Tag Archives: bangladesh

Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries: Abul Hossain

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Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries: Abul Hossain

SANGSAD BHABAN, June 10 (BSS) – Bangladesh software industry is expected to see a robust growth despite global economic recession.

Replying to a tabled question from treasury bench Bazlul Haque Harun of Jhalakathi-1, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Syed Abul Hossain said the country has earned US$ 31 million in fiscal 2009-10 and US$ 27 million in fiscal 2010-11 against the export of software in the world market.

At present Bangladesh is exporting software to 30 countries including Europe, America, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Australia and South Asia, he said.

The ICT minister said local IT professionals are producing and developing international standard software under the supervision of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) with assistance from the government.

Answering to another tabled question of Benzir Ahmad, MP of Dhaka-20, the ICT minister said the government is implementing a project to set up computer lab with Internet facility in the country’s 3,172 educational institutions aimed at developing IT literate human resource.

Besides, initiative has been taken to formulate necessary policy and guideline for introducing digital signature while office of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) has been established for issuing electronic signature.

To make the government’s services available for the mass people, the government has installed National Data Centre at Bangladesh Computer Council, he added.

Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas

http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=0&id=255765&date=2012-06-10

Biogas plants’ benefit visible in Rajshahi rural, sub-urban areas
By Dr Aynal Haque

RAJSHAHI, June 10 (BSS)- Low-cost biogas, an alternative fuel for cooking, is increasingly getting popular among the people at different rural areas even in outskirts of the metropolis for the last couple of years.

Biogas is not only used as fuel for cooking foods but the slurry, main effluent of the biogas plant, is also being used as organic fertiliser in the farming fields for boosting its production and in the ponds as fish meal.

The people, who never thought of having gas for cooking rice in their remote areas, are now regularly using for their domestic purposes like civic life. Currently, more than 400 rural families are using biogas instead of firewood to cook foods and to boost farm and fish production.

The Premtaly and some of its adjacent localities under Godagari Upazila has been identified as biogas village, local sources said.

Most of the users expressed their satisfaction over the biogas plants as they find this alternative fuel much cheaper than firewood and any other fossil fuel.

Marzina Begum, 45, a housewife of Bijoynagar area under Godagari upazila, has been using the biogas for the last one and half years. She cooks meal for her seven-member family twice everyday.

She said the use of the price hiked kerosene and LPG cylinder has become unbearable in the rural life.

In that case, use of biogas is very comfortable and it has no negative impact to the environment, she clarified.

“In addition to cooking meals of our eight-member family, I have been running a cow-fattening farm with 26 cattle and seed production project on 45-bigha of lands commercially with my two biogas plants simultaneously for the last one and half years,” said Aminul Islam Fatik of Bidirpur area.

He said that he had set up a 2.5 square-meter plant with his own initiative in 2007 for meeting up his domestic fuel demands.

Afterwards, he installed another 4.8 square-meter plant in 2010 for fulfilling his domestic and commercial demands through using the natural resources especially eco-friendly biogas and slurry.

Sabrina Reja, 30, wife of Selim Reja, of Premtali Dumuria, described her practice while she was cooking their midday meal in her double-burner oven. She said all of their daily family cooking is being done with the biogas excepting the winter season.

She added that the biogas is very effective for the cooking meal for any farming family as it requires more utensils and needs additional workforce for cleaning of those regularly.

But, the biogas has no smoke and black spot on the utensils, so there is no extra burden of cleaning and washing.

“We have eight cattleheads and all of their dung are being used in our plant,” she said adding, “We cook rice bran of four kilograms for the cattleheads besides three-time meals for our seven-member family everyday and regularly with the gas”.

In the process, she said there is no extra cost to feed the cows excepting the rice straw.

Referring to multifarious problems relating to cooking in conventional earthen stove Sabrina Reja attributed that the biogas cooking contributes a lot to remove the obstacles by large.

By dint of the biogas cooking, she said their life style has been changed at a greater extent.

Women members of the family are being benefited more in the new system as most of them are liable to manage the rural family especially cooking together with cleaning and washing the utensils.

Murshalin of Premtali Khetur area said the use of biogas has brought a new dimension in his family.

As a whole, the plant has ensured security of the domestic consumption of fuel.

