Monthly Archives: September 2008

Bangladeshi co to invest $2.254m in Ishwardi EPZ

Bangladeshi co to invest $2.254m in Ishwardi EPZ


Brothers Plastic Industries, a Bangladeshi company will set up a plastic industry at Ishwardi Export Processing Zone.

This 100 percent locally owned company will invest about Taka 15 crore in setting up their plant and will produce to export plastic items. The company will also create employment opportunity for 191 Bangladeshis including one foreign national.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and Brothers Plastic Industries in BEPZA Complex, Dhaka on Wednesday.

Prasanta Bhushan Barua, Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA and Ratan Kumar Agarwala, Proprietor of Messrs Brothers Plastic Industries signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

Brig General Jamil Ahmed Khan, ndc, psc, Executive Chairman of BEPZA and other officials from respective organisations were present on the occasion.

Thai entrepreneurs keen to invest in Bangladesh

Thai entrepreneurs keen to invest in Bangladesh

BSS, Chittagong

Leader of the visiting Thai trade delegation Pisanu Chanvitan said here today Thai entrepreneurs are keen to invest in Bangladesh taking advantage of its huge investment and trade opportunities.

Chanvitan, Director General of Thai Foreign Ministry’s

Department of South-Asia, Middle East and African Affairs, was exchanging views with Chittagong chamber leaders on existing bilateral trade and investment and the scopes lying ahead.

Thai Ambassador to Bangladesh Chaleprmpol Thanchitt told the meeting in the conference hall of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) that his country was considering inclusion of more Bangladeshi products on duty free access list in addition to present 229 items on request.

He said his government is willing to provide duty free

access to those Bangladeshi products which have or may have more demand in Thai market.

The Thai delegation leader said geographical location, a growing market and availability of cheap labour have made Bangladesh an attractive destination of Thai investment.

He said Thai importers would be encouraged to import more from Bangladesh to reduce the trade gap between the two countries.

The two sides held focused discussion on the potential areas of new investment and expansion of trade using the optimum opportunities now available on both sides.

President of CCCI Saifuzzaman Chowdhury said bilateral business prospects have remained largely unexploited.

He said trade volume between the two countries is on the rise but Bangladesh is not getting the desired benefit while the trade balance remained largely against it.

Bangladesh’s exports to Thailand was US dollar 23.63 million and 25.95 million in 2005-06 and 2006-07 against imports of US dollar 322.80 million and 429.73 million.

He requested the Thai entrepreneurs to pursue their government to provide duty-free access to all Bangladeshi exportables to Thai market.

The CCCI chief also called upon the Thai delegation to consider Bangladesh as potential sub-contracting base of Thailand’s hi-tech industries and take initiative to relocate looming sunset industries here for mutual benefits.

SEZs to facilitate economic growth, more investment

SEZs to facilitate economic growth, more investment

FE Report

Formation of special economic zones (SEZs) will pave the way for more productive use of land, labour, capital and infrastructure leading to greater investment, economic growth and social development in the country, experts said on Sunday.

They agreed that SEZ was not a choice between agriculture and industry, rather an excellent tool for integrating industrial, agricultural and service sectors.

The remarks were made at a ‘Media Presentation Briefing on Economic Zone’ held at a city hotel on the day.

IFC Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund (IFC BICF) organised the event which consisted of two sessions — one focusing on the basic concepts of economic zones and the second on one particular type of zone, namely, the SEZs — using case studies from all around the world.

The experts said both foreign and local investors feel comfortable in setting up their industries in economic zones as they get ready-to-use land, utilities and the right environment to do business.

They expressed the opinion that the proposed ordinance on SEZs should be flexible in allowing those to be set by the private sector or under private-public partnership (PPP).

“We are expecting that the ordinance on SEZs will be approved next month,” IFC BICF senior programme manager Syed Akhtar Mahmood said.

Referring to lower economic growth in western part of the country compared to that in the east, Mr. Mahmood said this is high time to initiate move for formation of SEZs which can help reduce the gap.

Though land for ensuring the country’s food security is very important, he said, but “We need to think about industrialisation through proper use of land to hasten the eradication of poverty.”

Presenting two papers, IFC Investment Policy Analyst Mustafizul Hye Shakir defined economic zones as a geographically delimited area with a special regime and a single administration/management that delivers services to zone tenants on a day-to-day basis.

