Monthly Archives: November 2009

Bangladesh plans to launch satellite

Bangladesh plans to launch satellite
Negotiates with leading countries for tech support

Sajjadur Rahman

Bangladesh plans to launch its own communications satellite within a year, Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju said yesterday.

The cost of the programme will be between $150 million and $200 million, he said.

The minister disclosed the government plan to reporters during a media briefing.

“We’ve already started talking to different countries including the US, Japan and China, to help us launch our own satellite,” the minister told The Daily Star over the phone.

The satellite would serve commercial purposes including improving telecom services, helping to meet the booming demand for it. Telecom operators could subscribe to satellite services on a commercial basis, the minister added.

Television broadcasting, and meteorological data including disaster warnings would be available easily by the satellite. It might also be used for mapping natural resources, and to predict weather to help farmers, experts said.

“We are very serious. We hope to give the people the good news soon,” said Raju.

He said the government is discussing the technical aspects with the US, Japan and China that have vast experience in the field. Some other countries are also showing interest, he added.

After assessing the proposals of interested countries, the government will pick the one that is most favourable for Bangladesh, the telecom minister said.

“Financing by the interested country will be an important criterion for awarding the contract,” he said.

Experts have welcomed the venture saying that satellite technology would provide quality and faster telecom services to the people, and reduce the risks associated with natural calamities.

“A satellite of our own can benefit us a lot, including better weather forecasting and survey of mineral resources,” said Satya Prasad Majumder, a professor of electrical engineering and electronics at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).

Currently, Bangladesh subscribes to information about its mineral resources from the US, he said.

Majumder said a satellite could also help control mass communication traffic, such as television and radio broadcasting.

“You don’t need a cable TV network if you have satellite services,” the Buet professor also an expert on communication technology told The Daily Star.

Syed Margub Morshed, former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said a satellite can give a country uninterrupted communication services.

“If the fibre optic cable is snapped, services will remain undisturbed through VSAT for the satellite,” he said.

There are several thousand satellites in space, launched by more than 50 countries. Bangladesh’s neighbours India and Pakistan launched their own satellites in 1980 and 1990 respectively.

Tax cut for industrial raw materials

Tax cut for industrial raw materials
Sayeda Akter

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has reduced taxes on some industrial raw materials in a new tariff structure to help local manufacturing industries and real estate to grow faster.

The VAT Department of the NBR issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) in this regard yesterday.

In the new tax structure, tariff on production of corrugated iron (CI) sheet from hot rolled (HR) coil has been reduced from Tk 25,500 to Tk 18,500.

Cold rolled (CR) coil, galvanised plain sheet and CI sheet are the sub-products of HR coil, a basic raw material for making tin, window, door, steel cupboard, ceiling fan and tube light box.

Earlier manufacturers had to pay tariff of Tk 10,000 for producing CR coil from HR coil, and Tk 15,500 for making CI sheet from CR coil, totalling Tk 25,500.

The NBR has reduced tariff in every stage of production of CR coil or CI sheet from HR coil.

The tax administration has fixed different tariffs to create a level-playing field for those companies who have to pay more tax for not having the facilities to produce CI sheet directly from HR coil.

“We have reduced tariff, as local manufacturers have been demanding it for long. We hope this reduction will help importers and manufacturers cut their production cost,” said a high official of the VAT (value added tax) Department.

“Now the government will be able to collect more revenue than before,” he said.

He said the manufacturers would be able make high quality products, including CI sheet (tin), window, door, steel closet or cupboard, ceiling fan and tube light box that have a huge demand in the local market.

Kazi Salahuddin Ahmed, deputy general manager of Galco Steel (BD) Ltd, said they were facing uneven competition with imported finished products.

“Earlier the production of CR coil and CI sheet from HR coil was under the same tariff and VAT registration, which led to uneven practices over the cost of production,” he said, adding: “It often compelled us to pay excess VAT.”

