London, 27 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked the members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) to make sure that common people do not fall victims to unnecessary torture and oppression during their duties. “You all must give attention to the fact that common people do not suffer in anyway...they must not face any unnecessary torture and oppression...,” she said. The Prime Minister said this while speaking at the PM?s Special Darbar marking the 13th founding anniversary of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) at its Kurmitola headquarters. She also asked the members of the elite force to work more sincerely to ensure safety to public life and property.

Belarus yesterday expressed its interest to set up a joint commission on trade and economy to further boost the economic relations with Bangladesh. Visiting Belarusian Minister of Industry Vitaly Vovk expressed the interest when he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban.

The leave of all government officials in the haor areas and those of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry has been cancelled so that they can take part in emergency operations. Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya decided this during a meeting held at the Secretariat yesterday. The meeting also decided to provide relief to fishermen alongside farmers in the haor areas under vulnerable group feeding (VGF) programme.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would visit flood-affected haor areas of Sunamganj on April 30. Prime Minister's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim confirmed this.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has said Bangladesh economy is now at a crossroads and now accelerated economic growth is essential for it to achieve the middle-income country status by 2021.He was speaking at a conference dubbed „Green Growth Solutions Conference? in Dhaka as Chief Guest. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Danish Embassy in Dhaka, Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) jointly arranged the conference.

The China Building Materials Federation has presented a plan to Bangladesh Investment Development Board (BIDA) offering US $2 billion investment in the sector. BIDA says a 12-strong delegation met its Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam on Tuesday and expressed their interest. The Chairman said they would get „one stop service? in Dhaka. The Chinese side gave a proposal on „Cooperation Proposal for China-Bangladesh Building Material Upgrade Project and the Development of Industrial Park? for the investment in construction materials such as bricks, tiles, cement, ceramics and mosaic.

The Cabinet Committee yesterday approved some 11 proposals including import of electricity from the proposed 1,600-MW coal-based power plant of Adani Group in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed chaired the meeting.

The construction works of a 91-km pipeline for smooth transmission of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Moheshkhali to Anwara in Chittagong district would be completed by December this year. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said this.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday between the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh to include ICT in the development activities through creating new partnerships. State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Country Director of UNDP in Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee, among others, addressed the signing ceremony at the Software Technology Park, Janata Tower in Dhaka.

Noting that a large data bank can help prevent cyber-attack, the government is going to establish a database involving Tk 20 billion in Dhaka to this end. Additional Secretary to the ICT Division Md Harunur Rashid said this while speaking at a seminar on cyber security on Tuesday.

Lee Suen Ming, Chief Executive Officer of Gleneagles Hospital in Singapore yesterday told journalists that Singapore is interested to share the latest health care technology with Bangladesh. He offered to sign an agreement to train Bangladeshi physicians and nurses. Earlier, he visited United Hospital and Apollo Hospital here.

The government is working to make internet cheaper at the consumer level, State Minister for Telecom Tarana Halim said yesterday.

Revenue collection shot up 20 percent year-on-year to Tk 109,266 crore in the July-February period of the current fiscal year. The receipts in February increased 18 percent year-on-year to Tk 13,477 crore, according to National Board of Revenue. Analysts attributed the rise in revenue collection to increased imports and steady growth of domestic economy.

London, 26 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed dissatisfaction over the service quality and business performance of state owned mobile carrier Teletalk, asking it to seek a suitable foreign company for probable merger. A network expansion project proposal for Teletalk was placed before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the telecom minister, at the ECNEC meeting. However, she came down heavily upon the operator's passive attitude on becoming a competitive player. The Prime Minister directed the management of Teletalk to find ways of becoming a profitable venture.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved the construction of 560 model mosques-cum-Islamic cultural centres at district and upazila levels with an estimated cost of Tk 9,062.41 crore. The approval came from the weekly ECNEC meeting in the NEC conference room in the city with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. A total of 13 projects were approved yesterday involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 20,402.75 crore. Of the approved 13 projects, 11 are new while two are revised ones.

The government approved the establishment of 12 IT and hi-tech parks in different districts at a cost of Tk 1,796.40 crore, to move closer to a digital economy.  The ECNEC yesterday approved the project, where Tk 1,544 crore will come in the form of credit from India and the government will bear the rest of the amount. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting.

The construction of the 600-metre long Patenga container terminal, which is expected to take the pressure off the Chittagong port, will be completed by the end of 2019, the Chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority said yesterday.

