Monthly Archives: April 2010

Sudden spurt of foreign demand for local rubber

Sudden spurt of foreign demand for local rubber
Shakhawat Hossain

Local rubber growers are having a good time as a growing number of international traders are looking for rubber in Bangladesh because of the current shortage of the item in the global market.

The Bangladesh Rubber Garden Owners Association’s general secretary, Harun-ur Rashid, told New Age on Thursday that businessmen from Turkey, Pakistan and India have come here looking for rubber.

Some growers have already shipped out around 1,200 tonnes of rubber in the last six months and many other orders have already been received. The global shortage and price-hike of rubber were forcing the international traders to treat Bangladesh as an alternative source, he added.

Growers said that a large number of foreign traders were looking for rubber here as its price in the local market was at least $1 lower per kg than that of current global price, which has soared in an unprecedented manner.

According to the London-based Financial Time, the price of natural rubber, the commodity used to make products ranging from tyres to condoms, has hit an all-time high [above $3.50 per kg] in the current month after a severe drought in Thailand, the world’s largest producer, curtailed supplies.

The price-hike of rubber has broken one of the longest standing price records in commodities, dating back to 1952, when fears about the potential spread of the Korean War to key South-East Asian rubber-producing countries triggered panic buying, added the Financial Time.

Besides the international shortage that has led to traders coming here, local consumption of rubber has also gone up substantially, elating the local growers, said a senior official of the Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation. The BFIDC, the state-owned rubber plantation, cleared its stock-lot of 6,000 tonnes of rubber four months ago, though it has been facing difficulties in clearing its stock-lot since 2008, he added.

The rubber growers said that the country produces about 10,000 tonnes of rubber per year with BFIDC accounting for 60 per cent of the production. The other 40 per cent comes from the private growers who were permitted to plant rubber trees in the 1980s.

The country has attained self-sufficiency in rubber, which is mainly bought by footwear industries and tyre and tube producers.

Rubber has huge export potential, especially to India that imports nearly 1,00,000 tonnes of rubber to meet its internal demand of 10,00,000 tonnes annually.


MoU to generate another 319MW electricity under quick rental

MoU to generate another 319MW electricity under quick rental
Staff Reporter

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) yesterday signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with two local companies to generate 319MW electricity from three power plants under quick rental basis.

The three power plants will be established at Khulna 117MW, Madanganj 102MW and Gadda, Gazipur 100MW.

“The power plants are coming into electricity generation within nine-months after signing of the deals with the two companies,” BPDB Chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir told The New Nation yesterday.

He said that the BPDB would sign deals with the companies after the approval of the purchase committee.

“We have signed three separate initial to install three power plants with the two local companies-Summit Power Limited and Integral Energy Limited (IEL)- following Government decision,” Kabir said.

About the negotiation, Summit Group of Companies Chairman Muhammed Aziz Khan said that they would install two power plants at Madanganj 100MW and Khulna 100MW.

“We have offered lower prices of electricity to the government,” he said, adding that his company started working to install the power plants today (Thursday).

“My company will generate 100MW electricity from Gadda plant in time,” Integral Energy Limited Managing Director Salman Karim said.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Muhammad Enamul Huq, Power Division Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad, BPDB Chairman ASM Alamgir Kabir and senior officials of the Power Division and representatives of the two companies were present during the signing.

On Wednesday, the BPDB signed an initial with a local company Desh Energy Limited (DEL) to establish a 105MW quick rental power plant in country’s northern region. Under the initial, DEL will provide per unit of electricity at a cost of Tk 13.33.

Besides, the BPDB also signed separate Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UK based company Aggreko to establish two 100MW each quick rental power plants at Khulna and Ghorasal.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina allowed generating 1,220MW electricity through high cost rental projects by modification of procurement policy. This will be the first track projects for mitigating irrigation and summer load of 2011 next.

Sheikh Hasina directed the Power Division officials to search reputed rental providers as the projects would not be delayed from schedule, sources said.

The Power Division has already decided to invite spontaneous bid from reputed rental providers as the plants could be utilised for mitigation and summer load of 2011.

About 620MW rental to be commissioned within four months to six months with a contract term of one to two years, the Power Division earlier decided.

Selected sites of these high speed diesel and furnace oil fired power plants are: Siddhirganj 100MW, Haripur 100MW, Shikalbaha 100MW, Syedpur 100MW and Patenga 20MW.

However, the Government is yet to select sites for installation of the rest of 600MW rental which would be commissioned within nine months.

$4.42m Korean investment in Karnaphuli EPZ soon

$4.42m Korean investment in Karnaphuli EPZ soon
Unb, Dhaka

HKD International Limited, a Korean company, will set up a tent manufacturing industries in the Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone.

The company will invest $4.42million in setting up its unit and will produce tent, bag pack, outdoor products, steel etc.

The company will also create employment opportunity for 1,645 Bangladeshi nationals including 14 foreign nationals.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and HKD International limited in Bepza Complex here on Wednesday.

Mega plan for development of tourism sector

Mega plan for development of tourism sector
Target of earning Tk 5,000cr

The government is implementing a mega plan for the development of tourism sector with a target of earning Taka 3,000 crore to 5,000 crore a year from the sector.

For smooth implementation of the project, the government has already finalised tourism act and tourism policy.

The tourism act has been approved by the cabinet and is awaiting passage by parliament.

The tourism policy would be announced soon.

Civil aviation and tourism ministry sources said the tourism act would be passed in the next session of parliament.

When in force, this law would help achieve a revolutionary progress in tourism sector.

It will establish the sole control of the civil aviation and tourism ministry on the country’s tourist spots.

As per the new law, no structures could be built in any area of tourism without approval of the ministry or concerned authorities.

