London, 30 May 2017

A red carpet was rolled out at Vienna International Airport yesterday as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived there on a two-day official visit to attend a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On her arrival at the airport, the Prime Minister was received by State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery Muna Duzdar and Bangladesh Ambassador to Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN Offices at Vienna Mohammad Abu Zafar. Various global issues, including bilateral cooperation in implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs), migration, refugee crisis, climate change and the situation in the Europe after Brexit, will come up for discussion during the visit, said Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at a media briefing on Saturday.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday urged the Bangladeshi peacekeepers deployed in UN peacekeeping missions to perform their duties maintaining professionalism, integrity and sincerity. The President came up with the call while addressing a program at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, commemorating the International Day of UN Peacekeepers.

Maritime ports of Chittagong and Cox's Bazar have been advised to hoist great danger signal number 10 while Mongla and Payra ports to hoist great danger signal number 8 to deal with the onslaught of ‘Mora’.

The government has taken all-out preparations for dealing with the onslaught of possible cyclone Mora in the country’s coastal districts. “We have allocated Tk 5 lakh and 100 tonnes of rice for each coastal district,” said M Golam Mostafa, additional Secretary of Disaster Management and Relief Ministry. He was talking to reporters after holding a meeting with officials of the ministry at the Secretariat yesterday.

The Bangabandhu-1 satellite is almost ready to be launched in December this year, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said yesterday. The satellite will launch its commercial operations from June next year, she said at a press conference at her Secretariat office.

The government will sign a Tk 167 crore deal with a foreign consortium today to conduct a feasibility study at Dighipara coal mine to develop a mining area for extracting 3 million tonnes coal a year. State-owned Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Limited (BCMCL) will sign the deal with the consortium of MIBRAG Consulting International GmbH, FUGRO Consult GmbH and RungePincockMinarco Limited (RPM).

Apparel makers and members of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) are ready to pay workers' festival bonus by 20th of Ramadan. BGMEA's vice president Mohammad Nasir said this after the 34th meeting of the crisis management core committee at the office of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments in Dhaka. Core committee Chairman Mujibul Haque Chunnu, also the State Minister for Labour and Employment, chaired the meeting. BGMEA will also open a control room to ensure the date line and monitor the field situation like previous years, said the vice president.

The government has decided to stop the movement of trucks, covered vans and lorries on the highways three days before the Eid-ul-Fitr to prevent road accidents and reduce traffic jam. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader at a press conference disclosed this to the newsmen at BRTA office in Dhaka after an exchange of views with the BRTA officials in Dhaka yesterday.

CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) refueling stations will remain closed for six hours from 4:00pm instead of seven hours from 3:00pm every day in Ramadan. The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources rescheduled the closure time for the CNG refueling stations upon a petition by Bangladesh CNG Station and Conversion Workshop Association yesterday.

The 16th session of the 10th parliament begins at 11:00am today. Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will place the national budget for 2017-2018 in this session on June 1.

Bangladesh's adult literacy rate increased to 72.3 per cent in 2016 from 60.7 per cent in 2012, said a survey conducted by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). The data was released by BBS yesterday in its Sample Vital Registration System (SVRS).

London, 25 May 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said her government successfully resolved the ethnic problems in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) through talks without any third-party mediation. She made the remarks when former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga met her at her official residence Ganobhaban.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina extended her heartiest congratulations to Bangladesh cricket team for their emphatic victory against New Zealand in the Tri-nation ODI Series at Clontarf Cricket Club Ground in Dublin yesterday. In a congratulatory message, Sheikh Hasina greeted all the players, coach and officials of the national team as well as Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials concerned for defeating New Zealand. “The whole nation is proud of seeing the team spirit of our players and their tremendous performance," she said. The premier expressed the hope that the winning spree of the Bangladesh cricket team would continue in future.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed deep shock at the horrendous attack in the northern English city of Manchester, which killed 22 people and injured dozens more. “We strongly condemn such a barbaric act,” Sheikh Hasina said in a message to her British counterpart Theresa May on Tuesday. “On behalf of the government and the people of Bangladesh, I extend my deepest condolences to you and the people of the UK. Our thoughts and prayers are with the grieving families at this difficult hour,” she added.

President Md. Abdul Hamid on Wednesday stressed the need for creating a strong social movement against corruption at the grassroots level to make people aware of the adverse impacts of graft on society. “There’s no alternative to creating awareness at all levels to fight graft," he said when a four-member delegation of the national anti-graft agency, led by its chairman Iqbal Mahmood, presented its Annual Rerport-2016 to him at Bangabhaban. President Hamid advised the Commission to conduct probes against graft suspects properly so that those can bring positive results.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has expressed its satisfaction over the security in the country after the last year's militant attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in the city, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith Wednesday. "JICA is satisfied over the government's security steps in response to the last year's militant attacks. They are also very happy with our existing relations," he told newsmen after a meeting with a Japanese delegation, led by JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka, at Finance Ministry. During the meeting, Muhith said, JICA president reaffirmed his commitment to continue assistance to the development of the country.

Stressing the need for expansion of Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) industry, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu on Wednesday said the government is developing a planned industrial city for the light engineering manufacturing enterprises scattered across the country. “It is possible to create huge employment in the country through expansion and modernising the light engineering sector”, said Amu. The minister came up with the observation while inaugurating the construction work of Tool Institute Building of Bangladesh Industrial and Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC) at Tejgaon in the city.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Wednesday said country's exporters should be more active for new markets to boost export. "Now, many countries are providing duty and quota free access to Bangladesh, that is why, we have to expand our market in those countries and buoyant role of exporters is required for it," he opined. The minister passed the observation while speaking at a roundtable discussion organised by the Policy Research Institute (PRI) as the chief guest in Dhaka. Only pinning upon the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) markets will not be practical for the country rather "we have to move where Bangladeshi products have demand", he added.

Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud on Wednesday said strengthening regional cooperation is a must to manage trans-boundary rivers in South Asia. “It’s very difficult to manage rivers in the region unless there’s regional cooperation involving Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and China,” he told a seminar at Cirdap in the capital.

The 10 special initiatives taken by Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina will play a pivotal role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by ending poverty by 2021. Principal Information Officer (PIO) Kamrun Nahar said these while addressing a views-exchange meeting with journalists of national and local media on the 10 special initiatives of the PM at Chittagong Circuit House on Wednesday. The PIO said the initiatives are the ideas of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to turn the country into middle-income one by 2021.

India wants Bangladesh to exploit sea resources in the best possible way for enormous economic benefits of the two neighbouring countries and create a „secure and sustainable? Bay of Bengal and beyond. “Certainly, I think, that is a sort of cooperation we want to see,” said Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday. He mentioned that Bangladesh and India reached an amicable settlement of the maritime boundary between them which opened up „enormous potential? of cooperation on blue economy. The high commissioner was speaking as the chief guest at the annual conference of International Business Forum Bangladesh (IBFB) at a Dhaka hotel.

London, 24 May 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned Dhaka early Wednesday after completing her four-day visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Deputy Governor in Jeddah, Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Ambassador to Bangladesh, Consul General of Bangladesh in Jeddah and representatives of Saudi government saw her off at the airport.  A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight carrying the Prime Minister and members of her entourage left King Abdulaziz International Airport at 4:15pm.The Prime Minister left Dhaka on May 20 for Riyadh on a four-day official visit to Saudi Arabia to join the Arab Islamic-American (AIA) Summit at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina performed the holy "Umrah" in Makkah on Monday night.

Sheikh Hasina first performed 'tawaf' around the holy Ka'aba Sharif and later walked and ran between Safa and Marwa. She also offered prayers seeking divine blessings for the countrymen as well as continued peace, progress and prosperity of the entire Muslim Ummah. Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and other entourage members of the Prime Minister also performed "Umrah".

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed hinted that the government might set a flat 12 per cent VAT rate in the upcoming fiscal year 2017-18.“If the VAT rate is set at 12 per cent, the revenue generated from VAT will be reduced to Tk 24,000 crore,” Tofail told reporters after a meeting with Hajah Masurai Binti Haji Masri, High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam to Bangladesh, at his office in the city on Tuesday.

The government has successfully stopped formalin abuse in fruits, but the bad practice will surely make a comeback if mobile courts are not conducted any more. Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu made the apprehension at a press briefing at the conference room of Industries Ministry on Tuesday.The briefing was organised to inform media about BSTI initiatives taken to keep essential food prices under control during the upcoming Ramadan.

Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan on Tuesday left Dhaka for Kolkata to attend the 'Inland Water Transport and Coastal Shipping Summit' in the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. The Minister is leading a six-member delegation to the two-day summit on May 24-25.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday said he feels very safe and secured in Bangladesh.“Terrorism is a global problem. But in Bangladesh I feel as safe as I feel in India,” he added. The High Commissioner made the statement while speaking at DCAB TALK at the VIP Lounge of the National Press Club in the capital. The Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) arranged the event.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to allow Bangladeshi migrant workers to switch jobs with a month's notice. The UAE employers will also be allowed to terminate foreign employees with one-month prior notice. The authorities concerned of the country have given their consent to the proposal during a visit of a high power Bangladeshi delegation led by Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam BSc and Expatriate Welfare Secretary Shamsun Naher. The UAE has also agreed to open its labour market for Bangladeshi migrants soon. Authorities concerned have already given positive report to its government after inspection of Bangladesh's overall preparation to send migrants in a free and fair procedure.

London, 23 May 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged world leaders to take a strong stance for finding a solution to global refugee crisis that contributes to the rise in terrorism and violent extremism endangering global peace and development. “Global refugee crisis contributes to the rise in terrorism and violent extremism. Refugees could be a potential breeding ground of terrorists and extremists," she said in a written statement on Sunday at the inaugural ceremony of Arab-Islamic-American Summit at King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre in Riyadh.     

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also called for a concerted global initiative to block supply lines of weapons and money to terrorists to ensure the effectiveness of anti-militancy campaign.“We must stop the source of supply of arms to the terrorists and we have to stop the flow of financing to the terrorists and their outfits,” she said in a written statement to the Arab-Islamic-American Summit at King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre in Riyadh. The Bangladesh Premier urged Muslim nations to shun divisions within Islamic Ummah and pursue the principle of peaceful settlement of international disputes through dialogues for “addressing the divides leading to a win-win situation for all”.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered ziarat of Rawza Mubarak of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) at Masjid-e Nababi in the holy city of Madinah yesterday afternoon under the Saudi Royal protocol.

US President Donald Trump has expressed his hope to visit Bangladesh as he exchanged greetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the Arab Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh on Sunday.  The two leaders exchanged pleasantries at the holding room of King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre in Riyadh before the start of the Arab Islamic-American Summit.

