Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries: Abul Hossain

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Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries: Abul Hossain

SANGSAD BHABAN, June 10 (BSS) – Bangladesh software industry is expected to see a robust growth despite global economic recession.

Replying to a tabled question from treasury bench Bazlul Haque Harun of Jhalakathi-1, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Syed Abul Hossain said the country has earned US$ 31 million in fiscal 2009-10 and US$ 27 million in fiscal 2010-11 against the export of software in the world market.

At present Bangladesh is exporting software to 30 countries including Europe, America, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Australia and South Asia, he said.

The ICT minister said local IT professionals are producing and developing international standard software under the supervision of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) with assistance from the government.

Answering to another tabled question of Benzir Ahmad, MP of Dhaka-20, the ICT minister said the government is implementing a project to set up computer lab with Internet facility in the country’s 3,172 educational institutions aimed at developing IT literate human resource.

Besides, initiative has been taken to formulate necessary policy and guideline for introducing digital signature while office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) has been established for issuing electronic signature.

To make the government’s services available for the mass people, the government has installed National Data Centre at Bangladesh Computer Council, he added.

Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas

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Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas
By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, June 10 (BSS)- Low-cost biogas, an alternative fuel for cooking, is increasingly getting popular among the people at different rural areas even in outskirts of the metropolis for the last couple of years.

Biogas is not only used as fuel for cooking foods but the slurry, main effluent of the biogas plant, is also being used as organic fertiliser in the farming fields for boosting its production and in the ponds as fish meal.

The people, who never thought of having gas for cooking rice in their remote areas, are now regularly using for their domestic purposes like civic life. Currently, more than 400 rural families are using biogas instead of firewood to cook foods and to boost farm and fish production.

The Premtaly and some of its adjacent localities under Godagari Upazila has been identified as biogas village, local sources said.

Most of the users expressed their satisfaction over the biogas plants as they find this alternative fuel much cheaper than firewood and any other fossil fuel.

Marzina Begum, 45, a housewife of Bijoynagar area under Godagari upazila, has been using the biogas for the last one and half years. She cooks meal for her seven-member family twice everyday.

She said the use of the price hiked kerosene and LPG cylinder has become unbearable in the rural life.

In that case, use of biogas is very comfortable and it has no negative impact to the environment, she clarified.

“In addition to cooking meals of our eight-member family, I have been running a cow-fattening farm with 26 cattle and seed production project on 45-bigha of lands commercially with my two biogas plants simultaneously for the last one and half years,” said Aminul Islam Fatik of Bidirpur area.

He said that he had set up a 2.5 square-meter plant with his own initiative in 2007 for meeting up his domestic fuel demands.

Afterwards, he installed another 4.8 square-meter plant in 2010 for fulfilling his domestic and commercial demands through using the natural resources especially eco-friendly biogas and slurry.

Sabrina Reja, 30, wife of Selim Reja, of Premtali Dumuria, described her practice while she was cooking their midday meal in her double-burner oven. She said all of their daily family cooking is being done with the biogas excepting the winter season.

She added that the biogas is very effective for the cooking meal for any farming family as it requires more utensils and needs additional workforce for cleaning of those regularly.

But, the biogas has no smoke and black spot on the utensils, so there is no extra burden of cleaning and washing.

“We have eight cattleheads and all of their dung are being used in our plant,” she said adding, “We cook rice bran of four kilograms for the cattleheads besides three-time meals for our seven-member family everyday and regularly with the gas”.

In the process, she said there is no extra cost to feed the cows excepting the rice straw.

Referring to multifarious problems relating to cooking in conventional earthen stove Sabrina Reja attributed that the biogas cooking contributes a lot to remove the obstacles by large.

By dint of the biogas cooking, she said their life style has been changed at a greater extent.

Women members of the family are being benefited more in the new system as most of them are liable to manage the rural family especially cooking together with cleaning and washing the utensils.

Murshalin of Premtali Khetur area said the use of biogas has brought a new dimension in his family.

As a whole, the plant has ensured security of the domestic consumption of fuel.

“In addition to cooking meals of our nine-member family, I have been running a tea stall at Premtaly Bazar where around 80 cups of tea are sold everyday and all the tea-water are being boiled by our own biogas,” said Shariful Islam of Kathalbaria.

‘We never thought of having such type of privilege in our village. But biogas has made things happen, by which we save at least Taka 900 per month as the water boiling purpose.’

Not only that, the harvested bioslurry is being used in 10 bigha of fish culture ponds as primary feeds for boosting fish production.

“Earlier, we had to use the cow-dung as cooking fuel, but now using those in the biogas plant by which, we are getting diversified benefits,” said Rafiqul Islam of Shekherpara adding that the dried slurry is also being used as cooking fuel.

