambassador James F Moriarty attended the graduation ceremony for the commandos. [DS13NOV]

Indian foreign secretary due in city Nov 14

Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao will arrive in Dhaka on November 14 on a two-day official visit at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Mijarul Quayes. Director-General (South Asia) of the Foreign Ministry Muhammad Imran told UNB that the Indian foreign secretary will discuss with Mijarul Quayes preparations for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi. [DS13NOV]

11 November 2009, Wednesday

Practice prevails over provision: Cabinet, not JS bodies, approving draft bills

The constitution empowers the parliamentary standing committees to examine draft bills before placing them in parliament to enact laws but successive governments have not followed the provision. The common practice is that the cabinet approves the draft bills or any legislative proposals, which are placed in the House as bills later for turning them into laws. The bills are sent to the parliamentary standing committees for scrutiny only after they are placed in parliament. But on the functions of the committees, article 76 (2) (a) of the constitution says the parliamentary standing committees are to examine the draft bills and other legislative proposals. [DS12NOV]

Changes to PPA: Project freeze request letter worries TIB

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) yesterday expressed concern about the World Bank’s (WB) position regarding the recent changes made by the government in the Public Procurement Act (PPA) and said it would amount to punishing the people of Bangladesh for which they are not responsible. The World Bank stance smacks of “chopping off the head because of a headache” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman. [DS12NOV]

US pushes for compromise in climate talks

The United States called yesterday for a compromise at next month’s global climate talks in Copenhagen and vowed to support a fund to help developing countries cope with emissions cuts. “We cannot let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of progress,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference in Singapore ahead of a weekend Pacific Rim summit to be attended by President Barack Obama. Hillary said she had “fruitful discussions” on climate issues earlier Wednesday with counterparts from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which includes China, Russia and Japan. [DS12NOV]

Forex reserve set $10b benchmark

Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserve yesterday crossed the $10 billion mark for the first time in history, riding on buoyant remittance inflows, moderate exports and declining import payments. The Asian Development Bank’s budgetary support worth around $649 million released the same day also helped the reserve reach equivalent to five months’ import bills. Central bank Governor Atiur Rahman termed it a ‘historic’ and ‘rare’ achievement for the country, as the reserve almost doubled in two years. “This reflects the strength of our economy,” Rahman told reporters at a briefing at the Bangladesh Bank (BB) headquarters yesterday. [DS12NOV]

ADB pledges continue support to SME

Asian Development Bank (ADB) will continue its support for development of small and medium enterprises (SME) in Bangladesh.

Newly appointed ADB Country Director Paul J Heytens said this yesterday during a meeting with SME Foundation Chairman Aftab ul Islam at the foundation office, according to a press release. The ADB top official in Bangladesh also expressed his satisfaction observing the activities, programmes, mission, vision and objectives of SME Foundation. [DS12NOV]

Eco-friendly initiatives: Bangladeshi NGO wins SEED Award

A range of eco-friendly start-up initiatives in Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Niger, South Africa and Zimbabwe have won the Supporting Entrepreneurs for Environment and Development (SEED) Award, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced yesterday. [DS12NOV]

10 November 2009, Tuesday

Govt told to suspend all WB-funded projects: Letter vents dissatisfaction over changes to Public Procurement Act 2006: The World Bank has asked Bangladesh to put on hold all local procurement activities under WB-financed projects since the amendments made to the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2006 are not consistent with its procurement guidelines. In a WB letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the WB has suggested that Bangladesh government “temporarily” suspend all local procurement activities under projects financed by WB until the financing agreements concerned are “amended with agreed new parameters” in order to minimise any possible disruption in project implementation. “Once agreed, the new parameters will be reflected in necessary amendments to existing agreements between the Government of Bangladesh and WB which we hope will be signed promptly,” says the letter signed on November 9 by WB Acting Country Director Tahseen Sayed. [DS11NOV]

Food Security: Technology holds answer for Asia;s future challenges: With India importing rice for the first time in over two decades this year, Thailand and other rice producing and exporting countries in Asia are rethinking food security, as experts say further output growth has to come from technology rather than lands that have already become sparse. Given the scenario where the world’s third largest rice exporting country India has gone to the international market for importing the staple to offset an expected production shortfall owing to the driest monsoon in four decades, Thailand last month announced an ambitious 50 billion US dollars stimulus package ‘Strong Thailand’, setting aside almost a quarter of the amount for boosting its agriculture by 2012. [DS11NOV].
More: Food Security: Bangladesh to get share of $20b G8 fund;
Hybrid vegetables take hold;
BB signs $25m deal with ADB to finance marginal farmers

PM’s India Visit Next Month: Dhaka to propose rail link, second submarine cable: Building Agartala-Akhaura railway line and a submarine cable linking Khulna and Chennai are among the priority projects to be placed with the Indian government during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming India visit. The PM, who is going to visit India next month, directed the ministries concerned yesterday to finalise strategy papers on the bilateral and regional development projects in time for her tour. She gave the directive while chairing the second meeting of the regional and sub-regional cooperation committee at the Prime Minister’s Office, Deputy Press Secretary to the PM Nazrul Islam told newsmen. [DS11NOV]

Victim nations must get grant, not loan: Dipu Moni on Climate Change Impacts: Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday said the upcoming Copenhagen conference must agree on funding the victim countries grants, not loans, so that they can cope with the impacts of climate change. “The Copenhagen conference must agree on an adaptation fund with adequate resources at its disposal. The fund for adaptation and technology must come in form of grants, not loans,” she said while addressing the Climate Vulnerable Forum in the Maldives. She said this financing must come in addition with already committed Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). She called upon the developed countries to immediately fulfil their commitment of ODA to victim countries. [DS11NOV].
More: Climate Change: PM calls for separate fund for LDCs, MVCs

