Monthly Archives: February 2011

Rahimafrooz launches new auto battery

Rahimafrooz launches new auto battery

Rahimafrooz Group directors Munawar M Moin and Mudassir M Moin attend the launch of the company's premium maintenance-free automotive battery Globatt at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka yesterday. Photo: Rahimafrooz

Star Business Report

Rahimafrooz yesterday launched maintenance-free automotive battery Globatt in Bangladesh and set a target to emerge as one of the top three brands in South Asia by 2015.

Rahimafrooz had earlier launched Globatt in 22 countries in Asia, Middle East and Africa, said Munawar M Moin, a group director of Rahimafrooz, at a press meet at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka.

“We launched Globatt first in Dubai in 2009 and then in Singapore the same year,” said Moin.

In 2010, the leading battery maker unveiled the product in Asia’s major markets: China and India.

In the last two years, the company exported nearly 600,000 batteries of $24 million, with Globatt taking up 65 percent of all, he added.

“We want to produce and sell six million pieces of battery in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries by 2015,” said Moin, adding that Rahimafrooz now looks to European and North American markets.

“Through superior product and excellent customer services, we will establish that Globatt is a technology leader and the best automotive battery brand in the market,” he added.

Moin said Globatt customers will enjoy the global brand with national identity. Rahimafrooz introduced a 36-month warrantee for the first time with it.

Another group director of Rahimafrooz, Mudassir M Moin, said the company would sell the new product through a network of 12 sales centres and selected brand stores.

Globatt will be available in the passenger car segments for Japanese and European vehicles with advanced maintenance-free battery and expanded metal technology.

Rahimafrooz has two state-of-the-art automotive battery plants in Savar and Ishwardi.


Pvt sector allowed to import fuel for power plants

Pvt sector allowed to import fuel for power plants
M Azizur Rahman

The government will allow private entrepreneurs to import diesel and furnace oil from international market to run new oil-based power plants as the state-owned BPC suffers from capacity constraints, officials said Sunday.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), the lone importer of petroleum products, will allow the potential entrepreneurs this week to initiate fuel import, a senior energy ministry official said.

BPC will, however, pay the import bill and necessary commissions to the entrepreneurs to encourage fuel import, a senior power ministry official said.

He said the government has moved to allow import of petroleum products by private sector due to lack of preparedness on the part of BPC.

If private entrepreneurs are not allowed to import fuel, the government will have to count a large sum of money as compensation to the oil-based power plant sponsors for its failure to arrange necessary fuel supply.

After taking office in January 2009 the government has inked deals to set up 33 power plants to generate 3,265 megawatts (mw) of electricity

Twenty five of the new plants or 75 per cent of the total plants will be run either by diesel or furnace oil.

Four of the oil-based plants have already started electricity generation, while the rest are supposed to come online from this month.

Under the deals with the power plant sponsors BPC is supposed to arrange fuel supply to the plant site, while PDB is to ensure payment.

In default the government or PDB is bound to pay penalty to the sponsors.

But the power ministry in a review on the progress of new power plants has identified the loopholes of the BPC and lack of proper arrangement for fuel supply to the plant sites.

Absence of coordination among the state-owned Power Development Board (PDB), BPC, Bangladesh Railway (BR) and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) also emerged as a matter of grave concern, said the ministry official.

The government planned to arrange fuel supply to the plant sites either through railway or waterways.

But neither the BR nor the BIWTA has come up to meet the fuel supply requirements.

BPC officials said the country’s fuel requirement increased abruptly due to installation of dozens of new oil-based power plants.

The lone state-owned petroleum importer – BPC – might not arrange fuel supply due to lack of necessary infrastructure like transportation and storage facilities, said a BPC official.

In 2010, the BPC handled oil import of around 3.78 million tonnes to meet local requirements.

But the corporation will have to import an additional 1.4 million tonnes of fuel only to run the new rental, quick rental and public sector power plants in 2011.

In 2012, the BPC’s import will increase further by 1.0 million tonnes, BPC predicted.

When contacted, a private entrepreneur welcomed the government move saying it would ensure timely installation of the oil-based power plants.

