13th Textech Bangladesh Intl Expo begins July 3

http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=2&id=254592&date=2012-06-05

13th Textech Bangladesh Intl Expo begins July 3

DHAKA, June 5 (BSS) – A four-day 13th Textech Bangladesh- 2012 International Expo, largest of its kind in textile and apparel industry, will begin in the city on July 3.

The annual exhibition on textile and apparel technology, machinery and allied services would be held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

CEMS-Global, USA-Conference and Exhibition Management Services Ltd in association with CEMS Bangladesh is organizing the expo.

Textech series of exhibitions, has become a brand, held every year in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri lanka.

Commerce Minister GM Quader will be the chief guest at the inaugural session of this year’s show, organizers said today.

Over 450 exhibitors from various countries including the US, UK, China, India, Pakistan and Japan are expected to take part in the exposition.

Members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) take part in the show.

The Textech aims to introduce local stakeholders of Readymade Garments (RMG) and knitwear sectors with the latest development and the global trend of the industries so they can survive in the global competition.

Two more exhibitions — 12th Dye+Chem Bangladesh- 2012 International Expo’ and 6th Dhaka International Yarn and Fabric Show-2012′ — would also be held besides the 13th Textech.

Organizers say the expo would not only create a scope for Bangladeshi apparel and knitwear exporters to display their unique aspects of the products but also shed light on its progress to the global garment and textile community.

The 13th Textech will bring many decision makers and qualified buyers under one roof resulting in business transactions worth millions.

Bangladesh, being the second largest destination for RMG outsourcing after China, exported apparel merchandise worth $17.91b last year.

Bangladesh’s per capita income rises to $848

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Bangladesh’s per capita income rises to $848
Rejaul Karim Byron

Bangladesh’s per capita income went up to $848 in the current fiscal year from $816 last year, but is still way short of the $1,006 needed to pull the country up to the middle-income bracket.

The nation aims to reach the middle income country category by 2021, according to government’s perspective plan.

The required per capita income at that time would be $1,300, meaning a growth rate of 7-5 percent to 8 percent is needed every fiscal year, said Zahid Hussain, senior economist of the World Bank.

Bangladesh managed a growth rate of 6.3 percent against a target of 7 percent this fiscal year, according to provisional data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS).

The previous year the growth rate was 6.71 percent, signifying the country went backwards with respect to its target of graduating to a middle income country status.

Qatar proposes to install 1000MW power plant at Moheskhali

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Qatar proposes to install 1000MW power plant at Moheskhali
The JV project would be based on LNG

Shamim Jahangir

The state of Qatar has proposed the government to set up a 1,000-megawatt liquefied natural gas (LNG) based power plant at Moheskhali islands of Cox’s Bazar district under a joint-venture initiative with Bangladesh, senior government officials said.

A high-powered visiting team of Qatar led by its Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Affairs, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani, made the initial proposal during a bilateral meeting with senior government officials at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka on May 27.

During the meeting, Fawaz A Al Bakar Raf-Al, who is involved with LNG projects of Qatar, said, “Qatar is interested to invest in the joint venture power project without participating in competitive bidding process.”

“Then both Bangladesh and Qatar would settle the investment and power tariff issues to set up the mega project on the basis of build, own and operate,” he said.

The power plant might be installed under the joint venture or Independent Power Producer (IPP) mode subject to agreement between the two parties, Additional Power Division Secretary M Mofazzel Hossain told daily sun.

In the meeting, Fawaz A Al Bakar Raf-Al requested the Power Division officials here to send necessary documents to his country for setting up the plant.

Gulf state Qatar is one of the largest LNG producers in the world, with which the government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to procure LNG.

Earlier, in August, 2010, the government had formed a LNG taskforce on the installation of a LNG terminal. The taskforce is likely to extend its deadline till June 10 for submitting its bidding documents for the country’s first LNG terminal at Moheshkhali in the Bay of Bengal.

Bermuda-based Golar LNG Energy, a joint venture of the USA-based Astra Oil and Excelerate Energy, South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corporation, and India’s Hiranandani Electricity, were short listed by the government for the project, involving about one billion dollars. The government wants the terminal to have a capacity of handling 5.0 million tonnes of LNG per year, re-gasification capacity of at least 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) and berthing and mooring facilities for LNG ships of 138,000-260,000 cubic metres.

