London, 28 February 2017

The Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to give formal recognition to the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state by Bangladesh. The approval came from the regular weekly meeting of the Cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Bangladesh would be the 114th country to have given formal recognition to Kosovo. The Cabinet also approved the draft of the Jubo Niti (Youth Policy), 2017 and drafts of two acts, the Marine Fisheries Act, 2017 and the Sheikh Hasina National Youth Development Institute Act, 2017, and two agreements for avoiding double taxation and tax evasion. Parliament yesterday passed the child marriage prevention law with a provision allowing it in 'special circumstances'. According to the law, the minimum age for the marriage of females is 18 and for males it is 21, other than the 'exceptions in special circumstances'. The Child Marriage Restraint Bill 2017 was passed in voice vote when State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki placed it before the MPs. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said that implementation of the new VAT and Supplementary Duty Act-2012 would come into effect from 1 July 2017. The Minister said this after a meeting with Deputy Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mitsuhiro Furusawa at the Finance Ministry. The Minister said, IMF lauded Bangladesh as the country is moving forward to become a developed one. About the demand of the business community, the Finance Minister said, the government has already taken various steps, including increasing the limit of exemption, to make the law business friendly. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said, the government has selected leather as the product of the year . He said, the government has increased the amount of cash incentives given on the export of different goods including leather and leather goods. The Minister also focused on diversifying both products and markets to increase the value and volume of exportable goods. The Minister said this while handing over CIP (Commercially Important Person) cards to some 164 businessmen for the year 2013 under export and trade categories at a programme at a city hotel yesterday. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said the local government bodies would be strengthened to implement the present government's pledge for power decentralization. The Minister said this while presiding over the 45th meeting of National Institute of Local Government (NILG) management board. The Minister said the NILG would be restructured in light of experiences of local government system of neighbouring countries and training would be given to people's representatives so they could contribute more to changing lot of the people. Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has said the government is unable to fully utilise the total allocation of project assistance in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) of the current fiscal due to the impact of terrorist attack on Holey Artisan Bakery on July 1 last year. The Minister made this comment while briefing the reporters at the Planning Ministry in the city's Sher-e-Banglanagar area yesterday. The Minister however said the foreigners later came back and joined their work as the government had ensured their security. Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor yesterday said Mangal Shovajatra, a festival during Bengali New Year celebrations inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, will be organized across the country. He said it in an inter-ministerial meeting at Shilapkala Academy. Aiming to launch digital insurance services through countrywide digital centres, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Access to Information (a2i) Program of Prime Minister's Office and Jiban Bima Corporation at PMO Special Security Force (SSF) briefing room in the city.

London, 23 February 2017

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasiana yesterday told parliament that the government has undertaken a plan to construct two new airports apart from modernization of the existing Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The Prime Minister said, Nippon Koei Co. Ltd. is conducting the feasibility study of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport at Madaripur while land acquisition is going on for Khan Jahan Ali Airport at Bagerhat. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told the young generation to learn the history of the Language Movement. She said this at a discussion at Krishibid Institution of Bangladesh in Dhaka. The Prime Minister recalled the contributions of the martyrs with deep respect. She called on the students to learn Bangla first then other languages for their better careers. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said there will be no crisis of gas in the country after 2018. The Finance Minister said this in the opening session of the 50 years celebration program of Sylhet Chamber. The Minister said the present government has been establishing an IT city in Sylhet's Companyganj. Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the government has taken steps to improve the working environment in the ship recycling sector to ensure workers' safety. The Minister was speaking at the closing session of a workshop arranged by the Industries Ministry at a city hotel on its Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling/SENSREC Project. In another occasion, at the inaugural session of a conference jointly organized by MIST and BUET, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said the present government is patronizing setting up of environment friendly and energy saving industries. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said, the government is sincere in facilitating the efforts for making housing affordable for the general public. He said this while addressing an award-giving ceremony for journalists at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital. The Minister also said, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had declared a project titled ‘One family, One house by 2021’. Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday told Parliament that Dhaka South City Corporation plans to arrange oversees jobs for hawkers as part of their rehabilitation. The Minister said, the city corporation has also decided to help hawkers if anyone is interested to join any government and private organisations as a class four worker. Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu yesterday said, reforms in education, showing equal honor to all irrespective of creed and color, shunning bribes in economy and practicing democracy within the parties will take the country forward and fill the cultural dearth. He said this while speaking at a mass lecture on 'Cultural Dearth and Darkness in Progression' at National Museum auditorium in the city. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan yesterday said maritime sector is playing an important role in country's economic development. He said this while speaking as the chief guest at the passing out ceremony of the 6th batch of pre-sea cadets at International Maritime Academy at Pubail. The Shipping Minster said as per the directive of the Prime Minister, the marine academies are taking 20 female cadets for every batch since 2012. Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) in its Review Economic Situation in Bangladesh (October-December 2016 period) said all major economic indicators have been showing steady improvements. It said the agriculture sector performed well, but continuous government support with inputs and finance will be needed to sustain the sector's growth.

