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Bangladesh Economy: News & Updates

First span of Bangladesh's largest Padma bridge successfully installed
DHAKA, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh's largest Padma Bridge is now visible as its very first span was successfully installed Saturday by the engineers of the China Major Bridge Engineering Company.

Bangladeshi Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader among others witnessed the installation process at a site of the bridge on Saturday morning.

With the installation of the span, first among the 41 spans to be installed on the 6.15-km bridge, the minister said the Padma Bridge is now visible.

About 50 percent work of the bridge project has so far been completed, said the minister, adding that all other spans would be set up gradually.

It took about two hours for the engineers to complete the installation work of the 150-meter long span on piler-37 and piler-38.












DHAKA: For six months, two-year-old Akhimoni waited for the surgery she desperately needed for her burn injuries.
Her father, Abul Kalam, and mother, Nazma Begum, could not afford a hospital in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, and had almost given up hope.

Then Nazma heard about the Emirates Friendship Hospital, a floating medical center in the Gaibandha District, and set off with her daughter on the four-hour journey there.

“Here, Akhimoni got her surgery free of cost yesterday,” she said. “Not only that, we are also getting all the medicines for free.”

The family are not the only ones from the char areas, the wetlands of Bangladesh, to benefit from the floating hospital. The islands they live on are often far from the mainland, and difficult to reach. The people of the chars are mostly deprived of proper education and health care.

The hospital was launched in 2008 by Friendship, a non-governmental organization, in collaboration with the Dubai-based Emirates airline. The aim is to provide health care for the remote char communities, which Friendship describes as among the “most vulnerable and marginalized people in the world.”

Emirates Friendship is the organization’s second floating hospital. The first, the Lifebuoy Friendship Hospital, was launched in 2001 in a converted French river barge, with sponsorship from Unilever Bangladesh. There are now three, providing free treatment including primary health care and mother-and-child care.

Each one is fully equipped and staffed with a professionally qualified MBBS doctor, a group of nurses, and medical assistants. More than 30 staff serve in each ship around the clock, seven days a week. The villagers can visit from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Each hospital has up to eight beds for critical patients. Friendship also operates 400 satellite clinics to provide primary health care to people in the chars.

“We believe in maximum level of care for the patient so that they are cured. Otherwise there is no meaning in visiting our hospital,” said Runa Khan, the founder and executive director of Friendship.

“With these three Friendship floating hospitals and 400 satellite clinics, we have treated around 4.2 million poor people over the last 13 years.

“We will introduce another 250 satellite clinics next year. In addition, we will launch five more floating hospitals named King Abdullah Friendship Hospital, a donation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which are now under construction in a shipyard near Dhaka.”

Friendship also plans to launch a 50-bed hospital at Shyamnagar Thana for the people of the coastal area, who are struggling every day with the effects of climate change.
Well you can judge for yourself. Yes luxury is relative. For a developing country like Bangladesh (indeed a lot of Asian countries even) having aircraft style seating, carpeted soundproof interior, a toilet in the back and about 60 cushy leather upholstered semi-sleep seats is considered luxurious. Maybe you have a different yardstick for India. But for us we like it.

I don't disagree. But a railway coach is lot more luxurious than a bus.

I have travelled in a bus similar to your description. Let us say I am not looking to travel again in it. At least not for long distances
Hitting the target
Tribune Editorial
Published at 07:11 PM October 10, 2017
Last updated at 07:37 PM October 10, 2017

Bangladesh has all the ingredients to turn into an exporting powerhouse. Let us seize this opportunity
Over the past few years, Bangladesh has shown great dynamism in the exporting sector, with export earnings going up by 7.23% in the first quarter of the current fiscal.

But the truth is, to hit our ambitious targets, we have to do better.

The RMG sector has a $50 billion target for exports by 2021 — this is a tall order, and the current export growth rate will not cut it, but we certainly have the ability to go higher.

Bangladesh needs to become more competitive globally, and break into non-traditional markets — this means negotiating duty-free access to countries that buy from us, and reducing existing duties.

There is no doubt that we are at a critical juncture in our economic history, and the policies we put down now will matter for what the future looks like.

It is important to focus on developing our infrastructure facilities and reducing transportation costs.