“SEZs often have streamlined procedures and are considered to be a separate customs area,” he added.

International Economic Zones Expert Deborah Porte said: “Proper planning is the key to the success of economic zones.”

Many countries across the world, including China, Jordan and the Philippines, have attained excellent economic growth through such economic zones, Ms Porte added.

She said that the media is the ideal stakeholder to ensure that the zone development process is transparent, and that the decision on how to develop the zones and where to locate them is not based on vested interests of a selective few.

IFC BICF programme manager Martin Norman, however, pointed out the media’s role is to ensure accountability and transparency of all stakeholders, government and private sector alike, in the development and implementation of SEZs in the country.

Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund (BICF) of IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is a long-term technical program targeting a better operating environment for businesses.

IFC BICF is funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Commission (EC), which are consistent with the Bangladesh government’s strategic vision for private sector development within its poverty reduction strategy.

Government agencies and IFC BICF-in close collaboration with key stakeholders jointly design and implement programmes to institute business friendly policies, laws and regulations, and strengthen the institutions that implement them.

Investment scope, mkt promotion to be explored

Investment scope, mkt promotion to be explored

FE Report

A 12-member delegation of the newly formed trade body — the European Bangladesh Federation of Commerce and Industry (EBF) — led by its joint presidents Dr Wali Tasar Uddin and Fred Oldenhuizing will be visiting Bangladesh from October 26 until November 3.

The delegation also includes executive directors Dr Sanawar Chowdhury, Nurul Islam, Dr Azizur Rahman, Enam Ali and Ron Huisma, said a press release.

As the EU is Bangladesh’s largest trading partner, steps have been taken to establish EBF chambers in six member states including the UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Greece with possibilities of including Ireland, Belgium, Sweden and Spain later on.

The main objectives of the delegation will be to introduce EBF to the business community and policy makers in Bangladesh, create networks, identify investment opportunities and prospects, understand the regulatory framework and market promotion.

The key aims of EBF include: (1) Promoting commerce and industry between the EU and Bangladesh, (2) Promoting commerce and industry amongst the Bangladeshi diaspora within the EU and between EU Member States, (3) Providing a network and resource facility for the business community of Bangladeshi origin/interest, and (4) Setting up of chambers or similar entities within each of the 27 EU countries.

The delegation is expected to meet senior members of the caretaker government, the British High Commissioner, the Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh, the members of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

The delegation is also scheduled to attend an International Business Conference to be held on Oct 30 to Nov 1, 2008 on the occasion of Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Non-resident Bangladeshi (NRB) conference at the national press club on November 3.

The group would also visit Sylhet Special Economic Zone and exchange views with the members of Sylhet Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI).

Joint President, Fred Oldenhuising stated that whilst country specific chambers have led similar delegations, EBF, based in Brussels, will be more resourced and concentrate on identifying key markets, distribution networks, investment opportunities and provide a better understanding of the regulatory framework of the European Union, its member states and Bangladesh.

Dr. Wali, the other Joint President, said : “EBF will put their combined efforts for EU countries and our mission is to increase more trade, business and investment between EU and Bangladesh. Through our delegation’s visit to Bangladesh we will be able to explain to Bangladesh’s policy makers and business community how we can work together to achieve our mutual goals. We are looking forward to growing more business-to- business links between the EU and Bangladesh.”

Botswana shows interest to recruit Bangladeshi professionals, import goods

Botswana shows interest to recruit Bangladeshi professionals, import goods

FE Report

Botswana, an African nation, has shown interest to recruit professionals and import pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh.

It also has expressed its desire to sign a trade and investment agreement with Bangladesh and invited Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to set up joint venture textile and apparel units to avail themselves of duty free export facility extended by the United States.

Bangladesh High Commissioner in South Africa Shahidul Islam wrote a letter to Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain recently explaining the benefits offered by Botswana.

The high commissioner visited the country recently and presented his credentials to President of the Republic of Botswana Lt. General Seretse Khama Ian Khama at the office of the latter.

The President expressed his desire to have Bangladesh’s support and cooperation in developing the quality of cricket of Botswana and proposed to sign an agreement in the fields of sports and culture with Bangladesh.

During the meeting, the acting Foreign Minister Daniel K Kwelagobe, who is also the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, expressed satisfaction for contribution of the Bangladeshi professionals for development process of the country.