5pc incentive proposed for RMG exports to new destinations: The working committee of taskforce on recession yesterday recommended that the government give five percent cash incentive to readymade garment exporters and their backward integration only for new export destinations. The incentive was recommended at a meeting of the committee for the next five years. Except EU, the US and Canada, all the export destinations will be considered as the new markets. [DS11NOV]

We wish to build industrial Bangladesh in assistance of Chinese Government: Dilip Barua
hBangladesh – Myanmer Maritime Dispute; Myanmer aggress in arbritation

09 November 2009, Monday

Dhaka, Thimphu agree on energy coopeation: Focus on Land Connectivity, Trade: Bangladesh and Bhutan have agreed to explore the possibility of cooperation in energy sector under Saarc regional collaboration. The agreement came in the wake of growing demand for energy in Bangladesh and Bhutan’s high potential for production of hydroelectricity, according to a joint press release issued yesterday from Dhaka and Thimphu at the end of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Bhutan. Both sides agreed to explore the possibility of land connectivity between the two next-door neighbours under the aegis of Saarc transport connectivity to promote intra-regional trade and travel. [DS10NOV] 

Bring domestic workers under labour law  

Rights activists yesterday called on the government to bring domestic workers under the protection of Labour Law 2006, which is currently being revised. They also demanded quick progress in the code of conduct for employers, currently being drafted by the labour ministry to promote the rights of domestic workers and curb violence against them.

 The rights activists made the call at a dialogue organised by the Domestic Workers’ Rights Network (DWRN) in association with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at CIRDAP auditorium in the city.

 WB brings back Tk. 404 crore from 9 projects যেসব প্রকল্পে অর্থ প্রত্যাহার করা হয়েছে: স্বাস্থ্য, পুষ্টি ও জনসংখ্যা কর্মসূচি (এইচএনপি) প্রকল্পে প্রত্যাহার করা হয়েছে ১৩ লাখ ডলার (নয় কোটি টাকা)। ২০০৫ সালের ২৮ এপ্রিল প্রকল্পটি চালু হয়, শেষ হবে ২০১০ সালের ডিসেম্বরে। ২০০৮ সালের ফেব্রুয়ারিতে প্রকল্পটির মধ্যমেয়াদি পর্যালোচনা হয়। পর্যালোচনায় বিশ্বব্যাংক দেখতে পায়, প্রকল্পটিতে মাতৃস্বাস্থ্য উন্নয়ন ও পুষ্টি পরিস্থিতির অগ্রগতির জন্য বিভিন্ন লক্ষ্যমাত্রা ঠিক করা হলেও এ ব্যাপারে তেমন কোনো অগ্রগতি আসেনি। দুটি সূচকেই অগ্রগতি সন্তোষজনক নয়। জাতীয় কৃষি প্রযুক্তি প্রকল্পে বাতিল করা হয়েছে চার লাখ ৬০ হাজার ডলার (তিন কোটি ১৭ লাখ টাকা)। ঢাকা পানি সরবরাহ ও পয়োনিষ্কাশন প্রকল্পে বাতিল করা হয়েছে ১৪ লাখ ৪০ হাজার ডলার (প্রায় ১০ কোটি টাকা)। প্রকল্পটি ২০০৮ সালের ডিসেম্বরে শুরু হয়েছে, চলবে ২০১৩ সালের জুন পর্যন্ত। পানি ব্যবস্থাপনা উন্নয়ন প্রকল্পে বাতিল করা হয়েছে ৮২ লাখ ডলার (৫৬ কোটি ৫৮ লাখ টাকা)। প্রকল্পটির মেয়াদ ২০১৫ সাল পর্যন্ত। পৌরসভা সেবা প্রকল্পে বাতিল করা হয়েছে ১৩ লাখ ৯০ হাজার ডলার (নয় কোটি ৫৯ লাখ টাকা)। প্রকল্পটি এক দশক ধরে চলছে। ১৯৯৯ সালে শুরু হওয়া এ প্রকল্পে বিশ্বব্যাংক মোট ১৮ কোটি ডলার (এক হাজার ২৪২ কোটি টাকা) সহায়তা দিচ্ছে। প্রকল্পটি চলবে ২০১১ সালের জুন পর্যন্ত। মূলত পৌরসভাগুলোর উন্নয়নে এ প্রকল্প নেওয়া হয়। (PALO10NOV) 08 November 2009, Sunday

 Upazilla Parishad Act: Govt asked to explain authority of MPsThe High Court on Sunday asked the government to explain in four weeks why some provisions in the Upazila Parishad Act 2009, including allowing lawmakers to supervise union council functions as advisers, would not be declared illegal.    The High Court bench of Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque and Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury issued the rule after hearing a writ petition filed by three Manikganj upazila council chairmen Afzal Hossain Khan, Abdul Majid and Ataur Rahman, challenging the legality of the provisions — Section 19, 20, 22 and 25 — in the Upazila Parishad (Repealed Act Re-Introduction and Amendment) Act 2009. [NAGE09NOV]

 War crimes trial court site chosen : The government has decided to set up the proposed tribunal for holding the war crimes trials in a government building on 14, Abdul Gani Road near the Bangladesh Secretariat, and says that it intends to begin prosecution in two months.    ‘The offices of the Administrative Appellate Tribunal and the Department of Registration in the building on Abdul Gani Road will be shifted to Janata Tower at Karwan Bazar, and an atmosphere congenial for holding the trial of war criminals will be created here by December,’ said the state minister for law, Quamrul Islam, on Sunday after visiting the building. [NAGE09NOV]

JS panel suggests independent railway ministry

A parliamentary panel on Sunday advised the government to establish a separate ministry for the railway, which now operates as a department under the communications ministry, to upgrade its infrastructure and services in a cost-effective manner.    ‘We have unanimously suggested that the government turn the railway department into a full-fledged ministry for the sake of development of the sector,’ chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on communications ministry, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said after a meeting of the panel. [NAGE09NOV]

07 November 2009, Saturday

Biased ADP widens regional dev gap: Experts suggest balanced approach to fight poverty