To that end, we need to build deep sea ports. Right now, other competing nations are getting the better of us by pushing ahead with their own port facility initiatives, and Bangladesh has a lot of catching up to do.

Also, we need to increase the capacity and efficiency of our existing ports to sustain competitiveness.

To meet the growing needs of our exporters, a deep sea port must be placed high up on our list of priorities.

Bangladesh has all the ingredients to turn into an exporting powerhouse, and with labour costs rising in East Asian countries, the scales are tipping in our favour. Let us seize this opportunity.
Bangladesh wants South Asia to tap trans-boundary rivers
Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has said the South Asia region can take advantage of the trans-boundary rivers for inter-country means of riverine transport.

He said high transport costs continue to be the greatest impediment to trade competitiveness of LDCs and equitable access of their products to global as well as regional markets.

"A greater opportunity to use the riverine routes and improvement of the quality of the river connectivity should be at the core of any strategy aiming at stimulating exports and promoting the participation of domestic economy in regional markets and beyond in the global chains of production," he said.


The foreign minister inaugurated the NADI-2 Dialogue with the theme “Celebrating Common Riverine Heritage of the Bay of Bengal: Perspectives from Bangladesh and India” in Dhaka on Sunday.
The ‘Asian Confluence’ and ‘Friends of Bangladesh’ in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh organised the dialogue.

Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, BJP and Director, India Foundation; M Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Harsh Vardhan Shringla, High Commissioner of India, were present.

Ali said as many as 57 cross-boundary rivers flow through Bangladesh down to the Bay of Bengal. Out of these, 54 rivers are coming through Indian territory.

But he said the riverine transport is taking place in a limited way.

The Indo-Bangladesh Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) has been operational since 1972. For that Indian cargo is transported by vessels from mainland to north-east India using Bangladesh’s inland water ways.
Meanwhile, the PIWTT has been renewed in 2015 and many new ports of call have been included.

The foreign minister said the signing of the coastal shipping deal with India has opened up new avenues of connectivity and trade facilitation.

"We are also looking at plying of passenger and cruise vessels in these protocol routes," he said.

An MoU for movement of passenger and cruise vessels in coastal shipping routes and inland water protocol routes was signed on April 8 this year.

"Mutual respect and understanding of each other’s perspectives has matured the Bangladesh-India relationship over the years," he said, recalling India's support to Bangladesh in the War of Liberation in 1971.

Bangladesh ranks 88th on global hunger index
Tribune Desk
Published at 09:46 AM October 13, 2017

Dhaka Tribune
Bangladesh stood at 90th position among 118 countries in last year’s ranking
Bangladesh has ranked 88 out of 119 countries on the global hunger index, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said in a report.

Bangladesh has a “serious” hunger problem, according to the report.

However, Bangladesh is ahead of its neighbours India and Pakistan. Bangladesh stood at 90th position among 118 countries in last year’s ranking.

According to the report, among other South Asian countries India ranked 100, Pakistan 106, Nepal 72, Sri Lanka, 84, and Afghanistan 107.

Meanwhile, China ranked 29 and Myanmar 77 in this year’s hunger index.

The report said: “India is ranked 100th out of 119 countries, and has the third highest score in all of Asia – only Afghanistan and Pakistan are ranked worse,” IFPRI said in a statement on Thursday.

The Global Hunger Index has been ranking countries since based on four key indicators – undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.

According to this year’s scores, the level of hunger in the world has decreased by 27% from the 2000 level.
WB loan to be ‘costlier’ for BD from next FY
SAM Staff, October 14, 2017

Bangladesh will have to pay higher interest rates for taking loans from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank as the country will be classified as an ‘IDA gap’ country by the lending agency from the next year, said a report by United News of Bangladesh.

According to the report, the World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan has recently informed Bangladesh about this development and requested the government to make necessary preparations.

In a recent letter sent to Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Fan said due to Bangladesh’s improved economic performance its GNI per capita exceeded the IDA operational threshold for two consecutive years in FY 17 and FY 18.

“In the event that Bangladesh’s GNI per capita exceeds the operational threshold for the 3rd consecutive year, the country will be classified as an ‘IDA gap’ country starting in FY19 and will be subjected to IDA lending on blend terms,” wrote the World Bank Country Director in the letter.