The country’s on-going gas crisis is around 500 mmcfd against the demand of over 2,500 mmcfd.

WB terms 6.3pc GDP growth as healthy

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WB terms 6.3pc GDP growth as healthy
‘Yet macroeconomic vulnerabilities remain’

WB terms 6.3pc GDP growth as healthy
FE Report

The World Bank (WB) has termed growth of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product (GDP) at an estimated rate of 6.3 per cent in fiscal 2011-12 as healthy as it is higher than the developing nations’ average of 5.5 per cent.

“But it is lower than the South Asia average of 6.5 per cent,” Dr Zahid Hussain, WB senior economist told the reporters Sunday at a media briefing on Bangladesh Economic Update, held at a local hotel.

However, the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh in the outgoing fiscal will be considered impressive, given the scenario of vulnerabilities in the global economic environment, according to the WB.

Mr Zahid Hussain said: “There is healthy economic growth but macroeconomic vulnerabilities remain.”

Heavy bank borrowing, declining trend in investment and volatile inflation are major threats to Bangladesh’s macro-economic stability, the WB observed.

It said there are looming uncertainties in Bangladesh’s leading export markets in Europe and the USA that are likely to affect the country’s exports significantly.

The WB said there is little room for further credit expansion in fiscal 2012.

“Achieving 17 per cent broad money growth target will require credit growth to be more than 11.5 per cent in public sector and 2.1 per cent in private sector in the last quarter of the fiscal, 2011-12 from its end-March levels,” Mr Zahid said.

The WB country director Ellen Goldstein, Director, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, South Asia, Dr Ernesto May, lead economist Dr. Sanjay Kathuria and Communication Officer Mehrin A. Mahbub were also present at the media briefing.

Steps, the WB noted in its economic update on Bangladesh, will require to be taken to mitigate private sector crowding-out risks.

It said that industry, particularly construction and small-scale manufacturing, had driven the growth in fiscal 2012 while transport and financial intermediation led the growth in services.

“Agriculture and large scale manufacturing sectors have slowed down compared to the situation in the than last fiscal,” Mr Zahid observed.

According to the WB update, private investment rate declined to 19.1 per cent in fiscal 2012 against 19.5 per cent in the previous year.

Lead country economist of the WB, Dr. Sanjay Kathuria, said the overall investment in Bangladesh is very low while adding that it has to go up by 6.0-8.0 percentage points of GDP to help accelerate the country’s growth rate.

It said non-food inflation in Bangladesh in the outgoing fiscal was at the highest level in last two decades.

“This is primarily driven by expansionary monetary policies over the last two years,” Mr Zahid added.

The WB, however, commended the efforts by the central bank for adopting a contractionary monetary policy to help combat the inflationary pressures.

Mr Zahid said monetary policy-actions take time to bring down the rate of inflation, expressing the view that inflationary pressures will be tamed if the recent tightening policy is not reversed.

He said the good news is that food inflation has come down to 8.1 per cent in April against 13.8 per cent in September last.

Mr Zahid said the Bangladesh Bank (BB) has rightly refrained itself from intervening in the foreign exchange market and this has allowed the market forces to play their proper role.

While making the opening statement at the media briefing, country director of WB Ms. Goldstein said the WB will continue to support Bangladesh’s development efforts.

She said one challenge before Bangladesh is to effectively speed up implementation to deliver results on the ground.

She said the country’s recent economic growth is quite healthy. The spillover effects of the Eurozone and oil prices are the threats to the country’s sustained growth in the coming days, she noted.

She said Bangladesh has to prepare an effective strategy to combat the looming challenges and respond accordingly to achieve its goals.

Responding to queries, WB economists said recent ratings of Bangladesh by the S&P is quite all right. “We support it.”

Replying to a specific question about the WB’s stance on any fiscal move by the government of Bangladesh to facilitate declaration of “undisclosed money”, Zahid Hussain said: “We’re yet to know what measures will be taken about the undisclosed money under the budget.”