The government may set up a separate economic zone for Saudi Arabian investors, after similar benefits were offered to China, Japan and India. Finance Minister AMA Muhith made the offer to his Saudi Arabian counterpart Mohammed Al Jadaan and called for investing in Bangladesh, on the sidelines of the Islamic Development Bank's (IDB) annual meeting in Jeddah on May 16.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has awarded three of its best performing project teams in Bangladesh as part of its efforts to promote efficient project implementation. Deputy Country Director of ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission Cai Li presented the awards for the year-2016 to the winning teams at a ceremony on Sunday.

State-run Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) succeeded in providing farmers with fertilisers so the farmers witnessed bumper harvest last season (Dec-Mar). BCIC provided some 23 lakh tonnes of fertilisers as per the demand of the farmers across the country.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said, “Those who take position against liberation war martyrs and freedom fighters, make alliance with Razakars and war criminals and create controversy about proclamation of independence are not fit for politics,” he said while addressing a discussion.  North South University arranged the event yesterday.

Bangladesh has imposed a ‘self-ban’ on vegetable export to the European Union market encouraging local growers to correct themselves following Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).The government has adopted the strategy to avert ‘any possible ban’ to be imposed by the EU from where Bangladesh has been receiving objections for the last few years over the quality of Bangladeshi vegetables and fruits.

Revenue collection recorded 20.07 per cent year-on-year to Tk 126,594.73 crore during July-March of the current fiscal year, spurred by higher imports, Value Added Tax (VAT), and income tax, according to data of the National Board of Revenue (NBR). NBR collected Tk 105,438.47 crore during the corresponding period in the last fiscal. Of the total revenue, the NBR achieved highest 22 per cent growth in customs duty, 19 per cent in VAT while the growth rate in income tax collection was 18 per cent.

London, 22 May 2017

The first-ever Arab-Islamic-American (AIA) Summit kicked off in Riyadh on Sunday afternoon with the slogan “Together We Prevail”. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud inaugurated the summit at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center in the Saudi capital. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the US President Donald Trump and 56 Arab and Muslim leaders joined this highly anticipated event, the first of its kind in history, to discuss ways to combat extremism and illicit financing. Sheikh Hasina was scheduled to deliver her speech later in the evening when she is expected to put forward a number of proposals. The main objective of the summit is to establish a new partnership to face the challenges of global terrorism and militancy, expand values of tolerance and coexistence and strengthen efforts for ensuring peace and stability. Earlier on her arrival at the venue, the Bangladesh Prime Minister was received by the Saudi King.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was accorded a warm reception as she arrived in Riyadh on Saturday night on a four-day official visit to Saudi Arabia to attend the AIA Summit at the invitation of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. A Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight carrying the Prime Minister and her entourage landed at King Khalid International Airport at 11:15pm (local time). Saudi State Minister for Sura Affairs Mohamed Faisal Bin Abu Saad and Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi received the Prime Minister at the airport. From the airport, Sheikh Hasina was escorted to Movenpick Hotel Riyadh through a ceremonial motorcade where she will be staying till Monday morning. During her visit, Hasina will also perform holy Umrah in Makkah and offer ziarat at the Rawza Mubarak of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina.

President Md. Abdul Hamid on Sunday asked the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission to take effective steps to resolve the ongoing land disputes in the hilly region so that its development potential could be tapped. The President came up with the instruction when Chairman of the Commission Justice Mohammad Anwarul Haque met him at Bangabhaban in the afternoon.

The board of directors of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) proposed to the government for establishing National Infrastructure Development Monitoring Advisory Authority (NIDMAA) under PPP modality to focus on infrastructure development. DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan made the proposal while exchanging views with Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith at Secretariat in the capital on Sunday afternoon. In reply to a DCCI proposal Finance Minister appreciated the idea of establishing „National Infrastructure Development and Monitoring Advisory Authority (NIDMAA) and said that the government will consider the proposal for speedy implementation of large infrastructure projects. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said the government will consider to reduce the procedures regarding release of capital machinery from the ports. He also said that the government will bring down the cost of sending remittance in order to increase its volume.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith sought Saudi investment in Bangladesh Special Economic Zones (SEZs), saying that such investments would significantly accelerate the trade opportunities between the two countries bonded by the spirit of brotherhood. He made the request when he held a meeting with Finance Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) Mohammed Al Jadaan in Jeddah during his recent visit, said a finance ministry media release on Sunday.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday said prices of daily essentials will remain under control during the month of Ramadan due to sufficient stock of essential commodities. He said this while addressing the inauguration of the Office of the Chief Controller of Import and Export Department at the National Sports Council building in the city. Tofail said the introduction of e-filing has resulted in transparency in providing services to traders. Traders can take the necessary services without any kind of harassment.

Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday proposed creation of a global alliance for genocide studies and justice saying remembrance of mass atrocities is crucial to prevent future genocides.“We urge all to remember repeatedly what happened in the past not only in Bangladesh, but also in other parts of the world. Learning from the past is essential for preventing genocide in the future,” he told the concluding ceremony of 5th international conference on “Bangladesh Genocide and Justice” at the Liberation War Museum at capital?s Agargaon last evening.

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Mohammad Sayeed Khokan on Sunday advised all not to get scared over chikungunya disease caused by a new virus. “There is nothing to get panicked...It?s a new virus and there is no need of taking antivirus. The fever is curable within seven days with taking paracetamol only,” he said, inaugurating a crash programme for preventing chikungunya and dengue at a function at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) premises in the city.