He said a family of five to six members can easily cook their foods and fulfill the demands of organic fertiliser of his farming field and fish culture ponds from one plant.

Various vegetables and fruits especially banana are being grown well on surrounding grounds of the slurry dumping ditch without any extra fertiliser and care, he viewed.

Budget industry friendly, growth supportive: EAB

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Budget industry friendly, growth supportive: EAB
It put forward 5-point proposals for Govt consideration
B&F Report

Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) has termed the proposed budget for 2012-13 fiscal as growth-oriented and industry friendly and has welcomed the government for prioritising key sectors like power and energy, agriculture, communication and physical infrastructure.

Giving its post-budget reaction at a press conference in Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on Sunday, the leaders of the EAB, the apex trade body of export sector, also hailed the government initiative to protect the local industry as well as support the export-oriented sectors.

“All these would have a positive impact on the country’s industrialisation as a whole,” they said.
EAB belives the proposed budget is ‘a pro-people and growth-oriented’ one which will also help to accelerate growth of the export sector.

“A higher export growth will help to attain the key budgetary goal of achieving GDP growth to 7.2 per cent and inflation within 7.5 per cent for the next fiscal,” it added.

Reading out a written statement, the EAB President Abdus Salam Murshedy said steps like reducing tax on capital machinery imports for export sector and for Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), withdrawal of VAT from the rented factory premises and continuation of incentive package for exploring new markets will certainly boost up export earnings.

Besides, emphasising on human resources development, block allocation for employment generation, incentive package for capital market, setting up a hi-tech park in Gazipur and API park in Munshiganj and incentive for ship building industry are also some bold steps proposed in the budget for the upcoming fiscal, he said.

Murshedy, however, expressed dismay over the budgetary provision of hiking tax at source on export proceed and put forward 5-point recommendations to the government “for its kind consideration”.

He also urged the government to consider some proposals for the interest of the export sector. The proposals are withdrawal of 1.2 per cent tax at soucre on exports uninterrupted power and gas supply to the export-oriented industries, cut in bank interest rate to single digit, unified exchange rate for exporters and a enhance rate of cash incentive (tax free).

“Hike in tax at source fro, 0.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent will adversely impact the export sector by reducing competitive edge of local goods in the international market. It will also hurt profitability of the entrepreneurs,” Murshedy added.

He pointed out that export sector is passing through a critical time influenced largely by various external and internal threats. On the other hand, he said a significant hike in power and fuel prices hit hard the industry by rising cost of production.

“In such a situation, the industry cannot afford a leap of tax at source because it will be an extra burden for it,” he noted.

GDP growth target set at 7.2pc

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GDP growth target set at 7.2pc
Staff Correspondent

The gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the next fiscal year has been set at 7.2 percent expecting that trade and agriculture will continue to thrive and the global economy will turn around by 2013.

The country’s GDP grew by 6.7 percent in 2010-11 and the provisional estimate was set at 6.3 percent for the outgoing fiscal year. Bangladesh now targets to take the growth to 8 percent by 2014-15.

According to the latest forecast, the growth of global economy may stand at 3.5 percent while that of the developing and emerging economies at 5.7 percent in 2012.

“In pace with economies of other emerging and developing countries, we have been able to sustain the economic growth in Bangladesh,” said Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his budget speech yesterday.

In the last three years, the country had an export growth of 21.2 percent. By April 2012, export grew by 8.4 percent compared to that of April last year.

The government hopes this trend will continue due to the expansion of regional trade, surge in internal demand and bumper Boro harvest.

The finance minister also expects there would be steady credit flow to development sectors and the deficits in power, energy and infrastructure will gradually decrease.

On an average the country’s import also increased by 22.2 percent in the last three years. Up to this April, import grew by 8.7 percent.

KL, Doha pledge $12b investment for Bangladesh

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=131814&date=2012-06-04

KL, Doha pledge $12b investment for Bangladesh
Nizam Ahmed

Bangladesh, desperately seeking overseas funds for building its major infrastructures, has so far been assured of assistance and investment worth $12 billion from two friendly countries in Asia, officials said on Sunday.

The $12 billion investment pledges came almost simultaneously when two official teams from Malaysia and Qatar visited Bangladesh last month, officials at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) said.

Malaysia has so far pledged some $9.0 billion including $6.0 billion for a new international airport and rest for the proposed 6.15-kilometre multi-purpose bridge across the river Padma.

Qatar so far offered to invest some $3.0 billion for building infrastructure in Bangladesh. The Gulf state is also likely to pledge another $2.5 billion investment in different sectors including energy, officials said.