London, 20 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home yesterday wrapping up her three-day official visit to Germany where she attended the Munich Security Conference. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has sought support of international community to arrange temporary accommodation for Myanmar refugees in a healthy and safe environment in Bangladesh. She said this in a luncheon meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the 53rd Munich Security Conference at Hotel Bayerrischer Hof in Munich yesterday. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has taken the issue of extruded Myanmar citizens from humanitarian point of view. Hundreds of Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar have returned home, community leaders said yesterday, adding that most had gone back temporarily to fetch relatives. Tens of thousands of Rohingyas have fled across the border from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine since October to escape a bloody crackdown by troops and police. United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee begins her four-day visit to Bangladesh today to see situations on the ground on Rohingya issue. She will visit various locations in Cox's Bazar district where the population who had fled from Myanmar since October 9, 2016 are residing temporarily in makeshift shelters, according to a message received Dhaka from Geneva. Dhaka Metropolitan Police has taken four-tier security measures in and around the Central Shahid Minar for smooth and peaceful observance of the Shaheed Dibos and International Mother Language Day on February 21. Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende is set to arrive in Dhaka today on his first-ever visit to Bangladesh. He is reciprocating a visit by Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali who had bilateral talks with his Norwegian counterpart in September last year. The Indian Border Security Force disagreed with decision of ‘joint investigation’ into border killings but agreed to carry out ‘joint verification’ or ‘joint appraisal’ of such incidents. As the 44th director general-level meeting between the Border Guard Bangladesh and the Border Security Force BSF began yesterday, the Indian delegation led by BSF chief KK Sharma argued that the Indian home ministry was against joint investigation into such incidents as the police, not the border forces, were responsible for investigation. The government and the World Bank yesterday launched a cash benefit programme for the poorest mothers and pregnant women. Under the Jawtno Programme, 600,000 women will receive financial help in exchange for their participation in activities to improve their children's nutrition and cognitive development, the WB said this in a statement. India and Bangladesh are set to sign a revised agreement to establish more border haats for the frontier people of the two countries, said Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla. He said this yesterday in an interaction with journalists of The Daily Star during a courtesy visit to the newspaper office in the capital. The makeshift markets are turning out to be great successes in Meghalaya and Tripura, he added. Presently, four border haats are operational along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura. A clash between Myanmar security forces and militants has left two soldiers injured on Bangladesh border with the country’s Rakhine state, reports Reuters. The country office of International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Dhaka yesterday handed over a car, brought in Bangladesh under a duty-free facility, to the officials of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID). Fifty-six entrepreneurs yesterday received the CIP or commercially important person's status in recognition of their contribution to the economy. Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu handed over the CIP cards for 2015 at a function at Dhaka.

London, 18 February 2017

Bangladesh High Commission London confers awards to British-Bangladeshi outstanding academic achievers

London, 18 February: The Bangladesh High Commission in London, for the 11th consecutive year, organised an exceptional event to confer awards to the British-Bangladeshi brilliant students on Saturday 18 February 2017 at the Kensington Town Hall in Central London. Through the event, the High Commission awarded a total of 88 students who achieved at least 10 'A'/'A*' in GCSE and 3 'A'/'A*' in 'A' level examinations. The awardees received a crest and a certificate from the Guests of Honour and Special Guests.

To promote mother tongue Bangla and preserve the tradition, the High Commission at the initiative of new High Commissioner Md. Nazmul Quaunine for the first time awarded/recognised the students who have done exceedingly well in Bangla examination. Also, to recognise the lasting contribution to the mother tongue and for the historic song on Ekushey February 'Amar Bhaiyer Rôkte Rangano Ekushe February Ami Ki Bhulite Pari...' eminent journalist, columnist and writer Mr. Abdul Gaffar Choudhury was presented with Life Time Achievement Award.

The High Commissioner in his welcome address mentioned that for a decade the High Commission organised the event to recognise the academic excellence of the British-Bangladeshi students who have made Bangladesh proud and elevated the image of Bangladesh community in the UK. He hoped that these young boys and girls will lead in their respective fields in the future and their success would inspire the succeeding generations of the diaspora for even better achievements. He urged the students to maintain close links with their lineage and nurture their cultural inheritance. He mentioned that under the astute leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh was well on course to become a middle-income country by 2021, in the realisation of the dreams of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who led the War of Liberation to establish a prosperous Bangladesh. He viewed that a prosperous Bangladesh would be a matter of greater pride for the students and their parents.