London, 18 May 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday reiterated her firm determination to take Bangladesh to its desired goal, saying that she doesn't care about any conspiracies to this end."I have been observing the conspiracies from my childhood ... I don't care it...," she said. The Prime Minister said this when leaders of Bangladesh Awami League and its associate bodies came to Ganabhaban to greet her on the occasion of Sheikh Hasina's 37th homecoming day.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government wants development, but not in lieu of putting people's lives in trouble.“We want development, but we don't want such development that put people's lives in problems,” she said while speaking at a presentation on the „Communication System of Dhaka City? at her office. The Prime Minister said it is now necessary to think about how to develop the Dhaka city from its present condition as it was not built in a planned way. “We can say this city has been built in an unplanned way,” she said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government has been working with an aim to give opportunity for every people irrespective of their creed, colour and caste and none would remain neglected because of topographic feature of any area. She said this while awarding scholarship among meritorious students of minor ethnic communities of the plain land at Prime Minister’s Office.

President M Abdul Hamid yesterday stressed the need for taking integrated initiatives both at national and international levels to deal with the risk of global cyber-attacks. “Recently, there have been cyber-attacks in about 150 countries, including some developed ones, putting security at risk...newer strategies and innovative technologies must be developed for ICT security to keep the development process, trade and investment free from hackers," he said. The President said this while addressing at a function at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka.

Lauding Bangladesh's "mesmerizing" economic growth, Finland yesterday expressed eagerness to work with Bangladesh to enhance trade and investment between the two countries. "The both sides need to put more substance in the relations, particularly by pursuing more engagements to enhance trade and investment between the two countries," said the newly appointed Ambassador of Finland to Bangladesh Nina Vaskunlahti. During a meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, the Finland Ambassador expressed her government's interest to hold foreign secretary level political consultations to further strengthen bilateral relations.

The country would be able to earn US$37 billion from export sector this year which is US$2.74 billion higher when compared to the last year, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday. The Minister told reporters after a meeting with the Finland Ambassador in Bangladesh Nina Vaskunlahti at the Secretariat.

Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday proposed that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) use Dhaka as its regional hub for training up judicial officers and lawyers. He made the proposal when a four-member ILO delegation, led by its Chief of Freedom of Association Branch of International Labour Standards Department Karen Curtis, met him at his office.

Chinese Ambassador to Dhaka Ma Mingqiang has said labour cost is getting higher in China and owning to the fact, Bangladesh has been a good option for the Chinese investors. He made the comment at the monthly luncheon programme of Foreign Investors? Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) yesterday. He said China is a big export market for Bangladesh to export apparels, fruits, vegetables, leather and other products.

Bangladesh has urged the United States to expand its duty-free market access for Bangladeshi products as per the decision of the 9th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation in Bali. Commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose came up with the call during the third round of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement held at state guesthouse Padma in Dhaka yesterday.

Secretary General of the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dato? Ramlan Ibrahim indicated that his country would continue to recruit workforces from Bangladesh. The Secretary General also hinted that Malaysia would open up new areas like mining for Bangladeshi workers. Ibrahim said these as Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali requested him to continue recruiting more workers from Bangladesh while they met at the minister?s office on Tuesday.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu has said it is an urgent task at present to bring students back to the classroom from the commercially-run coaching centres. "We need to make our schools and colleges the production houses of good human beings instead of wealth-generating units," the Minister said yesterday, while speaking as the Chief Guest at the launching ceremony of a newspaper named the Education Times.

London, 17 May 2017

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday cleared "Tottho Apa: Empowerment of women through ICT to build Digital Bangladesh" project (2nd phase) involving a cost of Tk 544.91crore.The approval came from an ECNEC meeting held at the NEC conference room in the city with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Under this project, the government will train one crore rural and underprivileged women on information technology and e-commerce by 2022 to empower them.  The ECNEC approved a total eight projects involving a total cost of Tk 2,723.61 crore.

Today is homecoming day of Awami League President and now Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. On May 17, 1981, she returned to Dhaka after a long exile. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with his family members, was brutally killed on August 15, 1975. Luckily his daughters, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, were in Germany then, and thus became the survivors. Marking the day, AL has chalked out a seven-day programme, including hoisting of national and party flags atop party offices across the country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met President M Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban yesterday evening. During the meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina apprised the President of the outcomes of her recent visits to India and Bhutan. Besides, they discussed the damage caused by the recent flashflood in the haor districts and subsequent initiatives taken to cope with the consequences of disasters.

Ambassadors designate of Cuba and Finland, and High Commissioner designate of Singapore to Bangladesh separately presented their credentials to President M Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban yesterday. The all non-resident envoys are: Oscar Israel Martinez Cordoves of Cuba, Nina Irmeli Vaskunlahti of Finland and Derek Loh ED-Tse of Singapore. Welcoming the envoys, the President said the foreign policy of "Bangladesh is friendship to all and malice to none" and it attaches importance to bilateral relations. He hoped the bilateral relations with the countries will further be expanded during their assignments here.

Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mikael Hemniti Winther yesterday said Bangladesh has now recognized as an economic power in the region and in the world in terms of its economic progress and achievements made in other important sectors since its independence. "Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in poverty reduction, women empowerment, sustainable economic growth and addressing climate change challenges...It has good reason to be proud of many of the achievements that have been made since the country's independence," he said. The Danish envoy made the remarks while addressing "DCAB Talk", a flagship programme of Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB), at the National Press Club in Dhaka.

