London, 31 January 2017

The Cabinet yesterday approved the draft of the 'Dowry Prohibition Act 2017', "National Hajj and Umrah Policy2017", "Hajj Package 2017", 'The Bangladesh Ship Recycling Law,2017' and 'The Integrated Small-Scale Irrigation Policy, 2017' during its weekly meeting. The approval was given in the weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday released a commemorative postage stamp, a first day cover and a data card on the occasion of the International Customs Day 2017 at the beginning of the weekly regular cabinet meeting held at Bangladesh Secretariat yesterday morning. Bangladesh Post Office issued the commemorative stamp of Taka 10, the first day cover of Tk 10 and the data card of Tk 5. The sale of the stamp, first day cover and data card started from the Philatelic Bureau of Dhaka GPO yesterday, while those would be available from other GPOs and head post offices across the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that all future elections in the country will be free and fair. She was speaking yesterday evening at the beginning of the joint meeting of the Awami League Executive Assembly and the Advisory Council at Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s residence Ganabhaban which was convened to discuss EC search committee requests to propose names to form the next election commission. Speaking at the meeting, she said no one would be able to make a mockery of the electoral rights of the people of Bangladesh. In the meeting the ruling Awami League yesterday decided to send names for the next chief election commissioner and other election commissioners to the search committee. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken various measures over the last eight years to develop the country at a faster pace. Prime Minister said this when the outgoing Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Wirnata Atmadja paid a farewell call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her parliament office yesterday evening. The Prime Minister appreciated the Indonesian ambassador's efforts to boost bilateral trade and commerce between the two countries. She said the country could import coal from Indonesia alongside other countries to run coal-fired power plants. The outgoing Indonesian Ambassador expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for extending cooperation in discharging his duties during his tenure in Dhaka. Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board will bring 146 Upazilas under 100 per cent electrification activities within the current 2016-17 fiscal year, said BREB. The board is also working to bring all 460 Upazilas under 100 per cent electrification activities to keep up with a directive given by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the current fiscal year the board is planning to construct 40 thousand km power lines and 84 electricity sub-centres. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday said the entire government would come under e-filing system by June this year which will ensure good governance. He said this while speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the electronic-filing (e-filing) system at the Press Information Department (PID). He also said that although this was the formal inauguration of e-filing at the PID but the process had started on a trial basis, from last year (2016). Inu assured the newsmen that e-filing and ultimately e-governance would be introduced to bring dynamism into the administration and take government services to the people. Speaking on the occasion, Information Secretary Mortuza Ahmed said that the ministry would complete the e-filing system by February. Principal Information Officer A K M Shameem Chowdhuri chaired the meeting which was also addressed by representatives from the Access to Information (A2I) and other senior officers of the PID. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said Bangladesh and India maintain close and cordial relation on various bilateral fields and issues. The two countries have already resolved some important pending issues including enclave problems successfully. He added while addressing a reception ceremony in Rajshahi in honour of Harsh Vardhan Shringla, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh. The government has extended Dhaka International Trade Fair 2017 by four days in response to the request made by the exhibitors from home and abroad. Vice-chairman of Export Promotion Bureau Mafruha Sultana said the authority has made decision to extend the DITF 2017 by four more days at a meeting at EPB office.

London, 30 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the people of all classes and professions, including teachers, public and private organizations, to work together for the development of the country's education sector. Prime Minister also opined for continuation of public examinations in Class-V and class-VIII. The prime minister said those while inaugurating the National Primary Education Week-2017 at Osmani Memorial Auditorium. Prime Minister also asked teachers to give special attention to their students so that the children and students stay away from criminal activities. Prime Minister said during the last eight years the government established 1,500 primary schools and nationalised 26,193 non-government primary schools. Later, the prime minister distributed medals among 19 personalities for their outstanding contributions to expansion of primary education. She also distributed prizes among the winning students in different sports and cultural events.

The President Abdul Hamid hoped BAF will uphold the country's image both at home and abroad with the utmost sincerity and honesty in the days to come. President also expressed satisfaction over the BAF's activities and professional performance in safeguarding the country while Air chief Marshal Abu Esrar met President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban yesterday. President also assured the air chief of continuing his cooperation in modernising and developing the air force.