“But we think that the government will not take any move which will encourage the sources and areas that generate black or undisclosed money.”

The WB economists said issuing licenses for setting up new nine private commercial banks (PCBs) will create a competition to mobilise deposits.

Mr Kathuria, lead economist of the WB said: “This will add to competition for deposits and pose a challenge to the supervisory capacity of the central bank.”

He observed that regulatory reforms in the capital market to ensure a stable trading environment were underway, adding that the pace of such reforms would need to be accelerated.

He said faster progress in exploration activities in Bangladesh is needed to meet the shortage of gas supplies. Steps should also be taken to ensure access to land for investment, he added.

Mr Kathuria said public private partnership (PPP) office is being staffed by professional managers but its progress so far has still remained at a slow pace.

He said reforms in trade liberalisation relating to tariffs, para-tariffs and customs procedures should be carried forward effectively to help promote trade.

There are vulnerabilities and uncertainties mainly due to global environment, he noted while underlining the need for putting stabilisation policies in place to address vulnerabilities and reduce uncertainties for business.

He said subsidy and government borrowings should be scaled down not to crowd out the private sector.

Mr Zahid said Bangladesh has three major risks ahead. These include slowed-down export operations due to Eurozone crisis, possible decrease of remittance earnings particularly from the Gulf region, and likely hikes in petroleum prices in the international market, he added.

A significant level of higher imports of petroleum products to feed the liquid fuel-based power plants and slow export growth have resulted in the decline of Bangladesh’s current account surplus to US$ 456 million in March, 2012 from $710 million in July, 2011.

He said: “Deficit in its overall balance of payments (BoP) decreased to $419 million from $527 million in 2011.”

However, this improvement in the overall BoP deficit may be temporary, he observed.

He said improvements in infrastructural facilities and availability of energy will be necessary to attract investment.

He said the government should take longer-term measures to address effectively the problems in the energy sector.

He said the country’s fiscal deficit has widened, despite increases in revenue earnings. Recurrent expenditures are likely to overshoot the original budget target, he observed.

Agencies add: The GDP growth rate of Bangladesh, the WB in its update said, moderated from 6.7 per cent in fiscal 2010-2011 to 6.3 per cent in fiscal 2011-2012 due to unfavorable external economic situation and internal supply constraints.

Dr. Sanjay Kathuria said improving the investment climate and undertaking trade-related reforms would be needed to increase domestic and foreign investment which is essential for Bangladesh’s accelerated growth. The investment: GDP ratio in Bangladesh will have to increase to 30-32 per cent from existing 24 per cent to help accelerate the growth rate, he observed.

About measures for whitening “black money”, Dr. Zahid Hossain said, “We don’t know what scheme is coming exactly to whiten black money. There shouldn’t be any scheme what will ultimately encourage black money generation.”

He said ideological aspects and reality will have to be considered in providing any scheme to whiten black money. “The ultimate impact of the black money will also have to be considered.”

In her opening remark, Goldstein said, while Bangladesh’s most recent economic growth remains quite healthy by developing country standards, there are several headwinds that could derail growth in the near future. “Spillover effects of recession in the eurozone and oil price increases are the two headwinds that pose the most serious downside risks to Bangladesh’s growth from external sources,” he said.

She said all that Bangladesh can do is to prepare to face such risks by creating policy space, so that it can respond appropriately and in time when risks arise.

However, these are not the only risks, she noted while stating that Bangladesh’s ability to provide adequate infrastructure, energy and a business-friendly regulatory environment has also suffered in recent years. “If these issues are addressed, we feel Bangladesh will be able to overcome the impact of a weak global economy without much difficulty.”

She said the Bank Group will remain engaged to support Bangladesh’s development. “The Sixth Five Year Plan of the country is soon to enter its third year of implementation. The challenge now is to effectively speed up implementation to deliver results on the ground.”

About the continuing macroeconomic pressures, the WB update noted that overall inflation “is in double digits and non-food prices rose 14 per cent in March 2012, compared to 4.3 per cent a year earlier. This has been driven by expansionary monetary and fiscal policies.”