After the passage of the law, a list of tourist sports would be published in a gazette notification to preserve those.

Besides, development activities would be carried out in those areas as per the government plan.

In the proposed law, there is a provision for developing special tourist zones for foreigners.

Ministry sources said an exclusive tourist zone is likely to be set up at Mankhali in Cox’s Bazar at the initial stage.

There are other rules and regulations in the law for development of tourism sector.

Along with these, the government is implementing a 10-year mega plan in three phases.

Under the plan, 2,200 modern and attractive tourist spots would be developed in the country.

Local government division, city corporations, department of environment, district administrations and other departments and agencies would work in coordination to this end.

The country is currently earning a revenue of Taka 500 to 600 from the tourism sector.

The revenue earning from the sector was Taka 449.38 crore in 2005, Taka 553.6 crore in 2006, Taka 526.51 crore in 2007, Taka 612.45 crore in 2008 and Taka 573.79 crore in 2009.

After implementation of the government’s mega plan, the number of foreign tourists would increase to 40 lakh in next 10 years.

This will create the opportunity of earning Taka 3,000 to 5,000 from the sector, according to sources in civil aviation and tourism ministry.

Square Pharma sets up insulin manfcg unit

Square Pharma sets up insulin manfcg unit
FE Report

Square Pharmaceuticals, the country’s largest medicine maker, has set up an insulin manufacturing unit in hopes to keep the highly expensive drug within patients’ purchasing capacity.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the state-of-the-art Insulin Manufacturing Unit at a ceremony at the Square’s production headquarters in Gazipur Wednesday.

Health Minister Prof AMF Ruhul Haque, health directorate secretary Sheikh Altab Ali, Square Group chairman Samson H Chowdhury and its managing director Tapan Chowdhury and diplomats of different countries were present on the occasion.

Spread over 36,000 square feet on the premises of Square Pharmaceuticals factory in Gazipur, the manufacturing facility cost Tk 900 million to be built.

The unit will manufacture insulin products using highly purified recombinant human insulin crystals in its formulation with different dosage types for covering a full spectrum of short, intermediate and long acting insulins.

The core objective of the unit – which has been built complying to US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and European Medicine Agency Current Good Manufacturing Practice (EMEA cGMP) – is to make available a whole range of world-class insulin products at an affordable price for the people of Bangladesh, Tapan Chowdhury said later at a press briefing.

He said imports account for around 80 per cent of the country’s Tk 1.10 billion insulin products market. “Our unit will increase the share of local production by at least 10 per cent, thus reducing dependency on foreign imports to some extent.”

Also a former caretaker government adviser Tapan said the prices of the insulin drugs produced by his company would be available at 22 per cent lesser price than the imported products.

Square is also eyeing to export insulin products after meeting the local demand, said Mr Tapan adding that his company now exports medicines to 35 countries.

Health Minister Ruhul Haque said the number of diabetic patients in the country is increasing day by day. “But most of the insulin products are imported from abroad. So it is important to have domestic manufacturing facility to produce the life-saving drug at affordable prices.”

Seoul to hire 4,500 skilled workers a year

Seoul to hire 4,500 skilled workers a year
Unb, Dhaka

South Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Taiyoung Cho yesterday said his country would recruit 4,500 skilled Bangladeshi workers each year under a quota system.

He said different sectors of South Korea now need a large number of skilled and unskilled workers.

Cho showed eagerness to recruit the Bangladeshi workers when he called on Labour and Employment Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain at the latter’s Secretariat office.

During the meeting, they discussed different bilateral issues, especially manpower export to South Korea.

The South Korean ambassador assured the minister of appointing more Bangladeshi workers in his country in future.

Praising the Bangladeshi workers employed in South Korea, he said they are industrious, sincere and law-abiding.

Govt to amend foreign exchange regulation act to attract FDI

Govt to amend foreign exchange regulation act to attract FDI
Asif Showkat

The government has decided to amend the foreign exchange regulation act 1947 for attracting more foreign investments into the country, official sources said.

It will also amend the Bankers’ Book Evidence Act 1891 for making it time-befitting.

To this end, the finance ministry on Tuesday formed a five-member committee headed by the executive director of foreign exchange policy department of Bangladesh Bank.

Other members of the committee are deputy secretary of the law and parliamentary affair ministry (Bank and financial institutions division), general managers of the FEPD and banking regulation and policy department of Bangladesh Bank.

The committee would submit its report to the authorities concerned within two months while the Bangladesh Bank would provide the committee secretarial assistance.

‘The government wants to attract more foreign investments by making the act time-befitting for the foreign investors,’ said a senior official of the finance ministry.

The official pointed out that capital account is still not transferable under the existing foreign exchange regulation act.

The committee would give suggestions after examining the provisions of foreign exchange regulation act 1947 in comparison with that of neighboring countries.

But some Bangladesh Bank sources claimed that Bangladesh’s foreign exchange regulation act is more liberal compared to that of India and Pakistan.

They pointed out that people are transferring up to $ 5,000 from the country for medical and education purposes.

‘The country’s capital account is not still transferable but the current account is liberal,’ one of the officials said.

Executive director of D-Net Ananya Raihan told New Age that the country’s foreign exchange act is of old days compared to that of India.

‘The local investor does not invest in foreign countries as there is a bar under the country’s foreign exchange act,’ he said.

Raihan said that local people are not yet transferring their money through online channels, abiding by the foreign exchange rules.

‘Indian people are already transferring their money through online channels under its foreign exchange act,’ he added.

Former chairman of Regulatory Reforms Commission Akbar Ali Khan said that the government should conduct a thorough research into the probable changes to the foreign exchange regulatory acts.