Bangladesh Bank (BB) yesterday declared monetary policy in the second half of the current fiscal year. The central bank of the country adopted the new policy focusing on the growth rate of the domestic loan and the personal loan of 16.4 and 16.5 percent respectively. BB Governor Fazle Kabir declared the monetary policy in the Bank's conference hall with a view to attaining a GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent and the policy emphasized on SDGs priority like green financing. He mentioned that the central bank has strengthened monitoring on the loans provided by the banks and financial institutions for their proper utilization.

The finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said yesterday that Bangladesh has achieved 7.11 per cent GDP growth in 2015-2016 fiscal the highest in the contemporary history. The GDP growth target in the current fiscal has been fixed at 7.2 per cent while placing the report on 'Macro economic analysis, trend of income and expenditure and budget implementation progress of the first quarter (July-September) of the 2016-2017 fiscal year in the Jatiya Sangsad. In another occasion during the inaugural session of a workshop titled ‘Inclusive Budgeting and Financing for Climate Resilience Project’ at a city hotel, Finance minister AMA Muhith yesterday said Bangladesh is the best performer in implementation of the climate change-related projects. He said that the government had been periodically reviewing the climate change action plan since 2009.

A team of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State arrived in Dhaka to assess plight of Rohingya Muslims who fled persecution in Myanmar to Bangladesh. The three-member Rakhine Commission team is set to reach Cox’s Bazar today to see undocumented Myanmar nationals and Myanmar refugees.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should continue its support to Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) to assist people affected by violence and disasters. Minister Ali said these during a meeting with Head of Delegation of the ICRC Ikhtiyar Aslanov yesterday at his office and discussed future cooperation. Aslanov assured that ICRC will continue to work with the government to address the humanitarian needs of the people of Bangladesh.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said Bangladesh-India bilateral trade could further be boosted through mutual cooperation and removing duty barriers in regard to exports of Bangladeshi products. The commerce minister passed the remarks while addressing the plenary session of "India's Integration with South and Southeast Asia" on the second day of Partnership Summit on yesterday night held in Indian port city of Vishakhapatnam organized by Indian Chamber of Commerce along with Commerce and Industries Ministry.

India has further eased the visa process for Bangladeshi travelers by extending the scheme for walk-in tourist visas with confirmed journey tickets to eight Indian Visa Application Centers (IVACs) in Bangladesh with effect from 1February.This initiative is part of the ongoing efforts to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of securing Indian visas, said Indian High Commission in Dhaka yesterday.

Bangladesh and India yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the sustainable development of Rajshahi city. Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Department, Ministry of Finance, Shah Md Aminul Haque and acting Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation Md Nizam Ul Azim signed the MoU on their respective sides.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid sought strong cooperation of Indonesian investors in the energy sector of Bangladesh. Nasrul Hamid sought the cooperation when Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwan Wiranata-Atmadja made a courtesy call on him at his Secretariat Office yesterday. During the meeting the Indonesian Ambassador told the State minister that both the public and private sector of Indonesia interested to develop a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) business in Bangladesh.