The third round of TICFA meeting between Bangladesh and the United States will be held at the state guest house Padma today. Commerce secretary Shubhashish Bose will lead Bangladesh side in the meeting of Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA) while the US side will be led by assistant US Trade representative for South and Central Asian Affairs Mark Linscott.  Bangladesh will discuss on the simplification of market access of Bangladeshi products to the US market. ‘We will not appeal to the United States for the restoration of GSP facility as the country never includes Bangladesh’s major export item readymade garment for the facility,’ Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told reporters yesterday.

Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has sought duty and quota-free market access for Bangladeshi products to Malaysian market, to minimize the existing trade gap between the two friendly countries. He made the call while talking with Dato' Ramlan Ibrahim, Secretary General, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, at the first-ever Bangladesh-Malaysia Bilateral Consultation at the State Guest House Meghna. Foreign Secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh delegation while Dato' Ramlan Ibrahim led the Malaysian side at the meeting.       

Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla yesterday said Bangladesh has the potential to become the engine of growth for the entire sub-region.“Connectivity has been an important focus of our (Bangladesh-India) relationship,” he said while speaking at a conference on ‘Beyond Summitries: The recent successful visit of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to India’ organized by Bangladesh Heritage Foundation in Dhaka. Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu who spoke as the Chief Guest said the recent visit of the Prime Minister to India opened a new horizon in Bangladesh-India relations.

Bangladesh will procure six new ships from a Chinese company to add those to the fleet of Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC).The six  ships will be procured from China National Import and Export Machineries Corporation at a cost of Tk 1,843 crore. Of the total cost, BSC will provide Tk 395 crore and the rest Tk 1,448 crore will be provided by the Chinese government as loan.

Information Minsiter, Hasanul Haq Inu said yesterday that there should be a zero-tolerance policy towards child oppressors, like the one adopted against militants. The Minister was speaking at a rally held in front of the National Press Club organized by his party Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) to protest the killing of Mashuk Ferdous. Mashuk, son of JSD leader Emdadul Haq, was killed in Bogra recently after being called from his house.

Former President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin has been elected President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI). Sheikh Fazle Fahim has been elected the First Vice President while Muntakim Ashraf elected Vice President of FBCCI for the next two years  2017-2019.The election was held yesterday evening.

The Karwan Bazar-FDC part of the Moghbazar- Satrasta-Eskaton-Mouchak Flyover is set to be opened for public today to ease traffic congestion. Minister for Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Engineer Khandker Mosharraf Hossain will inaugurate the flyover at 10 am," Project Director Sushanta Kumar Paul said.           

The United Arab Emirates Human Resources and Emiratization Minister Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash yesterday met with Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam at the latter's office. The Minister requested Saeed Ghobash for taking more Bangladeshi skilled employees in the oil-rich middle eastern country. Saeed Ghobash said the UAE government is more positive about the Bangladeshi workers. They are actively considering opening labour market for Bangladeshi skilled workers after discussion with other ministries concerned.

The government yesterday issued an emergency advisory on a rampaging ransomware virus that emerged across the globe on Friday. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division suggested all computer users to follow some guidelines on how to protect their personal and workplace computers from being affected by the virus known as "WannaCry" or "Wannacrypt".

London, 16 May 2017

The Cabinet yesterday gave the final approval to the draft of “The Cantonments Act-2017” that proposed increasing the fines and punishments manifold for violating the law. The draft was prepared bringing changes to the existing Cantonments Act-1924 to keep up with the times. Fines for 43 offences were increased substantially in the draft law as the amounts of the fines in the 93-year-old law were very small. The Cabinet also approved a proposal for ratification of “The Agreement between the Republic of San Marino and Bangladesh on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” between the two countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the Cabinet meeting.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to extend its activities to the grassroots level to create awareness among general people and ensure their rights. He came up with the call when a five-member NHRC delegation, led by its Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque, met him at Bangabhaban.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the sitting lawmakers will make a great mistake if they take for granted that they will get the nominations of Awami League for the upcoming parliamentary election."The MPs who have no acceptability and popularity in their respective constituencies, have made divisions among of grassroots leaders and activists, abused powers and have complaints from people of their areas won't get nomination in the next election," she said in an unscheduled discussion at the regular Cabinet meeting at the Secretariat yesterday.

The government yesterday began open market sale of five key essential commodities to keep their prices stable in the lead-up to Ramadan, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) said in a statement. The commodities are: sugar, soybean oil (cooking oil), lentil, grams and dates. TCB will sell the essential items at subsidized prices using 187 roaming trucks.

The German government will provide 7 million euros as grants to Bangladesh to enhance the capacity of selected commercial banks to better address the funding needs of garment factories for their ongoing remediation work. The Economic Relations Division and the German embassy in Bangladesh yesterday signed an agreement to roll out a project to this effect. Muhammad Alkama Siddique, additional secretary of the ERD, and Thomas Prinz, German ambassador, penned the agreement for the project – “Financing of Environment and Safety Retrofits in the Bangladesh Readymade Garments (RMG) sector”.

Dhaka has urged Kuala Lumpur to address the huge trade gap between the two countries and widen the duty- and quota-free access of Bangladeshi products to the Malaysian market. Bangladesh made the call at the first ever bilateral consultations between the foreign ministries of Bangladesh and Malaysia, held at the state guesthouse Meghna in Dhaka yesterday. Malaysia stressed the need for starting negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA), which would help reduce the trade imbalance.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said the government has embarked upon a mega tourism development project centering the picturesque Patenga sea beach in Chittagong and the beach town of Cox’s Bazar. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a dream to create jobs for everyone and this dream can be materialized largely through the tourism sector”, he told a press conference jointly with Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu. The press conference was called at Chittagong Circuit House on the eve of the launching of a three-day United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) meeting in Chittagong.