The life expectancy at birth in the country rose to 71.6 years in 2016 from 70.9 years in 2015, according to the results of Sample Vital Registration System of 2016. Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters yesterday. The average life expectancy was 70.7 years in 2014, 70.4 years in 2013 and 69.4 years in 2012.

Indian High Commission in Dhaka yesterday announced that the freedom fighters will henceforth be eligible for five-year multiple entry tourist visas. The decision was taken during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India on April 7-10.

The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday received different agricultural machineries worth Tk 11 crore in grants from the Chinese government under an agreement for financial and technical assistance signed between the two countries. A total of 6,004 agricultural machineries of 13 categories have been supplied to Bangladesh.

Outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Bangladesh Wanja Campos Da Nóbrega said  yesterday that she has seen “tremendous growth and progress” in Bangladesh, especially in socio-economic sectors, throughout her tenure here.The remarks were made by the Ambassador during her farewell meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at the Foreign Ministry.

Bangladesh Bank (BB) has so far received 73 project proposals involving US$ 435 million from export-oriented companies to facilitate long-term financing under the World Bank funded Financial Sector Support Project (FSSP). "We have already sanctioned 27 proposals with $109.77 million, of which $50.79 million of 18 proposals has been disbursed, the rest of the sanctioned amount is under the process of disbursement," a senior BB official said journalists yesterday.

London, 25 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the authorities concerned to further expedite relief operations in the flood-affected haor areas to minimize human sufferings. She also advised ensuring broader publicity measures so people of the country can be made aware of the ongoing relief works in the haor areas. The PM made the directives at the Cabinet's weekly meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the authorities concerned to introduce welfare association-type bodies for workers in export processing zones (EPZs) following the structures of European Union countries or other developed nation. The Premier gave the directive while discussing the EPZ law during a regular weekly Cabinet meeting at Bangladesh Secretariat.

The Cabinet yesterday approved in principle a draft bill having a provision of two years' jail or fine for the import of harmful, banned fish, fry and fish products, aiming to control the spread of diseases and microbes in fish. The bill, 'The Fisheries Quarantine Bill, 2017', was approved at the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at the Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

PayPal, a global online payment system, is likely to start its operations in Bangladesh soon, paving the way for hassle-free electronic money transfer and increasing access to foreign consumers as well as easing the collection of money for the freelancers of the country. The information came from the weekly Cabinet meeting held in the cabinet room of the Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is looking to invest US $1bn in Bangladesh, a portion of which it wishes to invest in agriculture, said Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith. The Minister told the newsmen of the IFC’s decision following a meeting with IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Philippe Le Houérou on the last day of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings on Sunday.

Bangladesh Bank (BB) yesterday postponed agriculture credit recovery from haor areas across the country due to huge damages in the area by flashfloods.  BB also asked the banks to provide facilities for re-scheduling the credit through relaxation of down payment or easy installment. BB also instructed the scheduled banks to provide new credits in different crops including planted aman and fisheries considering the real situation of the area.

Bangladesh will start bandwidth export to Bhutan from May, as the landlocked Eastern Himalayan country is looking for a third international connectivity to strengthen its internet services. The country would initially take 2.5 gbps bandwidth from Bangladesh.

The construction work of two 660 megawatt units of a coal-based power plant in Rampal near the Sundarbans begins today.

London, 24 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday emphasized on the need for providing stipends and the money of education allowance to deserving students. "The government puts the highest importance on education as only education can free the nation from the curse of poverty," the Prime Minister said. The Prime Minister was presiding over the 4th meeting of the 'advisory committee' of Prime Minister's Education Assistance Trust Fund at her office.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday distributed cheques of financial assistance among gallantry award receiving freedom fighters and their descendants at her office. The Prime Minister gave a cheque of Tk 3 lakh to each of the 12 recipients.

President Abdul Hamid will leave for London this evening for a medical checkup. It is scheduled that a flight of Emirates Airlines carrying the President will take off from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 7.30 pm.

Each affected family in the haor areas will get 30 kg rice and Tk 500 cash every month under a 100-day scheme, said Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya. The Minister yesterday said, "The government has taken a 100-day scheme to provide relief to 3, 35,000 families ravaged by flash flood recently in haor area as emergency support. “The minister informed this while talking to the media after an inter-ministerial meeting over the flood situation in haor areas held at Bangladesh Secretariat. Besides, some 1,71,715 families of the affected areas will get relief materials through Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) program and Open Market Sale (OMS), he said.

Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said Chittagong will see a drastic change within the next 5-10 years following the massive development initiatives, including the establishment of two special economic zones. The minister was addressing a function marking the formal inauguration of a permanent office for Chittagong Journalists Forum, Dhaka (CJFD) in the city.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday said the incumbent government is following ‘zero tolerance’ policy to curb militancy. The Minister also said government will not make any compromise to resist militancy. The Minister came up with the remarks at a workshop organized by Department of Mass Communication at CIRDAP Auditorium in the capital.

The government yesterday extended the time limit for this year’s Hajj registration till Tuesday (April 25). Religious Affairs Minister Principal Motiur Rahman announced this when the newly elected officials of Hajj Agent Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) went to meet him.

State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Mashiur Rahman Ranga yesterday said the government, through the Bangladesh Samabaya Bank, has waived over Taka 100 crore interest on agriculture loans. He said this while presiding over a meeting on the activities of Bangladesh Samabaya Bank at the LGRD and Cooperatives Division conference room.

The government has finalized the process of nationalizing 285 colleges in the country. Issuing a notice, the education ministry on Thursday asked 285 colleges to hand over their movable and non-movable property to the government.

A business delegation from Denmark is currently visiting Bangladesh to help Bangladesh in developing Ready-Made-Garment (RMG) sector where green Danish solutions can add to a more sustainable production. The embassy of Denmark and a Danish company have organized the business delegation.

Bangladesh has made a significant progress for preventing malaria cases in the past three years and it has set a target of eliminating the mosquito-borne infectious diseases by 2030. In 2014, the number of malaria cases in the country was 57,480 while the figure of the disease stood at 39,719 in 2015 and 27,737 in 2016, Dr MM Aktaruzzaman, program manager of National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), told yesterday.

London, 20 April 2017

Underscoring the necessity for all countries to support their most vulnerable citizens, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said it is the responsibility of all to make sure adequate social and medical support for individuals with autism and neuro-development disorders. "Governments should make policies and programs to ensure that no individual is neglected. They deserve to have the opportunity to participate in their country's economic growth," she said. The Prime Minister said this while inaugurating a three-day 'International Conference on Autism and Neuro Developmental Disorders' at the Royal Banquet Hall in Thimphu.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday unveiled the plaque of the foundation stone of Chancery of Bangladesh Embassy at Hejo in the Bhutanese capital. She unveiled the plaque through a colorful function in presence of Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Bhutanese Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay.

President M Abdul Hamid yesterday stressed the need for stopping commercialization of education in the country since it diminishes educational standards. The President was addressing the first convocation of Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) on its campus in Trishal. He said higher education has significantly expanded in both public and private sectors, but the expected standard of education is yet to be achieved at all levels of universities.

It was a unique example of demonstrating leadership by both mother and daughter as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her daughter Saima Wazed Hossain, a strong advocate of autism, were at the helm of a global event at the Bhutanese capital yesterday. This incident took place in Thimphu as    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired while Saima Wazed moderated the same function on autism. The high-level discussion was held on the occasion of the three-day "International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders" that began at the Royal Banquet Hall. Saima Wazed Hossain is the Chairperson of National Advisory Committee on Autism and Neurodevelopmental disorders of Bangladesh. She is a member of World Health Organization's (WHO) 25-member Expert Advisory Panel on mental Health.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said some 400 new buses will be imported to ease the capital's transport crisis. The Minister was talking to reporters after inaugurating the operation of “Silk Line Travels” on the Dhaka-Chittagong route at Manik Mia Avenue.

Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said the war against militancy is continuing. He made the assertion while addressing an anti-militancy seminar arranged by Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasod) at Jatiya Press Club auditorium yesterday.

A three-day international tourism fair dubbed “Biman Bangladesh Travel and Tourism Fair (BBTTF)” begins today with the participation of 13 countries to boost domestic tourism sector. Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) is organising the seventh edition of the mega event with the partnership of national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines in city’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu yesterday said the government has set a target to put an end to hazardous child labour by 2021 and all sorts of child labour by 2025. He told this at a discussion on ‘Ratification of ILO Convocation 138’ in the city.

London, 19 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was accorded a gala reception by Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pem at the Royal Palace yesterday. On her arrival at the main gate of the Royal Palace in the afternoon, the Prime Minister was ceremonially received and later escorted inside the palace by a Cabinet minister and senior Bhutanese officials. She was later given a guard of honor. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now in Bhutan on a three-day state visit to attend an international conference on autism.

Bangladesh and Bhutan yesterday inked five deals covering avoidance of double taxation, agriculture, standardization of goods, cultural cooperation and waterways connectivity. The deals were signed yesterday after the official talks between the two countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bhutanese Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay led their respective sides at the talks. They also witnessed the signing of the deals.