London, 26 January 2017

The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said a total of 37,15,111 workers went abroad with employment and remitted $ 94.98 billion from 2010 to 2016 . She said this while responding to a question from a treasury bench member in the Jatiya Sangsad. The Prime Minister said the present Awami League government has undertaken various programmes for development and modernization of migration procedure along with welfare of the expatriate workers. The prime minister also said the 7th Fifth Year Plan would be implemented mostly with internal resources while only 9.6 percent of total investment would come from foreign donors. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed Bangladesh Chhatra League leaders and activists to maintain congenial atmosphere at educational institutions while on the occasion of the 69th founding anniversary of BCL its leaders called on her at the premier’s Ganabhaban residence. Prime Minister said her government has now been able to keep the educational institutions free from session jam by undertaking various steps. The President Abdul Hamid yesterday formed a six-member search committee, headed by Supreme Court’s Appellate Division judge Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, for reconstituting the new Election Commission (EC). Other members of the committee are Justice Obaidul Hassan CAG, Masud Ahmed, Chairman of BPSC Dr Muhammed Sadique , Pro Vice-Chancellor of Chittagong University Prof Dr Shireen Akhter and Dhaka University English Department teacher Prof Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam. The search committee will recommend two names against each post, including at least a woman, to President Abdul Hamid within 10 working days for appointing the Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners. The President Abdul Hamid yesterday asked the members of police force to deliver proper service, developing further a people-friendly attitude as protector of law. He said this with senior police officials at a meeting on the occasion of Annual Police Week-2017 at Bangabhaban. He also suggested police to increase efficiency and knowledge in information and communication technology and other techniques particularly to curb cyber crimes. Bangladesh has asked Pakistan to strengthen security in all Bangladesh missions in Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Pakistan High Commissioner in Dhaka Rafiuzzaman Siddqui yesterday and conveyed the message .The ministry summoned the Pakistani envoy after a cracker blasted on the wall of Bangladesh Deputy High Commission compound in Karachi around 5:30pm on Tuesday. Bangladesh and Indonesia agreed to work together to address the Rakhine Muslim issue in the coming days through establishing a greater involvement of the regional and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. In a farewell meeting, Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Wiranata-Atmadja discussed the issue with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dhaka renewed its request to the new administration of US President Donald J. Trump to consider `Duty Free Quota Free` (DFQF) access to the US market. Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Mohammad Ziauddin made the request during a meeting with US Republican Senator Roger Wicker in Washington D.C. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday told newsmen at his secretariat office that Bangladesh would benefit from the US pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid yesterday said there are eight power plants having 5,925-MW generation capacity in the public and private sector are now under implementation in the country and the plants will be completed in phases from 2018 to 2021.The state minister made the disclosure while replying to a question from treasury bench member M Israfil Alam in the Jatiya Sangsad. Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday while addressing a discussion with media over SDGs at NEC in the city said that Bangladesh will be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals making the country a hunger and poverty-free country by 2030 as the government is committed to implement the agenda. The NBR chairman Md Nojibur Rahman yesterday said at a press briefing held at NBR headquarters in Dhaka that the government is set to establish a National Single Window to facilitate businesses for completing all procedures related to import and export through online using the platform as part of building digital customs. Bangladesh improved in latest Transparency International (TI) survey report, dropping two notches to rank 15th from 13th last year in the list of corrupt countries in the world. According to the report, Bangladesh stood 145th among 175 countries across the world based on corruption perception index (CPI) 2016 surveyed by Transparency International.

London, 25 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday urged the leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League to give foremost importance to learning and uphold its glory and dignity. She said BCL traversed a long way with this motto bringing most of the nation's achievements including Bangla as the state language and independence. She said this while addressing a reunion of Bangladesh Chhatra League marking its 69th founding anniversary at Suhrawardi Udyan in the capital yesterday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the people are the ‘main strength’ of the country and directed members of the police force to earn the trust of the people and raise their engagement in combating terrorism and militancy. Prime Minister said this while addressing the senior officials of Bangladesh Police at a function on the occasion of the Police Week 2017, held at the Prime Minister's Office in Dhaka. The prime minister said police’s enhanced people links would make easier their task to contain terrorism as citizens could provide information on terrorists. President Abdul Hamid said the existing bilateral relations between Bangladesh and Indonesia are excellent and hoped that cooperation in various sectors, including trade and commerce, will be strengthened in the days to come. The President said this while Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwan Wiranata-atmadja yesterday paid his farewell call on President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban. The outgoing ambassador expressed his gratefulness to the President for providing all-out cooperation during his stay in Bangladesh. Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the unified value-added tax of 15 percent will remain unchanged under the new VAT law which is expected to come into force in July. He said this replying to the reporters after a meeting with officials of the National Board of Revenue at his office. State Minister for foreign affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam said yesterday at least one lakh smart cards would be provided to Bangladeshi workers now working in Malaysia .The state minister said this while unveiling a book on migrants experience at Dhaka University Senate Hall in the capital. State Minister said the Bangladeshi workers would get an opportunity to work there (Malaysia) up to two years and upon their return at home, they again be able to migrate to Malaysia. State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak yesterday said a socio-economic revolution will take place in Bangladesh through technology. He said this while exchanging views with district ICT committee and ICT teachers of educational institutions at Natore Deputy Commissioner's office. The state minister said initiatives have been taken to groom 4.26 crore students as worthy citizens by giving them technological education. State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid yesterday said the government has so far approved 16 proposals in principal to set up large scale solar parks with a combined generation capacity of up to 975MW. He was speaking at a review meeting on the progress of the projects under power division in renewable energy which includes solar, wind and hydro energy to generate electricity. Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Rashed Khan Menon told a group of visiting Japanese tourists that the prime minister has declared a zero-tolerance policy towards terror. He also invited Japanese entrepreneurs and investors to visit Bangladesh. Clearly happy with their sojourn that began on January 20, the tourists enjoyed their last night in the country as guests at a banquet hosted in their honor by Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Rashed Khan Menon. During the banquet, the tourists heaped praises on Bangladesh while narrating their experiences in the country. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain told in the Jatiya Sangsad yesterday that the government has undertaken a project involving Taka 375 crore to renovate or re-excavate various water bodies, including ponds and dighis of zila parisad across the country for preserving and supplying potable water. Speakers at a seminar yesterday stressed the importance of bringing maritime stakeholders to a common platform to explore valuable mineral resources, discover and invent new technology, tools and strategies. The seminar on "Ocean Governance and its Challenges: Role of Stakeholders" was organized by the Faculty of Maritime Governance of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University (BSMRMU) at its auditorium. Chief of Naval Staff, secretary to the Maritime Affairs and BSMRMU VC were present in the seminar.