“Now we will be able to compete with the imported finished products and make things at lower costs that will increase production.”

Mohammad Nasir Ullah, vice president of Bangladesh Iron and Steel Importers’ Association, said the government decision would help the importers of HR coil, ultimately benefitting the steel product manufacturing and the real estate sectors.

Abdur Razzaque, president of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners’ Association, said the prices of raw materials will witness a decline, helping the sector grow faster.

$5b energy projects to be on offer for overseas investors

$5b energy projects to be on offer for overseas investors
Road shows in London, NY, S’pore next month

M Azizur Rahman

The government will offer energy projects worth $5.0 billion to global firms for investment during the overseas road shows in London, New York and Singapore slated for next month, officials said Wednesday.

“The projects include large power plants and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal,” power secretary Abul Kalam Azad told the FE.

The power ministry will urge international reputed companies to invest in the $4.0 billion power projects and $1.0 billion LNG terminal.

The road shows will be held in London on December 15-16, New York December 17-19 and Singapore December 21-22, said the power secretary.

“We will require investments worth $7.0 billion for electricity generation in the next five years until 2014,” Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir told the FE Thursday.

Several multilateral donor agencies, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), have already committed to provide fund worth $3.0 billion for building the independent power producer (IPP) projects, said the BPDB chairman.

The remaining $4.0 billion IPP projects will be put in place for the global players during the road shows, he said.

The IPP projects that will be put on offer for investment during the overseas road shows include Bibiyana 450 megawatts (mw), Meghnaghat 450 mw and Bhola 225 mw projects.

Four coal-based power plants to generate a total of 2,000 mw of electricity and two furnace oil-run IPP projects to generate 100 mw of electricity each at Savar and Kaliakoir also planned for offer for investment.

“The LNG terminal project worth $1.0 billion has been incorporated for offer alongwith with the large power plant projects for offer to ensure the country’s future energy security especially in the port city Chittagong,” Petrobangla chairman Dr Hussain Monsur said.

Initially, the LNG project was not planned for offer during the road shows.

The government is planning to set up a LNG terminal in the port city Chittagong with a target to meet the soaring energy demand for the liquefied gas, said the Petrobangla chairman.

He said the capacity constraints of the country’s existing transmission pipelines along with the sharp fall of Sangu gas output have led to the energy supply crunch in the port city.

“The Ashuganj-Bakhrabad gas pipeline does not have the capacity to carry gas beyond 185 million cubic feet gas per day (mmcfd) from the country’s gas-rich northeastern Sylhet region to the southeastern Chittagong,” said the Petrobangla chairman.

This pipeline is currently carrying 170 mmcfd of gas.

The country’s lone operational offshore Sangu gas field is now supplying only around 40 mmcfd of gas, which was as high as 220 mmcfd before, he added.

The Sangu is experiencing pressure drop by day and the experts predict the field will be out of operation by next two years, Dr Monsur said.

He said setting up of the LNG terminal in Chittagong and the subsequent import of LNG will end energy crisis in Chittagong as the power plants and industrial units could meet their energy needs by LNG.

A number of industries could not go into operation in the port city only due to energy supply shortfall.

Energy ministry officials said the government has moved to arrange the overseas road shows to woo the global players for investment in the country’s energy projects, seen crucial to cope with the country’s soaring energy demands.

Bangladesh urgently needs new energy sources as government forecasts have indicated that its current gas reserves will run out by 2014-2015 at current consumption rates.

The country’s proven reserves now stand at 6.93 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) and probable reserves at 5.5 Tcf.

Bangladesh Development Bank eyes January launch

Bangladesh Development Bank eyes January launch
Md Hasan

The much-awaited formation of state-owned Bangladesh Development Bank Ltd (BDBL) has reached the final stages with its registration completed with the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms.

The central bank also approved a plan for BDBL to run as a scheduled bank.

The registration was completed on November 16.