Bangladesh Minister for Liberation War Affairs Mr. A.K.M. Mozammel Huq MP, UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Minister for Aviation) The Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Dipu Moni MP and Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh Anne Main MP were present at the occasion as Guests of Honour. Besides, Members of House of Lords - Lord Sheikh, Baroness Verma; Members of European Parliament Jean Lambert MEP, Members of House of Commons- Stephen Timms MP, Paul Scully MP, and eminent journalist Abdul Gaffar Choudhury were, among others, attended the programme as the Special Guests. All the invited guests expressed great satisfaction at the excellent academic success of British-Bangladeshi students and hoped that future leaders of the UK would come out from these students who could contribute to the progress and prosperity of both Bangladesh and the UK.

Apart from the awardees and their parents, the guests included leaders of the community, business, media, academia and other dignitaries. About 500 people attended the ceremony. A cultural programme was also held to showcase the rich heritage of Bangladesh. To mark the event, the High Commission has published a 28-page Souvenir.

(Nadeem Qadir)
Minister Press

London, 15 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the new division in Comilla will be named as ‘Maynamati Division’. From now on, there will be no division based on the name of the district concerned rather new division would come up with a different name, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal quoted the Prime Minister as saying at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that false graft allegation was brought against Padma Bridge and the World Bank stopped lending loan support on the basis of that allegation. She made the comments in her introductory speech while chairing the weekly ECNEC meeting held at the NEC conference room yesterday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will leave Dhaka for Munich, Germany tomorrow on a four-day official visit to attend Munich Security Conference (MSC) and bilateral talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Issues related to Rohingya, security, migration, democracy and human rights are going to dominate the discussions during the first ever full-fledged Foreign Secretary-level consultation between Bangladesh and the European Union in Brussels today. The consultation will also highlight good governance, climate change, trade and commerce, and investment, officials of the Foreign Ministry said this to The daily Independent.

Malaysian ship ‘Nautical Aliya’ carrying relief for Rohingyas reached Chittagong port yesterday. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary (Maritime Unit) Rear Admiral Khurshid Alam, Malaysian High Commissioner Nur Ashikin Binte Mohd Taib were present at the Jetty at that time. Later, the relief goods were handed over formally through a ceremony at the jetty.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmud Ali yesterday said to parliament that some 9,640 Bangladeshis are languishing in jails of 38 countries, including India, the USA, the UK, Australia and different Middle-East states. He said this to the House while responding a written question.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said members of the Coast Guard are working ceaselessly to curb illegal infiltration, human trafficking, smuggling and piracy in the coastal areas all over the country. The force has engaged in serving the people by ensuring safety and security. He said this to a programme marking the 22nd founding anniversary of Bangladesh Coast Guard and Coast Guard Day 2017 at its headquarters in the capital yesterday.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Bangladesh yesterday signed an agreement for a $100 million loan for skill development of young workforce, especially women, to enhance job opportunities, expand economic base, and boost income. The assistance is the second tranche of the $350 million multitranche financing facility (MFF) approved by ADB in 2014 for the Skills for Employment Investment Program (SEIP). The remaining amount from the ADB assistance is expected to be utilized before the MFF period ends in 2024.

Law Minister Anisul Huq said yesterday that the World Bank (WB) is not above the law. But the Bangladesh government cannot sue the WB in view of the contract. Legal action can be taken against the WB by those affected personally, following allegations of corruption in the Padma Bridge project. He made the observations while addressing a ‘meet the press’ programme organised by the Law Reporters' Forum (LRF) at Dhaka Reporters' Unity.

The fourth Indo-Bangla Trade Fair-2017 will begin in the capital from tomorrow aiming to promote bilateral trade relation between two countries. The three-day fair will be held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel. The announcement came at a press conference held at Dhaka yesterday.

A four-day international yarn and fabric expo begins today in Dhaka with a view to creating a one-stop biggest marketplace of Bangladesh for textile business as well as presenting the latest fabrics and trends. The exposition styled as the eleventh Dhaka International Yarn & Fabric Show 2017 will be held at International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB), which will be concluded on Saturday, said organisers at a press conference at National Press Club on Monday.

Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Mohammad Ziauddin met with Congressman Ted S Yoho in Washington DC and sought US support for economic development of Bangladesh. Republican Congressman from Florida, Ted Yoho is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Asia and the Pacific. The meeting was held on Monday. The Ambassador congratulated the Congressman on his new position as the Chairman of the Asia Pacific region which represents the maximum number of population and generates almost 80 percent of total trade in the world. Ziauddin renewed his call for Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) market access of Bangladeshi products to the USA along with 13 other Least Developed Countries (LDCs) which are left out from US DFQF scheme, said a PID handout yesterday.