London, 24 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for strengthening the programs of community policing to build a safe and peaceful society and said the police have to be associated with democratic values and more friendly towards people. The Prime Minister also emphasized on modernization of the police to cope with the emerging challenges of security and crime caused by transcendence of technology and rapid global changes while inaugurating the Police Week-2017 at a function at Dhaka Police Lines at Rajarbagh in the city yesterday. Recalling the role of police in country's democratic journey, the prime minister said the country was saved from a big ploy of sabotage and instability due to effective measures taken by the police in 2016 to root out militancy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the activities of the SAARC should be focused, timebound and result-oriented one to meet peoples' expectations. She came up with the remarks when outgoing SAARC Secretary General Arjun Bahadur Thapa paid a farewell call on her at her official residence Ganabhaban in the evening. Sheikh Hasina said cooperation among the Saarc countries is needed to effectively address some common and similar problems. The Prime Minister mentioned the forging of subregional cooperation initiative among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon all to be inspired with the spirits of the mass upsurge of 1969 and the Liberation War to build a prosperous Bangladesh. They made the call in separate messages on the eve of the historic Mass Upsurge Day and expressed profound respect to those who had embraced martyrdom in the historic movement in 1969. The government aims to generate 697 megawatt (MW) electricity from renewable energy sources by 2019 for attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the country. Besides, the government fixed another target for 10 percent power to be procured from the renewable energy sources from 2020 and onward by following the Renewable Energy Policy, said State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid while talking to BSS yesterday. Bangladesh Bank (BB) is likely to announce its Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) for the second half of fiscal 2016-17 (FY17) on January 29 said a senior BB official yesterday. He said the monetary policy is being prepared to give special importance to investment, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and idle money in the banking system, to help accelerate growth and investment. Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Executive Committee Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury yesterday said statelessness is a global problem. Political will and collective initiatives from the global community are needed to solve the crisis, she said while unveiling the cover of Bangla version of the handbook titled 'Nationality and Statelessness: Handbook for Parliamentarians' at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre jointly launched by Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday urged Australian entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh, saying that the government will extend all out cooperation to Australian investors in Bangladesh. He said this when Australian High Commissioner in Dhaka Julia Niblett called on at his secretariat office here. Minister said Bangladesh has ensured safety and security of foreign investments as the government has enacted laws in this regard. State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Zunaid Ahmed Palak yesterday said the government is working to build a startup ecosystem in the country by keeping a three-layered pyramid structure in mind, reports BSS. He said, the innovators will be on top of the structure. Achievers will be in second position, followed by people involved in small sectors like freelancing. The state-minister came up with the observations while addressing a roundtable discussion titled "Creating a Venture Capital Ecosystem: Government's Role" as chief guest at Software Technology Park in capital's Janata Tower. The Saudi government yesterday said they will not impose any fees on financial transfers from Saudi Arabia to abroad, according to a statement posted on its official webpage.