Bangladesh and Bhutan yesterday stressed the need for boosting regional connectivity and expediting the process of implementing the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) initiative to bring prosperity in the region. The issues were discussed at the bilateral meeting between Bangladesh and Bhutan in Thimphu. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the Bangladesh delegation while her Bhutanese counterpart Dasho Tshering Tobgay led his country at the meeting.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith left Dhaka yesterday for USA to participate in the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to be held from April 20 to 23 at Washington DC.

The government yesterday signed two financing agreements amounting to US $74 million with the World Bank to improve the country's e-government services across its agencies as well as improve the air quality of Dhaka. Of the sum, $39 million go towards scaling up the e-government infrastructure and services that will aid in improving public sector administration and public services. The remaining $35 million will go to the Clean Air and Sustainable project that involves air quality management initiatives and testing models for improving traffic management system in Dhaka.

The government has decided to give training on cyber security to around 10,000 girl students from 40 schools across the country. Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division will implement the training programme on 'Cyber Security Awareness for Women Empowerment'.

President of the Bangladesh- Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Md Alamgir Jalil visited the Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CMCCI) on Monday. He held a meeting with Vice President of the CMCCI. Md Alamgir Jalil said the businessmen of Malaysia want to invest in different sectors including infrastructure in Chittagong.

The annual inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) increased by 4.40 per cent in the last calendar year, according to the latest data released by Bangladesh Bank yesterday.

London, 18 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday morning paid tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing wreaths at the portrait of the great leader in front of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi-32 in the capital on the occasion of historic Mujibnagar Day.

The Cabinet has approved in principle a proposal of the Internal Resources Division (IRD) for formulating an integrated income tax law incorporating all previous rules, amendment and orders. The approval was given in the weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat in the capital yesterday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.  After the meeting Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said that the new act would make the income tax laws and rules more easy and effective.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leaves for Thimphu this morning on a three-day official tour to attend the International Conference on Autism and Neuro Developmental Disorders. Her flight is scheduled to reach Paro International Airport in the Bhutanese capital at 11.35 am, local time.

Bangladesh may sign six deals or Memoranda of Understanding with Bhutan during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s three-day visit to Bhutan, said Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday.

President M Abdul Hamid yesterday visited different haor areas of Kishoreganj, Netrakona and Sunamganj districts where majority of people are now facing hardship following the flashflood caused by the onrush of water from Indian hills.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was handed yesterday a replica of the Bangabandhu Satellite scheduled to be launched in the orbit on December 16 this year. State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim handed over the replica to the Prime Minister at the beginning of the cabinet meeting. The Bangabandhu Satellite, with a capacity of 1,600 megahertz, will have 40 transponders and the physical equipment of the space capsule that measures the capacity.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith will not budge on his plans to introduce a 15 percent uniform VAT rate from July, but he might soften his stance on turnover tax. The Minister yesterday sat with two other ministers and a number of top business leaders to discuss the new VAT and Supplementary Duty Act 2012 at the secretariat. After the meeting, he said, “I told them two things: the new VAT law will come into force from July 1 and the rate will be uniform [15 percent].”“But more discussion will take place. I admit there is apprehension about the new law.” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu were present at the meeting.

The government has again extended the deadline until April 23 for the registration of Hajj pilgrims for 2017.The decision was taken at a meeting between Religious Affairs Minister Principal Matior Rahman and leaders of Hajj Agencies Association of Bangladesh (HAAB) yesterday.

India has liberalised rules for medical visas for Bangladesh nationals in an effort to further strengthen people-to-people ties between the two countries. From now on, Bangladesh nationals visiting India for diagnosis will also be eligible for medical visas, said the Indian High Commission in Dhaka yesterday.

American public-and private-sector firms' interest in Bangladesh's burgeoning energy and power sector is said to be 'growing day by day'. US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia S. Bernicat said this when she called on State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid yesterday. She said some giant companies like Exelerate, SunEdison, and GE are interested to work in Bangladesh, noting that American firms intend to work in Bangladesh's renewable energy sector as well.