Currently Khulna Power Company Ltd (KPCL) is the only private sector importer of petroleum products.

Solar systems empower business

Green Tech
Solar systems empower business

A woman, left, makes CFL bulbs at Char Montaz. Another woman works on a solar inverter in the same area. They are members of a cooperative, Upokulio Biddutayan O Mohila Unnoyon Samity.

Iqramul Hasan

Char Montaz is an island in the southern coastal region of Bangladesh under the Galachipa upazila of Patuakhali district. Due to its geographic location, the area is at higher risks of natural calamities. Because of the dispersed nature of this area that is crisscrossed by large rivers, basic infrastructure development is not cost viable.

Land based transportation is non-existent in these regions and the only means of communication is river transportation. Furthermore, the level of salinity of the water limits agro-production yield here and fishing is the main source of earning for a population of nearly one million. As a consequence of its geographic location, the islands are beyond any long-term plan for grid electrification services.

However, things had changed for the better when a cooperative named Upokulio Biddutayan O Mohila Unnoyon Samity (UBOMUS), which stands for Coastal Electrification and Women’s Development Cooperative, started its activities at Char Montaz in 1999.

The cooperative was established under a project, Opportunity for Women in Renewable Energy Technology Utilisation in Bangladesh and conceptualised and implemented by Prokaushali Sangsad Ltd (PSL). World Bank funded this project under the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme.

UBOMUS, registered under the women and children’s affairs ministry, has 35 members, all of whom are underprivileged. Women now change their fates through the cooperative.

Asma Huque, managing director of PSL, said the main goal of the organisation is empowerment of poor women through technology transfer and improvement of the quality of their lives in the community through energy service delivery.

“Typically, rural women are left out of mainstream services. UBOMUS aims at eradicating this, while providing solutions with clean energy for lighting,” she added.

According to Huque, the vision is to demonstrate the potential of rural women with small business development.

Capacity building in technical and business skills has resulted in women’s empowerment from this economically underdeveloped area, which was apparent in the case of UBOMUS, she said.

Runu Begum, president of UBOMUS, said her life has drastically changed after joining the cooperative.

“Previously, I had a monthly income of only Tk 3,000. But now, I earn around Tk 30,000 from my business that was developed by the income from the cooperatives,” she said.

Begum said she currently has one cloth store and one photo studio at Char Montaz in her own building.

The cooperative has been carrying out its solar programme since 2003 and has already installed more than 14,800 solar systems. It produces high quality lighting products, which have been in use in the surrounding areas for the last 5 years.

Since early 2003, UBOMUS is assembling solar charge controllers of international standards for the local and national market.

According to experts, these controllers extend the useful life of the batteries by more than 20 percent in comparison to the other controllers available in the local market.

Pharma industry to surpass RMG sector in 10 years : Ruhal

Pharma industry to surpass RMG sector in 10 years : Ruhal

DHAKA, Feb 26 (BSS) – Health and Family Welfare Minister Prof Dr AFM Ruhal Haque hoped that the country’s growing pharmaceutical industry would surpass the Readymade Garment (RMG) sector in terms of export earning in next 10-15 years.

The government would soon take necessary steps to solve the problems of the pharmaceutical industry owners, he added.

He was speaking at a discussion arranged in connection with the inauguration of a 50-bed hospital named Afaj-Nateka Memorial Hospital under Srinagar upazila in the district today.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister and Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam addressed the discussion as the chief guest while Chief Adviser of Afaj-Nateka Trust Dr M Aktaruzzaman Bhuiyan was in the chair.

Prime Minister’s Health Adviser Prof Dr Modasser Ali, AL Publicity Secretary Nuh-ul-Alam Lelin, Chairman of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BRCS) Prof Dr MS Akbar, MP, Jatiya Sangsad Whip Shegufta Yeasmin Emily, Chairman of Afaj-Nateka Trust M Aminuzzaman Bhuiyan and AL Health and Population Affairs Secretary Dr Bodiuzzaman Bhuiyan (Dablu), among others, spoke as special guests.

Prof Ruhal said Bangladesh has fulfilled its target of reducing maternal mortality rate and the world community acknowledged the achievement as well.