London, 23 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told Parliament that the anti-liberation forces have acting on an evil design to kill popular Awami League parliament members, leaders and workers who are making a stronger footing in their respective areas. The premier reiterated that the killers of lawmaker Manjurul Islam Lition must be hunted down and be given proper punishment. The leader of the house came up with the remarks while participating in a general discussion on obituary motion on MP Liton who was killed by assailants at his Gaibandha village home on December 31.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked students to stay away from terrorism, militancy and drug abuse to make themselves as worthy citizens of the country to lead the nation in the coming days. The Prime Minister said this while addressing the closing ceremony of the 46th National Winter Sports Competition of Schools and Madrasahs at Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Police Week-2017 at Rajarbagh Police Lines ground in the city today. The Prime Minister will handover awards in four categories to 132 police members, including police officers, for their outstanding performance in 2016. The prime minister will also inaugurate 'Police Liberation War Museum', 'Forensic DNA Laboratory of CID', 'Cyber Crime Investigation Center', 'Cyber Training Center' and a sculpture of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and martyred police members in 1971 named 'Rajarbagh-71'.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday stressed the need for practical training to enhance efficiency of government officials for ensuring better public services. In a message on the eve of the National Training Day-2017, she said that all have to take challenge of efficient management to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and developed one by 2041.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday called upon both the ruling and opposition parties to play their due role in Parliament to strengthen the country's democratic process and fulfill the expectations of the nation. He came up with call while addressing the first session of the New Year in Parliament which began yesterday and will continue till March 9.The President also highlighted the country's progress in communications, education, banking, environment, manpower, youth and development, ICT, housing and other sectors.

Bangladesh and Malaysia have agreed on the need for a greater role for multilateral bodies such as ASEAN, OIC and UN in finding a "durable solution" to the Rohingya crisis. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam met the Foreign Minister of Malaysia Anifah Aman on the sidelines of the extraordinary session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers centering the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority of Myanmar that was just held in Kuala Lumpur recently. They discussed bilateral issues including recruitment of Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said Bangladesh will have a strong capital market by 2020 which can provide us with the necessary investment. The Minister said at a program organized by Midas Investment Ltd in the city.

Bangladesh Bank yesterday said that the foreign companies located in the country’s export processing zones and economic zones would be allowed to borrow from their parent companies and shareholders abroad. The BB issued a circular to the authorised dealer branches of all banks saying that type ‘A’ industries (fully owned by foreign nationals) in EPZs and EZs would get permission to take short-term foreign currency loans from their parent companies and shareholders abroad.

The government has taken steps to ease the process of doing business in an effort to jumpstart investment situation. By the end of this month, a roadmap will be finalised for every government agency, which would specify how many days it would take an investor to start his/her business, get the relevant permits and electricity connection. Bangladesh Investment Development Authority or BIDA informed this at a press conference held at the capital's Sonargaon Hotel yesterday.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has said Bangladesh always attaches high importance to the ethos of SAARC and will continue to play a constructive role in fostering regional cooperation for betterment of the millions of people of this region. He told this when outgoing Secretary General of Saarc Arjun Bahadur Thapa called on him at the foreign ministry yesterday.

The present government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given top priority on electricity production. LGRD & Cooperatives Minister Engineer Khondoker Mosharraf Hossain said this yesterday when he was inaugurating a newly constructed electric distribution line of Palli Biddyut Samity(PBS) at Faridpur Sadar Upazila. Minister also disclosed that electricity production in the country has now reached to almost 15000 MW either from own source or through importing from the neighboring country.

Bangladesh and Poland yesterday discussed ways for strengthening bilateral relationship and expanding economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. Non-resident Ambassador of Poland to Bangladesh based in New Delhi met State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam at Foreign Ministry and discussed issues of mutual interest.