“In addition to cooking meals of our nine-member family, I have been running a tea stall at Premtaly Bazar where around 80 cups of tea are sold everyday and all the tea-water are being boiled by our own biogas,” said Shariful Islam of Kathalbaria.

‘We never thought of having such type of privilege in our village. But biogas has made things happen, by which we save at least Taka 900 per month as the water boiling purpose.’

Not only that, the harvested bioslurry is being used in 10 bigha of fish culture ponds as primary feeds for boosting fish production.

“Earlier, we had to use the cow-dung as cooking fuel, but now using those in the biogas plant by which, we are getting diversified benefits,” said Rafiqul Islam of Shekherpara adding that the dried slurry is also being used as cooking fuel.

He said a family of five to six members can easily cook their foods and fulfill the demands of organic fertiliser of his farming field and fish culture ponds from one plant.

Various vegetables and fruits especially banana are being grown well on surrounding grounds of the slurry dumping ditch without any extra fertiliser and care, he viewed.

Budget industry friendly, growth supportive: EAB

http://thenewnationbd.com/newsdetails.aspx?newsid=42034

Budget industry friendly, growth supportive: EAB
It put forward 5-point proposals for Govt consideration
B&F Report

Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) has termed the proposed budget for 2012-13 fiscal as growth-oriented and industry friendly and has welcomed the government for prioritising key sectors like power and energy, agriculture, communication and physical infrastructure.

Giving its post-budget reaction at a press conference in Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on Sunday, the leaders of the EAB, the apex trade body of export sector, also hailed the government initiative to protect the local industry as well as support the export-oriented sectors.

“All these would have a positive impact on the country’s industrialisation as a whole,” they said.
EAB belives the proposed budget is ‘a pro-people and growth-oriented’ one which will also help to accelerate growth of the export sector.

“A higher export growth will help to attain the key budgetary goal of achieving GDP growth to 7.2 per cent and inflation within 7.5 per cent for the next fiscal,” it added.

Reading out a written statement, the EAB President Abdus Salam Murshedy said steps like reducing tax on capital machinery imports for export sector and for Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), withdrawal of VAT from the rented factory premises and continuation of incentive package for exploring new markets will certainly boost up export earnings.

Besides, emphasising on human resources development, block allocation for employment generation, incentive package for capital market, setting up a hi-tech park in Gazipur and API park in Munshiganj and incentive for ship building industry are also some bold steps proposed in the budget for the upcoming fiscal, he said.

Murshedy, however, expressed dismay over the budgetary provision of hiking tax at source on export proceed and put forward 5-point recommendations to the government “for its kind consideration”.

He also urged the government to consider some proposals for the interest of the export sector. The proposals are withdrawal of 1.2 per cent tax at soucre on exports uninterrupted power and gas supply to the export-oriented industries, cut in bank interest rate to single digit, unified exchange rate for exporters and a enhance rate of cash incentive (tax free).

“Hike in tax at source fro, 0.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent will adversely impact the export sector by reducing competitive edge of local goods in the international market. It will also hurt profitability of the entrepreneurs,” Murshedy added.

He pointed out that export sector is passing through a critical time influenced largely by various external and internal threats. On the other hand, he said a significant hike in power and fuel prices hit hard the industry by rising cost of production.

“In such a situation, the industry cannot afford a leap of tax at source because it will be an extra burden for it,” he noted.

GDP growth target set at 7.2pc

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=237405

GDP growth target set at 7.2pc
Staff Correspondent

The gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the next fiscal year has been set at 7.2 percent expecting that trade and agriculture will continue to thrive and the global economy will turn around by 2013.

The country’s GDP grew by 6.7 percent in 2010-11 and the provisional estimate was set at 6.3 percent for the outgoing fiscal year. Bangladesh now targets to take the growth to 8 percent by 2014-15.

According to the latest forecast, the growth of global economy may stand at 3.5 percent while that of the developing and emerging economies at 5.7 percent in 2012.

“In pace with economies of other emerging and developing countries, we have been able to sustain the economic growth in Bangladesh,” said Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his budget speech yesterday.

In the last three years, the country had an export growth of 21.2 percent. By April 2012, export grew by 8.4 percent compared to that of April last year.

The government hopes this trend will continue due to the expansion of regional trade, surge in internal demand and bumper Boro harvest.