In response to the high commissioner’s request for recruitment of more Bangladeshi professionals, the minister mentioned that at present they need to recruit against 900 vacancies of surveyors, architects, engineers, dieticians, psychologists and physiotherapists, according to the letter that has been forwarded to different ministries and departments for taking necessary measures in this connection.

The minister also stressed on the employment of Bangladeshi agriculturists in Botswana.

Health Minister of Botswana Ms Lesego Motsumi while mentioning about acute shortage of drugs and medicines in his country said they would like to have a Bangladeshi pharmaceutical company to manufacture medicines locally in Botswana.

“There is no pharmaceutical manufacturer in Botswana and at present they are importing pharmaceuticals through the South African agents,” the high commissioner said in his letter.

Botswana enjoys one of the most stable political systems and strong financial bases in Africa.

“Although not a big country, I believe Botswana may become a good destination for Bangladeshi goods and services,” the high commissioner observed.

Botswana has established itself as one of the few successful multi-party democratic states in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Though English is the official language, the country is multiracial and inhabited by different ethnic groups who live peacefully and in harmony with each other.

The country has enjoyed remarkable economic growth since independence; once one of the poorest the country is now the fastest growing economies in the world.

The Republic of Botswana originally a British protectorate called Bechuanaland Protectorate gained its independence on September 30, 1966.

Aluminum foil, plastic, milk and dairy, ready food cos dominate

Aluminum foil, plastic, milk and dairy, ready food cos dominate

FE Report

Companies under aluminum foil, plastic products, milk and dairy products and ready food products bagged the top positions in the list of demand forecast made in a pre-feasibility study on the proposed Sylhet Economic Zone (SEZ).

The list was made in the pre-feasibility study report on the SEZ, prepared by International Finance Corporation (IFC)-Bangladesh Investment Climate Fund (BICF).

The report prepared in a span of four years from 2004 to 2007 forecast that the above companies would be established in the proposed SEZ within the first 15 years after the establishment of the economic zone, first of its kind which will also create job opportunities for 90,000 persons by the projected timeframe.

According to the ‘base case demand’ of the study report, the other companies to be established as forecast are poultry (boiler and layer), animal and fish feed, fish processing, meat processing, edible oil industries, fruit processing, spices, bakery and confectionary, sweetmeat, honey processing, tea blending and packaging, cereal, agar and RMG.

The list of companies also include composite textile, jute, ceramic, cement, glass, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fertilizer, herbal cosmetics, toiletries, kitchen cabinet and oven, aluminum utensils, electric bulb, electric cable, appliance assembly, pvc pipes, melamine, plastic package and rubber.

The list also includes warehousing, leather and footwear, furniture, offset printing and packaging, corrugated carton, computerized automobile service and private power plants.

The government is set to establish a Special Economic Zone Authority by year-end to speed up local and foreign investment in the newly-fashioned industrial parks, an official said

The Chief Advisor’s Office is now scrutinising the final draft of a proposed ‘Special Economic Zone Ordinance-2008′ under which the authority would be created, a Board of Investment (BoI) source said.

“The proposed ordinance has already been approved in principle by the council of advisers,” he added.

The IFC study has recommended for selecting a new site for establishing an economic zone in Sylhet as the current site does not allow a profitable public-private partnership (PPP) due to its high developing costs.”The high development costs for the Sylhet site do not allow for a profitable PPP structure. (But) demand for an economic zone in Sylhet does exist, so a new site should be considered,” said the study. The BoI, which had earlier identified a site for establishing an economic zone in Sylhet for encouraging non-resident Sylhetis’ investment, initiated the pre-feasibility study. The study, considering four PPP scenarios, observed that the project generates an internal rate of return lower than the cost of capital, making it a poor investment choice.”The results of the financial modelling show that the Sylhet economic zone at that particular site is not a financially feasible project for a developer/ operator unless capital costs can be reduced substantially,” the study said.The BoI initially chose an area of 961 acres of land in Sylhet. The land, comprising low and wetlands, rivers and a lake, is situated five kilometres south of Sylhet, and has direct access to the highway and adjacent rail corridor.

A Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry source said about 500 bank branches in the region have a huge amount of idle money, mostly sent by expatriates but there is little investment. Besides, lengthy and complex procedure of official formalities also stand on the way of setting up new industries, he added.There is good prospects for establishing small and large scale industries in Sylhet region, which has now good road links with the capital and the port city. There is abundant natural resources including gas, stone, sand and fish in the region.

The special economic zone, adjacent to Fenchuganj-Tamabil Bypass Road Link, will provide land and other infrastructural facilities to the entrepreneurs to set up manufacturing and other industrial units.The SCCI has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BBCCI) in 2006. Under the deal, the BBCCI will bring together the non-resident Sylheties to invest in the economic zone. It is expected that 65 percent land of the zone will be provided to the expatriates.According to the study, Sylhet has available land, abundant natural and forest resources to set up an economic zone or industrial park. There is an ample scope to increase production of various agricultural commodities. In Sylhet division, there is also scope to increase fish production through undertaking aggressive programmes and activities. Sylhet has economically significant storage of minerals for industrialisation. Natural gas, limestone, sand stone and sand, glass sand and coal are available in this region.As the seven sister states of India are very near from Sylhet, the entrepreneurs or the investors will have an easy access to the seven sisters to export their products, he said.”We are hoping to get a huge response from the Sylheti expatriates,” he added.

The ordinance is being expedited after the advisory council led by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed in July okayed creation of a SEZ in Sylhet.

The government has said it would develop several SEZs across the country to woo investment in the country’s manufacturing sector.

The SEZ, the first of its kind in the country, will be modeled after similar ‘successful’ zones located in China, Vietnam, South Korea, Dubai and Jordan.

Unlike the existing publicly owned and managed export processing zones (EPZs), an SEZ will be larger in scale and be linked to the domestic market.

The BoI executive member said the special economic zone authority would oversee the development and plot allotments in the SEZs, to be established on public-private partnership.

An official said site for the first SEZ is being searched in greater Sylhet district in line with the demand from the expatriate Sylheties.

Local investment plans spike

Local investment plans spike
Sajjadur Rahman

Domestic investment proposals, both in terms of numbers and volume, are set to surpass all records this year although foreign investment has witnessed a broad decline, Board of Investment (BoI) officials said.

This year’s trend shows that local businesses have regained their confidence that they had lost in the middle of 2006 when political chaos gripped the country with the scheduled national polls at the heart of it. Private domestic investment suffered the most from fears of a change in the political regime.

According to statistics of BoI, 1,055 domestic investment proposals worth Tk 13,706 crore, equivalent to $1.63 billion, have been registered with the BoI in the first nine months of 2008.

In 2007, some 286 proposals, worth $441 million, were registered with the BoI. The number of proposals and the total volume of investment were 519 and $1.12 billion, respectively, in 2006.

“Proposals registered with the BoI are set to break all previous records in terms of value and numbers of projects,” a senior BoI official told The Daily Star yesterday. “This is a sign of an improvement in the country’s overall investment climate,” he said. “We are confident that 2008 will be a booming year for domestic investment,” the BoI official said.

During the launch of the global investment report last week, BoI Executive Chairman Kamaluddin Ahmed said: “The trend shows a sharp rise in domestic investments this year.”

BoI recorded $1.68 billion worth of domestic investment proposals in 2003. The number of projects registered in 2003 was 1,703, a record high expected to be surpassed this year.

Textiles, services, chemical, ceramics, light engineering, food and allied, pharmaceuticals and leather and tannery are the major sectors in which this year’s domestic investments have gone into, according to BoI statistics.

The interim government, led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, formed Bangladesh Better Business Forum and the Regulatory Reforms Commission last year to help the businesses back on track. The government held a series of meetings with different stakeholders in business, placing dozens of recommendations in the process.

However, Zaid Bakht, an economist, said the increase in registration of domestic investment does not mean that real investment has increased.

“There is a huge gap between real investment and registration of proposals,” Bakht, also the research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told The Daily Star. He however said businesses are getting their confidence back.

“Businessmen have started on their investment plans this year. They had stopped making any progress in their investment plans last year because of a changing political situation and massive anti-corruption drive,” Bakht said. He also said present political uncertainty is not affecting the investors.

Bangladesh is a poor performer in terms of investment as percentage of GDP, which is only around 25, with about 80 percent of which coming from the private sector.