London, 14 February 2017

The Cabinet yesterday gave its final approval to the draft of the 'Civil Aviation Act, 2017' keeping the provision of death penalty or life-term imprisonment and maximum penalty of Tk. 5 crore on the charge of any willful obstruction in the flight operation that may cause life risks for any one. The approval was given in the regular Cabinet meeting held at Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The Cabinet also approved drafts of three more Acts and 'Textiles Policy, 2017’. The Cabinet yesterday formally greeted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for challenging the World Bank asking it to prove the graft allegations over the Padma Bridge project. The Cabinet observed that the country's image has brightened further in international arena following the dismissal of allegations and recent acquittal of three people by a Canadian court in a case related to the alleged corruption in the Padma Bridge project. The Cabinet made the observation at weekly meeting held at the Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. President Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday hoped that the members of the coast guard would work with patriotism, sincerity, honesty, courage and cordiality to ensure foolproof security of the country's maritime and coastal regions. In a message on the eve of the 22nd anniversary of Bangladesh Coast Guard and "Coast Guard Day 2017", President Md. Abdul Hamid said, the coast guard members are playing vital roles in protecting the maritime resources. In her speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government has already taken various measures to build the coast guard as a capable force. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said necessary reforms have been carried out in the country's labour sector to ensure workers' welfare and improve their working conditions alongside boosting production. She said this while a delegation of Labour Friends of Bangladesh from the UK met her at her official residence Ganabhaban in the evening. The Prime Minister said the labour law has been amended while the working conditions in mills and factories improved significantly. She said the government has constructed dormitories for workers, particularly garment workers, and it has been providing healthcare facilities to them. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader told Parliament that 40 percent work on Padma Bridge completed as of January 2017. He also told parliament that depending on the availability of funds the construction work of the second Padma Bridge on Patuaria-Goalanda point would begin in the current fiscal year. Bangladesh Bank (BB) is going to provide loan to Ready Made Garment sector with an aim to ensuring structural, fire and electrical safety in RMG factories. In presence of Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, the central bank yesterday inked separate agreements with 25 banks and 10 financial institutions to facilitate long-term financing for renovation works, reconstruction, replacement and fire safety in the RMG industries. India wants to work with Bangladesh on important issues like Teesta water sharing agreement and Ganges barrage project as both sides are now working to finalize dates for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's New Delhi visit. Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla met Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque at the Foreign Ministry yesterday afternoon and discussed various issues of mutual interest, including those crucial ones. Information minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday said, Radio initiates the demand for development, creates awareness among people for democratic needs and satisfies the cultural needs and develops it further. The Minister was speaking at the Jatiya Betar Bhaban at Agargaon on the occasion of "World Radio Day". Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) yesterday introduced a new mobile phone service - 'Voicemail Service' - in the country allowing cell-phone users to send voice mail to each other. Prime Minister's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy officially inaugurated the service at 11am by sending a voice mail to the Chairman of the BTRC from Ganabhaban. In a voicemail sent to the BTRC Chairman, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said the country's people will be benefited through the service. Bangladesh has shown keen interest to invest in Nepal's hydropower sector. Bangladesh Ambassador to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams speaking at an interaction organized by Energy Development Council in Kathmandu said her country was ready to invest US$ 1 billion in Nepal to pursue every possible collaboration in the power sector. Bangladesh and Cambodia are moving ahead to form a joint trade commission by signing an agreement soon, officials at the Ministry of Commerce in Dhaka said yesterday. A draft proposal in this regard has already been forwarded to the relevant authorities in Phnom Penh. The Cambodian Commerce Ministry already agreed in principal on a commission framework and was just awaiting official approval from its Bangladeshi counterparts.

London, 13 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the members of Ansar and Village Defense Party (VDP) to play more proactive role against militancy, terrorism and abuse of drug in rural areas. While addressing the 37th National Rally at Ansar-VDP Academy, the Premier also asked them to be associated with development activities of the government to build Bangladesh as a prosperous and dignified nation.

Lawmakers in parliament last night said the World Bank must apologize to Bangladesh and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for maligning the government by raising the false allegation of corruption conspiracy involving the Padma Bridge project. They also called for actions against those who were “behind the World Bank's cancellation of funding for the project”.

Lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches said, Bangladesh is now moving fast by overcoming all odds and conspiracies against the government expecting to secure a sustainable development. While taking part in the general discussion on thanksgiving motion of President's speech in the House, the lawmakers thanked President and said the country had already achieved success in the health, electricity, education, agriculture, food, communications, science and technology, industries, women and children sectors.

Bangladesh Foreign Ministry has recently sent a strong message to all foreign missions based in Dhaka and urged foreign envoys to refrain from meddling into internal affairs which may deem as curious in national issues. They have been asked not to give advice in public, how Bangladesh should function in a democratic regime.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have reached a consensus to sign free-trade agreement (FTA). The Minister made the optimism after having a meeting with Sri Lankan Ambassador to Bangladesh Yasoja Gunasekera at his ministry office yesterday.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said the TV talk-show panelists and intellectuals who raised the corruption allegations in Padma Bridge project in their bid to malign the government should now apologize. The Minister said, their allegation proved now false through the Canadian court verdict. The Minister came up with the remarks while addressing Janata Bank's annual conference-2017 at a city hotel.