A merger between Bangladesh Shilpa Bank (BSB) and Bangladesh Shilpa Rin Sangstha (BSRS) shaped up into BDBL.

Officials say BDBL will be able to launch operations in January 2010, with industrial financing, commercial banking and merchant banking at the heart of its services.

“This is a good step taken by the government,” said Md Mizanur Rahman, managing director of BSRS. “We expect BDBL to compete with other commercial banks.”

The incorporation and business of commence have been permitted by the government, he said. It will sign a vendor agreement with the government soon.

BSB and BSRS, with almost similar functions, were established in 1972 to provide loans and facilities to industrial institutions, help set up new industries and expand investment in Bangladesh.

But the two companies failed to meet expectations. In 1992, the government moved to privatise BSRS, which remained unaccomplished due to some complexities.

The companies’ board will sit on December 8 to fix a vendor agreement schedule with the government, the BDBL organogram, employee pay structure and select office space for the bank’s headquarters.

As per merger plans, the accounts of the two organisations will be consolidated by December 2009.

The paid-up capital of the merged company will amount to Tk 400 crore. The present paid-up capital of BSB is Tk 200 crore, and Tk 70 crore for BSRS. Making adjustments to the reserve funds of the two companies will raise the capital. In the meantime, BSRS raised its funds to Tk 200 crore.

As per BDBL’s operational plans, the banks will operate across the country by setting up branches at district levels. At present, BSB has 15 branches while BSRS has two.

BSB and BSRS have financed 174 and 69 projects so far, according to the companies’ websites. As many as 1,000 officials are working for the two organisations.

Monetary policy to focus on raising domestic demand

Monetary policy to focus on raising domestic demand
Sajjadur Rahman

The central bank in the upcoming monetary policy will focus on driving domestic demand until the global economies recover, said a senior Bangladesh Bank (BB) official.

The BB for the first time is consulting different stakeholders, including chamber bodies, banks and businesses, before formulating the new biannual monetary policy to be announced in January.

“The policy will focus more on raising domestic demand. We didn’t formulate such a detailed policy before,” said Habibullah Bahar, economic adviser to the central bank.

The BB released in July an expansionary monetary policy statement for a six-month period up to December.

The policy took a stance to extend credit to agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), rural economy, housing, shipbuilding and rural energy.

However the country is facing a sharp decline both in global and domestic demand despite the BB’s expansionary monetary policy. Banks are overflowed with cash and finding no avenues to invest in, mainly due to energy crisis.

According to BB statistics, private sector credit growth went down to below 14 percent in September, the lowest in the last two years. The credit growth was 14.26 percent in August.

The banks lent private sector, including companies, flat buyers, consumers, farmers and traders, Tk 27,200 crore in September this year, while the figure was over Tk 41,800 crore in the same month a year ago.

Even a sharp cut in repo rate from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent could not stimulate private sector demand. By repo the central bank sells money to the commercial banks.

Inflationary pressure is also mounting in the wake of a hike in commodity and fuel prices in the global markets. International Monetary Fund has also hinted a rise in inflation that may reach a double-digit level at the end of the year.

“The new policy will help generate inward-oriented demand and employment,” the BB economic adviser said.

He said raising domestic demand will be prioritised as the global recovery is lingering.

The policy will give importance to the SMEs and agriculture to boost demand, he added.

15m farmers to get agri-inputs distribution cards by Dec

15m farmers to get agri-inputs distribution cards by Dec
FE Report

Some 15 million farmers, for the first time, will get ‘agri-inputs distribution cards’ by next month in a move that will support the government to streamline its payment system for the agriculture sector.

“Necessary preparations have been completed to distribute the cards among the farmers by the end of December,” a senior agriculture ministry official told the FE Thursday.

The agriculture ministry has planned to complete the card distribution process by next month for ensuring smooth supply of urea fertliser and disbursement of proposed subsidy on diesel and electricity for running irrigation pumps in the ensuing ‘Boro’ plantation season.