Seagull plans Tk600cr hotel in Teknaf

Seagull plans Tk600cr hotel in Teknaf
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

Seagull Hotels Ltd, the owning company of five-star Seagull Hotel in Cox’s Bazar, is going to set up another five-star hotel in Teknaf, a southern resort and coastal area, 500 kilometres away from Dhaka.

The company management has already initiated process to purchase land in Teknaf to set up the hotel to be completed within next three years at a cost of around Tk 600 crore, said Managing Director of Seagull Hotels Masoom Iqbal.

Seagull Hotel started its journey in 2002 and reached the break-even point last year.

“We have a target of buying a stretch of 60 bighas land in Teknaf for the hotel as the number of foreign and local visitors is increasing rapidly there,” he said.

Masoom said the proposed hotel will have golf course, theme park, ropeway, marine aquarium and marine drive facilities.

He urged the government to formulate a befitting policy for the important tourist spots so the places in the coastal districts can be used properly as tourist spots.

He also called upon the government for making available an air landing space, bus and good railway communication facilities near Teknaf so that tourists can go there easily at cheaper costs.

Many small hotels are springing up in Teknaf and some other important tourist spots in the southern coastal districts, which will not be helpful for sustainable tourism development, Masoom said.

Development of hotels and motels in an unplanned and scattered manner will not help grow tourism business, as this will evolve a chance of damaging greenery, which is the main attraction of the tourist spots, he added.

“We have the potential of US$5-10 billion worth tourism business a year from Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf, Sonadia and St Martin’s coral island,” he said.

The flow of local and foreign visitors increased manifold over the last few years as people are increasingly becoming aware of the scenic beauty of Cox’s Bazar, Kuakata, Sonadia, St Martin’s and Teknaf, the Seagull MD said.

According to unofficial statistics reported in media, in 2007 arrivals of foreign tourists in Bangladesh grew by 35 percent over the previous year.

In 2007, 2.7 lakh tourists came to Bangladesh, while the number was 2 lakh in 2006. However, the number of visitors was 2.8 lakh in 2003.

Education summit in Nov to formulate nat’l policy

Education summit in Nov to formulate nat’l policy
Says Hossain Zillur
Staff Correspondent

Education Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman yesterday said an education summit will be held in November in the city to formulate a national education policy.

“We are going to organise an education summit in November. I hope academicians, concerned government officials and experts will participate in the summit where we will formulate short-term, mid-term and long-term education policies,” he added.

The adviser was speaking at a press briefing at the National Academy for Education Management (Naem) in the city after a daylong view exchange meeting.

On the eve of the summit, education ministry yesterday organised the meeting where academicians and experts stressed on different issues, including how to ensure quality education to eliminate existing discriminations.

Zillur also said a high-powered committee will be formed very soon for identifying how to strengthen the activities of National University (NU).

“Over 80 percent tertiary-level students are now studying at NU-affiliated colleges. Degree colleges have a capacity of around 7 lakh students but their qualities are tremendously low. Besides, NU has many problems and for this reason, we will form a high-powered committee very soon,” he said.

He further said a working group comprising education ministry, directorate of secondary and higher education and NU has been formed for preparing a policy to set up new educational institutions, academic recognition and opening additional class sessions.

“DSHE will be reformed very soon. We have already received a proposal from DSHE on how to reform it,” the adviser added.

He also said the education ministry is now working to expand and become popular of information technology (IT) education from child level.

“Gradually, we will have to expand IT education. For this purpose, we primarily introduce a pilot programme involving some schools. Under the programme, some children will get the opportunity of using child laptops,” he added.

Education secretary, NU vice chancellor, chairmen of different education boards and educationists also took part in the press briefing.

Govt plans to scale up GDP growth projection

Govt plans to scale up GDP growth projection
Asif Showkat

Good paddy harvest and outlook, coupled with declines in global food and oil prices, have made financial planners upbeat about revising this year’s economic growth projection by 0.5 per cent to 7, officials said.

The revision was decided at a recent meeting of medium-term macroeconomic framework (MTMF) working group with finance secretary Mohammad Tareq in the chair.

The budgetary projection for gross domestic product growth for the 2008-09 fiscal year is 6.5 per cent, up from 6.2 per cent achieved in the previous fiscal.

A bumper IRRI-boro rice harvest and good prospect for next aman crop have boosted the mood of policy planners for projecting a higher GDP growth, said a high official of finance ministry.