In presence of Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu Bangladesh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jordan to import rock phosphate and phosphoric acid for producing standard triple superphosphate (TSP). Under the MoU, every year Bangladesh will import 1.50 lakh metric ton rock Phosphate and 1.20 lakh metric ton Phosphoric Acid from Jordan.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said, the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar who entered Bangladesh illegally will be rehabilitated to Thengarchar in Hatiya on humanitarian ground and also for protecting the natural beauty of beach town of Cox's Bazar and ensure the security of tourists. The minister came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after inaugurating the 170-metre-long four-lane project for 'beautification and expansion of Saikat Road' involving Tk 3.17 crore at Kalatoli in the town.

Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq yesterday called upon all who got victimized by the false allegation of graft in Padma Bridge Project to file case against the World Bank. Minister said at a freshers' reception at Mirpur Marks Medical College yesterday that after the recent verdict of Canadian court, it has been proved that there was no corruption in Padma Bridge Project.

Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud yesterday said the government has approved seven projects involving Taka 1,151.52 crore to check river erosion taking place in the coastal areas due to climate change. He said this while replying to a tabled question from a treasury bench member in the Jatiya Sangsad.

Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mohammad Sayeedul Haque yesterday said Bangladesh earned $ 2.89 billion from fiscal year 2011-2012 till the current (2016-2017) fiscal by exporting 413.57 thousand tonnes of fish. The Minister said it at the parliament while replying to a tabled question of a treasury bench member.

The government has picked 17 persons for this year's Ekushey Padak in recognition of their contributions. In an announcement, the cultural ministry yesterday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over the award to the winners at Osmani Memorial Auditorium on 20 February.

The government has appointed Kamrun Nahar as the country's first-ever female Principal Information Officer (PIO). An officer of BCS 1984 regular batch, Nahar joined office at Press Information Department (PID) yesterday as her predecessor Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain went on retirement the same day.

London, 09 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told parliament that her government outlined mega plans to set up 100 specialized economic zones (SEZs) to attract foreign investment. The premier said the government took measures to get the country’s economy on firm footing. She also said, her government has set a target to increase the country’s export and foreign reserve and chalked out various measures to draw private investment. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday sought cooperation from armed forces in combating militancy and terrorism to keep the country's ongoing development process undisrupted. The premier was addressing as the chief guest at the graduation ceremony of the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) 2016-17 Course at Sheikh Hasina Complex at Mirpur Cantonment in the capital yesterday morning. The prime minister also urged all to play their due role so that children don't get involved in terrorism and militancy and addicted to drugs. President Md. Abdul Hamid yesterday reiterated Bangladesh's zero tolerance policy against acts of terrorism and militancy. The President said this while addressing the inaugural session of the Asia-Pacific Business Forum- 2017 (APBF) at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital. The President also called upon the leaders of the Asia Pacific region to build a united resistance against terrorism for attaining continued peace, prosperity, stability and development. He underscored the need for giving priority and joint efforts to eradicate poverty in this region. President Md. Abdul Hamid yesterday called upon all concerned to consider education as a weapon of development and progress of the nation and its citizens not to use it as a tool for profit making. He said this while addressing the 16th convocation of the East West University (EWU) in the city in the afternoon yesterday. President Hamid stressed the need for building up patriotic and educated human resources ensuring the world standard and quality education in each university. The cabinet committee on economic affairs awarded China Harbour and Engineering Co Ltd to develop an economic and industrial zone dedicated for Chinese investors at Anwara in Chittagong yesterday. The cabinet committee yesterday approved another proposal for the appointment of a developer for another economic zone at Mirsharai in Chittagong. It also approved signing of an agreement with POSCO Daewoo Corporation for gas exploration and extraction at deep-sea block DS-12. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said , a total of $6 billion is in the pipeline from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as aid. The finance minister informed this while talking to reporters after a meeting with visiting ADB Vice-President Wencai Zhang at his office. The government decided yesterday to begin disbursing money to the country’s garments workers from a central fund which was designed for the welfare of workers in the export-oriented apparel sector. The board of the Central Fund took the decision in the third meeting held at the labour and employment ministry chaired by State Minister for labour and employment Mujibul Haque Chunnu. Bangladesh has strongly protested the act of 'unprovoked aggression' committed by Myanmar's Border Guard Police (BGP) by firing at an unarmed fishing boat of Bangladesh in the Naf River on 6 February. One fisherman died from bullet injury due to this incident while another was seriously injured. In a Diplomatic note sent to the Embassy of Myanmar in Dhaka, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested the act of aggression and urged the government of Myanmar to make sure the authorities concerned of Myanmar to stop the recurrence of the same. Jordanian entrepreneurs welcomed a Bangladesh proposal for setting up a joint venture TSP fertilizer factory in Bangladesh in presence of Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu who is now on a visit to Jordan and placed the proposal during a meeting with Amman Chamber of Industry State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid yesterday informed the Parliament that supply of daily natural gas has increased to 1000-mcft. In this connection, the state minister said the present government has taken various measurers to overcome the deficit and provide required gas supply to the people. Vice President of Asian Development Bank Wenchai Zhang yesterday visited Ishwardi Export Promotion Zone and said ADB is looking forward to extend cooperation to Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority. Bangladesh is going to connect with the 2nd submarine cable on 21 February to get another 1500 gbps bandwidth. The South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 consortium is set to launch its global operation on this day. Bangladesh will take 28th place among the world's most powerful economies by 2030 and Bangladesh's GDP at PPP terms will exceed Malaysia by 2050 according to an analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The PwC analysis said Bangladesh will be benefited from its youthful and fast growing working-age population.