The government has undertaken various measures to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply across the country during the upcoming Ramadan. "We will put in our best efforts to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the holy month of Ramadan across the country," State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told yesterday. He said some 9,212 MW power is being generated presently in the country, while the generation capacity reached to 15,351MW.

Bangladesh yesterday expressed deep concern at the launching of ballistic Missile by Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). "By launching the Missile, DPRK has violated its obligation under the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement mentioning that Bangladesh is "deeply concerned." While reaffirming its commitment to the maintenance of peace and stability, Bangladesh urged the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to refrain from any activity which can potentially escalate tension in the region and beyond.

During the first 10 months of the current fiscal year Bangladeshi export to India increased by 5.40 percent over the same period of last year. Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics showed that the export to India stood at $581.10 million in July-April period of FY17 while the amount was $551.31 million in the same period of the last fiscal year.

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has come forward to digitize the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence Directorate (FSCD).The Korean grant aid agency will provide US$ 7.59 million under a project ‘Strengthening Ability of Fire Emergency Response (SAFER)’ in this process. To this effect, a Record of Discussion (RD) has been signed between KOICA and the Economic Relations Division (ERD) at the ERD Conference Room in Dhaka yesterday.

Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) will build a mega sewerage treatment plant for treating waste water of a big part of the capital city. The water supplying and management authority signed an agreement in Dhaka yesterday with Hancock Engineering Consultant, a South Korean consultancy firm, to supervise the construction work of the treatment plant. Hydro China Corporation will build the plant by 2019 in Dasherkandhi, Khilgaon of the city at an estimated cost of Taka 3,317 crore 77 lakh.

Bangladesh signed two agreements with China under the 'One Belt, One Road (OBOR)' initiative in the global forum that concluded yesterday in Beijing with a message of not pushing any political agenda among the participating countries. Under the couple of deals, China will enhance industrial investment, trade connectivity and finance power-grid upgrading, thermal power, coalmine modernization, tyre-factory projects in Bangladesh, one of China's key OBOR locations.

London, 15 May 2017

Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq yesterday said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina never makes any law which goes against the interest of the expatriate Bangladeshis. "That's why there is nothing in the Citizenship Act to hamper the interest of the expatriates," he said at a view-exchange meeting organized by Bangladesh High Commission in London on the proposed Citizenship Act, 2015.

Breaking all the previous records, Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) growth has reached 7.24 percent this fiscal year according to the provisional estimate of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). Due to the robust growth in the industrial sector the GDP rose. The GDP growth was 7.11 percent in the last fiscal year (FY16). As per the BBS provisional estimation, the per capita income also rose to US$1,602 in the outgoing fiscal year which was US$ 1,465 in the previous financial year.

The National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday approved a Tk 1,53,331 crore Annual Development Program (ADP) for fiscal year 2017-18 (FY18), giving top priority to transport sector infrastructures, energy, education and health. The approval came at the NEC meeting held at its Conference Room in Sher-e-Banglanagar with NEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Of the Tk 1, 53,331 crore original ADP, Tk 96,331 crore will come from the national exchequer while the remaining Taka 57,000 crore will come as project assistance.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will visit Saudi Arabia on May 20-22 to attend the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh. Saudi King and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudhas sent a message to the Prime Minister inviting her to join the summit to be hosted by his country.

The 16th session of the 10th parliament begins on May 30, as the national budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will be placed the following day. Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will place the budget on June 1. President Abdul Hamid yesterday convened the parliament session.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will attend the annual general meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group. The Minister will be attending the three-day Board of Governors meeting, to be held at Jeddah in the Saudi Arabia on May 16-18.

As part of the Prime Minister's special initiative for bringing all homeless people under housing facilities, the government has so far rehabilitated 1,43,692 homeless families under the Ashrayan project across the country. Project Director of Ashrayan-2 Project informed this yesterday. He said the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would rehabilitate all the homeless families and make them income generating forces.

Bangladesh and Malaysia will hold the first foreign secretary-level talks, widely known as foreign-officeconsultation (FOC) in Dhaka today. Matters including sending more workers from Bangladesh to Malaysia, legalizing irregular Bangladeshi workers, increasing Malaysian investment in Bangladesh and bilateral trade, and making Bangladesh a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, among others, are likely to be discussed in the talks. Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque and his counterpart Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Ramlan Ibrahim will lead respective sides in the talks.

The government will take necessary measures to free four rivers – the Buriganga, the Dhaleshwari, the Karnaphuli and the Boral from encroachment and pollution. The decision was taken at a meeting at the shipping ministry yesterday to curb river pollution and increase navigability. Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan presided over the meeting.

The Supreme Court yesterday stayed till May 18 a High Court (HC) order that declared the mobile courts conducted by executive magistrates illegal and contradictory to the Constitution. Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Justice Hasan Foyez Siddique passed the order in response to a petition filed by deputy attorney general Motahar Hossain Saju seeking a stay on the HC order in the morning.

The Election Commission will finalize its roadmap on May 23 to hold the 11th parliamentary election, said Secretary of Election Commission Secretariat Mohammad Abdullah. The secretary said the roadmap will be published in book form once it is finalized at the commission meeting on May 23.

In order to expedite the remediation process of garment factories, a new Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) was launched in Bangladesh. With the support of International Labour Organisation, the RCC has been established through the collaboration of the Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).

The government has set up a committee to check draft laws for proper language, accuracy and consistency with existing laws. The eight-member panel tasked with making recommendation on drafts before they are presented to the Cabinet was formed by an order of the Cabinet Division on Thursday.

