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.

South Asia’s second Maritime University to be set up in Chittagong

South Asia’s second Maritime University to be set up in Chittagong
Sonia H Moni

South Asia’s second Maritime University, Sheikh Mujib Maritime University, will be set up at Chittagong with a view to meeting the rising demand of mariners and development of maritime sector of the country.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan told the FE on Friday, “There is a huge demand of mariners across the globe and 200 cadets are graduating every year from Bangladesh Marine Academy.”

“We have a plan to set up six marine academies in Narayangong, Barisal, Khulna, Pabna, Rangpur and Sylhet and more than 500 cadets will be able to graduate from these academies.”

The minister said that now Bangladesh is making ships and selling those to the foreign countries. So the nation should be prepared for the future demand of mariners and development of maritime sector of the country.

Bangladesh Marine Academy Commandant Sajid Hussain told the FE, “The Bangladesh Marine Academy is situated on 100 acres of land in Chittagong and 50 per cent of space is unused. The Sheikh Mujib Maritime University will be set up on 35 acres of land.”

“Initially around 100 students will get admitted in five department in university. We have a plan to build eight-storied 8 to 10 buildings for academic building, accommodation of students and others.”

He expressed the hope that foreign students from fur east countries, Middle East, Malaysia and African countries will come to study in the university.

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will lay foundation stone today (Saturday) of the Sheikh Mujib Maritime University on seven acres of land in Chittagong. She will also attend the graduation parade of 45th batch cadets of Bangladesh Marine Academy.

Taiwan company to invest 25.073m in Mongla EPZ

Taiwan company to invest 25.073m in Mongla EPZ

A Taiwanese company, M/S Inesca Outdoor (BD) Limited, will set up an Outdoor Garments Industry in Mongla Export Processing Zone (EPZ).

Fully foreign owned company will invest 25.073 million US dollar in setting up their unit and will produce tents, sleeping bags and outdoor garments items. The company will also create employment opportunity for 3 thousands 9 hundreds and 98 persons including 18 foreign nationals.

An agreement to this effect was signed yesterday between Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and M/S. Inesca Outdoor (BD) Limited at BEPZA Complex.

Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA Md. Moyjuddin Ahmed and Assistant General Manager of MS. Inesca Outdoor (BD) Limited Richard Chen signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.

Garment entry to EU on the rise

Garment entry to EU on the rise
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

The issuance of certificates to gain zero tariff benefits in garment exports to the European countries increased 37.69 percent in January, compared to the same month last year.

Data shows state-owned Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) issued 33,148 such certificates in January against 24,073 in the same month last year under Generalised System of Preferences given by the developed nations to the least developed countries (LDCs).

The boost came due to the rising demands from the EU region under the new regime.

“The issuance of certificates for duty-free benefits increased mainly for relaxation of the Rules of Origin (RoO) by the EU from January 1 this year,” said EPB Vice-Chairman Jalal Ahmed. He said both the value and volume of exports increased remarkably during this period.

Being an LDC, Bangladesh now enjoys either duty-free facility for everything but arms (EBA) or duty-preference for some selected products or duty concession for exports to 32 countries.

The biggest change under the new regime is that single-stage processing (manufactured from fabric) will be allowed in many cases, instead of two-stage processing (manufactured from yarn).

It means most apparel items from the LDCs will get duty-free access, no matter where the raw materials originate in. The standard import duty for readymade garments in the EU is 12 percent.

The GSP is a trade arrangement allowing reduced or zero tariff on imports from developing countries; and the RoO determines whether imported goods really originate in the countries covered by the GSP.

Under the new GSP rules, exporters will get zero-duty facility even if the products are made from imported fabrics. Previously, the exporters used to get this benefit if only local fabrics were used.

Dhaka, Moscow sign deal on nuclear power plant

Dhaka, Moscow sign deal on nuclear power plant
FE Report

Bangladesh and Russia struck Thursday an agreement to install the country’s first nuclear power plant to generate around 2,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity at Rooppur in Pabna.

The deal with Russia paves the way for the construction of two most modern reactors having the electricity generation capacity of 1,000 mw each.

Deputy Director General of Russian State Nuclear Company (Rosatom) Nikolay Spasskiy and Secretary of the ministry of Science and ICT Md Abdur Rob Howlader signed the deal on behalf of their respective countries at Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.

The plant might cost US$ 1.5 to 2.0 billion and is expected to be completed by 2017-18, a senior official of Science and ICT said.