London, 12 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday disclosed that the government has decided to redesign its Ganges barrage construction project. “If we will implement the project with the existing plan this would be suicidal for us, so we scrapped it,” Sheikh Hasina said while replying to a question during a press conference at her official residence Ganabhaban. The press conference was arranged to brief the media on the outcome of her four-day state visit to India. She also said, “I?ve talked to the Chief Minister of West Bengal. If we can make a reservoir, both countries can use it during dry seasons. “She affirmed that 11 agreements and 24 MoUs were signed during her 4 day visit to Delhi and the contents of those agreement would be made public. The prime minister made it clear that she would not do anything which would go against the interest of the country. She said that both countries agreed to expand mutual cooperation on combating terrorism and militancy in South Asia particularly in their own countries.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said there is nothing obligatory to purchase arms from any particular country as per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on defense cooperation between Bangladesh and India. “It’s not binding in the MoU to purchase arms. It totally depends on us. We're getting US$ 500 million from India at 1 percent interest for 20 years. That's it," she said. The Prime Minister was responding to queries from senior journalists during the press conference at Ganabhaban.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has approved eight development projects involving Tk 3,289.43 crore, including three projects for developing and widening important regional highways in Khulna, Comilla and Rangpur zones. The approval came from the weekly ECNEC meeting held yesterday in the conference room of NEC in the city with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of eight projects were approved at the meeting with an estimated cost of Tk 3,289.43 crore.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Sarawak Government, Malaysia YB Encik Malcolm Mussen said that there is a huge demand of Bangladeshi jute and jute goods in Malaysia. Bangladesh can export agro-products, spice, furniture, dairy products to Malaysia. He made the remarks when a 40-member trade delegation from Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) of Malaysia visited Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) yesterday.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah yesterday said a foolproof security plan has been taken for Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, to be celebrated on April 14, reports UNB."Every inch of Dhaka University, Ramna and Suhrawardy Udyan will be brought under CCTV surveillance," said the DMP commissioner while briefing reporters at DMP media centre.Asaduzzaman said around 11,000 uniformed policemen along with plainclothes ones will be deployed for ensuring security during the celebrations though there is no specific security alert for this year's Pahela Baishakh.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki said, government has taken a project for making two crore women economically self-reliant. “The government has launched Income Generating Activity (IGA) for empowering women economically with Taka 250 crore across the country,” she said this as the Chief Guest at Cox?s Bazar yesterday. The State Minister said under the project marginal women would get training on 18 trades free of cost.

Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) will sign a power purchase agreement today (PPA) with Summit Power Limited to buy 149 megawatts electricity.Under the deal, Summit Power Limited will commission a power plant at Kodda in Gazipur to supply the electricity in next 15 months.

From now on, the government will recognise Dawra degree of Qawmi madrasa as equivalent to master's degree. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the announcement last night at a meeting with some 350 representatives of Qawmi madrasas at the Ganabhaban. Hefajat-e Islam Chief Shah Ahmed Shafi, also Chairman of Qawmi Madrasa Education Board, led the group.

Indian energy giant Adani Group has proposed to set up two Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminals in Mongla and Chittagong ports having a combined capacity to handle one million tonnes of LPG. The proposal came at a time when the government is planning to discontinue supplying piped gas to households. The Indian conglomerate is expecting to supply bottled gas to households and to supply LPG to eastern India after meeting the demand here. Sarthak Behuria, Chairman of Adani Petroleum Terminal Private Ltd, made the proposal to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources recently. Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has moved to make the waste dumping station at Matuail an environment-friendly one by setting up a waste-based power plant to generate electricity from effluents. The proposed power plant will be set up under the „Matuail Sanitary Landfill Expansion project? involving Tk 724.49 crore. The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project on March 28.

London, 10 April 2017

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee yesterday highly praised the constant efforts of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for taking forward Bangladesh and solidifying its relations with India. He made the remarks when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met him at Rashtrapati Bhaban in the afternoon. They discussed various matters relating to bilateral interests, including the decisions agreed upon by the two countries during the talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi yesterday appreciated Bangladesh government's efforts to handle terrorism with an iron hand and said this social menace should be dealt with the way Bangladesh is doing. The Congress leader made the statement when she met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at South Drawing Room of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Voicing grave concern over the recent inundation of a vast of cropland in the haor region due to flash flood, President Abdul Hamid yesterday asked the authorities concerned to build embankments using a better technology to protect the haor dwellers from early flooding."The people of haor region depend on a single crop (boro paddy) for their livelihood," the President said in a press statement released by Bangabhaban. Noting that the haor people survive struggling with nature, the President said they frequently become victims to natural calamities, but the loss of this year's flash flood in the region is unprecedented. President Hamid called upon the affluent section of society to stand by the affected hoar dwellers to help them address their sufferings.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday offered Ziarat at the shrine of Sufi Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (known as the Ajmer Sharif Dargah) in India's Rajasthan state on the third day of her state visit to the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will return to country today (Monday) after wrapping up her four-day official visit to India.She will reach Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka around 8:00 pm after flying from the New Delhi by a VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines.