Details about the extent of cropping lands, use of agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilisers, amount of payable government subsidies and types of cultivated crops by an individual farmer will be incorporated in the agri-input distribution cards, said the official.

According to the ministry officials, the government will provide cash subsidy and other agriculture inputs to farmers on the basis of such cards.

“The card will not only help the government to systematically distribute subsidies and other inputs among farmers, but also check leakage and irregularities in their payment system,” said an official.

Besides, introduction of the cards will also help the government to fix the country’s demands for agri-inputs including fertilisers so that necessary steps can be taken on time.

The government has already prepared the list of about 15 million farmers following a countrywide survey conducted by the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) for distribution of such cards.

Officials said the authorities will update the list of such cards every year.

Distribution of the agri-input distribution cards has been initiated against the backdrop of the government’s plan to establish an agricultural database.

Official sources also said the government has completed the process of appointing dealers and retailers at all upazila levels to ensure uninterrupted supply of fertiliser, especially urea, during the upcoming Boro season.

An average nine retailers have been appointed for every upazila against each authorised dealer for ensuring greater access of farmers to fertiliser, they mentioned.

Pran to double farm produce procurement

Pran to double farm produce procurement
Sohel Parvez

Pran has set a target to double investment in agricultural produce procurement, mainly from contract growers, to boost sales in domestic and export markets.

The leading processed-food maker will buy agricultural produce worth Tk 400 crore in 2010, officials said.

Until November 2009, Pran has purchased various agricultural products worth around Tk 200 crore from farmers.

“We have planned to increase the raw material procurement to expand business and serve rural farmers,” said Kamruzzaman Kamal, marketing director of Pran-RFL Group.

The entity with turnover in excess of Tk 900 crore will buy mangoes, aromatic rice, pineapples, tomatoes, fresh milk, spices, peanuts, mung, potatoes and mustard from farmers, mainly in the north.

Pran that exports to more than 70 countries plans to cash in on the growing market for agro-processed foods.

“We will purchase mainly from our contract farmers. We believe such direct buying helps farmers get fair prices as it reduces scope for middlemen to make extra gains,” said Kamal. Pran procures agricultural produce from more than 10,000 contract growers.

Of the Tk 400 crore purchase plan, a fourth or Tk 100 crore will go into procuring mangoes to extract the pulp that makes mango flavoured juice and strengthen its position in the mango drink segment.

Currently, more than 10 local and foreign brands are competing in the category to dominate the rising mango-flavoured drink market.

Pran bought mangoes worth Tk 70 crore from farmers this year.

This year, aromatic rice, fresh milk, tomatoes and spices will account for most of the procurement.

“We have close connections with farmers in rural areas,” said Kamal, adding that the contract farmers are offered market prices.

“We have contract growers in various districts such as Rajshahi, Natore and Chapainawabganj. They produce tomato, aromatic rice, mango, peanut, milk and spices.”

Kamal said the company wants to bring in more farmers under contract next year to ensure guaranteed supplies of fresh agricultural produce.

Big onion output target set to reduce import

Big onion output target set to reduce import
Bss, Rangpur

The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has fixed a target for producing 4,69,679 tonnes of onion on 72,292 hectares of land in the northern region of the country during the current Rabi season.

According to official sources, the DAE, the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) and a number of non-government organisations (NGOs) are working to make the onion-farming programme a success.

Steps have been taken to provide adequate training, technical assistance and inputs, high quality imported and locally produced seeds, and agri-loans for the farmers under various programme, including the Northwest Crop Diversification Project (NCDP).

Sources said, the special steps taken earlier this year to produce onion during the last summer season will help greatly in producing the spicy crop in the region.

This year, more steps have been taken to increase production of onion during the current Rabi season, deputy directors of the DAE Kamal Shariful Alam, Mohsin Ali, Yunus Ali and Hazrat Ali in northern districts told the news agency.