‘Declining prices of food and fuel oil in the international market, positive trend in import-export trade, high growth in remittance and limited impact of recent flood on the crops will accelerate the economic growth,’ said the official, defending the upward revision of the growth projection.

Meeting sources said Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics officials expressed their reservations about revising GDP growth just after two months of the fiscal year.

However, Bangladesh Bank officials believed that all economic indicators were positive enough to chase a GDP growth target between 6.5 and 7 per cent.

The consumer price index increased during the first two months of the fiscal year although global commodity prices are showing declines for the last three months.

According to the latest data of the official statistical agency, monthly inflation soared to 10.82 per cent in July from 10.04 of June.

The estimate of MTMF, the guiding principle for national budget in recent years, suggests that inflation rate will be 9 per cent in the current fiscal year.

Global food prices fell 25 to 30 per cent during last three months while crude prices declined to $103 per barrel from $147.

Economist Professor Abu Ahmed told New Age on Thursday that estimation of 7 per cent GDP growth was good news for the country.

‘Sustainable economic growth will depend on positive political situation and new government’s economic agenda,’ he, however, added.

Upward revision of export target for FY ’09 likely

Upward revision of export target for FY ’09 likely


The government is expected to revise the country’s export target upward for the current fiscal year at over 20 per cent from 16.50 per cent, commerce ministry officials said Friday.

They said the government, buoyant by a 71 per cent export growth in July, might set the target upward.

According to provisional statistics of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the country shipped goods worth around US$1.54 billion in July, up by $73 million compared with that in June

Vice chairman of the EPB Shahab Ullah told the FE that the July shipments were nearly 71 per cent higher over the figures of July in the previous fiscal.

“We need to further review the export performance and set a new target following such a hefty growth in the first month of fiscal 2008-09. We could set the growth rate at more than 20 per cent over the performance of the last fiscal,” a senior commerce ministry official said.

The export target was $14.50 billion in fiscal 2007-08 fiscal, which was 19.07 per cent higher over that of the fiscal 2006-07.

However, recording around 15.87 per cent growth over that in 2006-07 fiscal, the country fetched over $14.11 billion through export in 2007-08.

The EPB said knitwear and woven garments grew more than 16 per cent to $10.7 billion, with knit items such as T-shirts growing at 21.50 per cent and woven items such as jeans at 11 per cent.

Together with textile fabrics, home textile such as bed-sheets and terry towel, the country’s total exports in garment items crossed more than $11 billions in the last fiscal.

The EPB, which is yet to release export data for July and August officially, said export in the first quarter of the current fiscal will also set a new record as all indicators show sign of ‘impressive growth’.

The commerce ministry official said exports of major items like woven, knitwear, home textile, terry towel, frozen foods and footwear will continue to increase in the next few years despite external and domestic odds as higher labour cost has forced other countries, Bangladesh’s competitors in the region, to shift focus to producing high valued products.

“This has paved the way for local manufacturers to boost exports, particularly in European and USA markets, in the coming months,” he said.

But, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Mustafizur Rahman differed with the view of the commerce ministry official saying: “We need to observe the situation as the global economy is on the verge of a recession.”

Moreover, he said it is also to be seen how Bangladesh manufacturers perform in exporting goods after the quota benefit for China goes in January next.

Expressing similar view with the EPB vice chairman, he also said export performance will continue in the first half of the current fiscal, but it may slip in the later part of the year if developed countries fail to save their economies from affects of recession.

When asked, the commerce ministry official said the target for the current fiscal will be finalised after adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman returns home from foreign trip.

Home textile exports may fetch $1.0b in next few years

Home textile exports may fetch $1.0b in next few years


Export of home textile products can fetch US$1.0 billion by the next few years as many of the country’s regional rivals have shifted their focus on producing high-value textiles, industry insiders said on Thursday.

They said exports of home textile items such as bed linen, cushion, blanket, nakshikatha, curtain and pillow will continue to boom in the next years as a recent spike in labour cost has forced dozens of manufacturers of China and some other countries of the region to shift from their traditional products.

Industry insiders said home textile products have the potentials to earn $1.0 billion from export by 2012-13 fiscal year.

“We expect over 30 per cent growth in export in the current fiscal year as our prime competitors are diverting to other high-end products gradually,” Maksud Sikder, managing director of Pearsons Textile Limited, told the FE on Thursday.