Syed Ashraf welcomed the private-level initiative for healthcare facilities of the people free of cost.

Prof Modasser expressed the hope that the Afaj-Nateka Memorial Hospital would perform as per the need of the people.

Initially, the hospital would provide poor people with primary healthcare and outdoor services. Besides, the hospital will hold monthly basis camps of cardiology, kidney, childcare and ear, nose and throat for the distressed persons.

Country fetches Tk 399b revenue in 7 months

Country fetches Tk 399b revenue in 7 months

The country’s revenue collection in the first seven months of the current fiscal year (2010-11) totaled to Tk 399.14 billion, posting a 28.44 per cent growth over the earnings during the same period of last fiscal.

The collection of revenue during the said period surpassed the target of Tk 363.65 billion.

Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Nasiruddin Ahmed said while briefing journalists at the NBR yesterday.

The collection of revenue during first seven months of last fiscal stood at Tk 317.51 billion.

The tax authority, however, targeted to collect Tk 725.9 billion revenue during the current fiscal year.

The NBR will be able to achieve the target of revenue collection during the fiscal year as pace of growth in revenue collection will be continued, NBR chairman hoped.

The highest revenue came from income tax, which totaled to Tk 94.3 billion surpassing the target of Tk 85.95 billion, he said adding collection of revenue from VAT secured the second highest growth of 30.69 percent.

An amount of Tk 150.12 billion was collected as VAT during the said period against the target of Tk 133.71. The revenue as duty and excise from import-export businesses posted a growth of 22.86 percent during the period, he said.

The revenue earnings from export-import businesses during the seven month period amounted to Tk 152.32 billion against its target of Tk 141.27 billion.

“Massive awareness and motivational programme, budgetary measure and field level monitoring contributed a lot to boost to the revenue collection during the period,” Nasiruddin Ahmed said.


Father’s death without treatment transforms rickshaw puller Joynal into man with a difference; he runs a charitable hospital, free coaching centre for underprivileged children

Joynal Abedin, right, pulls rickshaw in the capital for six nights a month and runs a charitable hospital and a free education centre for underprivileged children in Mymensingh by his earnings.Photo: Anisur Rahman

Aminul Islam, Mymensingh

Rickshaw puller Joynal Abedin, 55, saw his father suffer and die without any treatment 25 long years ago. It was because they were doomed in poverty coupled with dearth of health care service.

“So what?” many would say giving the fact that it is an everyday event for this country.

The thing that is not so regular is Joynal’s extraordinary determination and courage to take up the mammoth task of setting up a charitable hospital and a free coaching centre for underprivileged children.

The shock and horror of losing his father, which later transformed into love and hope, motivated this man to think the unthinkable and most importantly make his dream possible.

This exceptional feat of character made the nation so proud that Joynal was titled as Sada Moner Manush (Man of a golden heart) in 2008.

Joynal Abedin, of Taan Hashadia village in Paranganj union under sadar upazila of Mymensingh, however, has his personal odyssey to share.

After his father’s death, Joynal and his wife moved to the capital to try their luck. He pulled rickshaw for relentless days and nights for around 14 years while his wife Lal Banu managed a job at a clinic.

“I shared my dream with my wife and she helped me beyond anyone’s expectation in the venture,” said Joynal.

The family went through countless hardships but squeezed every penny possible from their meagre earning to save for a charitable hospital. The couple saved money in two separate bank accounts for 12 years.

In 2001, Joynal and Lal Banu drew their whole savings of Tk 2.84 lakh and retuned to village. They bought 23 decimals of land and constructed a house to live with their two children.

“With rest of the savings I opened a four-bed hospital in my house and named it after my daughter Momtaz,” said Joynal.

Momtaz Hospital soon drew the attention of the villagers and people far beyond. On an average, the hospital offers first aid to around 25 patients a day while handing out pain killers, oral saline, paracetamol, metronidazol, antacid and de-wormers.

Despite recognition from different quarters for his noble endeavour, Joynal finds it extremely difficult to run the hospital. From the very beginning, a local paramedic has helped Joynal treat patients while at a later stage an MBBS doctor agreed to pay occasional visits to the hospital in exchange of Tk 500 for a day’s consultation.