London, 11 May 2017

President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages greeted the Buddhist community on the occasion. President M Abdul Hamid yesterday urged all irrespective of party affiliation, opinion and religious belief to play a proper role for the national development upholding communal harmony and tradition. He was exchanging greetings with the Buddhist community at Bangabhaban on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. The President hoped that the Buddhist community would continue to put their efforts for country’s overall development upholding the traditional norms and containing the immortal ideology of Lord Buddha.

Buddha Purnima, the biggest religious festival of the Buddhist community, was celebrated amid religious fervour and festivity across the country yesterday. Buddha Purnima marks Gautam Buddha?s birth, enlightenment and death.

Saudi King and Custodian of Two Holy Mosques Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to attend the Arabic Islamic American Historical Summit. The summit will be held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on May 21.The visiting Saudi Minister for Culture and Information Dr Awad Bin-Saleh AlAwad handed over the invitation letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban on Tuesday night.

Holy Shab-e-Barat, the night of fortune and forgiveness, will be observed in the country tonight with due religious fervour. Meanwhile, President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages on the occasion.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said there will be some changes in the new VAT law.“I?m thinking about giving some relief... some amendments may come (in next budget) ...I?m? still considering a change,” he told reporters in response to a query. The Minister was inaugurating a mobile VAT Online Helpdesk at the National Board of Revenue (NBR) office.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed yesterday urged the people to take the country forward with the spirit of religious harmony upholding the ideology of Gautam Bhudda, founder of Buddhism. He made the remarks while addressing a discussion as the Chief Guest, marking the Buddha Purnima.

Expenditure under the social safety net programmes, including allowance for the elderly and widows, will be increased substantially in the next fiscal year to give more benefits to the ultra-poor. At a meeting on April 30 with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in chair, it was decided that the number of beneficiaries and the amount of money under the programmes will be increased.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has described the European Union (EU) as a trusted partner of Bangladesh in its journey towards development, and hoped that the ties will grow further on all fronts in the days to come. He made the remarks while addressing a reception marking the Europe Day on Tuesday evening.EU Ambassador in Dhaka Pierre Mayaudon also spoke at the programme. Highlighting the success stories of Bangladesh EU partnership, the diplomat said the EU takes pride over the extraordinary performance in Bangladesh's RMG industry that helped lift millions of women out of poverty. The diplomat said no other country like Bangladesh has been able to take an impressive advantage of the duty- and quota-free access to the EU single market of 500 million consumers.

National Mobile Application Awareness Development and Capacity Building Programme of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division under Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology of Bangladesh won the first prize of Global mobileGov Award 2017 for its innovative best practices in mobile public service implementation. World renowned organisation on Tuesday night announced the three „Global mobileGov Awards? winners at the closing ceremony of the three-day „mobileGov World Summit 2017? held in Brighton, UK. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam received the award, while Bangladesh High Commissioner to UK Nazmul Quaunine was present.

The government is set to buy a supercomputer to analyse critical data and reap the maximum benefits of digitization, said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT. A supercomputer is a high-performance computing machine designed to have extremely fast processing speeds, and is employed to handle very large databases or for applications that require immense amount of mathematical calculations. The demand for a supercomputer came from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department after the recent floods in the haor areas.

The two-day Bangladesh Denim Expo will start in Dhaka on May 17 to showcase denim fabrics, trousers and other products from home and abroad. The exhibition will be held at International Convention City Bashundhara, said Mostafiz Uddin, organizer of the show.

London, 09 May 2017

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said that there is freedom of speech in the country as the newspapers here are enjoying full freedom. "But all concerned will have to be responsible to enjoy this freedom. However, freedom doesn't mean to tarnish the rights of anybody," she said while delivering her winding up speech in the 15th session of the 10th Parliament.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the amendments to a law allowing four members of the same family to sit on the board of a commercial bank. The amended law will also allow the directors of commercial banks to serve for three consecutive terms of three years each. The seal of approval was given to the Bank Company (Amendment) Act 2017 at the regular weekly Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

President Abdul Hamid yesterday called for establishing a humanitarian and non-communal, poverty and exploitation-free society imbued with the spirit and ideals of poet Rabindranath Tagore. “Rabindranath is not only a poet of a certain period but also Bangalees’ pride for all times. He is a great source of our inspirations and courage to establish patriotism, humanity, Bangalee nationalism and universal consciousness,” he said. The President was inaugurating the national programme marking the 156th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Potisor of Naogaon district.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani on Sunday lauded honest and hardworking Bangladeshi workers for their contribution to the development of Qatar. The premier came up with the acclamation while Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali paid a courtesy call on him at Doha Palace. During the meeting, the Prime Minister also commended the leadership of Bangladesh for its remarkable achievements.

The government is in the process of formulating a new law to provide domestic and foreign investors with a one-stop service that would incorporate 16 types of services. The Cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved an initial draft of the One-Stop Service Act-2017, at the secretariat yesterday. “The new law will encourage domestic and foreign investors and provide them with necessary conveniences and opportunities," Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told the media after the meeting.

Bangladesh wants to see air connectivity between the beach town of Cox's Bazar and Kunming, a modern capital city and transportation hub of China's southern Yunnan province. State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam raised the issue during a bilateral meeting with senior adviser to Yunnan Province government of China Li Xiuling at state guesthouse Padma yesterday. During the meeting, the State Minister requested Xiuling to introduce Biman flight on Cox's Bazar-Kunming route on a trial basis. He also sought Chinese support in addressing Rohingya problems in Bangladesh.

