London, 19 December 2016

Some 81 power stations with a generation capacity of 10,353 megawatts (MW) have been set up during the last eight years with a view to materializing the Vision-2021. The government has undertaken steps to make the country self-reliant in power production and now the generation capacity reached to 15,295 MW. Presently, 78 per cent people of the country have their access to electricity usage," Director General (DG) of Power Cell under Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Engineer Mohammad Hossain said. He said the government has earmarked to bring some 465 out of 486 upazilas of the country under power coverage by 2018 to fulfill its commitment to bring all people under electricity facilities by 2021.

The technical glitch in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s aircraft was caused by “human factor” though it is yet to be confirmed whether it was sabotage, civil aviation minister Rashed Khan Menon said yesterday. The minister made this disclosure while speaking at a press briefing at his ministry.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday said discussions with political parties will play an important role in forming a strong Election Commission (EC). Abdul Hamid made the remarks yesterday during a discussion with an 11-member BNP delegation, led by its chairperson Khaleda Zia, at Bangabhaban.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday expressed his firm belief that Bangladesh would be able to achieve many targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) before 2030, saying the country is moving forward by overcoming all challenges. "The government is tirelessly working to achieve the SDGs . . . poverty alleviation should no more be a continuous process, rather it must be sustainable," he said while addressing the inaugural session of the media training workshop as the chief guest at Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP) auditorium in the city. Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam yesterday said the government is setting up 50 technical training centers in 50 upazilas to improve the standard of migration process. "This will develop at least 5 lakh skilled manpower annually in the country," he said at a discussion at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city on the occasion of International Migrants Day-2016. The office of Prime Minister has taken step to save river Karnaphuli, the lifeline of country's economy recently. The office has formed a high powered committee headed by the Minister for Public Works and Housing Engineer Mosharraf Hossain MP to prepare a master plan to save the Karnaphuli on December 15. The committee was asked to prepare a master plan to save the river Karnaphuli within next three months and the government will take action as per the master plan. Assuring Bangladesh's support to India on the issue of tackling terror, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Pakistan needs to be isolated for "harbouring terrorists and supporting terror acts." He said this in an interview with Press Trust of India (PTI).

London, 07 December 2016

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP), the biggest and costliest project of the country, got the approval at the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting yesterday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting. After Padma Bridge project this is the highest budgetary one in Bangladesh, which will cost Tk 113,092.91 crore. Of it, government will provide Tk 22,052.91 crore from the national exchequer while Russia will provide Tk 91,040 crore. Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the weekly meeting yesterday approved a total of 12 projects with an estimated cost of Tk 152,712.41 crore. "Of the total cost of the projects, the government will provide Tk 35,068.73 crore from the national exchequer while the organizations concerned will contribute Tk 1,627.37 crore from their own funds." He added that the rest Tk 116,016.31 crore would come as foreign project assistance.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed deep shock at the death of Jayaraman Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In a condolence message, the Premier recalled the glorious political career of Jayalalithaa and said as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, her contributions towards the economic development of the state and social welfare of the poorer segments will be long remembered. Sheikh Hasina prayed for salvation of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would start honouring about 1,700 Indian soldiers, who were martyred in the 1971 War of Independence, during her forthcoming visit to New Delhi, foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali said yesterday. He said this at a function in Dhaka on 45th anniversary of India’s recognition of independent Bangladesh. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi would also attend the function expected to be held on December 18 or 19 . Ekattorer Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee organised the function where the foreign minister spoke. The Minister also said that Bangladesh sincerely remembers December 6, a special day when India recognized the newly born sovereign nation 45 years ago. Indian high commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla was also present at the function.

President Abdul Hamid will hold dialogue with all registered political parties on the issue of reconstituting the Election Commission (EC). "As per article 118 of the constitution, the President will hold dialogue with registered political parties before appointing the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and commissioners. The dialogue will begin after December 16," said President's press secretary Joynal Abedin yesterday morning.

Exports rose 5.46 percent to $2.89 billion in the month of November, propelled by strong performance of apparel, leather goods, jute and jute goods and shrimp. November's earnings beat the monthly target by $196.32 million and were higher than October's by $180 million according to Export Promotion Bureau.

General inflation eased to the lowest level of the current fiscal year at 5.38 percent in November, down from 5.57 percent posted a month earlier. While revealing the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) data of the state statistics agency at a press conference yesterday following the ECNEC meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal attributed the fall in inflation to low prices of protein and vegetables due to better supply. Annual average inflation during December 2015 to November 2016 period was recorded at 5.60 percent which was 6.20 percent in the corresponding period a year earlier. The planning minister expressed the hope that the average inflation would remain within 5.5 percent by the year end in line with government projection.