London, 20 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged world leaders to ensure release of the funds they pledge to combat climate change. She addressed the plenary session 'Leading the Fight against Climate Change' of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Congress Hall in Davos of Switzerland. Prime Minister said Bangladesh was one of the countries which has the least contribution to climate change but is one of those affected the most. The prime minister noted that access to renewable and clean energy, energy-efficient technologies, devices, implements are critical for farming, manufacturing and urban services. Noting that over 15 million people now access electricity from solar units, the prime minister projected that by 2018, Bangladesh will emerge as the largest solar nation in the world. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has also sought concerted global supports to five key areas to minimise the risk of lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, artisans and women particularly calling upon the businesses to play their role to negate the climate change impacts.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina strongly defended the construction of Rampal coal-fired power plant project in Bagerhat when former US vice-president Al Gore raised the issue in a plenary session of the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. The Prime Minister said those opposing the Rampal plant could not place any logic for why and how the plant would affect the environment saying that she had also urged them to see for themselves the power plant site, but they did not response. She said her government has taken all sorts of measures to protect the environment. Elaborating her government's steps for afforestation in the country, she said the forest coverage of the country was only 7 percent in 1996 when she first took office and the forest coverage is now 17 percent. "The next target is to further raise it to 25 percent," she said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that Bangladesh will welcome global knowledge and business to unleash creativity and innovation of the millions of country’s youth. She said that Bangladesh is positioning itself to be part of the emerging global knowledge economy as our government has rolled a mission of Digital Bangladesh in spite of so many developmental challenges. She was speaking at the "Digital Leaders' Policy Meeting on Jobs" of the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the special guest in Davos, Switzerland yesterday.

President Abdul Hamid has called upon the political parties to lay higher emphasis on people's welfare saying that politics gets polluted if power and pomp are preferred more by politicians. The President expressed this observation while addressing a program at Osmani Memorial Hall in the capital which was organized to commemorate martyr M Mansur Ali on his birth anniversary. He emphasized on conveying the authentic history of the Liberation War to young generation so that they get inspired to love the country.

President Abdul Hamid urged all to build united resistance against terrorism and communalism, saying that terrorists have no religion. The President was addressing the silver jubilee and seventh national conference of Ekattorer Ghatak-Dalal Nirmul Committee at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) auditorium yesterday. The President urged the young generation to wake up in the spirit of patriotism to establish a secular state and make the country free from fundamentalism and terrorism. The President said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led government started ongoing war crimes trial is now appreciated by the international community.

Bangladesh yesterday called for sustainable return of refugees and displaced Rohingyas to their homeland and ensuring basic rights of Rakhine Muslims. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam made the call at an Extraordinary Session of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers on the "Situation of the Rohingya Muslim Minority in Myanmar" held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Shahriar Alam urged the Muslim countries at the meet to continue working for a durable solution to the problem. On the sideline of the event State Minister Shahriar Alam held bilateral meeting separately with the Foreign Minister of Malaysia Dato Sri Anifah Aman , the OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen , State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi and Ahmet Yildiz, Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey.

An e-village project has been launched to bring down the cost of farming and to increase the production by manifold aiming to utilize the use of ICT to give the agricultural sector a major boost. The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University is implementing the project while iSoftStone, a joint venture of Chinese Huawei Technologies, is providing technical support. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard yesterday at Krisibid Institution in the capital. The project aims at providing solutions to adversities associated with crop cultivation and management in real time. Target has been set to develop low cost sensor-based devices for crop management, like testing soil moisture, leaf wetness, diseases and pest identification, and management.

The state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company, Bapex, have found natural gas in the western region of the country for the first time at Mobarakpur in Pabna. Bapex experts allowed gas flow from two layers-one between 4,220 metres and 4,223 metres and the other between 4,240 metres and 4,244 metres in depth, yesterday said its officials.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday underscored the need for further strengthening the local government bodies to sustain the present growth trend for securing the targeted economic development goals in the country while addressing as the chief guest a seminar in the city. Policy Research Institute organized the seminar titled "Rethinking Political Development: Security and Freedom Based on Justice". Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Muhith said, the government is working relentlessly to strengthen the local government bodies through enhancing their duties side by side with providing required finance to maintain the trend of GDP growth over 7 percent.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said AARDO has been playing important role to poverty alleviation in the region, reports BSS. The minister was addressing the inaugural function of 68th session of executive committee of AARDO (African-Asian Rural Development Organisation) at the city's Hotel Westin in Gulshan. He expressed his hope that the meeting will be able to guide its member countries how they should work on rural development considering both present and future challenges like climate change impacts. Mosharraf also inaugurated a rural technology exhibition organised by Rural Development and Co-operative Division where the Ministry and its organization displaying their innovations, models and technologies for sharing the ideas and views with AARDO member countries.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said Bangladesh will turn into a science and technology based export oriented country soon and the government is dedicated to ensure science, knowledge and technology based quality education. He hoped that universities would be the fields of exercise of knowledge, research, modern technology and IT based innovation center. The education minister was addressing the 26th Khulna University (KU) Day and Education Fair-2016 held at the KU campus yesterday. He urged all the members of his ministry as well as teachers and students to devote themselves in building a hunger free and a happy, prosperous and develop digital Bangladesh by 2021.