Senior agro-experts in the DAE, BADC and BARI said, the onion import will come down significantly next year after achievement of the fixed target during this season and added that the target is expected to be achieved due to the special steps.

They hoped that onion production in the region would continue to increase as the crop is being cultivated twice a year in place of only once during the winter in the past.

Besides, the farmers have been showing more interest in farming spicy crops including onion this time following disbursement of easy-term agri-loan at only two percent interest rate among the farmers.

Earlier, a huge amount of allocated agri-loan money for the purpose had remained idle with the banks, but due to recent steps taken by Bangladesh Bank, the loans are now being disbursed at larger scales among the farmers.

Onion will be cultivated this year on 13,325 hectares of land in Rajshahi, 4,431 hectares in Naogaon, 3,467 hectares in Natore, 4,047 hectares in Chapainawabganj, 33,060 hectares in Pabna, 944 hectares in Sirajganj, 2,442 hectares in Bogra and 816 hectares in Joypurhat districts.

This season, 1,896 hectares will be brought under onion farming in Rangpur, 1,152 hectares in Gaibandha, 730 hectares in Lalmonirhat, 1,416 hectares in Nilphamari, 775 hectares in Kurigram, 2,195 hectares in Dinajpur, 648 hectares in Thakurgaon and 948 hectares in Panchagarh.

Tk 1,000 crore extra stimulus for export

Tk 1,000 crore extra stimulus for export
Govt announces the package to help the sector offset global meltdown fallout

Staff Correspondent

The government yesterday announced a series of additional fiscal and policy stimulus packages worth over Tk 1,000 crore for export sectors to offset bad impacts of global recession from the domestic economy.

The facilities the exporters are enjoying at present will continue as usual, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said at a press briefing at his secretariat office.

“This is the second stimulus package of the government. We have announced the package so that the country remains unhurt from any bad impact of the global recession. But, things will change soon as the economies of advanced countries are peaking up,” Muhith said.

Under the new package, the government will pay the licence renewal fees of captive power plants used in industrial units from November 1, 2009 to June 2010 to compensate for the power crisis, he said.

The government will need Tk 7 crore more to pay the renewal fees, the finance minister said, adding that his ministry will pay the amount from the stimulus package of Tk 5,000 crore, an option kept in the national budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

In the package, the government has extended the bank loan re-scheduling facility without any down payment up to June 30, 2010 from October 2009 at a 10 percent interest rate instead of the current 13 percent for the RMG and textile sectors, Muhith said.

If any borrower defaults a loan during the proposed timeframe, extension of the re-scheduling facility will be considered under the bankers-clients relationship, he said.

Under the package, exporters will receive 5 percent cash incentives for new export destinations for three years while all export destinations, except the US, EU and Canada, will be considered as new, the minister said.

The exporters will get 5 percent cash incentives in the first year, 4 percent in the second year and 2 percent in the third and final year.

According to the package document, members of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) will receive this facility only for direct export of yarn.

Forward exchange booking is a must for exporting home textile in other currencies rather than dollar. This sub-sector will also receive the bank loan re-scheduling facility, the document says.

The government has also decided to give a special benefit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Companies that exported up to $3.5 million in FY2008-09 will be brought under the SME category, it says.

Such SMEs will receive 5 percent cash incentives if they can export more than the actual export of the last fiscal year in FY2009-10, Muhith said.

The government will also give 10 percent electricity bill to SMEs that do not have their own captive generators up to June 30, 2010, but the facility is subject to some conditions including non-availability of bank loan re-scheduling facility, not being an enterprise of the owner of a large industry and the basis of acceptance of real information, the finance minister said.

The government will introduce a uniform bank service charge after discussing with Bangladesh Bank and the Bankers’ Association of Bangladesh.

From now, an individual exporter can receive $10 million from the Export Development Fund through three banks; an exporter gets $1.5 million at present. The bank interest rate in this case will be London inter-bank offer rate (LIBOR) plus 2.5 percent and Bangladesh Bank will take necessary actions in this connection.