“All these investment proposals are likely to be registered after the relevant authorities and concerned parties sign required deals,” a senior official of the Board of Investment told the FE.

Bangladesh launched the hectic drive for foreign funds after the World Bank refrained from giving its pledged portion of $1.2 billion for building a $3.0 billion Padma bridge alleging corruption in a bidding process last year.

The construction of the Padma Bridge was an election pledge of the government which won a landslide victory in the last general election in late 2008, officials at the ministry of communications said.

“It is our prime project and we want to start its construction before conclusion of our present term in January 2014,” communications minister Obaidul Quader told the FE.

Following the World Bank’s action other financers, including Japan International Cooperation Agency ($420 million), Asian Development Bank ($615 million) and Islamic Development Bank ($140 million) have also suspended their pledged funds.

Meanwhile, the authorities concerned are also expecting more foreign assistance in coming months as the oil-rich Qatar has shown great interest in investing in oil and gas exploration, power plants, expansion of airports, river dredging and manpower training institutes.

Bangladesh also hopes further pledges of another $2.5 billion investment from Qatar for setting up a proposed 1,000 mega watt liquefied natural gas-fired power plant at Moheskhali off-shore island, expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, expansion of highways, procurement of five river dredgers and for setting up a technical training centre, MoFA officials said.

The far eastern Malaysia has offered a total of $9.0 billion investment in the bridge and the international airport projects while Qatar pledged for constructing the bridge across the Padma river.

Meanwhile, Qatar is also looking for other fields including energy, infrastructure including river dredging and human resources sectors.

Malaysian Prime Minister’s special envoy for South Asia Dato S Samy Vellu offered the new and the latest investment proposal worth some $6.0 billion for construction of the proposed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport near Dhaka, to Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Col (retd) Faruk Khan on May 30.

The new offer was made when Mr. Samy Vellu visited Dhaka for submitting a formal preliminary proposal for construction of $3.0 billion Padma Bridge, which Malaysia had agreed earlier and a memorandum of understanding was signed in Kuala Lumpur on April 10.

Earlier in the last week, a Qatari official team led by Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani, offered some $3.0 billion assistance for building the Padma Bridge.

As Bangladesh and Malaysia have already signed a MoU for building the Padma Bridge, Qatar is likely to join the venture as a third party in the project, MoFA officials said.

“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia. If it is feasible, acceptable and agreed upon by all the parties, we can have a tripartite agreement,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters after meeting with the Qatari delegation on May 28.

“If Malaysia and Qatar really can upkeep their pledges and come forward in investing, then the world scenario of financing will really change,” an official of the ministry of finance said without giving details.

How to bring in more FDI

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How to bring in more FDI

Fahmida Khatun

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has made enormous leaps since the 1990s in terms of its growth in the global economic landscape. Due to paucity of resources in developing and least developed countries, FDI has become an important component of their development strategies and in many cases it proved to be a win-win situation to both host and home countries. Host countries want to gain from FDI in multiple ways such as through having capital, technology and knowledge. Home countries also benefit through investing as they can penetrate into markets, gain access to raw materials and diversify business activities. They can also overcome trade barriers and reduce transport costs.

Bangladesh is considered to be one of the potential economies despite being besieged by multi-faceted adversities such as frequent natural disasters, high density of population, political turmoil and a low production capacity. The resilience and inherent strength of the economy, mainly due to its robust sectors such as agriculture, readymade garments and remittances, have been the basis of such optimism. However, in order to make its graduation to the next level of growth and fully exploit the growth potential, the country’s investment scenario has to be improved. The lack of adequate investment is one of the important reasons for the growth below the potential of the economy. The domestic investment rate has been stagnant at around 24 percent to 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the last ten years which is far below the level required for a country aiming to be become a middle-income country by 2021 with a growth rate of 10 percent. The sixth five-year plan (2011-15) of Bangladesh targets a GDP growth of 8 percent by the end of the plan period. This requires that the total investment has to grow by 8.1 percent per year and the share of investment in GDP has to be 32.5 percent by fiscal 2015. Low domestic investment has been a matter of concern as it holds back foreign investment as well.

Even though Bangladesh has been trying to bring in FDI since its independence and put in place FDI friendly policies in the early 1980s (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act 1980 was such an attempt) much before some of its neighbours, it has been unable to accelerate FDI at the expected level. In the 1990s, there was an attraction for the East Asian and European investors to invest in the readymade garments industry of Bangladesh, thanks to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and the availability of labour at a competitive price. Currently, the concentration of FDI is mainly on transport, storage and communication, manufacturing and power, gas and petroleum. Other sectors such as agriculture, trade and commerce and, services receive nominal FDI. In 2010, manufacturing sector was the highest recipient at 27.82 percent of total FDI, while the construction sector received the lowest with a share of 0.01 percent. The growth of FDI in Bangladesh has, however, been very inconsistent. A major inflow of FDI was observed in the mid 2000s and rose to $913.32 million in 2010.