According to the letter, Bangladesh from the next fiscal year will have to pay 2 percent interest instead of the existing 0.75 percent while the repayment period will come down to 30 years from 38, with the grace period shrinking to 5 years from 6.

Bangladesh is ready to graduate from its current ‘IDA-only’ status to the ‘gap’ status since its gross national income (GNI) per capita crossed the $ 1,165-mark to $1,190 in the last fiscal year against the IDA operational cutoff of $1,185 and is on course to repeating it this year.

To continue to get loans from the IDA, the concessionary arm of the World Bank Group, which hands out loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries, Bangladesh’s GNI per capita has to be less than $ 1,165.

In 2015, Bangladesh graduated to the lower middle-income bracket with a per capita income of $ 1,190, as per the WB criteria. The per capita income has been increasing since.

The ‘IDA-only’ cut-off in 2015 was more than $ 1,200 and so Bangladesh was still eligible for loans at concessionary interest rates.

As Bangladesh could manage to stay above the cut-off of $ 1,165 for two consecutive years, credits become expensive: the rate of interest on WB loans will jump from 1.25 percent to 2.62 percent in USD, while it will be 2 percent in SDR (Special Drawing Rights) from 0.75 percent.

Accordingly, Bangladesh can choose to request a creditworthiness assessment for IBRD lending anytime.

If assessed as creditworthy, it would be classified as an IDA/IBRD blend country. Once classified as either ‘gap’ or ‘blend’, Bangladesh will be subjected to IDA lending on ‘blend’ terms.

If classified as creditworthy for IBRD, Bangladesh would then gain access to IBRD resources and a wider menu of WB group financial products.

The bank further said Bangladesh’s eventual transition to ‘gap’ and potential ‘blend’ status is recognition that the country has achieved an important milestone in development.

The other countries in South Asia have followed similar transition paths, such as India and Sri Lanka, who are IDA Graduates and Pakistan, which is an IDA blend Country.

The Bank also wrote to AMA Muhith, “We look forward to discussing this further with you in the near future to ensure Bangladesh can make strategic use of available WB group resources to meet its development needs.”

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the per capita income was $ 1,465 in fiscal 2015-16 and $1,602 in the last fiscal year. As per the WB’s own estimation, however, it was $ 1,330 and $ 1,480 respectively.

The service charge on IDA loans is 0.75 percent. Besides, there is a 0.25 percent front-end fee and 0.25 percent commitment charge. The repayment period is 38 years, including a grace period of six years.

Although the rate of interest on WB loans is increasing, it is still much lower than on other commercial loans.

Bangladesh gets the highest amount of loans from the WB among its multilateral and bilateral development partners. In the last several years, Bangladesh received more than $ 1 billion in loans annually from the WB.
NBR to catch foreigners dodging taxes
UNB . Dhaka | Update: 19:06, Oct 15, 2017

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The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is set to start drive in various business entities to detect foreign workers engaged in jobs in Dhaka but not paying taxes.

"A taskforce team will inspect some selected business entities in search of foreign nationals who are doing jobs in Bangladesh but don't bother to pay income tax," a senior official at the NBR told UNB.

He said if the taskforce team finds any violation of relevant law then they will be penalised accordingly.

As per the existing law, if any business house wants to employ foreign nationals it will have to take prior permission from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).

Violators of this rule is will have to pay Tk 500,000 or 50 percent of the income tax (which is higher) as fine.

Besides, one will be jailed for three months to three years and be panelised by Tk five lakh or both if he/she appoints any foreigner without prior permission of the authorities concerned. The companies will also lose tax holiday or exemption benefits.

The NBR official said they have information that a good number of foreign nationals are engaged in jobs here without taking prior permission from the authorities concerned.

"They're evading taxes and we've information of some business entities that they've employed foreign nationals without taking permission," the official said.

The NBR has already asked the business entities to inform and take permission from the authorities concerned over recruiting foreign nationals.

"There're allegations that the foreigners doing jobs here evade taxes by not submitting their income tax returns or showing lower salaries and allowances in their income tax returns," the official added.

To check such irregularities, the NBR chairman has given an instruction to show zero tolerance towards the tax evaders, no matter whether locals or foreigners, he said.