United Nations bodies, Japan and Bangladesh governments have jointly agreed to focus on effective coordination amongst all humanitarian actors to ensure the response towards fresh influx of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Japan government, International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have raised funds of US$4 million for an 'Emergency Grant Aid' to support Bangladesh effort to provide succor to 74,000 displaced persons (DP) from troubled Myanmar.

Primary and Mass Education Minister Mostafizur Rahman yesterday said the government has undertaken a project to set up 1,500 more primary schools in rural areas aimed at ensuring cent percent education. The schools would be set up in the rural areas across the country where there are no primary schools yet.

The highest number of foreigners in Oman is from Bangladesh. There are over 700,000 Bangladeshi workers in the Sultanate of Oman, according to National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) data. The number of Bangladeshis stood at 704,254 at the end of March 2017. Following Bangladesh Indians stood at second with the number of 689,201 and the number of Pakistani expats was at 235,769.

Exports grew a modest 3.92 percent year-on-year to $28.72 billion in July-April, riding on shipments of knitwear, home textiles, leather products and jute. Month-wise, it also rose nearly 3.49 percent to $2.78 billion in April compared to the same month a year ago, according to the Export Promotion Bureau.

Qatar has expressed interest to invest in Bangladesh's liquefied natural gas (LNG) and power generation sectors and deepen the existing cooperation in areas of trade and investment, infrastructure development and exploration of gas. This was stated by Qatari Minister for Energy and Industry Mohamed Bin Saleh Al Sada after talks with Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali on Sunday. The Gulf nation also wants to recruit more specialised, skilled, semi-skilled and un-skilled workers from Bangladesh.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu yesterday said the tax authority should work with the business community to eradicate double taxation that exists in some areas. He termed it as 'unethical'. He was speaking at a discussion programme on implementation of VAT and Supplementary Duty Act 2012 organized by VAT Online Project of National Board of Revenue (NBR).

The government is likely to provide increased protection to domestic industries from imported commodities and give more comfort to small and medium enterprises while implementing the new VAT law from July this year. Revenue officials are working to increase the number of products in the list of supplementary duty (SD) to discourage imports and better safeguard the interests of the domestic industries. They are also working to increase the VAT-exempted threshold and turnover limit for small and medium enterprises.

The Cabinet yesterday fixed the office timing during Ramadan for all offices of the government, semi-government, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies. The office hour will start from 9:00am and will continue till 3:30pm.

London, 03 May 2017

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved five projects including amendment to the ASHRAYAN-2 project involving a total of Tk 10,551 crore. The amendment to the ASHRAYAN-2 project involves an additional expenditure of Taka 3,671 crore for constructing houses of 1.70 lakh families and rehabilitation of 40,000 landless families. The meeting of the ECNEC was held at the NEC conference room with ECNEC Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday urged the owners and workers of the industries to always keep in their mind the spirit of the immortal May Day and work together for country’s industrialization for development of the country. “It’s the foremost duty of the workers to work honestly and sincerely to keep their industries operative and it’s the duty of the owners to look into the wellbeing, working environment and safety of the labour force which is the main component of their income,” she said. Prime Minister said this in the May Day discussion organized by the Ministry of Labour and Employment at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.

More than 1.10 crore metric tons of potato will be produced in the country in the current fiscal, Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury said. Replying to a written question from treasury bench member M Abdul Latif (Chittagong-11) yesterday, the Agriculture Minister said Bangladesh secured seventh position in the world in potato production.   

The historic May Day was observed across the country as elsewhere around the globe on Monday with a fresh call to announce a new salary structure for workers and ensure their justified rights, including trade union one.

India will initiate a process soon to send 600 buses and 500 trucks to Bangladesh under its 2nd Line of Credit (LoC), Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday said. He came up with the information while talking to reporters after Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla met him at the Bridge Bhaban.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said the government will take initiatives to find an exclusive zone for smooth surfing in Cox's Bazar beach. “If you think you want a zone exclusively for surfing, we can do that in consultation with the beach management committee," he told Parliament yesterday.

The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current prices is set to stand at Tk 19.62 trillion at the end of June 30, according to a revised official estimate. This is Tk 2.291 trillion higher than that of the last fiscal year (2015-16) as a result of speedy expansion of the economy.

Sales of petroleum fuels by state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) shot up by Tk 2,083 crore in last six months due to the drives against fuel adulteration. BPC Director (marketing) Mir Ali Reza yesterday said that the sales of petrol went up by at least 70 percent in six months between October 2016 and March 2017. Besides, sales of octane and kerosene also soared by 30 percent, he informed.

Local investment proposals rose by 28.80 per cent during January-March quarter (Q3) of 2016-17 financial year (FY17), according to the latest data of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). During the three months, BIDA received proposals for investing a total of Taka 29 thousand 680 crore 16 lakh from the local entrepreneurs for investing in 469 industrial units, which in term of value was 28.80 per cent higher than the proposed amount in the previous quarter of FY17.

Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserves rose to US $32.52 billion at the end of April, up nearly $300 million from the previous month Bangladesh Bank said yesterday. The reserves are sufficient to cover imports for about nine months and are $4.25 billion higher than a year ago.

Three engineers of Water Development Board (WDB) were suspended yesterday over allegations of corruption in building and repairing embankments in the haor region. "They will remain suspended until the end of the investigation," Jafor Ahmed Khan, Senior Secretary of the Water Resources Ministry said.