Bangladesh has sent a total of 3.6 million (36.37 lakh) workers abroad during the last eight years since 2009. Of the total, 35,13,120 are male and 4,54,148 are female workers. Minister for Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Nurul Islam B.Sc. gave the statistics while replying to a question at Jatiya Sangsad on Monday.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said Singapore has shown interest to invest in establishing liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal and power plant in Bangladesh. Singaporean Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang expressed his country's keenness during a meeting with the visiting Bangladeshi Commerce Minister.

The High Court yesterday gave a two months' deadline to the government for removing names of collaborators of anti-liberation forces from all roads as well as from structures of all educational institutions in the country. The court also asked the secretaries to the ministry of education and the ministry of local government, rural development and cooperatives to submit a report before it by March 1 next year after complying with the order. The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah passed the order during hearing of a rule issued in 2012 in this regard.

Food Minister Advocate Quamrul Islam yesterday said the government is working for modernizing food storage facilities with modern technology and stronger institutions to tackle all four aspects of food security like availability, access, utilization and stability under integrated food policy research program. The food minister said this while addressing as the chief guest at the opening session of launching ceremony of Bangladesh Integrated Food Policy Research program. Under the program, the government will construct silos at the eight divisional cities across the country with the fund of the World Bank, said the food minister. The minister also informed that the government has distributed over 3.70 lakh tonnes of rice at Taka 10 per kg under a special program across the country till November 30 while replying to a question at Jatiya Sangsad.

President Abdul Hamid reached Singapore on a six-day visit for his medical check-up. A VVIP flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, carrying the President, landed at Changi Airport yesterday afternoon. The President is expected to return home on December 11.

London, 06 December 2016

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged all to work together to strengthen the foundation of democracy calling people as "sentinel of democracy" in a statement coinciding with the anniversary of fall of autocracy in 1990."The 6th December is a significant day in the history of restoring democracy. On this day in 1990, the fall of the autocratic government took place," she said in the message on the eve of "Ganatantro Mukti Dibas". The premier urged countrymen to join their hands to free the country entirely from poverty and hunger and build a happy and prosperous "Sonar Bangla" to materialize the dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the draft of a law raising the compensation price of the lands three times in case of acquisition for public purposes or in public interests. The cabinet in its weekly meeting okayed in principle "The Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Act, 2016" raising the compensation value of the land in case of acquisition. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the cabinet meeting held at Bangladesh Secretariat. The cabinet also approved the draft of the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons Act, 2016 in Bangla which will replace the previous law titled- "Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons Order, 1972." The cabinet approved the Palli Sanchaya Bank (amendment) Ordinance, 2016 in the form of an act without any amendment. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday received four lakh and six thousand pieces of blanket from four private banks for the cold-hit people of the country. The private banks -- NRB Global Bank Ltd, Union Bank Ltd (UBL), Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd (IBBL) and First Security Islami Bank Ltd (FSIBL) donated these blankets to the Prime Minister's Relief and Welfare Fund for the cold-stricken people. Receiving the blankets, the premier thanked the authorities of the four private banks for coming forward to the help of the distressed humanity. Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Benoit-Pierre Laramee yesterday lauded the stand of Bangladesh over fighting terrorism and religious extremism. The envoy came up with the remarks while he paid a courtesy call on Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at his office in the Bangladesh Secretariat. The government under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will carry out continuous research as to how to increase the crop production in the country's 10 lakh hectares of drought and saline prone lands. The MoU was signed between Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) and China National Seed Group Company Limited at the BADC Bhaban yesterday. China will invest Taka 160 crore over the next two years under this MoU to help Bangladesh further improve crop production in these lands. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday sought duty-free and quota-free market access for Bangladeshi products to Malaysian market for further increasing the bilateral trade between the two nations. Tofail Ahmed, now on a visit to Malaysia, was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the ‘Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2016’ in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. The minister said relocation of the labour-intensive industries in the textile and accessories, furniture processing, agro-processing industries, electronics industries and SMEs could be the most promising options for Malaysia. Malaysia has agreed to allow the Bangladeshi migrants working there after expiry of visa deadline to continue to work in the country under its recruitment programme. Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made the assurance during a meeting with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed who is now in Kuala Lumpur to attend Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2016.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed the keen interest of Malaysia to increase trade and investment relations with Bangladesh and proposed to sign free trade agreement with Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been trying to resolve the problem of the continued influx of Rohingya Muslims into the country through different channels, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali told parliament yesterday. He said this while replying to a supplementary question from lawmaker AKM Jahangir Hossain. Bangladesh and Hungary will exchange visits by high-level business delegations within four months to find out trade and investment opportunities between the two countries as a follow-up of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to Budapest. Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Abdul Matlub Ahmad informed this. Bangladesh stands 10th on a list of the developing countries classed as 'receivers of licit or recorded financial transfers' during 1980-2012, apart from witnessing substantial flight of capital. According to the findings carried in a new report of Global Financial Integrity (GFI) for the period of 33 years, the country's cumulative receipts of recorded transfers stood at $116.8 billion. The research outfit compiled the data for 153 developing countries using the BoP Manual-5 of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The home secretaries of Bangladesh and India yesterday discussed working of institutional arrangements, security issues and cooperation in preventing illegal activities at borders. Md Mozammel Haque Khan and Rajiv Mehrishi held meeting in New Delhi ahead of Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina's visit to India later this month. The meeting finalised the security agenda of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's talks with Indian PM Narendra Modi. The International Crimes Tribunal-1 handed down death penalty to Edris alias Gazi Edris, the 67-year-old from West Kashabhog village under Shariatpur Sadar upazila, for two charges in connection with two acts of genocide during the Liberation War in 1971.