Malaysia has shown its interest to invest in Bangladesh fisheries and livestock sectors with a view to attain a win-win situation for the economy of both countries, said Fisheries and Livestock Minister Muhammed Syedul Haque yesterday. Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Economy of the Sarawak province of Malaysia along with a business delegation expressed the interest while he met the Minister at his secretariat office in the city.

International Islamic Trade and Finance Corporation (IITFC) wants to invest in country's energy sector, especially in LNG and LPG.IITFC, an extended wing of the IITFC, has been providing support to Bangladesh since 1979 for purchasing petroleum fuels. IITFC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eng. Hani Salom Sonbol made this proposal to the State Minister for Power, Energy and Resources Nasrul Hamid at his Secretariat office yesterday.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday asked media people to give the highest priority for national interest in presenting news and views remaining accountable to the people and the country while speaking at the 'Bazlur Rahman Smirti Padak-2016' distribution ceremony at Osmani Memorial Auditorium.

Indian businesses will make investments of $9 billion in Bangladesh. The country's private sector has signed several deals with Bangladeshi companies during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit, says the India-Bangladesh joint statement.

Female drivers will drive 20 per cent of the 118 new mail vans purchased by the postal service, State Minister for Post and Telecom Tarana Halim announced on Saturday. She said this at the inauguration ceremony of the new mail vans at Dak Bhaban (General Post Office) in the citywhere she handed over keys of nineteen vans to female drivers.

The time of Hajj pilgrims registration is scheduled to end today. The information forms of 51,337 pilgrims of 487 Hajj agencies were entered in the registration server system of the government until yesterday evening. The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will deliver emergency humanitarian assistance to 3,200 families of Muslims from Rakhine state of Myanmar, who fled to Bangladesh since October 2016. The BDRCS and ICRC intend to support the most vulnerable people with essential food items to meet their basic needs.

State-owned Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) has initiated a move to enhance the transmission capacity of the high-tension Chandpur-Comilla 132 kV transmission line. To this regard, the company yesterday signed a contract with a Chinese-Korean consortium to award the contract of the job under which CCCE-Etern-Hanbeak JV will re-conduct the entire 60 km transmission line within the next 18 months.

London, 06 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the Government will never compromise with the country's interests while signing any deal with any country. The Prime Minister said this while speaking at a program marking the distribution of allotment letters of plots of Police Officers' Housing Society among 25 police officials at her office. The Prime Minister is scheduled to leave Dhaka for New Delhi on Friday morning on a four-day official visit when some crucial deals are expected to be signed between Bangladesh and India.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that historic and traditional relationship between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia would be further broadened and strengthened in the days to come. The Premier said this when Vice President of the Holy Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque Dr Mohammad Bin Nasser Bin Mohammad Al Khuzaim called on the Premier at her office here yesterday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday underscored the need for reviving the old relations between Bangladesh and Czechoslovakia. The Premier put the emphasis when a delegation of Czech Republic now in Dhaka to attend the IPU Conference made a courtesy call on her at her office.

The 136th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) expressed deep concern on the last day of the over militancy, interference of other countries in any country, attack on parliamentarians, human rights and so on. Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury announced the conclusion of the assembly at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka. IPU ended yesterday with the Dhaka Declaration for immediate action to reverse the trend of political, social and economic inequalities prevalent in the world.

Cabinet Purchase Committee yesterday approved some 18 procurement proposals including import of 60 MW power from Indian state of Tripura. Proposals for setting up of a daily 500 million cubic feet supply capacity LNG terminal and 7 furnace oil-fired power plants in private sector by different companies were included in the proposals approved by the committee. The Cabinet body, with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the chair, gave the go-ahead to the proposals placed by different divisions and ministries.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said Bangladesh is expected to exceed the targeted 7.2 percent GDP growth in the current 2016-17 fiscal. He told the journalist at a cheque-receiving ceremony at the Finance Ministry in the city. He said if we can alleviate poverty, it will increase want. In this way we will raise GDP growth which will continue for at least 10 more years.

Bangladesh has gained three spots on the Global Human Development Index (HDI) 2015 ranking, placing 139th out of 188 countries, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2016. HDR 2016 was officially launched at the Planning Commission in the capital yesterday. The report said Bangladesh is considered a 'medium development country' and achieved an HDI value of 0.579 in 2015.

China has assured Bangladesh of releasing the remaining US$ 1 million of the total US$ 2 million it pledged for the construction of the secretariat of Partners in Population and Development (PPD) in Dhaka. Chinese Vice Minister for National Health and Family Planning Commission Cui Li gave the assurance at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.

