London, 29 September 2016

Global competitiveness of Bangladesh has improved, according to the annual index published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The country has advanced one notch to 106 among 138 nations in the 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) released yesterday.

The nation observed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's 70th birthday though the Awami League officially cancelled its programs. At the directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Awami League and Chhatra League postponed their programs to mourn the death of versatile writer Syed Shamsul Haq.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her 70th birthday. In the message, the Indian premier highly praised the leadership of Sheikh Hasina saying, "Your resolute leadership has provided the people of Bangladesh a beacon of hope during a difficult period". He said that under the 'able stewardship' of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh made rapid strides in its progress towards peace and prosperity for all citizens covering development to security. He said these in a message released by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka yesterday. Celebrated writer and poet Syed Shamsul Haq was laid to eternal rest at Kurigram yesterday after his third namaz-e-janaza held on the college ground in Kurigram. Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, local writers and poets and well-wishers were present during the moment. Earlier, several thousand people, fans, colleagues turned out to have a last glimpse and pay their last respects to the poet, lyricist, writer, screenwriter, playwright and filmmaker at the Central Shaheed Minar in Dhaka. President Md. Abdul Hamid was first to pay last respect to the versatile writer by placing a wreath at the coffin around 11:30am at Central Shaheed Minar. Floral wreath was placed on behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as mark of her last tribute to the celebrated litterateur. The 19th SAARC Summit due in Islamabad in November has been postponed, sources in the Nepal foreign ministry said yesterday. This became inevitable after Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan joined India in boycotting the forthcoming SAARC Summit. All three of India's neighbors conveyed their inability to attend the summit to Nepal. About Bangladesh's decision, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said, "It (the decision to boycott) has no relation with other countries' decisions. It's our own decision." Bangladesh is now compliant with international standards in anti‐money laundering and counter-terror financing efforts, a development that will reduce the cost of doing business and help attract foreign direct investment. 'Bangladesh's rating is better than countries like Norway, Sri Lanka and Fiji. To some extent, our position is better than developed countries like Australia,' Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, told reporters at a press conference yesterday. The Asian Development Bank announced a $1.5 billion fund to build a key train line from Dohazari in Chittagong to Cox's Bazar, in its largest investment in railways in the continent. In a statement released yesterday, the ADB said the new railroad, which is part of the Trans-Asia Railway network, will also improve Bangladesh's access to Myanmar and beyond. India has temporarily relaxed the visa rules for Bangladeshi women giving them the opportunity to skip prior appointment or e-token procedures. The opportunity, only for those with confirmed air tickets, is available from October 3 to 13 on a trial basis, said an Indian high commission press release.

London, 27 September 2016

Three phases security have been taken ahead of the biggest religious festival of the Hindu community for its smooth and peaceful celebration, said Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque at a meeting with the Hindu community on law and order situation and security measures ahead of the Puja at Police Headquarters yesterday. Police at a meeting yesterday finalised the plan over giving security of the England cricket team.

The government is going to start distributing smart NID cards among the voters next month. The government in January 2015 took up a Tk 796-crore project to produce and distribute nine crore machine readable cards to voters across the country by June 2016.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has commended icddr,b for its works over five decades to solve public health challenges and save lives. The centre has helped to significantly reduce infant, child and maternal mortality in Bangladesh and beyond, he said in a press release yesterday.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said the government is determined to establish the rule of law and uphold the fundamental rights of the people in the country. The law minister made the assertion yesterday in the Jatiya Sangsad while replying to a question from treasury bench member Begum Hazera Khatun.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sent a letter to the ministry concerned to take necessary measures to construct a bridge on the Payra river in the southern Patuakhali district. The PMO has sent a letter to the ministry to construct a bridge on the Payra river following a letter of Shirshendu Biswas, said Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader while inaugurating Gabtali-Sinnirtek road in Dhaka on Monday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, now in the USA, is clearing urgent files from there through email so that official activities do not get stalled for her absence in the country.

Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal remarked that Bangladesh gained 8th position on women empowerment in the world. The country has also become first to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) on gender category. The minister came up with this assertion while replying to a query of Dilara Begum MP at National Parliament yesterday.

Dr Mozammel H Khan, a Bangladeshi born professor of mechanical and quality engineering has been elected Speaker of the Senate, the highest academic policy making body of Sheridan Institute of Technology in Canada, said a press release.

The Asian Development Bank is set to approve $1 billion at the end of this week for a project to lay a 102km rail track from Dohazari in Chittagong to Cox's Bazar, the lender's highest allocation for a single project in Bangladesh.