London, 08 February 2017

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved eight projects, including one for increasing strength of existing runway and taxiway of Sylhet Osmani International Airport, at a total cost of Tk 2,071.80 crore. The ECNEC gave the approval in its 18th meeting for the current fiscal year held at the NEC conference room here with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government has been working tirelessly to change the lot of the mass people. She said this when a three-member Swedish Left Party delegation led by Jens Holm, MP, called on her at her Jatiya Sangsad Office yesterday evening. The prime minister said the government has been providing various allowances to distressed people under the social safety net programs. The premier said her government has ensured women participation in all spheres of the state. President Md. Abdul Hamid yesterday said the cooperation from all political parties and general people to hold free, fair and credible elections in the country is a must. He said this at a meeting with outgoing election commissioners at Bangabhaban. The outgoing election commissioners, led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, made the farewell call on the President yesterday afternoon. Newly-appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda has said that he would be working with respect to the constitution with honesty and neutrality. He said, he and his colleagues would be making the best of their efforts to work properly without fears or favors to ensure free and fair polls with participation of all political parties, while expressing his views after being appointed for this vital post. The agreement between Bangladesh and Russia on visa-free visit of persons of the two countries holding diplomatic and official (service) passports will come into force on 12 February for a period not exceeding 30 days from the date of entry. Bangladesh will start bandwidth export to Bhutan within a month. State-owned Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company Limited (BSCCL) would establish linkage with Bhutan using network of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) through Akhaura-Tripura frontier, said officials. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said duty and quota free market access being provided by European Union (EU) under everything but arms (EBA) facilities is rendering positive contribution to employment and socioeconomic development of Bangladesh. The minister was addressing as chief guest at the opening session of a day-long workshop organized by EU Trade Division at a city hotel. Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury in Parliament yesterday said some 2.8 lakh homeless families will be rehabilitated across the country by 2019 as per the Prime Minister's announcement. She said the government has taken decision to provide homes to all homeless people in the country by 2019. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Engineer Khandker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday in Parliament said the 'Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar (One House, One Farm) project has created scopes for employment and poverty alleviation of three crore people across the country. The minister said a total of 1.20 crore people from 40,527 wards in 4,503 unions of the country were added to the project through 40,213 village associations from 2011 to June 30, 2016. Bangladesh has urged BIMSTEC member states to conclude the Bimstec Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations as early as possible. Bangladesh conveyed its position at the seventeenth session of the Bimstec Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) held yesterday in Kathmandu. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the six-member Bangladesh delegation at the meeting Malaysian High Commissioner in Dhaka Nur Ashikin Mohd Taib has said Bangladesh and Malaysia can grow together by strengthening ties between the two countries in all aspects. High Commissioner Nur Ashikin was addressing at a function in the city.