The government of Bangladesh yesterday signed a $003 million financing agreement with the World Bank (WB) for weather forecasting, early warning systems and delivery of weather and climate services. The Bangladesh Weather and Climate Services Regional Project (BWCSRP) will help strengthen the weather, water, disaster risk and climate information services in Bangladesh.

Five countries, including India and Bangladesh, lead the world in solar home lighting systems and the two south Asian nations together account for 97 per cent of the renewable energy market in the region, says an international body report.

The government has decided to offer a one-year moratorium on loan repayment to the frozen food exporters to help them overcome liquidity crisis. The Policy and Financial Incentive Section of the Bank and Financial Institutions Division recently issued an official order to the Bangladesh Bank governor in this regard.

London, 05 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday strongly condemned the 'senseless killing of innocent people' in Russia saying Bangladesh is with other countries in fight against terrorism in its all forms and manifestations.

In a condolence message to the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, she expressed deep shock at the killing of 10 people and injuries to many others in a terrorist attack on a subway train in St Petersburg.

President Md Abdul Hamid yesterday urged global leaders to work together to fight social disparities, human inequalities, militancy and terrorism to make the world a safe place for living. The President said this while delivering a speech at the dinner at Bangabhaban in honor of the delegation of 136th IPU assembly.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved an education project at an estimated cost of Tk 1,353 crore to ensure ICT use at the secondary and higher secondary levels. The approval came from an ECNEC meeting held at the NEC conference room here with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. A total of seven projects were approved involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 7,890 crore. In the meeting Prime Minister directed authorities concerned to take necessary measures to construct new buildings for the government officials and employees to keep abandoned homesteads across the country under the government possession.

Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) said the 63rd Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) will be held in Dhaka in November this year. She came up with the information when a Canadian delegation, now attending the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly, met her at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city yesterday.

The draft resolution on the role of parliament in respecting the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states yesterday was adopted by 44-10 votes at a special committee meeting in the 136th assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which is being held in the capital.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali told journalists that Bangladesh will not make any secret deal with India, instead all agreements made in New Delhi will be made public. The Minister said this at a press briefing at his ministry's conference room on the upcoming visit to India by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday.

Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam BSc said the government has taken different steps to provide facilities to the expatriate Bangladeshis and their families. The Minister was addressing at a discussion in Geneva, Switzerland on April 3.

Saima Wazed Hossain, Chairperson of Bangladesh National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, yesterday said children with autism need special intervention and caring to unlock their hidden talent for making valuable contribution to the society. She said this after the Speaker of National Parliament Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury  unveiled the cover of an art book of autistic children named Unique Glimpses'  in a simple function at a hall in Bangabandhu International Conference Centre yesterday, on the fourth day of the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in the capital.

State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim yesterday while speaking at a press briefing at the secretariat said Facebook will not be blocked for any particular period of the day or night.

The Central Bank of the country has set 9 percent interest rate of the loan funds for women entrepreneurs in small and cottage industry after reducing the refinancing interest rate. Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Monday issued a circular for banks and financial institutions in this regard.

London, 04 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the people of Bangladesh always hold a special place in their hearts for Palestine and its people. She said it will be easier to advance the peace process in Palestine if the entire Arab world lends its support together. The Prime Minister made the statement when Palestine's former Prime Minister Vice Azzam NM Alahmad met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday highlighted her government’s initiatives to address radicalization and drug addiction of children. The Premier said this when Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi made a courtesy call on Prime Minister at her Ganobhaban residence. The Nobel laureate highly praised the initiatives of Bangladesh government for ensuring development of children and women and ending gender disparity.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the draft of the 'Immovable Asset Acquisition and Requisition Bill, 2017' keeping a provision of providing a 3-fold compensation to the affected people if the government acquires any land. The Cabinet also approved the draft of the 'The National Film Policy, 2017' aimed at promoting the production of healthy movies through upholding the spirit, ideology and history of the Liberation War as well as the country's culture and tradition. The approval came from the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The Cabinet also adopted a thanksgiving motion congratulating Saima Wazed Hossain, a strong advocate for autism, as she has been designated as "WHO Champion for Autism" in South-East Asia Region.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said Bangladesh has the potential to become the transport and transshipment hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar for their collective economic growth. His comments came in a statement at the end of the 'Finance Minister's meeting of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)' in Delhi hosted by India in collaboration with Asian Development Bank.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said awareness should be created among the people to prevent pirated film screening to restore the lost glory of films as government cannot do it alone. The Minister said the government has taken 15 Cineplex under central server to stop piracy. The Minister was addressing at a seminar styled 'Current screening system is the main barrier to film development in Bangladesh' organized by Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC) marking the Fifth National Films day.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said the government did not give permission to import salt to protect the interest of salt farmers. The Minister said this while addressing a meeting of salt farmers here. He said adequate salt is now being produced in the country.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that there is no security threat centering Pohela Boishakh celebration. The Minister said the dwellers are advised not to carry any bag on that day. He told this at the secretariat yesterday after a discussion on the security measures for Pohela Boishakh celebration.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday said films had a great role to play in creating a society free of militancy and which was healthy and aesthetic. The Minister was speaking at a meeting on the "National Film Day" on the premises of the Film Development Corporation (FDC). The Minister recalled the role of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in establishing the FDC in the mid-50s and said its establishment had inspired the nationalist movement to a great extent.