The BTMA members that import cotton and other fibres for producing yarn will also get the same benefits against a few conditions, the minister said.

He suggested forming a joint contributory fund for the export sector for improving market and quality of the products.

He said the government is ready to give Tk 300 crore to this fund and the private sector exporters have been asked to contribute at a rate of 0.1 percent on their free-on-board value of exportable products up to June 2010 and at 0.2 percent from July 2010.

The government will bear 50 percent cost of the operation of the National Institute of Textile Training, Research and Design from FY2010-11 although it bore 100 percent cost of the institution for FY 2008-09 and 60 percent for FY2009-10.

The government will also give cash incentives to shipbuilders and crust leather exporters as these sectors have potential. It has also declared bank loan moratorium facility for these sectors for a certain period, Muhith said.

On November 10, former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, chief of the working committee on recession, recommended that the government provide different facilities to exporters to offset the bad impacts of global recession from the domestic economy.

100 investors to be in London road show

100 investors to be in London road show
Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the opening function of the road show in London on December 15.

Prime Minister’s Adviser for Power and Energy Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Bir Bikram said it to The New Nation yesterday.

He said the government has already taken preparation to hold the road show.

The Prime minister will deliver a speech before investors in power and energy sectors with a call to invest in 10 large power plants and two LNG stations in Bangladesh.

The government will invite nearly 100 local and foreign investors in the London road show.

A total of 11 members including Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi, State Minister for Power and Energy Brig Gen (retd) Enamul Huq, Power Secretary Abul Kalam Azad, Chairmen of the Board of Investment Dr SA Samad, Petrobangla Chairman Prof Hossain Monsoor, Power Development Board Chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir, and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Syed Yusuf Hossain, Deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, PDB member generation and PDB member distribution will participate in the London road show.

The government will also arrange two-day Road show in Washington, which will start on December 18 while the two-day road show in Singapore will begin on December 21.

In Washington road show, the Board of Investment will invite 75 foreign and local investors while the volume of invitees in Singapore will be 60 persons, sources said.

The estimated cost for the three road show is $3, 09,026, Power Development Board (PDB) sources said.

The government will distribute gifts to foreign delegates and publish supplements in newspapers at an estimated cost of $1,71,526.

Besides, the transportation fares and other related cost will be $1,25,000 while transportation cost and hotel rent for delegation will be $ 12,500.

Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources has already requested the Board of Investment (BoI) of Bangladesh to invite chambers leaders of USA, UK, China, Malaysia, Korea, Russia and some others countries, sources said.

Besides, the Ministry also requested the BoI to invite the local investors in power sector. In this case, the local investors will bear all the expanses to join the road shows.

The government will hold the road shows to attract foreign direct investments in the projects like: Coal based power plants each having capacity of 500MW in Chittagong, Khulna , Mawna/ Jazira and Meghnaghat. FDI will be encouraged also for establishments of 450MW Bibiana Power Plant Unit-2, 450 MW Meghnaghat Duel fuel based Power Plant, 225MW Bhola Power plant Unit 2 , 450MW Sirajgonj unit-1 Power Plant, Kaliakoir and Savar Power Plant (each having capacity of 100 MW) and two LNG terminals, Power Division Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad earlier told The New Nation .

The Power Division will also attract investments for installation of 400MW wind and solar based renewable power plants, he said. As per PDB estimates more than $5 billion will be required to install the power plants.

SME sector’s fund flow rises by 120pc in one year

SME sector’s fund flow rises by 120pc in one year
BSS, Dhaka

The fund flow in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector has increased by 120 percent in the last one year as commercial banks and financial institutions responded

to the demand for loan and propel the growth in the sector, SME foundation sources said.

Almost 48 private commercial banks (PCBs) opened SME service centres planned for infusing their capital, investments and employment in the sector following the Bangladesh Bank’s directives in this regard.