On the other hand, food price increases declined from 13.8 per cent in September 2011 to 8.1 per cent in April 2012 which is good news for the poor.

The fiscal deficit has increased, despite significant increases in revenue. Recurrent expenditures are likely to overshoot the original 2012 budget target, driven by larger-than-budgeted growth in subsidies and transfers.

The central government budget deficit increased by more than 2.5 times from July to January in fiscal 2011-12 compared to the situation during the corresponding period the previous fiscal, it observed.

With exports starting to decline in March 2012, pressure on the Bangladesh’s balance of payments could intensify, the update cautioned.

“Uncertainty in Bangladesh’s leading trade markets poses risks to accelerated growth. High unemployment, low business and consumer confidence, and volatility in financial sectors remain major threats to Bangladesh’s two major export markets, Europe and the United States”, it said.

In addition, the combination of current levels of inflation, fiscal deficit, and foreign exchange reserves mean that Bangladesh has very little policy space to respond to the crisis, unlike its situation during the last global economic and financial crises, it observed.

“Energy shortage poses as much of a risk to growth as do global uncertainties. The overall shortages of energy continue to deter fresh investments and expansion projects. Authorities need to proceed with longer-term solutions to the energy problem to ensure that the net additions to capacity already made can be sustained”, he pointed out.

The update highlighted the need for coordinated macroeconomic strategies. “A coordinated policy response will be essential to restore macroeconomic stability and accelerate growth. Stabilization policies will need to focus on creating fiscal space, and containing government borrowing”, it said.

“The longer-term growth outlook depends on acceleration of structural reforms to raise savings and investments rates, improve trade prospects, and ensure balance of payment sustainability. This would entail modernizing the tax regime and strengthening public financial management, and require increased tax revenues to address the large infrastructure deficit”, the update pointed out.

Growth acceleration also needs urgent reforms to address the looming skills deficit and enable a continuation of manufacturing and export growth, it added.

It observed stagnation in investment still exists due to gas and power problem and the government is paying more subsidy in the fuel sector as its import has risen.

FTA with Malaysia to boost apparel, medicine export

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FTA with Malaysia to boost apparel, medicine export
Nizam Ahmed

Bangladesh is expecting to boost its exports of garment and pharmaceutical products to Malaysia once a free trade agreement (FTA) is signed between the two countries, officials said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the far eastern Muslim country, which employs more than 400,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers, is expected to approve the FTA proposal submitted by Bangladesh, soon.

“The two countries will start negotiations on the proposed FTA, immediately after the approval, which is expected to come, ahead of the upcoming exposition of Bangladeshi products titled Showcase Bangladesh 2012, in Kuala Lumpur,” a senior official at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) told the FE.

Once the FTA is inked, there will be vast potential in trade and investment areas of both the countries, the officials said.

The three-day second exposition of Bangladeshi products to be held from July 13, after the first one held in 2010 is also likely to solve problems faced by Bangladeshi expatriate workers in remitting their earnings to Bangladesh.

“Besides manpower, we are looking for exporting ready-made garments (RMG), pharmaceutical products and several other non-traditional items to Malaysia,” Mostafa Azad Chowdhury Babu, vice president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry told the FE.

Malaysia with a population of some 28.5 million in an area of some 330,000 sq km and with a GDP of $238 billion, is now a solvent country and meets its apparel and medicinal demands by importing from different countries in Asia, Europe and the USA.

Import by Malaysia from Bangladesh is nominal at present while it exports mainly palm oil, petroleum products worth some 950 million euro to Bangladesh annually, according to a Malaysian government website.

Malaysia has recently come forward to cooperate with Bangladesh in its efforts to boost its economy.

It is the first country that offered Bangladesh necessary assistance in building a proposed bridge over the river Padma when the World Bank and other financers backed out from their commitment of funding, the government officials in Dhaka said.

Malaysia has so far pledged some $9.0 billion including $6.0 billion for a new international airport and the rest for the proposed 6.15-kilometre multi-purpose bridge across the river Padma.

Malaysia also legalised some 267,000 Bangladeshi workers recently who had been victim of unscrupulous manpower agents.