Public investment through the annual development programme in the country’s backward regions remains far lower than the well-developed areas due to absence of a balanced approach of the successive governments.     Incidences of poverty in the regions like Khulna, Barisal and Rajshahi are higher than those in Dhaka and Chittagong which have been receiving the bigger slice of development outlay over the years, a planning ministry report says.    Experts said the successive governments had clear bias towards some regions in allocation of resources that led to uneven distribution of public investment and aggravated the poverty situation given the sorry state of ADP implementation. [NAGE07NOV]

Climate Change: Bangladesh must be saved, UK parliament told

A senior British politician Frank Dobson MP told UK parliament this week that worldwide action is needed to rein in climate change and save the most at-risk countries like Bangladesh.   The Labour MP and former health secretary, terming it ‘the most vulnerable’ country, said Bangladesh could only be saved by supporting long-term climate adaptation plans on a ‘vast scale’.    ‘Nothing else will do,’ Dobson said during a five-hour debate on climate change in the House of Commons last Thursday.    The secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Miliband, admitted in the debate that the 15th UN Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen in December is unlikely to produce a legally binding way forward on curbing global emissions and tackling climate change. [NAGE08NOV]
More: Save Bangladesh from climate paril: UK parliament told;

RMG sets to recession impacts

As feared by some quarters, the impact of global recession on Bangladeshi garment industry may not linger for long as the local manufacturers are now presenting diversified products resulting in fresh orders in recent weeks.    In terms of price competitiveness, Bangladeshi exporters still remain number one in the world.    Importers from across the world were found enthusiastic about the Bangladeshi products at Bangladesh Knitwear Exhibition and BATEXPO — two major annual expos showcasing local garment and textile products.    Visiting both the exhibitions, it was found that be it knitwear or cut and sew woven garments or home textiles, manufacturers showcased finer fabrics, attractive applications, designs and colours. [NAGE08NOV]
More: Foreign Apparel makers plan re-location to Bangladesh;
Seminar stresses RMG compliances;

Manpower export hits seven-month high

The number of overseas employees in October recorded a seven-month high when 43,812 Bangladeshi workers went abroad with jobs last month thanks to the beginning of the global economy’s recovery from the recession. The last time that Bangladesh sent abroad such a high number of workers (43,856) was in February 2009, according to the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment. [NAGE08NOV]

 

06 November 2009, Friday

WB-IMF mission to asses debt needs

An IMF-WB joint debt management technical mission will arrive in Dhaka on November 9 on a 10-day visit to make an assessment on the country’s debt position and pave the way for a new loan programme, officials said.    ‘The joint mission of the International Monitory Fund and the World Bank will analyse country’s debt situation of last several years,’ a senior official of the finance ministry said Tuesday.    The mission will also see whether Bangladesh will qualify for further loan from the two international lenders and examine the effects of foreign debt on the country’s major economic indicators, the official said.    The mission will review trends of aid inflow to Bangladesh, inflation, GDP growth, revenue earnings and annual development programme implementation. [NAge07NOV]

Govt inching closer towards signing TIFA with US

Dhaka is moving positively towards holding ‘conclusive talks’ with Washington for signing the long pending Trade and Investment Framework Agreement which, the government hopes, would usher in a new era in the US-Bangladesh trade relations.    A summary of the draft agreement, prepared by the commerce ministry, awaits endorsement by the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, before the ministry enters final rounds of negotiations with the US officials, sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office told New Age.    After the recent visit by the US assistant trade representative, Michael J Delaney, the Awami League government is actively considering ‘further negotiations’ with the United States taking into consideration Bangladesh’s economic and business interests, the sources pointed out. [NAGE07NOV]

G20 finance ministers to firm up global recovery

G20 finance ministers were meeting here on Friday to shore up the recovery from the global financial crisis and discuss funding for a still uncertain agreement on climate change.    The ministers from the world’s 20 most powerful and fastest emerging economies are holding the third in a series of meetings this year which led to a one-trillion-dollar fiscal stimulus package to tackle the recession.    Over two days in the picturesque Scottish coastal town of St Andrews, they are seeking to flesh out agreements made at a leaders’ summit in Pittsburgh in September.    Now that the United States, Japan, Germany and France have emerged from recession after last year’s global financial crisis, the G20’s focus has switched from disaster management to building a secure economic future. [NAGE07NOV]

  

 

Bangladesh is set to officially release three flood-tolerant rice varieties that would help farmers prevent up to a million tonnes of annual crop loss caused by flash floods, researches said. Officials concerned told The Daily Star that these rice varieties with submergence-tolerant gene, known as Sub1, can withstand two weeks of complete submergence. “In September, we applied to the Seed Certification Agency for release of the three submergence-tolerant varieties, Swarna-Sub1, BR-11-Sub1, and BR-11-Recombinant-Sub1. Once the Agency completes its field evaluations, these varieties will be officially released, hopefully this year,” said Khandakar Iftekharuddaula, principal investigator of the project of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports the project. [DS07NOV]

Lawmakers form action group on climate change

Lawmakers from coastal constituencies formed “Bangladesh Climate Change Action Group” yesterday in a move to address the adverse impact of climate change. “People in the coastal areas are bearing the brunt of natural disasters that prompted us to form the forum in the face of the inevitable consequences of climate change,” said ASM Firoz, whip of parliament and an elected member from Patuakhali. Firoz has been selected as convener of the forum. The group is expected to have around 50 members, all elected from the southern region. The forum was formed at a discussion on Climate Change: Adverse Effect on Bangladesh and Our Action held at the Parliament Members’ Club in the city. [DS07NOV];
More: Climate deal `unlikely’ this year;
Climate Justice imperative for Copenhagen success;
Climate Change Negotiations: Wheither agreement? ;
Road to climate change risk reduction;
Climate Change Impacts on Extended Hindu Kush-Himalyan Region;
APEC seeks to slash emissions by 2050;