A factory owner of the country’s ready-made garment sector will get up to Tk 35 crore in loans from a Tk 276-crore JICA fund to retrofit, rebuild and relocate his or her industry. Bangladesh Bank issued a circular to managing directors and chief executive officers of all banks saying that the factory owners of the RMG sector would get the loan at up to six percent rate of interest from the JICA fund.

The World Tourism Day 2016 will be celebrated across the world today with the theme 'Tourism for All - Promoting Universal Accessibility'. President Md. Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages on the occasion of World Tourism Day. A three-day tourism fair of Asian countries titled, "5th Asian Tourism fair 2016" will begin in Dhaka on Thursday.

Companies in Bangladesh are weighing private sector investment potentials in Haiti, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said yesterday, disclosing that a private group has already decided to invest in clothing sector. Haiti enjoys duty-free access to USA for textile exports. It is assumed that private investments in textiles by Bangladesh companies there would be beneficial, the Minister said while exchanging views with a visiting Haiti delegation at his office in Dhaka.

London, 26 September 2016

The construction of the Padma bridge will be visible from December, Minister for Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader told parliament yesterday. The minister said 38 percent of its construction had already been completed. After around two months, the offices of the British Council will resume today, the authorities announced yesterday. After the temporary closure to carry out necessary renovation works, The British Council is now ready to welcome everyone back to their premises in Chittagong, Sylhet and Dhaka, said a press release from the council. The Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, said that there was enough political space in Bangladesh and the opposition political parties were using it holding rallies and processions, in an interview with the Bangla service of the Voice of America. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is now on her last leg of the US visit in connection with the 71st UN General Assembly (UNGA), cleared nine urgent files from Virginia, USA on Saturday. China may commit to a five-year comprehensive cooperation plan, including assistance in several billion-dollar projects, during the Chinese president's Bangladesh visit in the middle of next month. Already, the Chinese government has expressed initial interest in giving around $23 billion in soft loan for 20 projects to be implemented between 2016 and 2020. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is likely to be signed in this regard when Xi Jinping comes to Dhaka on October 13 or 14, Finance Ministry officials said. Bangladesh presidency has been highly praised by the representatives of the least developed countries (LDCs) and the friends of LDCs at the annual ministerial meeting of the LDCs, held Saturday at the UN Headquarters in New York. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali chaired the meeting, held on the sideline of the 71st session of the United Nations' General Assembly (UNGA). The US and Bangladesh officials are going to discuss enhancing collaboration in countering extremism and terrorism and cooperation in defence in Dhaka on October 2. This will be the fifth dialogue on security issues between Dhaka and Washington. The 12th session of the 10th Jatiya Sangsad (JS) that began on Sunday will continue until October 10, 2016. Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday said Bangladesh was holding talks with Canada as there was a way to bring back Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's self-confessed killer Noor Chowdhury. The government would respond to UNESCO's concern over the Rampal power plant near the Sundarbans within a week, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu said on Sunday at Bidyut Bhaban, Dhaka. All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan became the leading wicket-taker of Bangladesh and thereby inscribed his name as only man in the world cricket to be his country’s most successful bowler in all three formats of the game.