Presently there are some 400,000 Bangladeshis working in Malaysia, mostly in manufacturing, construction, plantations, agriculture and service sector.

Expatriate workers in Malaysia send some $13 billion every year.

Singapore keen to relocate factories in Bangladesh: HC

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Singapore keen to relocate factories in Bangladesh: HC

CHITTAGONG,June 3 (BSS) – Singaporean High Commissioner to Bangladesh Chan Heng Wing today said Chittagong could be a suitable destination for Singaporean investors.

Singaporean investors are now reluctant to continue industrial augmentation in China due to soaring of labour cost, Wing said.

So, he said, the investors are now looking for relocating their factories in Bangladesh.

Wing was exchanging views with leaders of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) on its Chamber premises here.

He also laid emphasis on infrastructural development, supply chain management and creating skilled human resources for attracting huge foreign investment.

Lawmaker MA Latif, CCCI president Murshed Murad Ibrahim, Senior Vice-President Mahbubul Alam, directors — Mahfuzul Hoque Shah and Mohammad Shahin Alam – and consuls of Singapore Darryl Lau and Derek Chua were present on the occasion, among others.

Speaking on the occasion, Murshed Murad Ibrahim favoured development of Bangladesh’s industry sector through Singaporean expertise.

He also stressed the need for making Singapore Visa procedure easier for businessmen.

AWD irrigation system saves Tk 5000 in paddy cultivation on one hectare

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AWD irrigation system saves Tk 5000 in paddy cultivation on one hectare

DHAKA, June 5 (BSS)- Irrigation Experts said that Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) irrigation system applied in 91 upazilas in the country this year saved about Taka 5,000 in paddy cultivation on per hectare of land.

The National Agriculture Technology Project (NATP) under Agriculture Ministry is applying the AWD irrigation system following a survey revealed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), they said.

“It’s a good news that the AWD irrigation system applied in 91 upzilas of the country in the fiscal 2011-12 has saved a substantial amount of irrigation cost involved in paddy cultivation on one hectare of land, said Director of NATP Nurul Islam.

He said the amount is more than double the IRRI estimated irrigation cost saving of Taka 1,765 three years back and more upazilas of the country would be brought under NATP to apply AWD irrigation in the coming years.

Sources in NATP said the IRRI has developed a technology able to save up to 30 per cent of water use in the production of rice without compromising yields.

Called AWD for Alternate Wetting and Drying, this intermittent irrigation technology is the result of an international partnership of China, the Philippines and Bangladesh, through the Irrigated Rice Research Consortium (IRRC), they said adding financed by the SDC since 1997, IRRC facilitates cross-country learning and diffusion of new rice production technologies in Asia.

The AWD technology is being applied in paddy cultivation since fiscal 2008-2009 after getting a go ahead signal from IRRI.

The IRRI survey revealed that the cost savings in paddy cultivation is Taka 1,765 in per hectare. It (IRRI) showed that an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 litres of water is required to produce one kilogram of rice.

Nurul Islam said the AWD technology was applied in 91 upazilas of the country for paddy cultivation in the fiscal 2011- 12. The result showed that on an average irrigation cost savings stood at Taka 5,000 in per hectare of land, which is more than double of the IRRI estimated cost.

NATP director said the AWD irrigation system saved 32 per cent water on an average in one hectare of land in paddy cultivation while it (AWD) saved power cost by about 30 per cent and production increased to 1.6 metric tonnes per hectare.

The IRRI research has proven that introduction of AWD irrigation could save water in paddy cultivation about 15-30 per cent which would ultimately save cultivation cost by at least Taka 1,765 per hectare of land.

Describing the process of cultivation, Head of Agriculture Engineering Department Dr. Asgar Ali said starting from about 15 days after transplanting, the irrigation would have to continue until the water table goes 20 cm below the ground level.

Digging of a 20 cm deep hole in the rice field and installing a perforated plastic pipe to monitor the level of the water table are required in each irrigation field, said Dr. Asgar.

He said the practice should continue until flowering starts and keeps 2-4 cm standing water from flowering to dough stage. The savings of irrigation water will have impact on environment. This may also reduce arsenic contamination in rice grain and straw, Asgar Ali said.