 

Khaleda worried over RMG unrest: smells `Provocation  from outside from country’BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia smells provocation of competitor foreign countries behind the persistent unrest in the readymade garment sector (RMG). “Instigation by competitor foreign countries and external hands in the attempt to create anarchy in this sector would not be far-fetched,” she said yesterday while addressing the closing ceremony of Bangladesh Apparel & Textile Exposition 2009 (Batexpo), organised by Bangladesh Garments Manufactures and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in Sonargaon hotel of the capital. She urged the government to ensure law and order in the sector. “It is the responsibility of the government to take necessary measures for improving law and order, and to ensure the right environment for facilitating growth of the readymade garment sector, and its competitiveness in the global market.” Expressing grave concerns over the unrest that has been flaring up in the sector, she urged BGMEA leaders to pay the workers the standard minimum wages in every factory, and to pay the salaries in the first week of every month. [DS07NOV]

US happy over development initiativesThe United States expressed happiness over the present government’s development activities on poverty alleviation, economic progress and maintaining socio-economic stability in the country. US Ambassador in Bangladesh James F Moriarty, just back from the US State Department, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the latter’s office on Thursday and conveyed his government’s observations. Moriarty said the US government is hopeful that, under the able leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the people of Bangladesh would be able to attain the cherished development and prosperity through implementing the development agenda. ”The present government is working with outstanding skill to attain the country’s food security,” the diplomat was quoted as saying during the meeting. Besides, he said, the role of the government in ensuring women empowerment has also been appreciated by the US State Department. [DS07NOV]

Ensure full implementation of CEDAWCitizen’s Initiatives on Cedaw, a platform of 38 human rights and development organisations, yesterday demanded full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw). 

05 November 2009, Thursday

Pre-Budget Discussion for Next Fiscal Start early

The government will start pre-budget consultations on the budget for next fiscal year at least two months ahead of the usually scheduled time to ensure smooth implementation and proper allocation of funds, officials in the finance ministry said.    The ministry issued a circular in this regard on Wednesday to all ministries and divisions in preparation of the budget for fiscal 2010-11 fiscal. The pre-budget consultation meetings which usually started in February will now be held in December.    Finance ministry had started its last fiscal year pre-budget meeting on 12 February, 2008. But this year, the consultations would get underway on December 7, 2009.    Finance minister AMA Muhith asked the authorities concerned to start next fiscal year’s pre-budget meetings two months before the usual time for scrutinizing allocation of funds for different sectors, said a senior official of the finance ministry.

People continues to suffer 5 months inside Aila: Food Sanitation still problems for Dacope People

Living became a nightmare for people of Dacope, an upazila in southwestern Khulna, after May 25 when the region was battered by water surges whipped up by cyclone Aila that ripped through the coastline into India.    And it has not yet changed for the better for them, even five months inside the devastation.    The people, who lost all they had to the cyclone, started living in makeshift shelters and on high land such as roads, living on the help dished out by government agencies and non-governmental organisations.    The upazila administration soon after the cyclone said 25,067 houses were destroyed and 8349 damaged.

US help for Bangladesh to continue

US President Barack Obama assured continued assistance for Bangladesh’s development works particularly in the field of education, health services and disaster management. The assurance came when Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Akramul Qader presented his credentials on Wednesday to the US president at the Oval office of the White House, according to a message received from Washington. Speaking on the occasion, the US president said: “Bangladesh-US relations exemplify the vision of a partnership in protecting our people from terrorist threat and from those who might wish to destabilize democracy.” [DS06NOV]

RMG culprits warned

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government would take punitive measures against the people irrespective of workers and owners responsible for unrest in the garment sector. The government will conduct an investigation to find out the culprits behind the violence in the sector, she said as the chief guest while inaugurating the three-day 20th Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition (BATEXPO)-09 at Hotel Sonargaon in the capital. At 86 stalls, a total of 62 companies from home and abroad participated in the fair to showcase their products. The premier said, “We have noticed that vested quarters are trying to make chaos in the ready-made garment (RMG) sector. We will not allow evil-forces to be successful in creating anarchy in the sector.” She asked to pay more attention to the workers’ welfare as they are considered to be the driving force of the industry. She also mentioned that the government is planning to introduce industrial police and separate intelligence unit for the sector. [DS06Nov]

ECNEC okeys `One House, One Farm’ Scheme

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved seven projects of important economic and development implications involving an estimated expenditure of Tk 2,977 crore entirely from government exchequer. The approved projects include the ‘one house, one farm’ scheme under the Rural Development and Cooperatives Division. Under the project, Tk 1,197 crore will be spent on backyard farming at homesteads across the country. With Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, the executive committee gave the approval at its meeting in the NEC conference room. The farming project will cover 9,640 villages of 1,928 unions under 482 upazilas. [DS06NOV]

CTG, Mongla Ports, Labour Law bill passed limiting TU

The House yesterday passed a bill amending the Bangladesh Labour Act to limit the number of trade unions at the Chittagong and Mongla ports. State Minister for Labour and Employment Ministry Munnuzan Sufian proposed the passage of the bill and lawmakers voted in favour of it. A number of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami lawmakers opposed the bill and asked to send it to the relevant committee for further scrutiny. But their proposals were not placed in the parliament, as they were absent. Employees of the ports will now be allowed to collectively form one trade body at each of the ports, says the bill. According to the bill, trade union must be formed in line with the provisions of the act within six months from the date of enforcement of the law and with the formation of the unions all the existing trade bodies will be dissolved. [DS06NOV]

Primark Soars, but at What Cost? The Economic Downturn is clearly good news for the retailers. May be now it can afford to turn its ethical pledges to reality

Recession? What recession? Primark has just announced a massive 20% jump in sales for the year to 12 September, and profits up 8% to £252m. As it prepares to celebrate the opening of its 192nd UK store in Cambridge, Britain’s leading cheap fashion retailer has never had it so good. The economic downturn means many shoppers are worried about household budgets. That’s obviously good news for Primark, variously nicknamed Primarni or Pradamark for its success in selling catwalk fashion at rock bottom prices. But does it mean we don’t care if people in developing countries pay a high price for producing these “must-have” outfits? The grim reality of life for young women and men producing Primark clothing in the sweatshops of Asia is well known. It’s almost three years since War on Want published its groundbreaking report, Fashion Victims, which showed employees in Primark factories in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka slaving away for up to 80-hour weeks in appalling conditions, at well under a living wage.