London, 05 December 2016

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked Air Force personnel to be more careful while using and maintaining aircraft, radars and war equipment as those have been procured with people's hard-earned money. The Prime Minister was addressing the National Standard Award Ceremony of the Bangladesh Air Force base Bangabandhu on its parade ground at Dhaka Cantonment in the capital. She also instructed the Air Force members to perform their responsibilities with utmost sincerity both at home and abroad. Sheikh Hasina also directed them to uphold the honor, dignity and pride of the national standard through their patriotism and professionalism.

Seven industrial units of Bangladesh have placed them in the highest scoring top 10 on the list of 25 environment-friendly industrial structures of the world, according to US Green Building Council. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) gives LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certificates to the green factories if the projects satisfy certain requirements and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. This LEED certificate awarded by the US Green Building Council is a proof that Bangladesh is capable. In order to qualify for the certificate, a project has to ensure the highest standard of building construction.

The World Bank (WB) has offered US$ 250 million loan to Bangladesh for the construction of Airport-Mohakhali phase of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line 3 in the capital. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader disclosed this while talking to reporters after a meeting with a five-member WB delegation, headed by its Operation Manager for Bangladesh Rajeshree S. Paralkar. The minister said the feasibility study and the detailed design for the phase 1 (Airport-Mohakhali) of BRT Line 3 has been completed by the WB. The minister informed that the WB will let its loan disbursement scheme for the BRT Line 3 Phase 1 by January next.

Primary and secondary students will get new textbooks on New Year's day, as around 80 percent of over 36 crore copies of textbooks have already reached their schools, said Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid yesterday."The remaining textbooks will reach the education institutions on time," he told reporters after visiting three printing presses at Matuail in the capital. The minister said the number of free textbooks to be distributed this year rose by more than 2.84 crore copies. The government would distribute 36.22 crore copies among students from class-I to class-X.

Bangladesh's garment shipments to Italy and Japan, the nationals of which were killed in a terrorist attack in Dhaka in July, remained unscathed in July-October -- a development that will bring a heavy sigh of relief among exporters. In fact, apparel exports to the two nations increased during the period, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. During the July-October period, apparel items worth $378.30 million were exported to Italy -- the sixth largest garment export destination for Bangladesh -- up 6.43 percent year-on-year. Similarly, garment shipments to Japan increased 7 percent year-on-year during the period. Some $230.58 million worth of apparel products were shipped to Japan, the largest importer of Bangladeshi garments in Asia.

To explore the country's bay area for natural and mineral resources, the government has recently formed a Blue Economy Cell under the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD). Nasrul Hamid, state minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources will inaugurate the cell today. The cell has been formed for the exploration and sustainable collection, con-servation and management of natural and mineral resources under the part of Bangladesh's Bay of Bengal area.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday paid a courtesy call on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban. During the meeting, Sheikh Hasina apprised the President of the outcome of her recent visits to Hungary and Morocco.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday underscored the need for imparting and incorporating state-of-the-art curricula in NDC Courses as the present world is becoming more inter-dependent and complex. The President mentioned this when the participants of National Defense Course (NDC) -2016 and Armed Forces War Course (AFWC)-2016 made a courtesy call on him at Bangabhaban.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on yesterday unveiled a copy of Louis I Kahn’s original design of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban complex during Magrib recess of parliament session. Housing and public works minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain and senior officials of Parliament Secretariat were present at the unveiling ceremony. An expert team will soon brief her about the details of the original design of Sangsad Bhaban and then she will take necessary decision in this regard.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith clearly said Philippines won't be given the report on reserve heist. He said, 'I am yet to know whether they have sought the report. But if they have sought, the report won't be given. It is our internal report. He didn't reveal that report for the interest of recovering the stolen money. Muhith on Saturday expressed his firm confidence that the entire reserve heist money could be recovered from the Philippines saying the authorities concerned in the Philippine assured Bangladesh of taking appropriate steps to return the stolen money.