He further “If the current rate of growth continues, by next four years home textile would emerge as the third highest export earning sector.”

The country’s home textile exports grew nearly 14 per cent in the fiscal year ending June 2008, when Bangladesh’s over 150 exporters earned nearly $300 million mainly from shipments to the European Union and the United States.

A number of countries of north and south America, Europe, Africa, middle and Southeast Asia are major markets of Bangladesh’s home textiles.

The demand for home textile to the USA and Europe, which account for Bangladesh’s 80 per cent export market, rose sharply in the recent months amid declining shipments from some south and southeast Asian countries including China, Pakistan and India, said the chief of Ramonio Boutique Begum Shelina.

She said home textile manufacturers of China and some other countries have shifted their focus to high valued textile items, as their production cost increased due to soaring wages and inadequate backward linkages.

“We are in a much better shape than our competitors, despite the fact that we also face a number of problems such as power crisis,” Mr. Sikder said.

He said “Bangladesh has good backward linkages as the manufacturers get more than 70 per cent raw materials from local sources. Coupled with low labour cost, it makes our products more competitive.”

Managing director of Handica Sahabuddin Ahmed said the sector, which has so far created employment to around 60,000 people, will within a few years emerge as another big manufacturing sector after knitwear and woven garments.

He said new buyers from many European countries such as Italy, Britain and France have also shown interest on Bangladeshi home textile, “because of our superior quality and exquisite fashionable designs.”

Massive reform at SSC, HSC education

Massive reform at SSC, HSC education

DU Correspondent

Education Ministry has taken up a plan to reform education at secondary and higher secondary levels following discussions at different stages.

The Ministry will hold a daylong programme divided into five sessions at inter-official level at NAEM on September 27 to discuss the matter elaborately. A workshop will also be arranged in this regard where renowned educationists of the country shall participate.

Participants in different sessions of the workshop will discuss many issues, including making the current policy, rules and regulations more modernised and realistic. It will also discuss institutionally under-served secondary stage, giving permission for lesson, giving academic recognition, opening branch at higher secondary level and honours at degree level.

The workshop shall dwell upon renewal and monitoring of institutions by the education boards, transfer of employees among the general education boards and holding a monthly coordination meeting by board chairman at district levels.

The daylong sessions also include bifurcating Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Department into two departments, English and information technology education at secondary level, updating the website of the Ministry and publication of a regular news letter from the ministry.

Education and Commerce Adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman will preside over the function, to be attended, among others, by renowned academics and officials.

China to help Bangladesh to set up Rooppur nuclear power plant

China to help Bangladesh to set up Rooppur nuclear power plant
Raheed Ejaz

Beijing has assured Dhaka of help in peaceful use of nuclear technology for the implementation of Rooppur nuclear power plant to meet the growing demand for energy.

Beijing positively responded to Dhaka’s request as the interim government chief, Fakhruddin Ahmed, held meetings with the Chinese officials during his recent visit to China.

A Bangladesh official who accompanied Fakhruddin in China said Beijing has suggested that Dhaka should examine the nuclear power plant in Pakistan, set up with Chinese assistance. Once Bangladesh is impressed with the plant, Dhaka and Beijing can start negotiation to replicate the China-Pakistan model of nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.

The foreign secretary, Touhid Hossain, on Wednesday told New Age Fakhruddin had sought Chinese cooperation for nuclear power generation in the Rooppur plant during his official talks with his counterpart Wen Jiabao and the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, on September 16 in Beijing.

He said China’s response was good to the Bangladesh proposal.

The follow-up action to this end will soon be made,’ Touhid said.

A Bangladesh official who accompanied Fakhruddin during the China visit said Beijing has suggested that Dhaka should examine the nuclear power plant in Pakistan, set up with Chinese assistance. Once Bangladesh is impressed with the plant, Dhaka and Beijing can start negotiation to replicate the China-Pakistan model of nuclear power plant in Bangladesh.

The ministry officials said Bangladesh had so far approached Russia, Japan and South Korea in connection with the nuclear power plant, was but yet to get any positive response.

‘Among the countries that we have approached for peaceful use of nuclear power for energy generation, Russian wants to provide technical support, Korea like to provide a portion of amount for the project and Japan’s response towards the nuclear power plant is very lukewarm as it does not provide support for such project,’ said an official.