According to a central bank’s figures, the banks and financial institutions have distributed loans of Taka 48,475 crore between April to June this year, which is Taka 13,435 crore more than the same period of the previous year.

The state-owned banks provided higher amount of loans compared to private ones as the state-owned banks distributed 33.33 percent of the total loans alone. Specialized banks clinched second position with 19.15 percent while PCBs 18.77 percent. Talking to BSS, an official of the Bangladesh Bank said, the central bank has introduced a refinancing project and as part of that a number of funds has so far been created and the interest rate is only five percent.

Acting managing director of SME Foundation Dr Momtaj Uddin Ahmed told BSS that the foundation is gradually becoming as a major financier for small and medium ventures.

The foundation already has started negotiations with Bangladesh Bank to get a share of Taka 3.0 billion fund, offered by Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the country’s SMEs.

Besides, negotiation is underway with leading international donor agencies, SME foundation sources said.

According to the bureau of statistics data released in 2006, there are nearly 100,000 SMEs in the country and 500,000 cottage industries employing about 70 per cent of total industrial labour forces. The SMEs contribution to the GDP is around 25 per cent, the foundation claimed.

Single largest solar power system installed

PMO thrives on green energy
Single largest solar power system installed
Sohel Parvez

The country’s single largest solar power system so far, has been installed at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a move to encourage green energy expansion.

The system with a peaking capacity of generating 21.6 kilowatts, is now operating on a trial basis, officials of the Power Development Board (PDB) that supervised the installation said yesterday.

“The system has started running very recently,” ASM Alamgir Kabir, chairman of PDB, told The Daily Star.

Installed by a local private firm Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd, for a contract value of about Tk 99 lakh, it now awaits formal inauguration, the officials said.

Energy experts hailed the initiative saying installation of a solar power system at the PMO is indicative of the government’s seriousness about increasing power generation through renewable sources, at a time when conventional energy sources such as gas and coal are becoming scarcer.

The move followed a government decision for establishing solar power units in all public and semi-government offices to promote expansion of renewable energy from the sun, wind, biomass, and biogas — with an aim to meet 5 percent of the country’s total power demand by 2015, and 10 percent by 2020.

At present, contribution of renewable energy to overall power generation is less than one percent, with solar power home systems installed mainly in off-grid areas, which is the current leading green energy generator in the country.

By the end of October this year, more than 4 lakh solar power units were installed in different parts of the country generating over 20 megawatts of electricity, according to state-owned financial institution Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL).

PDB officials said installation of the solar power system at the PMO is only the beginning for a quick expansion of renewable energy technology to other government and semi-government offices.

Insiders said the newly installed system will supply electricity to three rooms of the Red Zone of PMO, lightening the burden on PDB’s power supply.

“It’s a fantastic experience. We’re extremely happy to be a part of the initiative,” said Munawar Misbah Moin, managing director of Rahimafrooz Renewable Energy Ltd, a concern of Rahimafrooz Group.

He said installation of the system has been a landmark in expansion of alternative energy technologies in the country.

PDB officials said Rahimafrooz was awarded the contract based on an open tender, in which the company was the lowest bidder.

Saiful Huque, a Dhaka University professor also general secretary of Bangladesh Solar Energy Society, said the initiative is encouraging for renewable energy promotion in Bangladesh.

“The move indicates that the government is heading towards promotion of green energy,” he said.

For future projects, he however said, the government should consider cost-benefit analysis of solar power.

“The government should also focus on use of energy efficient light bulbs and other devices, and encourage maximum use of locally available technologies and components for growth of local industries,” he added.

2nd Sub-marine cable to be set up at Mongla: Dr Moshiur

2nd Sub-marine cable to be set up at Mongla: Dr Moshiur
Independent Online

Nov 25: Adviser for finance to the Prime Minister Dr Moshiur Rahaman said the government has already decided to set up the second sub-marine cable at the Mongla Port for connecting it to the information superhighway as part of building Digital Bangladesh.