There are also allegations that the employers resort to money laundering to pay the salaries and allowances of the foreign workers. Some foreigners change their addresses after entering the country taking the scope of on arrival visa.

The NBR chairman at a recent meeting asked Central Intelligence Cell (CIC) and Customs Intelligence and VAT Intelligence to work in a coordinated and integrated way in this regard.

Currently, as per available data, around 450,000 foreign nationals, mostly from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, South Korea and some European and African countries are working legally or illegally in Bangladesh.

They are now working at different non-government organisations (NGOs), hotels, restaurants, educational institutions, garments, hospitals and various industries when only 11,000 of them are paying the income tax regularly, according to the NBR sources.

All the foreigners are bound to pay 30 percent tax on their income.

Besides, many of them are working here without any work authorisation and leaving the country secretly without paying their due taxes.

Officials alleged that some unscrupulous employers also help their foreign workers evade their taxes as they work on temporary basis, renewing their work permits every three months.

According to the BoI data, nearly 12,000 foreigners receive work permit from the authorities each year.

Last year, the NBR has formed two task forces in Dhaka and Chittagong, with representatives from civil aviation, NSI, Special Branch, DGFI and other related ministries of the government, aiming to bring the foreign nationals working in Bangladesh under the tax net.

When will we have a BRT?
Other development projects overlap Bus Rapid Transit route, construction cost doubles
The average traffic speed in Dhaka is now only 7km per hour, according to recent data from World Bank. A BRT bus, however, could operate at 25km/h along the suggested routes.

So why has Bangladesh not succeeded in developing a BRT system to ease the pain of commuters in Dhaka?

Many other major cities in the world have Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems including Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta and Shanghai. Rio de Janeiro opened its BRT system for the 2016 Olympic Games last summer.

A BRT system can ensure a smooth and comfortable journey since the buses run within dedicated corridors through the middle of the road, with little scope for congestion as other vehicles are denied access.

Buses can drive through without any interruption and BRT buses can even be given priority when passing through intersections. Commuters can catch BRT buses from dedicated stations by paying in advance through smart cards.

BRT projects are cheaper than building new flyovers or highways because they involve limited construction and are normally based on existing routes.

Bangladesh had planned to build three BRT systems around 20 years ago to improve Dhaka’s traffic system and reduce emissions, but now the authorities say they will build only two BRT routes due to a shortage of space on existing roads.

The first route will be constructed along a 42km stretch between Shibbari in Gazipur and Jhilmil near Keraniganj in Dhaka. Another 36km line will be built on the capital’s eastern edge, according to the Revised Strategic Transport Plan (RSTP).

The 42km project, called BRT line 3, was launched by the Road Transport and Bridges Ministry in 2010 but its progress is currently below 5% and the civil work is yet to start. It will be implemented in two parts: from Gazipur to Dhaka airport (20km); and from the airport to Keraniganj (22km).

The cost of the Gazipur and Airport part has been set at Tk2,040 crore and the Airport to Jhilmil section at Tk4,747 crore. The total cost for BRT line 3 of Tk6,787 crore is more than double the initial estimated cost of Tk3,034 crore.

Officials from the Road Transport and Highways Division and officials involved in the project say the major cause of rising costs are loopholes in the preliminary design, three revisions of the design due to overlap with other projects, and negligence of the implementing authorities.

However, MAN Siddique, secretary of the Road Transport and Highways Division, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have no experience building a BRT, but we have already overcome the challenges. Hopefully the project will be implemented by 2019 as per plan.”

Progress of Gazipur-Airport section

Land development work for a depot for the BRT line 3 project started late last year and is still ongoing by a local firm, nearly four years after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid its foundation stone on October 31, 2013. The PM inaugurated the construction work on July 26, 2016.

The Roads and Highways Department signed a Tk2,040 crore deal with China Gezhouba Group No 6 Engineering Co Ltd on December 1, 2016, for the building of Line 3 including a 16km road corridor, flyovers and 25 stations. In addition, the Bridges Division will build a 4km flyover at Tongi for a further Tk855 crore.

The Asian Development Bank, France Development Agency and Global Environmental Facility will finance the project.