Science and Technology Minister Architect Yafesh Osman yesterday said Bangladesh is for the first time on the brink of setting up nuclear power centre due to farsighted and time-befitting policy of the present government. The Minister said this while inaugurating the four-day 39th national representative conference of Regional Co-operative Agreement (RCA) for research, development and training related to nuclear science and technology for Asia and Pacific, at a hotel in Cox's Bazaar. He said the government is giving the topmost priority on nuclear security and safety for implementing the Ruppur Nuclear Power Station.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a four-year Country Strategic Plan (CSP) to support Bangladesh in achieving zero hunger by 2030-one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The CSP 2017-20 has been designed involving an estimated cost of US$ 201.6 million.

London, 03 April 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the private entrepreneurs to recruit educated and talented physically-challenged people to their business houses for the welfare of all. She said this while addressing a function yesterday marking the 10th World Autism Awareness Day in Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital. The Premier also distributed awards among the successful persons with autism and successful organizations and institutions working for the development of autistic people.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday conveyed her strong stance against terrorism and informed Speakers of National Parliaments of 19 countries her government's initiatives for ensuring public welfare. She said this when the visiting Speakers of National Parliaments of 19 countries of the IPU member states and UN Assistant Secretary General met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday extended her heartfelt thanks to Indian Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for passing the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh unanimously and amid festivity. The Prime Minister told the Indian Speaker when she made a courtesy call on the Prime Minister at her Ganobhaban residence in the evening.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged all Muslims of the world to remain alert about militancy and terrorism. She made the comment as visiting United Arab Emirates (UAE) Speaker Dr Amal Al Qubaisi raised the terrorism issue when she met Hasina at her official residence Ganobhaban.  

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday reaffirmed her government's commitment that the soil of Bangladesh would never be used against any neighboring country.  The Prime Minister said this when visiting Chief of Staff of the Indian Army General Bipin Rawat made a courtesy call on at her official residence Gonobhaban in the city yesterday evening.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on the eve of National Film Day-2017 in separate messages, yesterday called for making film a major weapon to root out terrorism and militancy to build a non-communal society imbued with the spirit of Liberation War.  The President, in his message, said film is a powerful medium and its role is immense in creating awareness and development of society. Prime Minster said the government has implemented massive programs for the development of film industry in the last 8 years.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday urged United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to extend technical cooperation to boost modern technology based industries in Bangladesh. The Minister said when a UNIDO delegation called on him at the Industries Ministry in the city.

The Foreign Minister and the delegation leaders and members discussed various bilateral and international issues when a number of delegations participating in IPU conference yesterday called on Foreign Minister at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka.

Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud yesterday said regional cooperation is a must to ensure fair share of water and resolve water disputes in South Asian countries, including Bangladesh. The Minister said at a seminar at IEB conference hall in the capital.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Md Fazle Rabbi Mia said that Bangladesh will become a developed country by 2041. He said this when a delegation of Democratic People's Republic of Korea yesterday called on Deputy Speaker at Bangabandhu International Conference Center in Dhaka.

Col (retd) M Faruk Khan, who joined the debate as Bangladeshi delegate, told the media that most member states of IPU yesterday stood against external interference by any country in internal affairs of a sovereign nation. He said the resolution drafted by IPU will finally be adopted through voting on Wednesday.

Border Guard Bangladesh yesterday urged Myanmar Police Force to take ‘meaningful’ action against the supply chain of drugs from Myanmar. A 16-member border guard team expressed concern in the border-talks with a six-member Myanmar police delegation began at the border guard headquarters in Dhaka yesterday.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will invest $129 million in two projects to support small farmers and develop a community-based flood information system in the country.  IFAD has already started project designing with the concerned Ministries and Departments of the government.