A Bangladeshi gas station worker has been shot dead during a robbery in Los Angeles. The incident took place at a Chevron Gas Station at the intersection of Vermont St and Los Feliz, near the city's 'Little Bangladesh' around 3:00am local time on Wednesday.

London, 19 January 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said water is a wealth and it can no longer be a free input and infinite resource to production or development while addressing an event titled 'World's Under-water' at Congress Centre of BetaZone. She also underscored the need for further efforts to facilitate trans-boundary agreements and joint governing institutions for all basins and aquifers, saying collaboration on water demands 'mutual trust' and 'respect' among peoples, states and business. She also mentioned Bangladesh's peaceful delimitation of its maritime boundaries with Myanmar and India in the Bay of Bengal. She mentioned that though sharing of trans-boundary river water is often complex two decades back, Bangladesh succeeded to enter into a long-term sharing arrangement with India on the Ganges waters.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday wrapped up the talks by receiving proposals separately from three political parties -- Bangladesh Islami Front, Bangladesh Muslim League and Zaker Party – on Election Commission reconstitution at Bangabhaban. The president expressed the hope that formation of a strong and effective Election Commission (EC) would be possible on the basis of the opinion and proposals of political parties. During the talks with the President, the delegation of BIF proposed to set up a separate secretariat for EC. The BML delegation proposed formation of the new EC with people who are free from political influence and capable of taking decision independently. It also proposed inclusion of a women's representative in the EC. ZP proposed formation of a search committee incorporating representatives from all registered political parties for constitution of EC.

The government yesterday signed a $200 million loan agreement with Asian Development Bank to help small and medium-sized enterprises in rural Bangladesh. Economic Relations Division secretary (in-charge) Kazi Shofiqul Azam and the ADB country director in Bangladesh Kazuhiko Higuchi inked the loan agreement on behalf of their respective sides at ERD in the city. Priority will be on women engaged in subsistence trade and retail activities, who typically have limited access to finance.

State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak told global community that all Bangladesh citizens would be connected with the internet facilities by 2021. He made this comment while addressing a focus group discussion titled 'innovation to connect the unconnected' at the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Zunaid said around 40 percent of Bangladesh population were now connected with internet and the rest would be brought under the facility in next five years.

Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee yesterday gave its approval to two proposals 'in principle', an LNG terminal to be set up by local Summit Group, and import of LNG from RasGas of Qatar on government-to-government agreement basis.

The government yesterday signed a €30.75 million or Tk 257 crore deal with French company Technip to prepare the engineering design in an effort to treble the processing capacity of Eastern Refinery at the secretariat in Dhaka. The new unit will raise the processing capacity to 4.5 million tonnes of crude oil per year from the existing 1.5 million tonnes. Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power and energy, said the cost of construction of the second unit has been estimated at Tk 16,739 crore ($2.1 billion).

The three-day 68th session of the executive committee of African-Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) will begin in the city today. Some 35 representatives from 14 countries of Africa and Asia continents will take part in the session.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday opened a bottling plant of Coca-Cola in Bhaluka, the US beverage maker's first factory in Bangladesh, as part of its $74 million investment plan for the country.

Amir Hossain Amu yesterday said that the MoU signed by Alfanar Energy (AE) of Saudi Arabia and BSEC has introduced a new trend for Saudi-Bangladesh investment and he hoped it would pave the way for new Saudi Arabian investment to Bangladesh. He said, this deal is the result of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Saudi Arabia as the agreement was made during the PM’s visit last year.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday said that he would work to provide cash incentives for garment accessories exporters. The minister came up with the assurance while addressing the inaugural ceremony of four day GAPEXO-2017 as chief guest in Bashundhara in the capital.