Agriculture, SME branches now mandatory for Banks

The central bank is set to ask private commercial banks to open agriculture and SME branches from next year to boost lending to farmers and small businesses across the country. Bangladesh Bank as the regulator took the decision yesterday and is expected to issue a circular next week. “I have already signed the circular,” BB Governor Atiur Rahman told The Daily Star. Agriculture and SME branches must be located outside divisional headquarters, according to the circular. Presently, private banks operate SME and farm lending through conventional bank branches and some SME service centres. [DS06NOV]

G20 ministers to talk climate change and recovery

Bolstering the world economic recovery and crafting a deal to fight climate change will be top of the agenda for G20 finance ministers meeting in Scotland from Friday. Ministers plus central bankers from the 20 richest and fastest-emerging economies will hold their third get-together of 2009 over two days in St Andrews, a seaside town known as the home of golf. Now that countries like the US, Japan, Germany and France have emerged from recession after last year’s global financial crisis, the G20’s focus has switched from disaster management to building a secure economic future. But this time, the grouping will also have to turn its attention to climate finance ahead of December’s key UN conference in Copenhagen which aims to seal a deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, although hopes of an accord are fading.  Rodrigo Delgado Aguilera, a researcher at foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House, said the St Andrews meeting was likely to produce only “incremental” changes, rather than major developments. “This crisis is evidence enough that we don’t really understand how the world works. Maybe for now these smaller steps are better but it shouldn’t be an excuse not to think big,” he told AFP. In a bid to ensure there is no repeat of last year’s near-meltdown which saw the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers, world leaders at September’s Pittsburgh G20 summit agreed a new system to coordinate economic decision-making and encourage stable, long-term growth. [DS06NOV]

04 November 2009, Wednesday

Mineral Resources is the Blood Flown in Our Vein : Anu Mohammad

Exclusive interview By : Audity Falguni, Dhaka, 11 September, Redtimesbd.com

After the stern clashes between police and the demonstrators of the `National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports (NCPOGMPP) ‘ on September 2nd, around 50 student and youth activists of different left leaning groups and others were injured. Police launched lethal attack on the protestors who were marching forward to surround (gherao) the Petro-Bangla office protesting the recent cabinet committee approval on 24th August to lease three offshore gas fields to foreign companies. The protestors negated the government decision to award Ireland-based company Tullow Bangladesh shallow water block SS-O8-05 and US oil company Conoco Philipps South Asia New Ventures Ltd deep sea blocks DS-08-10 and 11 in the Bay of Bengal. They also raised the demand for the  cancellation of around 12 ‘Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs)’ of the Bangladesh government with different International Oil Companies (IOCs) and other relevant claims. Anu Muhammad, Professor of the Economics Department of Jahangir Nagar University and Member Secretary of NCPOGMPP got intensely hurt during the demonstration and was admitted to hospital.

No power crisis by 2011, PM telss JS

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the country would get rid of power crisis by 2011 as 1,487MW of power will be generated and added to the national grid by then. “Bangladesh will be self-sufficient in power by 2021 and 100 percent people of the country will get electricity facility according to the government’s vision,” Hasina said while replying to lawmakers’ queries in parliament. She also told the House that over 50,000 flats would be built in the capital and over 17,000 others across the country to address accommodation problem. Hasina said as per her government’s current plan 667MW of additional power would be fed to the national grid by 2009 and another 820MW through picking power plants by 2011.
More News: Controversy clouds PDB’s  rental bid: Rooke bidders with low cost offer get priority; bidder selection for Madanganj – Bheramara sites questioned;
Canadian tie help boost green energy;
Seven power plants in the north soon;
Bangladesh set for eradicate poverty, eliminate extremism: PM;
A better yardstick to assess ADP implementation is imperative

Motia slates WB over slow fund release

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury yesterday expressed her dissatisfaction over the World Bank’s (WB) lengthy process of releasing funds for development projects, saying such nature of funding cannot really help achieve a goal. “It is the WB that takes long time to release the funds and then they pin the blame on the government for the slow pace and say the government is embedded in corruption,” she said at a discussion on “Use of genetic engineering in developing stress-tolerant crops”. There are many restrictions on getting money from the donors, Matia Chowdhury said, calling upon the scientists of the country to be sincere and to conduct researches amid constraints to help develop crop varieties that can help the country face the adverse impact of climate change.

Climate Change: Govt to set up int’l centre on adaptation

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said Bangladesh adopted a climate change strategic plan and seeks to establish an International Climate Adaptation Centre in the country. Under the plan, she said strategies are formulated to manage disaster through agricultural diversity, ensuring food security, dredging major rivers to keep them navigable, creating green belts and developing coastal forests. The foreign minister said this while discussing with a nine-member delegation of the British Parliament’s International Development Committee (IDC) headed by its Chairman Malcolm Bruce, MP when they called on her at the ministry yesterday.

Amended PPA Act passed

Parliament yesterday passed a bill after amendment to the Public Procurement Act (PPA) to allow persons without past experiences to get public work contracts worth up to Tk 2 crore. From now, procuring entities will not take into consideration past performance, production capacity or financial capability for awarding a public work contract worth up to Tk 2 crore. The House, however, accepted recommendations of a parliamentary body during passage of the bill. Scrutinising the bill, the parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry in its report recommended that the procuring entities would prepare and preserve list of contractors including their past experiences. But deciding the qualification of a contractor to get the public work contract worth up to Tk 2 crore will not be applicable.