London, 06 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh can achieve inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030 facing all challenges. She was addressing at the inaugural session of the 3-day E-9 Ministerial Meeting on Education 2030 at a city hotel yesterday. She said special emphasis must be given on teachers' education and training programs. She said the Era of SDGs that all have stepped in makes it very timely and meaningful now to hold this E-9 Ministerial meeting and align and integrate particularly SDG-4 on education with our E-9 initiatives and strategies . President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed profound shock at the demise of veteran politician and parliamentarian Suranjit Sengupta in separate messages. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also paid rich tributes to late Suranjit Sengupta by placing wreaths on his coffin at South Plaza of Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban yesterday afternoon. The Jatiya Sangsad in a unanimous resolution yesterday condoled the death of former railway minister Suranjit Sengupta and termed him as ‘a leading light of parliamentary democracy’. Bangladesh has requested its international partners to support it in implementing the relocation plan of Rohingyas to Hatiya by providing assistance in developing the island and transporting the Myanmar nationals living in Bangladesh to the new place of their residence. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali made the request to Bangladesh's bilateral, UN and other international partners while briefing the members of the diplomat community at the state guesthouse Padma yesterday. Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said the government will take new strategy after taking opinion from Bangladesh Bank to return of the money stolen by hackers from its central bank. The minister came up with the remark yesterday at his secretariat office while replying to the reporters' query on return of BB heist of $81 million from Philippines. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said a banking commission will be constituted before the end of the tenure of the present government to look into different problems in the banking sector. He said this while speaking at the annual conference of the stated-owned Sonali Bank at the Institute of Diploma Engineers. He said a banking commission is needed to look after implementation of laws, policies and regulations in banking sector. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khondokar Mosharaf Hossain yesterday said the local government institutions would be centre point of development in future through providing basic amenities of civic life by infusing new technology. The minister was speaking as chief guest at a function on 'Inspiring Workshop for Innovation and Citation Giving' organized by Upazila Governance Project (UZGP) in DPHE auditorium. The Asian Development Bank, in a publication--Bangladesh: Development Effectiveness Brief 2017, said that Bangladesh has made significant socioeconomic gains with a steady rise in its gross domestic product, boost in social development, and meeting the Millennium Development Goal. Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya yesterday told the 5th partnership meeting in a city hotel that Bangladesh has been successful in reducing disaster risk as the country is strengthening its capacity for minimizing losses of lives and property. Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said newly introduced Smart Cards were meant to ensure peoples civic privileges alongside the voting rights. He said the smart card will save time, money and ensure the availability of quality civic amenities .He said while distributing smart cards at a College at Shahjahanpur yesterday morning. State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak has said the government will provide incentives to promote 1000 innovative apps commercially. He was speaking as chief guest at the launching ceremony of cell-phone based credible advice - ‘Maya Apa Plus’ - on personal, health or psychological issues in the city yesterday. Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrm , in a letter to her Bangladeshi counterpart AH Mahmood Ali said that she is deeply impressed by the results that Bangladesh has achieved in economic development and poverty alleviation . State Minister for Social Welfare Nuruzzaman Ahmed has called for taking proper care of the disabled people to turn them into human resources for ensuring their participation in the national development process,. The State Minister said this at a function at a school in Lalmonirhat yesterday.

London, 02 February 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told parliament that some 3.5 lakh undocumented Bangladeshi workers working in Malaysia will get the scope to work there since the Malaysian government has announced to issue temporary work passes for such workers. She said that following successful diplomatic efforts of the present government steps have been taken to provide legality to some 8 lakh undocumented expatriate Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia, while 2.67 lakh in Malaysia and 10,000 in Iraq. She mentioned that the present AL government has taken a firm stance to check human trafficking through enacting of the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act, 2012.She also said that her government had always taken all-out measures to ensure the fairness of all the elections held in the country so far. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon the students to read books more to earn knowledge. She also said that the practice of literature can prevent them from stepping into the wrong path. The premier said this while inaugurating the month-long "Ekushey Grantha Mela" (Book Fair) on the Bangla Academy premises in the city yesterday afternoon. Through the same function, the premier opened a four-day International Literature Conference 2017 and handed over prizes among the winners of 'Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2016'. President Hamid received the Palestinian President yesterday at the VVIP Tarmac of Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport amid a 21-gun salute. Then the Palestinian President was taken to Hotel Le Meridien Dhaka on the Airport Road through a ceremonial motorcade where he will be staying during the visit. A MoU on formation of a joint commission at foreign minister level is likely to be signed. President Abbas will have official talks with prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the prime minister’s office today. Both sides will discuss bilateral, regional and international issues at the meetings. He will attend banquet preceded by cultural programme hosted by president Hamid in honour of the Palestinian president. Speaker of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury said the government is working to establish an ITbusiness friendly environment as the sector can contribute more in the national economy. Speaker made this remark while addressing the inaugural ceremony of four day long BASIS Soft Expo at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) at Agargaon in the capital yesterday. Referring to $3 trillion global software market special guest Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal said Planning Ministry will support BASIS at all square to lead the local tech outlets. State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said the government is working together with private sector to create a business-friendly environment for the technology sector to achieve the milestone of $1 billion revenue from ITES export by 2018. Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said that Bangladesh will expand its bilateral cooperation with Palestine in "depth and dimensions". Foreign Minister Ali made the remark at a meeting with the visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday after his arrival on a three-day state visit. Both sides hoped at the meeting that the visit will be "successful". Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury said that the government has allocated Taka 32.90 crore for providing agricultural assistance among the small and marginal farmers to raise aus production during the current summer season. She disclosed this while addressing a press briefing at her ministry conference room in Dhaka yesterday. As many as 2,25,988 small and marginal farmers will get necessary agricultural inputs including seed and fertilisers for cultivating high yielding variety of local Aus and Nerica . Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam said yesterday in Parliament that Bangladeshi expatriates remitted some US$ 150 billion in the last 25 fiscal years. The minister said Bangladesh exported some 7.58 lakh workers in 2016, while 5.56 lakh in 2015, 4.26 lakh in 2014, 4.09 lakh in 2013 . State Minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam yesterday that Bangladesh's decision to gradually relocate the documented and undocumented Rohingyas to Noakhali's Hatiya Island will be a 'temporary arrangement', considering the 'humanitarian ground'. Shahriar Alam said this is a success of Bangladesh's foreign diplomacy and the government is seeing its reflection everywhere on the cause. Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Mohammad Ziauddin has said Bangladesh is deeply engaged with the USA and other friendly countries to counter terrorism to ensure democracy and development. The envoy made the remark when he met with Republican Senator Ron Johnson in Washington DC on Tuesday. Bangladesh Ambassador in Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams has announced the government's plan to buy hydroelectric power at a roundtable in Kathmandu. She has said Bangladesh is ready to invest $2 billion for hydropower projects. She also shared Bangladesh's renewable energy experiences at the roundtable recently.