In 2006, the local administration and the social welfare directorate donated Tk 30,000 for the hospital. In 2005, a Bangladeshi woman living in the USA gave him Tk 70,000 and World Vision, an NGO, supported with some medicines. Eminent personality Abdullah Abu Sayeed also extended help with Tk 10,000 and some medicines in 2004.

“For the last five years I have not received much help from anyone. With the price of medicines spiralling several folds during the time, running the hospital is now at stake. The hospital needs at least Tk 300 a day to function,” Joynal said.

Alongside the hospital, Joynal has also started a free coaching centre and a maktab (Arabic learning centre) for poor primary school-goers. Around 50 children regularly receive tuition here.

He pays each of the two teachers — Md Aiyub and Khalilur Rahman of the coaching Tk 3,500 a month. But this remuneration is very hard to bear for Joynal on a regular basis.

“I want to cling to my goal till I breathe the last and seek nothing more for me and my family,” said the poor man with eyes glittering in hope.

He, however, said that the thought of asking people to help the hospital haunts him. He said “Many people pledged me of many things while some even invited me for help and I came out of there labelled as a greedy fraud.”

Once the people who pledged him help wanted to hand him over to police as a criminal. Recalling the incident Joynal said in a sulk tone, “Sometimes I don’t want any help from others and become even more helpless.”

“Coming of age, I have become unable to pull rickshaw anymore and there is no steady fund to run the hospital,” said Joynal.

The villagers and the people of neighbouring villages adore and respect Joynal’s initiative. Talking to The Daily Star many of the villagers expressed sympathy for the poor rickshaw puller.

Fazar Ali and Ayub Ali of neighbouring Foliamari village said, “Momtaz Hospital may appear as nothing to the urban society, but the people here are greatly benefited form it as they have to go several miles for medicine from other places.”

Many parents of the locality termed Jaynal’s learning centre a privilege for the underprivileged children.

Sabuj, Salma, Amena, Mithun, Amirul and Selina, all primary students who come to Joynal’s coaching centre regularly, said they are given lesson without any fee and sometimes they are provided with free pencils, pen and paper.

Govt plans another seaport: PM

Govt plans another seaport: PM
Six more marine academies on cards

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inspects the Cadet Graduation Parade of 45th batch of Bangladesh Marine Academy at the academy premises in Chittagong yesterday. Photo: PMO

Bss, Chittagong

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government has a plan to construct a seaport in between Barguna and Patuakhali to handle the growing external trade, apart from building a deep-sea port in Chittagong.

She said this while laying the foundation stone of Sheikh Mujib Maritime University under the “Enhancing Marine Academy into Maritime University” project at a cost of Tk 260 crore on Marine Academy premises in Chittagong.

About maritime boundary, she said Bangladesh had lodged its submission formally to the United Nations on Friday claiming an area of over 400 nautical miles in the seabed of the Bay of Bengal. Foreign Minister Dipu Moni who is now in the USA made the submission, she added.

The maritime university, which will be established as a regional university in South Asia, will start its academic activities in 2013. It aims at meeting the growing demand of skilled marine human resources home and abroad.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken steps to set up six more marine academies in Barisal, Khulna, Pabna, Rangpur, Narayanganj, and Sylhet at a cost of about Tk 800 crore. She said the government is also procuring full-mission deck bridge simulator and full-mission engine control simulator for Marine Academy that costs about Tk 80 crore under another programme.

Hasina said the university will provide masters, M Phil, and PhD degrees on ship building engineering, shipping management, international and national maritime transportation, and maritime laws.

Earlier, the prime minister attended the Cadet Graduation Parade of 45th batch of Bangladesh Marine Academy and distributed special merit awards of the academy to the cadets for their outstanding performances.

She said the government has so far raised the number of trainee cadets in the academy to 200 from 100 and has a plan to further raise the number to 500.

She also watched a spectacular march past and took salute of the graduating cadets.

On her arrival on the Marine Academy premises, the prime minister was received by the shipping minister and the commandant of the academy.