“Under the project we will build six flyovers, 32km of footpaths, a depot in Gazipur and an eight-lane bridge over the Tongi river, which has raised the cost,” BRT (Gazipur-Airport) Project Director AQM Ikram Ullah said.

“The BRT will also need 48 hectares of land to develop the depot. While most of it is public land, Tk1,107 crore has been spent to acquire the rest, with a rehabilitation cost of Tk268 crore.”

Articulated buses will run on the BRT at a cost of Tk392.4 crore.

Prof Shamsul Hoque of Buet’s department of civil engineering said there is no need to build a separate infrastructure for BRT.

“Building two dividers on the existing roads would have sufficed. Even land would not have been necessary,” he said. “All that would be necessary would be some stopping points for the passengers. Also, the traffic light system should be upgraded to prioritise the BRT system.”


Progress of Airport-Jhilmil section
The project authority says Dhaka South is more congested than the north and so this is a challenge for the second phase of the BRT line 3 project. The draft design was changed three times, delaying its completion and raising the cost twice from an initial Tk2,747 crore to the current figure of Tk4,747 crore.

As per the design – which has been funded by the World Bank – the main bus corridor, intersection modification, 16 stations, underpasses, box culverts and bridges will cost a combined Tk1,019 crore. The cost for feeder roads, drainage and footpaths has been set at Tk488 crore.

Mohakhali terminal reconstruction and bus depot construction cost is Tk1,163 crore. Keraniganj bus depot cost is Tk132.5 crore. BRT transportation system cost is Tk163 crore. The cost of automated fare collection and ticketing system is Tk52 crore.

The Shantinagar-Keraniganj flyover is not in the RSTP, but Rajuk is implementing the project which has become another major block for the BRT route. As a result the project authorities are trying to redesign the route, which may now end at Mohakhali.

“The project authority’s thought for an alternative is that if the BRT is finally built between Gazipur to Mohakhali instead of Keraniganj, the authority will install two shuttle bus services from Mohakhali bus terminal to Farmgate and another from the terminal to Gulistan,” PD Anisur Rahman said.

Padma Bridge will transform the fate of 21 districts

Project officials said the bridge’s construction work is going ahead braving strong currents in the river and inclement weather |Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
‘The southern region will become the country’s biggest economic zone after the opening of Padma Bridge’

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project will forever change the economic landscape of Bangladesh’s 21 southwestern districts.

Once in operation, the bridge will improve the region’s connectivity with Dhaka, which in-turn, will ensure a direct positive impact on local businesses and emerging industries.

Bangladesh will finally join the Asian Highway Network with the Padma Bridge. It will breathe new life into the economy of the southern region, and will significantly increase employment opportunities, several businessmen and politicians said.

The government says the bridge boost the GDP by 1.2%.

The districts that can reap economic benefits from the bridge are – Khulna, Bagerhat, Jessore, Satkhira, Narail, Kushtia, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Jhenaidah, Magura under the Khulna Division. Barisal, Pirojpur, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barguna and Jhalokati under the Barisal Division, and Gopalganj, Faridpur, Madaripur, Shariatpur and Rajbari.

Bagerhat-3 lawmaker Talukder Abdul Khaleque said: “Industrialisation has gone up in the 21 districts in tandem with the construction of Padma Bridge. A number of new cement factories have already started production near the Mongla Port.

“The number of export-oriented industries is also increasing in the region.”

Khaleque, a former state minister, believes the bridge would initiate an industrial revolution in southern Bangladesh even before the project’s predicted completion in late 2018.

“A special economic zone is being built in Bagerhat. The Khan Jahan Ali Airport project is being fast tracked to become a full-fledged airport. The work on expanding the railway is also moving ahead. All happening thanks to the Padma Bridge Project,” he said.

“The southern region will become the country’s biggest economic zone after the opening of Padma Bridge, provided that the zone receives the gas supply it needs.”

Khulna Chamber of Commerce & Industry has compiled a report about Padma Bridge’s impact on the development of Bangladesh’s southwestern region.

According to it, the bridge will ensure improved road network to the rest of the country, which in turn will reduce both the required time and cost associated with transportation.

Replying to a question, Khulna chamber President Kazi Aminul Haque said: “The region will witness breakthrough in development, following the completion of Padma Bridge. But, the demand for energy must be met to achieve that.