European FTAs with Asian Countries may harm Bangladesh

The European Union’s bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with India, Southeast Asian nations and South Korea may be a potential threat to Bangladesh, officials of the European Commission said yesterday. EU is the Bangladesh’s largest trade partner. Over half of the country’s total exports of $15 billion were destined to EU last fiscal year. “The European Union’s FTA with India, Asean and South Korea is definitely a concern for Bangladesh,” Zillul Hye Razi, trade adviser to EC Delegation in Dhaka, told a seminar. He cited the example of Bangladesh’s bicycle exports to EU under duty- and quota-free facility. India needs to pay high duty (17 percent) for bicycle exports to EU, but an FTA will remove this tariff barrier, putting Bangladesh in a fierce competition with rivals.
More News: Economic ties with neiboughers will deepen: PM;
Free Trade, Climate Change to Top India-EU Summit

305 child domestic workers died from torture in 8 years

At least 305 child domestic workers have died from torture, 235 more have been severely injured and 77 others fell victim to rape in the last eight years since 2001. Syed Sultan Uddin Ahmed, convener of the Network to Establish Domestic Workers’ Rights, revealed this at a seminar on ‘Child domestic workers: Law and code of conduct’. The child workers face various forms of domestic violence in the absence of a strong monitoring system and policies, he said while presenting the keynote paper. He also recommended refraining from engaging children in hazardous work, fixing work list, working hour and a weekly day-off for them, paying regular monthly salary on a fixed rate and giving a one-month notice period before dismissal of workers. Shoishab Bangladesh with the support of Manusher Jonno Foundation organised the seminar at Biam Auditorium in the city, with Dr Ahmedullah Mia, a member of Shoishab Bangladesh, in the chair.

Effective Trade Union in RMG is easier said than done, Writes Tanim Ahmed

The declaration of introducing trade unions in the country’s garment sector was commendable decision and a step in the right direction. But it is still a long journey to the final destination that will require sincere commitment from the government.

India must re-think its policies towards neiboughers

The eagerness with which countries of other regions, in recognition of new realities, are reshaping policies and establishing new alliances is indicative of a new world order taking shape. Isn’t it time for hostilities to give way to a congenial environment among South Asian neighbours too? Asks Shahid R Siddiqi.

Malaysia to provide free training for Bangladeshi Workers

Malaysia has agreed to provide higher training to Bangladeshi unskilled labourers and engineers free of cost.
   Malaysia has given the consent at a bilateral discussion at summit on ‘OIC Human Resource Development’ held in Kuala Lumpur recently, a news release of the Global Economist Forum said on Tuesday.
   According to the proposal, Malaysia will provide training to Bangladeshi labourers and construction engineers, welding, carpenting and tiles fittings sectors.

03 November 2009, Tuesday

Hasina wants OIC in climate battle

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday sought cooperation from the member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in fighting the adverse impacts of global climate change in Bangladesh. The premier made the call as the OIC Secretary General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu paid a courtesy call on her at the prime minister’s office. “Bangladesh, with its limited sources, is fighting against the threats of climate change and I urge the OIC member countries to come forward to help us in this regard,” Deputy Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Mahbubul Hoque Shakil quoted her as saying. The OIC secretary general lauded Bangladesh’s efforts, especially the role of the prime minister in the international forum, in fighting the impact of climate change caused by the global warming.
More:Zillur seeks int’l support for poverty alliviation

EU vows to rally round Dhaka

The European Parliament has expressed European Union’s strong commitment to help Bangladesh combat climate change impacts, saying it wants stability of lives and livelihoods of people here, not Bangladeshis roaming as climate refugees. “Whether or not the US takes right role in the Copenhagen does not really matter…European Union have a long relation with Bangladesh. Even if Copenhagen damns the scheme, we will be there for you,” Nirj Deva, leader of a European Parliament delegation, said yesterday. “Act now, otherwise we will all be sorry later! Unless steps are taken immediately to adjust to climate change by putting new money in new projects, the huge migratory impact of millions of people seeking safer refuge will make the whole world a less safe place,” he said at a press conference at Brac Centre Inn in the city.
More: UK to continue help Bangaldesh fight poverty, climate change; Norway to help offset climate change impacts

Copenhagen Summit: UN Chief plays down hopes

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon played down hopes for the key Copenhagen summit on climate change yesterday, suggesting that detail on an agreement may be lacking. “I’m reasonably optimistic that this Copenhagen (summit) will be a very important milestone,” Ban told reporters after talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London. “At the same time, realistically speaking, we may not be able to have all the words on detailed matters.” He added: “We need the political will, if there is a political will I’m sure there is a way we can conclude a binding agreement.” Brown said he thought a deal was possible and restated his pledge to attend the talks in person.

Religion, Moral edn not ignored

The draft education policy does not ignore religious and moral education as claimed by different sections since it makes strong recommendations on the subjects, said speakers at a roundtable yesterday. They however said there is some incompleteness regarding some issues which needs to be reviewed, adding the government should focus on quick implementation of the policy. The speakers also said there should have been more guidelines about primary education as the draft policy did not make everything clear about it. Shushashoner Janney Nagorik (Shujan) organised the roundtable styled “Considering the education policy of Bangladesh” at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.

PM goes to Bhutan Friday

Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina will leave Dhaka on Friday for a four-day visit to Bhutan and is expected to hold talks with the top government officials, including the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A trade agreement might be signed at the time to enhance economic growth of the two countries, Prime Minister’s Office sources said. Meanwhile, the Bhutanese Ambassador in Dhaka Dasho Bap Kesang yesterday called on Foreign Minister Dipu Moni. “Our country is prepared to receive the Bangladesh prime minister,” the Ambassador told Dipu Moni. Dipu Moni said the visit would provide opportunities for the entire gamut of bilateral relations and generate further impetus.