The finance minister also expects there would be steady credit flow to development sectors and the deficits in power, energy and infrastructure will gradually decrease.

On an average the country’s import also increased by 22.2 percent in the last three years. Up to this April, import grew by 8.7 percent.

KL, Doha pledge $12b investment for Bangladesh

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=131814&date=2012-06-04

KL, Doha pledge $12b investment for Bangladesh
Nizam Ahmed

Bangladesh, desperately seeking overseas funds for building its major infrastructures, has so far been assured of assistance and investment worth $12 billion from two friendly countries in Asia, officials said on Sunday.

The $12 billion investment pledges came almost simultaneously when two official teams from Malaysia and Qatar visited Bangladesh last month, officials at the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) said.

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

Qatar so far offered to invest some $3.0 billion for building infrastructure in Bangladesh. The Gulf state is also likely to pledge another $2.5 billion investment in different sectors including energy, officials said.

“All these investment proposals are likely to be registered after the relevant authorities and concerned parties sign required deals,” a senior official of the Board of Investment told the FE.

Bangladesh launched the hectic drive for foreign funds after the World Bank refrained from giving its pledged portion of $1.2 billion for building a $3.0 billion Padma bridge alleging corruption in a bidding process last year.

The construction of the Padma Bridge was an election pledge of the government which won a landslide victory in the last general election in late 2008, officials at the ministry of communications said.

“It is our prime project and we want to start its construction before conclusion of our present term in January 2014,” communications minister Obaidul Quader told the FE.

Following the World Bank’s action other financers, including Japan International Cooperation Agency ($420 million), Asian Development Bank ($615 million) and Islamic Development Bank ($140 million) have also suspended their pledged funds.

Meanwhile, the authorities concerned are also expecting more foreign assistance in coming months as the oil-rich Qatar has shown great interest in investing in oil and gas exploration, power plants, expansion of airports, river dredging and manpower training institutes.

Bangladesh also hopes further pledges of another $2.5 billion investment from Qatar for setting up a proposed 1,000 mega watt liquefied natural gas-fired power plant at Moheskhali off-shore island, expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, expansion of highways, procurement of five river dredgers and for setting up a technical training centre, MoFA officials said.

The far eastern Malaysia has offered a total of $9.0 billion investment in the bridge and the international airport projects while Qatar pledged for constructing the bridge across the Padma river.

Meanwhile, Qatar is also looking for other fields including energy, infrastructure including river dredging and human resources sectors.

Malaysian Prime Minister’s special envoy for South Asia Dato S Samy Vellu offered the new and the latest investment proposal worth some $6.0 billion for construction of the proposed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport near Dhaka, to Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Col (retd) Faruk Khan on May 30.

The new offer was made when Mr. Samy Vellu visited Dhaka for submitting a formal preliminary proposal for construction of $3.0 billion Padma Bridge, which Malaysia had agreed earlier and a memorandum of understanding was signed in Kuala Lumpur on April 10.

Earlier in the last week, a Qatari official team led by Assistant Minister for International Cooperation Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Jabr Al Thani, offered some $3.0 billion assistance for building the Padma Bridge.

As Bangladesh and Malaysia have already signed a MoU for building the Padma Bridge, Qatar is likely to join the venture as a third party in the project, MoFA officials said.

“We have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Malaysia. If it is feasible, acceptable and agreed upon by all the parties, we can have a tripartite agreement,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters after meeting with the Qatari delegation on May 28.

“If Malaysia and Qatar really can upkeep their pledges and come forward in investing, then the world scenario of financing will really change,” an official of the ministry of finance said without giving details.

How to bring in more FDI

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How to bring in more FDI

Fahmida Khatun

Foreign direct investment (FDI) has made enormous leaps since the 1990s in terms of its growth in the global economic landscape. Due to paucity of resources in developing and least developed countries, FDI has become an important component of their development strategies and in many cases it proved to be a win-win situation to both host and home countries. Host countries want to gain from FDI in multiple ways such as through having capital, technology and knowledge. Home countries also benefit through investing as they can penetrate into markets, gain access to raw materials and diversify business activities. They can also overcome trade barriers and reduce transport costs.

