Tag Archives: emerging industries

Bangladesh exports software to 30 countries: Abul Hossain

http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=7&id=255842&date=2012-06-10

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.

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.

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.

Largest limestone reserve discovered

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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

http://www1.bssnews.net/newsDetails.php?cat=0&id=253984&date=2012-06-03

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.