A Peasant Friendly Move

THE ministries of agriculture and industries certainly deserve kudos for slashing prices of non-urea fertiliser by 36 percent on an average. The newly fixed prices are way below the previous levels which themselves carried a 50 percent cutback in prices effected by the AL government barely a week into its first week of power. At that time it was felt though, had the price cut come about in December when the boro season peaked it would have been ideal. Even so, it impacted positively on boro output in the end, for all we know. This time around the price reduction is more timely as the boro and potato seasons, winter crops, so to speak, are peaking to benefit from.

Remittance growth beats bleak forecast

Remittance growth stood at 21.23 percent in the first four months of the current fiscal year, despite bleak forecasts by the World Bank. The July to October period measured the remittance inflow at $3.61 billion, which was $2.98 billion in the same period last year. Bangladesh recorded $911.20 million in remittance in October, up from $887.92 million a month ago, according to central bank data. Remittance crossed the $900 million mark for the third time in 2009. The figure was $935.15 million in August and $919.10 million in June. Due to the large remittance inflow, the foreign currency reserve is increasing. It was recorded at $9.56 billion yesterday.

RMG subsidies not viable

Giving continuous subsidies to the export-oriented garment sector will not be viable for the country as much of such benefits goes to the buyers’ end, said Mashiur Rahman, adviser to the prime minister on economic affairs, yesterday. He said if the government increases subsidy by a certain amount for the readymade garment (RMG) sector, the international buyers will bargain for less price. So the manufacturers and exporters will not be benefited ultimately from the government’s initiatives, Rahman said at a seminar on Bangladesh’s knitwear industry at Dhaka Sheraton hotel. Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) organised the seminar on the sidelines of the fifth knitwear exposition that will end today at the hotel.

02 November 2009, Monday

Banking enters new era: Bangladesh Bank introduces online payment system

The hassle is about to be over. One no longer needs to go to market for shopping spending hours in traffic jams or stand in long queues to pay utility bills. All these are now possible on the internet. Bangladesh Bank yesterday introduced online payment system in the country facilitating online fund transfers and payment of utility bills through local currency credit cards. Although these services are being introduced on a smaller scale, it is considered to be the first step towards a broader online banking. This move will certainly enhance the use of e-commerce in the country and online banking services facilitating subscribers of all commercial banks in Bangladesh. The central bank issued a circular yesterday to all commercial banks saying subscribers to internet banking now will be able to pay utility bills online from customers’ accounts to billing accounts. [The Daily Star, 03 November 2009]
More News: Online Banking raises debate over security

Pay wages properly: PM opens Knitexpo-09, asks garment owners to indentify the reasons for unrest

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked the garment factory owners to pay the wages properly to improve the workers’ standard of living. Terming the workers the driving force of a factory, the PM also asked the owners to investigate the causes of frequent labour unrest in the sector. “The government will not tolerate anarchism in garment sector as this is the main source of foreign currency,” said Hasina. “The recent labour unrest was instigated by conspirators,” the PM said. She advised the owners to construct dormitories for workers to ensure their shelter. “The factory owners can take assistance from government’s housing fund to build the dormitories. The fund would claim only one percent service charge,” the PM said. [The Daily Star, 03 November 2009]

Trade Union in RMG sector: introduces it with safeguards

THE government’s decision to introduce trade union in the garment sector–following the deaths of three workers in police firing at Tongi– is understandable. We are open to the initiative, with some safeguards. The situation prevailing in the industry as a whole has to be examined in all its ramifications before an effective solution to the recurring labour unrest can be found.The point to be noted here is that the whole issue revolves around the question of workers’ representation in matters pertaining to their professional interests. True, lack of organised means of articulation and presentation of the workers’ grievances before the employers and the labour ministry has been a major missing link in the garments sector. And yet caution is in order because trade unionism, if our past experience is anything to go by, has a record of often degenerating into a tool in the hands of self-seeking coteries operating as workers’ representatives. They basically ended up advancing their feuding agenda and self-aggrandisement at the expense of the genuine grievances of the workers. Secondly, trade unionism has had a way of turning into an appendage of a political party. Obviously, we do not want today’s medicine to become tomorrow’s malady. [The Daily Star, Editorial, 03 November 2009]
More News: Govt should act in favour of RMG workers instead of their employers;
Body to probe saturday’s labour unrest not yet formed

Now Nepal to hold cabinet meet on Everest

Nepal is to hold a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest to highlight the impact of global warming on the Himalayas ahead of next month’s climate change talks in Copenhagen, a minister said yesterday. The entire cabinet will travel to Everest base camp at an altitude of 5,360 metres (17,585 feet) for the meeting, to be held later this month, forests minister Deepak Bohora told AFP. The announcement comes just weeks after the government of the Maldives held an underwater cabinet meeting to focus global attention on rising sea levels ahead of the key UN summit on December 7-18. [The Daily Star, 03 November 2009];
More News: Climate Change can kill `quarter of million kids’ next year;
Europe probe track global warming impacts on water
Climate First, Trade Second: Pascal Lamy

Fertiliser boost for farm sector: Prices of non-urea group slashed by 36 pc

Following a price fall on the international market, the government yesterday cut domestic prices of non-urea fertilisers by 36 percent to boost cultivation of winter crops and boro rice. “We have reduced the prices of the fertilisers, so farmers may produce crops for less,” Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said in her ministry while disclosing the price cut to the media. According to the rescheduled prices, a kilogram of triple super phosphate (TSP) is Tk 20 at dealers’ level while Tk 22 at farmers’ level compared to the existing farmers’ level price of Tk 40. The new dealers’ level price of a kilogram of muriate of potash (MOP) is Tk 23 and the farmers’ level price is Tk 25 which was Tk 35. [The Daily Star, 03 November 2009]