Bangladesh is considered to be one of the potential economies despite being besieged by multi-faceted adversities such as frequent natural disasters, high density of population, political turmoil and a low production capacity. The resilience and inherent strength of the economy, mainly due to its robust sectors such as agriculture, readymade garments and remittances, have been the basis of such optimism. However, in order to make its graduation to the next level of growth and fully exploit the growth potential, the country’s investment scenario has to be improved. The lack of adequate investment is one of the important reasons for the growth below the potential of the economy. The domestic investment rate has been stagnant at around 24 percent to 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the last ten years which is far below the level required for a country aiming to be become a middle-income country by 2021 with a growth rate of 10 percent. The sixth five-year plan (2011-15) of Bangladesh targets a GDP growth of 8 percent by the end of the plan period. This requires that the total investment has to grow by 8.1 percent per year and the share of investment in GDP has to be 32.5 percent by fiscal 2015. Low domestic investment has been a matter of concern as it holds back foreign investment as well.

Even though Bangladesh has been trying to bring in FDI since its independence and put in place FDI friendly policies in the early 1980s (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act 1980 was such an attempt) much before some of its neighbours, it has been unable to accelerate FDI at the expected level. In the 1990s, there was an attraction for the East Asian and European investors to invest in the readymade garments industry of Bangladesh, thanks to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and the availability of labour at a competitive price. Currently, the concentration of FDI is mainly on transport, storage and communication, manufacturing and power, gas and petroleum. Other sectors such as agriculture, trade and commerce and, services receive nominal FDI. In 2010, manufacturing sector was the highest recipient at 27.82 percent of total FDI, while the construction sector received the lowest with a share of 0.01 percent. The growth of FDI in Bangladesh has, however, been very inconsistent. A major inflow of FDI was observed in the mid 2000s and rose to $913.32 million in 2010.

While discussing the impediments to bringing FDI into the country, a host of issues have been raised ranging from infrastructural constraints to bureaucratic complexities to image building. However, the crux of the problem does, in fact, lie in three broad areas. First is the limited access to physical infrastructure, particularly supply of gas and electricity. This has emerged as a binding constraint on investment promotion in Bangladesh. For example, the supply of gas between December 2008 and December 2011 has increased only marginally from 1,606 million cubic feet to 1,960 million cubic feet, indicating an average growth of 7.4 percent. On the other hand, the demand for gas rose by 12.3 percent during this period, leading to a wide gap between demand and supply. At present, the demand for power in Bangladesh is around 6,500 megawatt, while the supply is 4,699 megawatt. In the recent times, the FDI rise has been observed mainly in the export processing zones (EPZ) as there is little or no gas and electricity supply constraint like the domestic tariff area. In order to overcome infrastructural bottlenecks, aid for productive capacity needs to be enhanced significantly. However, effective use of these funds has to be ensured. Public-private infrastructure development policy can also be a powerful tool to tackle the supply side constraints.

The second bottleneck is the culture of confrontational politics, which poses a serious threat for the safety of property and resources of prospective investors. Acrimony and bitterness among political parties often lead to destruction and affect lives and properties of people which in turn deter not only foreign investment but also local private investment. Many investors are even willing to spend on infrastructure to facilitate their investment in other sectors, only if there are political stability and predictability of return on their investment.

The third constraint is the lack of good governance and prevalence of corruption, which have put a scar on the reputation of the country at the global level. Because of advantages such as competitive prices for labour and other services, investors may find Bangladesh a lucrative investment destination. However, predicaments such as delay and a lack of transparency in decision making process, a dearth of effective implementation of regulations and policies, and discriminatory incentive packages act as stumbling blocks in bringing in FDI to the country.

FDI is not a panacea for slow growth, and it has several negative implications too. These include capital flight and repatriation of profit, dependency on technologies and limited transfer of technology and transfer pricing. With effective regulatory and oversight mechanism such issues can be addressed. FDI can supplement the local effort to produce goods and services and create jobs. If local businesses flourish, foreign investors will have confidence to bring their resources. Promotion of local businesses through access to adequate finance and creation of an enabling environment should also be a key target. Economic diplomacy is vital at this day and age to attract foreign resources. This has to be accompanied by good marketing skill which in other words is called ‘branding’. Such image building task has to be done primarily by the government but complemented by the private sector and all citizens of the country.