While discussing the impediments to bringing FDI into the country, a host of issues have been raised ranging from infrastructural constraints to bureaucratic complexities to image building. However, the crux of the problem does, in fact, lie in three broad areas. First is the limited access to physical infrastructure, particularly supply of gas and electricity. This has emerged as a binding constraint on investment promotion in Bangladesh. For example, the supply of gas between December 2008 and December 2011 has increased only marginally from 1,606 million cubic feet to 1,960 million cubic feet, indicating an average growth of 7.4 percent. On the other hand, the demand for gas rose by 12.3 percent during this period, leading to a wide gap between demand and supply. At present, the demand for power in Bangladesh is around 6,500 megawatt, while the supply is 4,699 megawatt. In the recent times, the FDI rise has been observed mainly in the export processing zones (EPZ) as there is little or no gas and electricity supply constraint like the domestic tariff area. In order to overcome infrastructural bottlenecks, aid for productive capacity needs to be enhanced significantly. However, effective use of these funds has to be ensured. Public-private infrastructure development policy can also be a powerful tool to tackle the supply side constraints.

The second bottleneck is the culture of confrontational politics, which poses a serious threat for the safety of property and resources of prospective investors. Acrimony and bitterness among political parties often lead to destruction and affect lives and properties of people which in turn deter not only foreign investment but also local private investment. Many investors are even willing to spend on infrastructure to facilitate their investment in other sectors, only if there are political stability and predictability of return on their investment.

The third constraint is the lack of good governance and prevalence of corruption, which have put a scar on the reputation of the country at the global level. Because of advantages such as competitive prices for labour and other services, investors may find Bangladesh a lucrative investment destination. However, predicaments such as delay and a lack of transparency in decision making process, a dearth of effective implementation of regulations and policies, and discriminatory incentive packages act as stumbling blocks in bringing in FDI to the country.

FDI is not a panacea for slow growth, and it has several negative implications too. These include capital flight and repatriation of profit, dependency on technologies and limited transfer of technology and transfer pricing. With effective regulatory and oversight mechanism such issues can be addressed. FDI can supplement the local effort to produce goods and services and create jobs. If local businesses flourish, foreign investors will have confidence to bring their resources. Promotion of local businesses through access to adequate finance and creation of an enabling environment should also be a key target. Economic diplomacy is vital at this day and age to attract foreign resources. This has to be accompanied by good marketing skill which in other words is called ‘branding’. Such image building task has to be done primarily by the government but complemented by the private sector and all citizens of the country.

The writer is an economist and head of research at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.

Western Marine to build tugboat, vessel for Ctg port

http://www.theindependentbd.com/business/others/113436-many-do-not-see-bangladeshs-development.html

Western Marine to build tugboat, vessel for Ctg port
Author / Source : STAFF REPORTER

CHITTAGONG, June 3: New Western Marine Shipbuilders (NWMS), a sister concern of Western Marine Shipyard Ltd signed an agreement with Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) for building a 60 ton Bollard Pull Tugboat and another 1000 Dead Weight Tonnage  Water Supply vessel today. CPA chairman Rear Admiral Nizamuddin Ahmed and Managing Director of NWMSL, Sakhawat Hossain signed the contract on behalf of their respective organisations. Officials of CPA and Western Marine were present during the signing ceremony held in the Board Room of CPA.
Western Marine Shipyard has built ships of various types for Chittagong port in the past. All these vessels are serving well till today.

The shipyard won this contract by participating in an international tender as the lowest bidder. The contract price of this project is Tk 53 crore. This new tugboat will be having an engine power of 4500 Bollard Horse Power and 60BP, which will be the strongest tugboat in the country.

Such ships used to be imported but Western Marine’s expertise and proficiency in building quality vessels has enabled them in achieving this order. The other vessel which is a Water Supply Vessel will be the largest vessel of its kind to be added in the fleet of Chittagong Port, having a carrying capacity of 1000 tonnes water to supply to the merchant ships in the outer anchorage.
CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Nizamuddin said, “These ships are our national assets. Their quality and proper maintenance in the long run will enhance port capacity in the future.”

The Chairman of Western Marine, Saiful Islam said, “It is our pride that we are contributing to capacity building of our ports by building ships for their use. Our ports are our major sources to drive the nation forward.”

MD Sakhawat Hossain said CPA is the greatest business associate of Western Marine as the yard has built ships for them as well in the past and that signing of this contract has made the tie even stronger.