A document of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission said in view of the growing need for electricity against inadequate supply of local primary energy resources, the proposal for building a nuclear power project was first conceived in 1961 and the Rooppur site was selected in 1963 and 292 acres of land was acquired.

Since then a number of feasibility studies have been conducted each of which established the project was technically and economically feasible.

The latest feasibility study conducted in 1986-87 reconfirmed the earlier findings on technical, economic and financial viability of the nuclear project.

Officials in Dhaka claimed Fakhruddin’s China visit had given a boost to the existing bilateral ties, forged 33 years ago, as leaders of the two countries agreed to focus on infrastructure development, and agricultural, scientific and technical cooperation apart from trade and economic ties.

The two sides signed three deals during the visit which included economic and technical cooperation for providing additional money to build the Bangladesh-China friendship exhibition centre, exchange of hydrological information on the River Brahmapurtra during flooding season and scientific and technical cooperation in the filed of agriculture to produce hybrid seeds.

China also assured Bangladesh of positively considering its proposal for the construction of the seventh and eighth Bangladesh-China friendship bridges over the Meghna and the Gumti to ease traffic congestion on the Dhaka–Chittagong Highway.

Three IT firms win WiMAX licences at a cost of Tk 6.35b

Three IT firms win WiMAX licences at a cost of Tk 6.35b

FE Report

Three companies, Bangla Lion Communications, Brac Bdmail Network Ltd and Aguri Wireless Broadband Bangladesh Ltd, have won the licences to operate WiMAX or Broadband Wireless Access in Bangladesh at a total cost of Tk. 6.35 billion.

The companies were awarded the licenses as they emerged as the first threes highest bidders in an auction organised at a city hotel Wednesday by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

A total of nine companies participated in the auction, which started around 11:30 am at the capital’s Radisson Hotel and ended at around 2:45 pm.

The bidding, starting at Tk. 250 million, came to a conclusion when no higher offer was made by any other participant against the bid of Tk. 2.15 billion made by BanglaLion Communications.

BRAC BDMail Network Limited was the second highest bidder of the day when the company made their bid at Tk. 2.125 billion.

Augere Wireless Broadband Bangladesh Limited with the fourth highest bid of Tk. 2.075 emerged the third choice as the third highest bid of Tk. 2.1 billion was offered by the same highest bidder BanglaLion Communications.

BanglaLion Communications, the topmost bidder chose 2585-2620 MHz as their preferred bandwidth from the offered spectrum while BRAC BDMail Network Limited opted for the 2320- 2365 MHz range. Augere Wireless Broadband Bangladesh Limited was awarded the 2365-2400 MHz bandwidth.

Terming the occasion as an epoch-making step, Special Assistant to Chief Adviser for the Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications M. A. Malek stressed on educating people about the advantages and proper utilization of WiMax technology.

“It must be ensured that the advantages of the lower cost of bandwidth reaches the people at the grassroots,” he told a gathering of reporters on the eve of the event.

“This step would ensure increasing competition in the country’s telecommunication market, resulting in the wider availability of higher speed internet connection even among the rural people,” Chairman of BTRC Manzurul Alam told the reporters following the bidding.

“At the same time, the government would also be benefited by the significant increase in revenue from this sector,” he observed.

The licenses will initially be for a term of 15 years. On expiry of the tenure, the licence may be renewed for subsequent terms, each of five years in duration, subject to the approval from the commission and other such conditions, including the payment of fees specified by the commission.

The annual license fee will be Tk 30 million and the licensees will have to submit a bank guarantee equivalent to Tk 150 million each in favour of the BTRC within 15 days from the date of issue of the license.

WiMAX; a wireless digital communications system intended for wireless “metropolitan area networks, can provide broadband wireless access up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 to 10 miles (5-15 km) for mobile stations.

The WiMAX technology is expected to boost greatly the current internet infrastructure in the country. All the government and non-government institutions, universities, medical colleges, technological research centres, ministries, educational boards and many other organisations are expected to benefit from WiMAX as it will provide data and telecommunications services, and also a wireless alternative to cable for broadband access.

Once fully functional, WiMax is expected to provide a very high-speed broadband internet service to all fractions of the society. It is also expected that WiMAX would be able to bridge the existing digital divide.