Under the deal, Rosatom will supply necessary fuel for the reactors during its life-term and take back spent fuel.

Russia will also manage nuclear waste and help decommissioning of the nuclear power plant in future, under the deal.

Science and ICT Ministry of Bangladesh will act as the Competent Authority of the government, while Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission will act as the customer of the nuclear power plant project from Bangladesh part.

For Russia, Rosatom will act as the Competent Authority to implement the project

State Minister for Science and ICT Yeafesh Osman, Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Gennady P. Trotsenko and Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Dr Md Farid Uddin Ahmed were also present during the agreement signing ceremony.

Bangladesh earlier signed a five-year framework agreement with Russia in May 2010 and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2009 for building the Rooppur nuclear power plant.

Russia is set to offer a funding mechanism to build the nuclear power plant under the agreement.

To implement terms of the agreement both the countries agreed to set up a joint coordinating committee that will include representatives to be nominated by Rosatom and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, and those by Bangladesh’s commission on nuclear energy and the ministry of science and ICT.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allowed Bangladesh to install nuclear power plant in 2007 along with seven other developing nations for peaceful installation of nuclear power plant.

Country’s unprecedented electricity supply crunch has prompted Bangladesh going after installation of its first nuclear power plant reviving around half-a-century old Rooppur project.

Laptop to be sold at Tk.15,000 from June next: Raju

Laptop to be sold at Tk.15,000 from June next: Raju

DHAKA, Feb 24 (BSS) – Post and Telecommunication Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju today said the government would go for marketing laptops and mobile phones from coming June as the government envisioned for establishing Digital Bangladesh by 2021.

He was speaking at a press conference about performance of his ministry at his secretariat office.

Raju said, “As part of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dream of ‘Digital Bangladesh’ we have gone ahead to announce that the government would be marketing laptops between Taka 15,000 and Taka 21,000, and mobiles phones between Taka 1000 and Taka 3000 from the coming month of June.

” A communication satellite, known as Bangabandhu -1, would be established soon. We have already selected the consultant who are working on it.”

In order of big local demand, Bangladesh Cable Industry Limited, who established a Fibre Optic Plant, are now producing fibre cables from January this year, said the Post and Communication Minister.

He told reporters that Bangladesh Telphone Shilpa Sangstha have earned net profit of Taka 14 crore 52 lakh. This organization was a losing concern for the last 10 years, he said.

Raju said, ” Our ministry is surging ahead with Prime Minister’s slogan of ‘Charter for Change’ and her dream of ‘Vision 2021’. Awami League always thinks about public welfare that’s why people’s expectations are very high to the Mohajote government.

Pharma expo eyes more foreign buyers

Pharma expo eyes more foreign buyers
Asian fair ends tomorrow
Star Business Report

A three-day Asian pharmaceuticals exposition began yesterday, opening scope for local firms to adopt the latest technologies to make quality drugs and showcase their products to foreign buyers.

“It is an opportunity for the local companies to know about the latest technologies. The fair has also given us a chance to showcase our products to buyers for exports,” said Abdul Muktadir, secretary general of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI).

The Fifth Asian Pharma Expo takes place at a time when the local pharmaceuticals industry is expanding and a number of local drug makers are gearing up to get into the highly regulated US and European markets.

BAPI and GPE Expo Pvt Ltd have co-organised the event at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. The fair ends tomorrow.

More than 170 firms, including six local drug markers, displayed their products at the show, which also exhibits various machineries ranging from production and processing of medicines to packaging, quality control and surveillance.

Raw materials of various drugs are also displayed at the fair.

Presently, local companies meet 97 percent of the demand of the local market that stood at Tk 7,000 core in 2010, up from Tk 4,000 crore in the previous year, according to BAPI.

Muktadir, also managing director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said the growth of Bangladesh medicine sector is attracting a growing number of people from abroad.

Organisers said the number of participants have increased in the current show from the previous one with some participants expecting to get spot orders.

“We hope to get one or two orders on the spot this year,” said Shankar Gupta, chief executive of Encapsulation of ACG Pam Pharma Technologies Pvt Ltd. The company displayed a machine with a capacity to fill 90,000 capsules an hour.

In the previous pharma exposition in Bangladesh, the company showcased a filling machine which was capable of filling 40,000 capsules an hour.

The fair drew not only pharmaceuticals entrepreneurs but also young learners of pharmacy.