“Investment and employment in the region will go up significantly, and income inequality will come down.”

The report further revealed that the Mongla Port, will get a boost of traffic through the Padma Bridge. The port will become essential to businessmen across the country for importing and exporting goods, by cutting transportation costs and time.

Payra Port, a relatively small seaport in Patuakhali, will also be benefited. With necessary equipment and modernisation, the seaport could be transformed into a deep seaport.

The Khulna chamber report said the Padma Bridge would help increase the profit earned by exporting frozen fish and jute products, which are the main exports in Khulna division. The bridge will further improve domestic transportation of goods and passengers through the integrated railway system.

Meanwhile, economists have urged concerned officials to start strengthening the essential infrastructures, in the region, ahead on the bridge’s completion.

Speaking on the issue, Centre for Policy Dialogue Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem said: “Padma Bridge will help build an integrated communication network in Bangladesh, provided that the demands for gas, electricity and other infrastructural developments are met.

“The project will help boost communication, trade and tourism with many other southasian and southeastern countries.”

Former Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman echoed Moazzem, saying: “The dream project will help create more river and sea ports across the country. We must further improve gas, electricity and other infrastructures in the region to reap the benefits of industrialisation.”

Describing his plans for the region, Bagerhat Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Liakat Hossain Liton said: “I had a factory in Chittagong, which I sold to build an industry in Bagerhat, after construction of the Padma Bridge started moving forward. Many industrialists like me took the same step.

“People doing business in the region must be given incentives for realising the full potential of this industrial boom. Businessmen will consider setting up businesses and industries in the region, if tax rates are cut. Land demarcation for economic zones have already been finalised in Faridpur, Madaripur and Khulna,” he said.

The first span of Padma Bridge was installed on September 30. A total of 41 spans will be installed in this bridge. The government is optimistic that the bridge will be completed by December, 2018.

The Article was first published in Bangla Tribune.

Akij eyes big profits from purchase of Malaysian firm

Photo:Dhaka Tribune
Under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, overseas investment is not permitted for resident Bangladeshis

Akij Jute Mills Ltd has proclaimed the prospect to make $83.06 million in 10 years from the overseas purchase of Malaysian fibreboard manufacturing firm Robin Resources and its subsidiary Robina Flooring.

The company is also promising to repatriate $29.90 million from the overseas equity investment within the time frame.

The prospects were highlighted in a report of the Bangladesh Bank Performance Evaluation Committee (PEC).

The Financial Institutions Division is likely to send the PEC report to the cabinet committee on economic affair for its consent today. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will preside over the meeting.

Earlier, a total of three leading Bangladeshi companies applied to make equity investments overseas.

Scrutinising the proposals, the PEC gave its recommendation for Akij’s proposal to remit $20 million to Malaysia for buying the fibreboard and wood composite manufacturing firm.

The report of the evaluation committee said the Akij Jute Mills, a concern of Akij Group, will also return its investment of $20 million within three years after the acquisition of Robin Resources.

The PEC also levied 13 conditions, including creating employment opportunities for Bangladeshi workers in the country of investment and remitting the profit back to Bangladesh, on Akij Jute Mills.

The PEC recommendation was passed by the committee’s Executive Director Ahmed Jamal.

Under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, overseas investment is not permitted for resident Bangladeshis. If the Akij Group investment comes through, it will break open new grounds in foreign trade for the country.

Robina Flooring made a profit of $7.84 million in 2016.

NWPGCL to build 3600MW LNG power plant

Representational image of a power plantWikimedia
NWPGCL has already decided to build another 750MW-850MW re-gasification LNG combined cycle power plant in Khulna

The state owned North-West Power Generation Co Ltd (NWPGCL) is planning to build a 3600 MW re-gasification LNG combined cycle power plant in Patuakhali district.

“We will sign a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with is a German company, Siemens AG to build the 3600 MW LNG power plant in the first week of November this year,” NWPGCL Managing Director AM Khurshedul Alam told the Dhaka Tribune.

“We have opted to import LNG as the country is reeling from an acute gas crisis because the current reserves are depleting very fast. We have already an approval from the Power Division to set up the plant. We have selected Patuakhali as the location because there is a the maritime port there which will help when were are importing LNG. This may be a joint venture between NWPGCL and Siemens,” he said.