The government plans to provide 10,000 electronic cash registers to shops, restaurants and other businesses at purchase price in an effort to curb tax dodging in retail sales. The National Board of Revenue has already taken an initiative to buy the devices.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim yesterday said newly recruited 10,000 nurses will be given posting in different public hospitals and health complexes within one week to remove manpower shortage problem in the health sector. He told this at a dissemination function of Bangladesh Health Workforce Strategy-2015 at a city hotel.

London, 01 December 2016

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home yesterday night wrapping up her four-day official visit to Hungary where she attended the Budapest Water ummit 2016.

Describing 2019 as the election year for Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged Awami League followers, both at home and abroad, to carry out campaign for the party to retain power as it works for development. The Prime Minister said this while speaking at a civic reception on Tuesday organized by All European Awami League in Budapest. Briefly describing various development activities of her government, she said Bangladesh is now the role model of development. Terming the expatriates as Bangladesh Ambassadors, she urged them to uphold the country's image through their positive activities.

The government will take required measures for increasing the exports of the garment items to the central European country, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said. 'We will take necessary initiative to increase exports of apparel items to Slovenia. There is a huge demand for the readymade garment goods in Slovenia,' he said. He also stressed the need for the exchange of business delegations between the two countries. The Commerce Minister was talking to reporters after exchanging meeting with visiting Deputy Minister of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of Slovenia Tanja Strnisa at his secretariat office yesterday.

Biman yesterday suspended six officials of its engineering section after a probe discovered that their negligence in duty caused a Biman flight carrying the Prime Minister to make an emergency landing in Turkmenistan on Sunday.

Visiting Indian Defence Minister Manohar Gopalkrishna Prabhu Parrikar stressed the need for taking joint efforts to enhance military ties between Bangladesh and India. The Indian minister came up with the view when he met President Md. Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban yesterday. Welcoming the minister to Bangabhaban, President Hamid said Bangladesh follows zero tolerance policy in combating terrorism in all its forms. He expressed condolences for dastardly terrorist attack on the army base at Uri, Kashmir and on the Indian Air Force Base at Pathankot. Ambassadors designate of Ethiopia, Mauritania and Tunisia to Bangladesh separately presented their credentials to President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban yesterday. The three non-resident envoys are Asfaw Dingamo Kame of Ethiopia, Sidi Mohamed Hanenna of Mauritania and Adel Elarbi of Tunisia. Welcoming the ambassadors, the president advised to take steps to utilize trade and investment potentials between Bangladesh and their countries. The envoys told the president that they would work to enhance bilateral cooperation with Bangladesh. The visiting Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Forest and Food of Slovenia Tanja Strnisa expressed interest to import ready-made garments, vegetables and fruits from Bangladesh. Her interest comes when she called on State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam at the latter's office at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. During the meeting, State Minister Alam informed the Slovenian deputy minister about different development programs undertaken by the present government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the country's socio-economic progress. He requested her to import pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh as they are international standard. Bangladesh Railway signed an agreement with a Chinese firm for the development of Pahartali workshop. The deal was signed with Chinese contract firm CRRC Sifang Company Limited at a function at Railway Bhaban in Dhaka with Railways Minister M Mujibul Huq attending as the chief guest. The development project will be implemented by June 2017 with Japanese credit assistance of Taka 116,16,62,847. The traditional procession which is brought out marking the Bangla New Year has now been registered as a new UNESCO cultural heritage. "The 'Mangal Shobhajatra' has been included in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity," the Bangladesh embassy in Paris said in a statement. The decision was taken yesterday at the 11th session of the intergovernmental committee on intangible cultural heritage held in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia, according to the statement.

At least 10,000 Rohingyas have entered Bangladesh recently to flee violence in Myanmar, the United Nations said yesterday.

Bangladesh wants the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) to shoulder the missing chunk of the $81 million stolen from its central bank in a cyber heist in February. A high-level delegation of Bangaldeshi officials is in the Philippines this week to seek help from the Philippine government in filing criminal and civil charges against the Yuchengco-owned bank. "It is clearly established that RCBC was very much involved in the scam, and they have admitted their liability," Minister of Law Anisul Huq said in a press briefing on Tuesday in Manilla. Meanwhile, Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday termed as 'unethical' the decision the RCBC of Philippines took against returning the money stolen from the Bangladesh Bank account. He said the government will file a case against the Federal Reserve Bank of New York over the cyber heist. The Minister said this after a Cabinet Committee Meeting on Economic Affairs at the secretariat yesterday.