London, 01 February 2017

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved eight projects, including one called the 'Local Governance Support Project-3 (LGSP-3)' involving Tk 5,535 crore. The total outlay of the projects is Tk 12,550.78 crore. The ECNEC approved the projects at its weekly meeting held at the NEC conference room with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Other projects approved in the ECNEC meeting are: Climate Tolerant Rural Infrastructures Project, Khulna Division Rural Infrastructure Development Project, infrastructural facility development of Military Institute of Science and Technology Mirpur Cantonment, Development of Ananna Residential Area (2nd phase) in Chittagong, building connecting road from Natore Road to Rajshahi Bypass, construction of Barisal and Sylhet Armed Police Battalion and Range Reserve Line and construction of Patuakhali-Paira 230 KV Transmission lines. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the month-long Amar Ekushey Boi Mela (book fair) 2017 at 3pm on the Bangla Academy premises. The premier will also distribute prizes among the winners of 'Bangla Academy Sahitya Puroshkar 2016' and inaugurate a 4-day International Literature Conference 2017. A book named "Nirbachita Probandha" by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will also hit this year's Book Fair . World Bank (WB) representatives expressed satisfaction and repeatedly praised Bangladesh for properly implementing all projects of education sector in time. A six-member team of WB led by its Education Practice manager Keiko Miwa met with Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid for at his office yesterday. Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said the projects are being implemented with sincerity. The EC search committee formed by President Abdul Hamid yesterday shortlisted 20 people examining 125 names proposed by 25 political parties to appoint as new election commissioners. Cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam came up with the announcement after a meeting of the search panel. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday said Dhaka would continue working for a permanent solution to Rohingya crisis on the basis of bilateral friendship and mutual understandings through further strengthening multifaceted relations with Myanmar. The minister said this in the Jatiya Sangsad while responding to a written question from treasury bench member Begum Pinu Khan. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday urged the Myanmar government to take back the Rongingya refugees immediately from Bangladesh. He said while talking to journalists after a meeting with visiting members of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State at his ministry. The Home Minister asked the Commission members to create pressure on Myanmar government regionally and internationally. State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid has said the submission of bids in 1,200 MW coalfired Matarbari Power Plant project by the pre-qualified bidders-Maru-beni Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation will immensely boost up the confidence of the foreign firms who want to invest or engage in Bangladesh. He said this after the two pre-qualified bidders submitted their respective bids for 1,200 MW coalfired Matarbari Power Plant project yesterday after the incident of Holey Artisan Bakery at Gulshan. The government set a target to raise Bangladesh's global position in doing-business index to two digits from the current 176th by creating investment-stimulating environment for both local and international investors. Disclosing this at a press conference yesterday at a city hotel Bangladesh Investment Development Authority expressed the hope of meeting the challenging target. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Dhaka today on a three-day official visit, aiming at further strengthening the bilateral relations with Bangladesh. During his three-day visit, President Abbas will meet President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and discuss issues, which will strengthen bilateral ties. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today greeted members of the Hindu community on the occasion of Saraswati Puja. In separate messages on the eve of the religious festival, they wished all success of the event. In his message, President Abdul Hamid said the participation of common people irrespective of caste, creed and religion in the festival has added a new dimension to the non-communal spirit and heritage of the country. Prime Minister said Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told parliament yesterday that he would consider the imposition of 14.5 per cent ‘fat tax’ on junk food while preparing the budget for 2017-18 financial year. Finance minister said this replying to a call attention notice placed by lawmaker Nurjahan Begum in the Jatiyo Sangsad.