Currently, the cost of electricity per unit from a gas-run plant is less than Tk2 while the cost of electricity per unit produced from a diesel or furnace oil-run plant is Tk14 to Tk18.

NWPGCL has already decided to build another 750MW-850MW re-gasification LNG combined cycle power plant in Khulna.

NWPGCL Managing Director Khurshedul said: “We have planned to import around 125 million cubic feet per day
[mmcfd] equivalent of re-gasified LNG at Bangladesh-India border through an offshore LNG terminal from India’s West Bengal to the plant in Kulna.”

A joint venture company, the Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL) and Japanese MITSUI has also decided to set up a 500MW-600MW re-gasification LNG combined cycle power plant in Matarbari inCox’s Bazar.

So far, the NWPGCL has implemented three power plants – one 225 MW Sirajganj plant, the other in 225 MW Khulna plant and another 360 MW dual-fuel Bheramara power plant.

12:00 AM, October 26, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 PM, October 26, 2017
Marks & Spencer to source more from Bangladesh
Shwapna Bhowmick, the first Bangladeshi to become country manager of the British retailer, tells The Daily Star

Shwapna Bhowmick
Refayet Ullah Mirdha
Bangladeshi garment units are now exemplars of factory safety after the owners corrected all structural flaws with the help of Accord, Alliance and the government, said the country manager of British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

“Now, the owners are more proactive about protecting the production environment, but previously they were not. This is a big change in the garment sector,” Shwapna Bhowmick, country manager of M&S, told The Daily Star in an interview.

Bhowmick, who hails from Magura district, is the first Bangladeshi to take charge of M&S's operations in the country.

She joined M&S in 2006 as a senior merchandiser, when the British retail giant used to source garment items worth only $5 million from Bangladesh. In the current year, the value is expected to hit $700 million.

“M&S has no cap on sourcing items from Bangladesh -- we will source as much as possible.”

M&S's sourcing from Bangladesh grew by at least 30 percent year-on-year in the past three years.

“We believe in sustainability and business growth,” she said, adding that M&S has taken a lot of risks for growing its business in Bangladesh.

For instance, M&S started purchasing diversified garment products from Bangladesh.

“Those value-added products used to be sourced from other destinations earlier, as Bangladeshi exporters were not capable of making them.”

Bhowmick, who started her career in 2003 as a merchandiser with a local garment buying house after graduating from the University of Dhaka in philosophy, said she has long advised the garment manufacturers to get into the value-added segment as well.

Today, Bangladesh is no longer just a source of basic garment items. It is also a major source for value-added products like formal dresses, men's suits, formal blazers, she said.

“I also want to change the image of the country. We have a lot of green factories. Even M&S has been working with 12 green factories in Bangladesh.”

M&S helps the factories with technologies, expertise, modern design and banking products so that the factory owners can also survive in the business. It also helps its model factories to increase their productivity.

Regarding the potential of Myanmar and African countries in garment business, she said these countries are not ready yet to be a major competitor for Bangladesh.

“It will take a lot of time for Myanmar,” said Bhowmick, who is also the country manager for the neighbouring Southeast Asian country.

“But, at the same time, Bangladesh should not be complacent that we do not have any competitor. Bangladesh should continue its strive to do better.”

Bhowmick is the youngest person to become a country manager for one of M&S's operations.

“My family helped me a lot to reach this position, as it is really difficult for a woman in Bangladesh to reach such heights in the corporate world.”

Reaching the summit was not easy for Bhowmick. “As a junior merchandiser I worked day and night for the company.”

When she realised that some academic footing would help her perform better, she got herself enrolled on a diploma course on merchandising at the BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology.

Back in 2003, the working environment in Bangladesh for a female merchandiser was not as good as it is today.

“I was surprised that in the office of 150 there were only two females -- myself and a telephone operator.”

From the local buying house she moved to British retailer Next and then US retail giant Wal-Mart.

“We have a lot of work to be done for empowering women in the corporate world. I always wanted to be a change maker and tried to bring any positive change.”
Chevron not winding up business in BD
SAM Report, October 27, 2017

File Photo
Bangladesh’s state minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid on Thursday (Oct 26) said US oil major Chevron is not leaving Bangladesh; rather, it will invest $400 million in the country’s gas sector.