The writer is an economist and head of research at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.

Qatar proposes to install 1000MW power plant at Moheskhali

http://www.daily-sun.com/details_Qatar-proposes-to-install-1000MW-power-plant-at-Moheskhali_164_1_3_1_0.html

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

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=131803&date=2012-06-04

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

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=132021&date=2012-06-06

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

http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=2&id=254454&date=2012-06-05

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.

Largest limestone reserve discovered

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=236898

Largest limestone reserve discovered
GSB sees it as feasible mine

Staff Correspondent

The Geological Survey of Bangladesh yesterday discovered a limestone deposit in Panchbibi upazila of Joypurhat.

Moonira Akhter Chowdhury, Director General, Geological Survey of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star that the limestone deposit appears to be the largest discovered so far in the country.

Limestone is a key ingredient for making cement and Chowdhury believes that if the deposit is as big as the indicators are saying, it could meet the demand for limestone in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh depends largely on imported limestone.

“On the basis of scientific indications we can say that this is going to be a much bigger deposit than the old find in Jamalganj of Joypurhat and hopefully, it will also be feasible to mine,” the DG said over the telephone.

She said it was too early to specify the size of the deposit. “It will take one more month to ascertain the total reserve…”

The Geological Survey, which has made most of the coal, limestone, hard rock and peat discoveries in the country since the 1950s, yesterday struck limestone 456.6 metres below the ground. It drilled 5.5 metres further into the layer, which indicated that the layer was thick.

She said as the geologists were drilling deep, they were hoping that the layer would expand more. “The basin seems bigger,” she said.

In the 1960s, the then Geological Survey of Pakistan discovered a large limestone deposit in Jamalganj of Joypurhat. The deposit was between 518.16 metres and 548.64 metres under the ground.

Later, studies revealed that 270 million tonnes of limestone were there and 100 million tonnes of it could be mined.

However, the mine was later deemed financially unviable as the cost to control the underground temperature would have been too expensive and the layer was pretty far below the surface.

Yesterday’s discovery was much closer to the surface.

LIMESTONE IN BANGLADESH
In 1961, the Geological Survey of Pakistan found limestone deposits in Bagalibazar-Takerghat-Bhangerghat area of Sunamganj. The total deposit of around 30 million tonnes was found in four locations at depths between six metres and 100 metres.

At Takerghat, at least 612,371 tonnes of limestone were mined between 1972 and 1993, according to the Geological Survey of Bangladesh.

In the 60’s, limestone deposits were found in Bogra (nearly 2,000 metres below the surface), in Patnitala of Naogaon (300 metres below the surface), Paharpur of Joypurhat (500 metres below the surface) and in Jamalganj of Joypurhat.

In 1966, Fried Krupp Roshtoff of Germany undertook a feasibility study of limestone mining in Jamalganj and found the mine was economically feasible. In 1969 the government undertook a mining project that was never launched.

In 1978, the Geological Survey of Bangladesh came up with a fresh analysis saying that the Jamalganj deposit had 100 million tonnes of mineable limestone covering a 6.7 square km area.

However, the project was abandoned due to the high cost involved in controlling the underground temperature.

BIWTA to have $36m two salvage vessels this year

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BIWTA to have $36m two salvage vessels this year

DHAKA, June 3 (BSS) – Two salvage vessels purchased from Korea outlaying 36 million US dollars are expected to arrive in the country by this year, a high official of BIWTA said here today.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) is procuring the two salvage vessels under a Korean soft loan aimed expediting the rescue operation aftermath of river accidents.

“The government plans to develop a fleet of four rescue vessels soon so it can move for rescue operation soon after any accident,” Chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Dr Shamsuddoha Khandker told BSS.

Khandker said although the new salvage vessel would have a capacity of lifting a sinking vessel weighing 250 metric tons, it would be able to lift vessel weighting up to 500 metric tons.

“We are expecting that the two salvage vessels will arrive here in the country by December this year as the work order to procure the vessels has already been given to a Korean company in January last year,” he said.

The BIWTA Chairman said the existing salvage vessels — Rustom and Hamza — along with the two existing vessels would be anchored in four different places — Narayanganj, Barisal, Khulna and Sunamganj.