The government also has taken a project involving Taka 850 crore for supplying gas through pipelines to the Khulna region.

An IT village will be established in Khulna and preliminary work for it has already started.

After inaugurating the Khulna Pedia, the adviser said a cross of people including readers, researchers, traders, tourists and all professional bodies would get the opportunity for connecting them with the modern information technology.

Dr Moshiur made said this while inaugurating a day-long Khulna digital festival-2009 as the chief guest at Khulna Government Zila School maidan.

Speaking on the occasion, he also said the people would collect their necessary information relating to geographical, historical, educational, economical and business activities from now on.

The adviser said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a project that would create human resources after getting training through computers at the end of 2001. For this purpose, the Prime Minister has given computers to many schools in the country, he added.

Dr Moshiur said Sheikh Hasina is doing politics for welfare of the people, not for making money. He termed the recent development in the information and communication technology field as one of the major development tools for the nation.

Organised by the Khulna district administration with the technical support from Pranon Private Limited, the Khulna digital festival was presided over by Khulna deputy commissioner N M Ziaul Alam.

Mayor of Khulna City Corporation (KCC) Talukder Abdul Khalek, Molla Zalal Uddin, MP; Begum Noor Afroz Ali, MP; Khulna district Awami League president Sheikh Harun-ur-Rashid, Khulna divisional commissioner Md Eunusur Rahman, DIG of Khulna range Sheikh Hemayet Uddin, KMP commissioner Md Helal Uddin Badri and Khulna police super Md Samshddin addressed the function as special guests.

President of Khulna Nagarik Forum freedom fighter Sheikh Abdul Quiyum and Khulna Press Club president A K Hiru also spoke.

Prof Dr. Mahbubur Rahman of Khulna University and Prof AKM Azhar of Khulna University of Engineering and Technology presented separate keynote papers.

Earlier, a colourful procession was brought out from Khulna Government Zila School.

Various socio-cultural organisations and general people joined the procession with banners, festoons and replicas of different species of animals of the Sundarbans.

Later, a cultural function and a day-long IT fair were held besides inauguration of automation of traditional Umesh Chandra Public Library in the city.

At least 12 IT stalls were set up by different organisations at the school maidan.

Info centres to be built in all UPs: Nanak

Info centres to be built in all UPs: Nanak

State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Jahangir Kabir Nanak has said access to information as well as information technology by all is essential to materialise ‘Vision 2021’, announced by the present government.

“Getting information as well as services is very much essential in the technology-based life and livelihood,” he said while addressing the concluding function of a national workshop as the chief guest on District Web Portal and Content in the city Tuesday, reports BSS.

To this end, he said, the government has undertaken an initiative to build an information centre in each Union Parishad (UP) of the country.

“Activities of such information centres have already begun in 30 UPs and construction work of more than 1,000 centres is going on,” he added.

UNDP-funded Access to Information (A2I) Programme under the Prime Minister’s Office organised the workshop for additional deputy commissioners and high officials of various levels.

Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Mohammad Abdul Karim was the special guest at the function chaired by Project Director of the A2I Programme Nazrul Islam Khan.

“To make the programme successful, training for divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners was completed and training for Upazila Nirbahi Officers is on,” Mr Nanak said, adding that web portal will be launched in all districts by December 16 under the A2I Project.

Mercantile Bank to finance purchase of tractors by farmers

Mercantile Bank to finance purchase of tractors by farmers

From now on, Mercantile Bank Limited will finance the farmers directly to purchase tractors for the development of agricultural sector, said a press release.

In this connection, an agreement was signed between Mercantile Bank Limited and ACI Motors Limited, the sole distributor of Sonalika Tractors, in the city recently.

Mercantile Bank Managing Director (Current Charge) AKM Shahidul Haque and Business Director (Agribusiness) of ACI Motors Dr Khandaker Helal Uddin signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations in presence Md Abdul Jalil, MP, chairman of Mercantile Bank Kimited.