Akhter M Chaudhury, chairman and managing director of Nuvista Pharma Ltd, said the fair has brought different types of equipment to manufacture drug.

“It is very informative and my experience is very positive” he said.

Md Nazrul Islam, senior executive of international marketing of ACI Pharmaceuticals, said the company joined the show with an aim to accelerate exports.

“We got buyers from Nepal and Kenya in the previous show. Now our exports to these countries are in process. We hope to get some new buyers this year also,” he said.

Sea freight: income dream sets sail

Sea freight: income dream sets sail

Sajjadur Rahman

Sea freight is expected to be a good source of direct foreign currency for Bangladesh in a few years as big business conglomerates are increasingly buying ocean-going ships cashing in on the troubled US and European economies.

The sector, which now boasts 70 ocean-going ships, can earn $200-300 million in freight charges a year, according to industry people. These ships’ capacity ranges between 30,000 and 100,000 tonnes.

“The economic crisis in the US and Europe has forced many owners to sell their ships at low prices. Asians, including Bangladeshi buyers, have been taking the opportunities,” said Azam J Chowdhury, chairman of East Coast Group, which has bought two such ships recently.

The company has purchased another tanker ship, which will be delivered next month, with over one lakh tonne capacity at $22.5 million, to carry oil.

According to businessmen, each ship can earn $2-5 million annually by transporting goods, depending on the capacity.

“It is a very good business. The increase in fleet will boost foreign currency earnings,” said AKM Shahidul Islam, managing director of United Sea Liner.

A 30,000-40,000 tonnes-capacity ship now costs $10-12 million, according to the industry people. Islam, who is in the business for over 30 years, said an investor can get his money back in just five years.

Top conglomerates and traders have now entered into the lucrative business, which was earlier dominated by the shipping businessmen only. Major groups including Meghna, Bashundhara, Akij, Abul Khair, East Coast, HRC and KSRM have bought the ships in the last few years.

Besides, freight earnings the sector will help Bangladesh create highly-paid jobs. According to the sector people, a ship employs 25-30 crews who are paid in foreign currency. Top crews can earn as much as $25,000 per month.

But ship-owners have some reasons to be worried such as high bank interest rates, lack of crews, rising piracy and the continued volatility and dampness in global freight markets.

“We have serious shortage of crews and often we have to hire people from China and Taiwan to run the ships,” said Mostofa Kamal, chairman and managing director of Meghna Group of Industries, who has bought such a ship recently.

Chowdhury of East Coast Group fears more on the growing attacks by Somali pirates. “Many of our crews do not want to go to the Middle East countries because of the piracy on the Arabian Sea,” said Chowdhury.

Somali pirates have already hijacked a Bangladeshi-flagged ship — MV Jahan Moni, owned by KSRM, in early December last year. The ship, with 25 Bangladeshi crew members, is still in the pirates’ hands.

Chowdhury suggested the government sign a protocol agreement with countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and India, to protect Bangladesh’s ships and crew.

Islam of United Sea Liner believes 15-16 percent bank interests rates are “very high” and make the business costly at initial stages.

BoI relaxes rules for foreign investment

BoI relaxes rules for foreign investment

Gazi Towhid Ahmed

The investment board has relaxed rules to give work permits to foreigners in a bid to attract more foreign investment into public and private sectors.

According to the revised guidelines that came into effect recently, the tenure of a work permit for a foreign worker is now two years instead of one.

The Board of Investment (BoI) has also simplified the rules for foreign companies and organisations to open new branches and representative offices here.

The new rules made it mandatory for every foreigner to take a work permit from the BoI before making new investment in Bangladesh.

The foreign investors will also take tax identification number (TIN) and submit income tax clearance certificate to the BoI.

The investment board will also make recommendations to Bangladesh missions abroad on the potential recruits or investors.

The BoI has also decided to create a ‘data bank’ to collect details of the foreign investors. However, members of the United Nations and foreign ambassadors will not need any work permit.

The foreign investors can contact the BoI by email and apply online for work permits.

According to the revised guidelines, foreign institutions should give priority to the citizens of Bangladesh during recruitments.

If the Bangladeshis are not found eligible, they can recruit foreigners.

Before hiring from abroad, the foreign companies should advertise in newspapers and online job sites for the post for the citizens of Bangladesh.

Foreign doctors and nurses will need to get registration from Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council and the Bangladesh Nursing Council to work in private hospitals in the country.