Khandker said the BIWTA now maintains only two salvage vessels – – MV Rustam and MV Hamza — procured in between 1963 and 1968.

He said each salvage vessel has the capacity to lift only 60 metric tons but each vessel is now lifting vessel weight about 400 metric tones.

The country needs more salvage vessels to carry massive rescue operation as many launches weighing 1,000 metric tons are now plying on the river routes, said the BIWTA chairman.

Grape farming growing in N-region

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/more.php?news_id=131721&date=2012-06-04

Grape farming growing in N-region
Our Correspondent

RANGPUR, June 3: Cultivation of grapes is gradually gaining popularity in the northern region and the growers are earning handsomely by selling their products.

According to the agriculturists, the soil and climate of Dinajpur, Rangpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh are suitable for grape cultivation.

Presently, grapes are cultivated only in a limited extent due to non-availability of required seeds and other facilities.

The local growers say that proper training and financial and technical assistances can pave way for large-scale commercial production of grapes across the region.

Mominur Rahman, a grower at Mithapukur told FE he has been cultivating grape in his homestead for several years and selling those at a good price.

Growers say much of the grapes produced in the areas belong to the average grade variety called ‘Jatka’.

They also cultivate a number of high-grade varieties like Black Ruby, Cardinal, Pearl, Blue etc.

These local grapes are comparatively sweeter in taste than the imported ones, they claimed.

Non-formal education underscored

BSS report says: Discussants at a views-sharing meeting last evening stressed the need for continuation of the non-formal education programme for developing human resources as well as accelerating uplifts in the rural areas.

They were addressing the meeting jointly organised by Panchagarh district administration, Non- formal Education Bureau and Astha Social Development Organisation (ASDO) at the conference room of Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner.

Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education MM Neaz Uddin attended the meeting as the chief guest with Panchagarh Deputy Commissioner Md Tofazzal Hossain in the chair.

Director General of Non-formal Education Bureau Md Alauddin, Project Director of Post Literacy & Continuing Education for Human Development (PLCEHD-2) MA Mannan Hawlader and Executive Director of ASDO Nahid Parveen addressed as the special guests.

District level government and NGO officials and executives, teachers, public representatives, socio-cultural and political leaders and activists, professionals, journalists and local elite took part in the meeting.

Earlier, the acting secretary inaugurated Doluapara Non- formal Education Centre in Sadar upazila as part of official launching of educational activities at all 170 such centres in five upazilas in Panchagarh.

Thirty females and thirty males between 15 to 45 years of age have been attending the non-formal education and vocational training programmes in separate batches and shifts at each centre every day. Classes are being held both in morning and evening shifts.

As per agreement with the government, ASDO has been conducting non-formal education and vocational training on sewing, repairing shallow machines, bicycles and rickshaw vans, electric cable wiring and livestock in these centres.

H&M to raise apparel sourcing from BD

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H&M to raise apparel sourcing from BD
B&F Report

A Sweden-based clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has announced to increase its sourcing from Bangladesh, said Dow Jones Newswires quoting H&M Head Helena Helmersson. It also intends to launch a trial programme for the current and next year, the news agency stated.

H&M head said they have already informed the Bangladesh Government, its other stakeholders and clothing producers regarding their growth plans. However the ongoing labour unrest in the country is restraining suppliers from planning production, as strikes and protests often hamper production and cause delays, she added.

She said that a stable market would prove to be greatly beneficial for the company as well as its suppliers and workers.

The firm intends to utilize its power to build pressure on its suppliers in Bangladesh to improve work conditions, and push for constitution of democratic labour committees that can negotiate with factory workers on wages and working conditions.

Operating a network of more than 2,500 retail outlets in 44 markets across the world, with a staff of 94,000 people, H&M is a leading buyer of garments from Bangladesh. It currently sources around 25 percent of its products from Bangladesh and it intends to raise this volume in future.

Bangladesh has now emerged as a reliable readymade garment-sourcing destination for leading global retailers, due to its competitive prices.

A recent study undertaken by McKinsey, a leading research company in US, states that Bangladesh’s apparel exports are expected to grow almost two-fold by 2015 and three-fold over the next 10 years. This is because leading buyers from China are shifting to Bangladesh as capacity constraints and rising labour costs in China are eroding their profit margins.