Vested property to be returned: Cabinet okeys to the bill

The cabinet yesterday gave final nod to the Vested Property Return (Amendment) Bill, 2009 paving the way to turn the seized property over to the real owners from the Hindus. The approval came at a regular meeting at the Cabinet Division at the Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Hasina at the meeting also directed the home ministry to arrest the culprits responsible for the bomb attack on AL lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh and unrest in the RMG sector. With the approval of the vested property bill, the government would now make it a law in parliament soon which would replace the caretaker government’s Vested Property Return Ordinance. [The Daily Star, 03 November 2009)

Lax legal step pushes up acid violence: 132 victims of acid violence in 10 months

Shila was to be in her honeymoon, but she is now moaning with pain in the bed of the Acid Survivors Foundation hospital in the capital.    A first-year student of Pangsha University College, Shila was going to be married to an expatriate in Saudi Arabian on October 30.    Her sister Shimul came to her father’s home at Kamalapur in Kushtia to attend the wedding ceremony but their dreams were shattered as some miscreants poured acid on them through the open window when they were asleep about 4:00am on Thursday, the day before the ceremony. [The Daily New Age, 03 November 2009]SAARC states to increase duty free trade

 01 November 2009, Sunday

PM vows changes to PRSP to focus on rural economy

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Sunday said her government would make all necessary amendments to the poverty reduction strategy, giving priority to rural economy and employment generation to alleviate poverty.    Speaking in the parliament after a debate on the document titled ‘Steps Towards Change: National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction II FY 2009-11’, she reiterated that her government would reintroduce the five-year plan for balanced development.    The prime minister came up with the statements after some of her ruling coalition lawmakers censured the lender-driven strategy paper even demanding its cancellation to shrug off the legacy of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance which had prepared the first strategy paper during its 2001-2006 rule. [The Daily New Age, 02 November 2009]

Public Procurement up to tk. 2 cr: Bill seeks to drop experience clause

A bill was placed in parliament yesterday seeking amendment to the Public Procurement Act to drop the provision of past experience as a condition for getting public work contracts worth up to Tk 2 crore. Planning Minister Air Vice Marshall (retd) AK Khandker placed the bill with a proposal for a few amendments to the act terming it essential for smooth enforcement of the law. The bill was sent to the parliamentary standing committee on planning ministry for scrutiny and placing report in parliament in two days. [The Daily Star, 02 November 2009]; More News: Changes to PPA may cost WB loans; PPA amendement bill placed in JS.

BNP talks political situation with foreign diplomats

BNP, the main opposition in parliament, yesterday briefed foreign diplomats and donor agency representatives about the country’s latest political situation, and its preparation for holding its national council in December this year. The party is planning to invite foreign guests including prominent global personalities as observers to its national council that will be held in the capital, according to party leaders. At a tea party arranged by BNP last evening, the foreign diplomats wanted to know about the reasons for delaying to hold the party council, and for its boycott of the parliament, and also inquired about the party’s observation of the country’s latest political situation. [The Daily Star, 02 November 2009]

War crimes legislation: West backs trial, int’l norms

Western diplomats remain concerned that unless the government further amends the International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973, the trials of war criminals may not meet the minimum international standards of due process and fairness. The concern was expressed to The Daily Star by diplomats supportive of the Bangladesh government’s decision to hold trials of people alleged to have committed war crimes during the 1971 War of Independence. These views appear to contradict Law Minister Shafique Ahmed’s repeated statements that that the current law is sufficient to meet international expectations. [The Daily Star, 02 November 2009]

Tongi reels from fright: Another death raises toll to 3, up to 3000 people sued for violence

Another man succumbed to wounds at a city hospital yesterday raising the death toll to three in Saturday’s labour unrest at Nippon Garment Industries Ltd in Tongi. Police filed a case against 2,000 to 3,000 unidentified people along with eight others, detained on Saturday in connection with the clashes between police and workers. Two persons died on the spot and 100 others were injured in the incident. Tajul Islam, 50, a resident of Ershad Nagar in Tongi, who was admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital with a head injury on Saturday, died early in the morning. The bodies of the two other deceased — Bablu Sheikh, 32, a rickshaw-van puller, and construction worker Shafique of Ershad Nagar — were taken to Gazipur Sadar Hospital morgue for autopsy on Saturday night. A correspondent from Gazipur reported that both the bodies bore bullet marks. Later, the bodies of Bablu and Shafique were sent to their village home in Jamalpur and Bhola, said police. [The Daily Star, 02 November 2009];
More News: Trade unionism in RMG agreed: Committee formed to work out modes;
Tongi clash death toll rises to 3: Two killed in policing firing, 3000 others sued probe body formed;
8 RMG units closed unlawfully in 3 months;
Yet another sign that all is not well in RMG sector;
Owners, workers vow to work together

Maldives allows 16,000 expats to stay legally

The Maldives government has accorded legal permission to over 16,000 Bangladeshis to stay and work there.    The expatriate welfare and overseas employment minister, Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, told the media on Sunday on his return from a four-day trip to the island country.    ‘A total 16,100 Bangladeshis in Maldives had no legal papers. We approached the Maldivian leaders including the president and discussed the matter and then they permitted our people to stay there legally,’ said the minister.    The ministry sources said about 40,000 Bangladeshis now live in the Maldives.

Apparel exporters eye bigger Japanese market

Bangladesh garment exports to Japan may increase to two billion US dollar within a couple of years should the country get duty-free market access to that country under relaxed rules of origin.    With over $24 billion annual imports, Japan apparel market is very much selective that demands capacity development of Bangladeshi exporters, speakers said at a discussion, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a think-tank.    Former finance minister M Syeduzzaman presided over the discussion that was participated by the commerce minister, Faruk Khan, former commerce minister, Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, and the Japanese ambassador in Dhaka, Tamotsu Shinotsuka. [The Daily New Age, 02 November 2009]

20 Years of Market rules: Ex-communist Europe claims success

 

 

 

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