While addressing a contract signing ceremony at the Bidyut Bhaban in the city, he said Chevron has officially communicated its decision to the government to this end.

Beximco Group’s subsidiary Teesta Solar Limited signed the deal with state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) to set up a 200 MW solar power plant in Gaibandha.

He said the Chevron’s planned $400 million will be invested in setting up a wellhead gas compressor at Bibiyana gas field to increase the gas pressure to the supply line.

Chevron’s three gas fields — Bibiyana, Jalabad and Moulvibazar — share 52 percent of the total 2700 mmcf gas now being produced by the country’s 22 gas fields.

In September last year, the Chevron Corporation announced its plan to sell out its assets of the three gas fields in Bangladesh.

Following the announcement, Bangladesh expressed its desire to buy the assets.

But on April 24 last, Chevron further announced that it entered into an agreement to sell the shares of its wholly-owned indirect subsidiaries operating in Bangladesh to a Chinese consortium named Himalaya Energy Co Ltd.

Following the announcement, Bangladesh got very frustrated and continued its efforts to block the Chevron-Himalayan deal.

The state minister said the new decision of Chevron for investing money in the gas field will boost the confidence of other foreign companies to continue their businesses in Bangladesh.

He said many foreign companies are now showing their immense interest to invest in Bangladesh as its demand for energy is growing fast for the growing economy.

Welcoming Beximco for its deal with PDB to set up 200 MW solar power, the junior minister hoped that the company will be successful in setting up the plant.

PDB will buy electricity from the plant at a tariff rate of US 15 cents for 20 years on “no power, no payment basis”.

Nasrul Hamid, however, expressed his frustration that although many companies signed deals to set up solar power plants, their plants did not come into operation.

From next year, he said, about 2500 MW of electricity will be added to the national grid as the country’s power generation will reach 24000 MW by 2021.
Bangladesh signing $554 million deal with China for single point mooring
SAM Staff, October 28, 2017

A single point mooring, Photo: Reuters
Bangladesh is penning a $554 million loan deal with China to build a deep-sea single point mooring with an aim to cut the time and cost of offloading fuel oil from tankers, according to a report by bdnews24.com.

The Economic Relations Division or ERD and the Export-Import Bank of China will sign the deal in Dhaka on Sunday (Oct 29).

ERD Deputy Secretary AKM Matiur Rahman told the news portal that the project titled ‘Installation of Single Point Mooring With Double Pipeline’ is part of memorandums of understanding or MoUs signed for 27 projects with a total estimated cost of $24 billion during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Dhaka visit last year.

Matiur said the mooring would play a key role in reducing time and cost of offloading imported fuel oil by bringing order to the work
Also Read: Bangladesh approves China-funded elevated expressway project
State-owned Bangladesh Petrolium Corporation’s Eastern Refinery is the sole fuel oil refinery of the country now. It can refine 1.5 million tonnes crude oil annually.

Bangladesh imports around 3.5 tonnes diesel a year to meet the domestic demand.

Matiur said Bangladesh cannot offload imported fuel oil at the Eastern Refinery depot directly.

The oil tankers anchor at deep sea and lighter vessels take the oil to the depot as the port is not navigable for the tankers.

“It takes three to seven days to offload oil from tankers in this way and the government has to pay the shipping companies fines for the extra period,” Matiur said.

According to him, it will be possible to offload 120,000 tonnes crude oil in 48 hours and 70,000 tonnes diesel through the proposed mooring with its two pipelines.

The mooring’s capacity to offload oil annually will be 9 million tonnes.

The deputy secretary said the plan is to send the oil directly to the refinery depot through the mooring.

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council or ECNEC cleared a project to set up a single point mooring with double pipeline at the deep sea in 2010, a lack of fund meant the project could not go ahead.

It, however, gained pace after the signing of the related MoU during Xi’s visit.

The BPC then signed a deal with China Petroleum Bureau on Dec 8 to implement the project.

According to the deal, the Chinese bureau will build the mooring in Maheshkhali and set up a 220-kilometre double pipeline to the refinery depot.
Storage tank and pump station will also be set up in Maheshkhali.
Also Read: China says economic development will ensure maritime security

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