London, 22 September 2016

The Federal Court of Canada has rejected a political asylum plea of Bangabandhu's self-confessed killer Noor Chowdhury asking the country to extradite him from the country, reports Anandabazar Patrika on Wednesday. The Canadian Federal Court made it clear that Noor Chowdhury has been living in Canada illegally and the Canadian government, if it wants, can extradite him any time, the report says. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed Joy said the government has developed its own methods, own innovations for implementing 'Digital Bangladesh' initiative for simplifying and digitising services. Joy said this while taking part in the panel discussion of the South-South and Triangular Cooperation in scaling-up innovation in public service delivery organised by Bangladesh and UN office for South-South cooperation at the conference room of UN Headquarters on Tuesday. The United Nations has named Bangladeshi young leader Shougat Nazbin Khan as one of the 17 youth leaders who will support efforts to engage young people in the realization of SDGs. The young leaders are scheduled to take part in a series of high-level meetings and events during the session, where they will have opportunities to engage in UN and partner-led projects, according to a message received from the UN Headquarters. Bangladesh ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement depositing the instruments of ratification at a function at the United Nations headquarters in New York yesterday. At least 31 countries, including Bangladesh deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession of the Paris agreement at a function hosted by UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon, according to a UN announcement. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Bangladesh looks forward to working with the new Myanmar leadership to find a lasting solution to the refugee issue. She said this to the Leaders' Summit on Refugees, organised by US President Barack Obama, at the UN headquarters on Tuesday. The PM called upon other international partners to remain engaged in the refugee issue. For nearly three decades, Bangladesh has been hosting a large number of refugees and displaced people from Myanmar, she told the Summit. With limited resources, to continue to bear responsibilities for these people, poses country in many social, economic, environmental and political challenges, she added. Highly appreciating Bangladesh's stunning development in various socio-economic sectors, World Bank President Dr Jong Yong Kim has said he is very much impressed with poverty reduction and women's empowerment in the country. His appreciation comes when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her hotel in New York on Tuesday. The WB President said his organisation would continue to work with Bangladesh, and he would visit Bangladesh next month. The Prime Minister underscored the need for consultation with the government, when any country or development agency undertakes any plan or project. Expressing her firm belief that there will be no room for violent extremism in those societies that create space for women's participation and empowerment, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon global leaders to continue to enlarge that space for building a sustainable better future. The Prime Minister said this while attending a side-event on Women's Leadership and Gender Perspective on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism hosted by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the conference room of the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been conferred upon 'Planet 50-50 Champion' and 'Agent of Change Award' yesterday for her outstanding contributions to women empowerment. The UNWomen recognized the Prime Minister as 'Planet 50-50 Champion', while Global Partnership Forum handed over the 'Agent of Change Award' to her at a high-level reception at the UN Plaza at the UN headquarters. The 9th South Asia Economic Summit will be held in Dhaka on October 15-16 with the theme ‘Reimagining South Asia in 2030’. Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) will organise the event in order to formulate recommendations to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A four member CPD delegation informed this to President Md. Abdul Hamid when they made a call on him at Bangabhaban yesterday. The government has signed a Tk120crore deal with a Japanese firm to conduct feasibility studies, selecting the site and making a master plan for the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib International Airport. Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal Ehsanul Gani Choudhury and Deputy Director General of Nippon Koei of Japan Toshikazu Kambara signed the deal yesterday. CAAB will pay for the studies from its own funds. Country's foreign exchange reserves crossed US$31 billion mark again Tuesday, officials said. The forex reserves rose to $31.09 billion on the day from $30.97 billion of the previous working day.

London, 20 September 2016

Country's largest digital expo 'Digital World-2016' will be held in Dhaka on October 19-21 showcasing the technology-based innovations and achievements and a single platform for sharing ICT knowledge and idea. In this regard an advisory committee meeting led by Finance Minister AMA Muhith was held yesterday at Finance Ministry in the city, said a press release.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and refugees. The PM was addressing the high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants at the UN headquarters yesterday. She observed that mutual trust and respect, shared responsibility and inclusiveness are critical to comprehensively address the migration issue. Speaking at the plenary meeting, the PM said Bangladesh has proposed a Global Compact on Migration addressing some of the longstanding gaps in migration governance. Describing climate change and the resultant displacement of millions of people as a reality, the premier said the Compact will have to take into account the protection need of millions of climate-displaced people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the Asian Leaders' Forum on Countering Terrorism hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Hotel Marriot Eastside on Monday. The Prime Minister also attended a side-event on South-South and Triangular Cooperation in Scaling up Innovation in Public Service Delivery. The Prime Minister yesterday held meeting with State Counselor and Foreign Minister of Myanmar Aung Saan Suu Kyi in a warm and cordial atmosphere, official sources said. Amidst growing tension at the border on smuggling and delay in repatriation of Rohingya refugees, the talks described by diplomats as crucial and significant to improve bilateral relations. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland also met the PM yesterday. Bangladesh premier attended a luncheon meeting hosted by the Business Council of International Understanding (BCIU) at Hotel Waldorf Astoria in New York yesterday. The meeting was also attended by a business delegation of 100 members led by Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI). Official's privy to the Prime Minister program said she highlighted Bangladesh's business prospects before the leading American business conglomerates at the BCIU meeting. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has written to her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi expressing her support to New Delhi in this difficult hour following the attack in a Kashmir military base in which 17 Indian soldiers have been killed. In her letter to Modi she said Bangladesh strongly condemns terrorism and violent extremism. The PM also extended her deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims. Bangladesh has called upon Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member states to remain active in setting the agenda for global peace and addressing the existing or emerging security threats to win the battle against terrorists and violent extremists. Bangladesh has also called upon NAM to strengthen the global governance of migration for ensuring adequate, safe, regular and orderly migration, place climate change in its priority list, expand South-South cooperation to help realise its potentials as complementary to North-South and Triangular Cooperation. On behalf of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam represented Bangladesh and made the call at the 17th Summit of the NAM held in Venezuela on September 17- 18, the Foreign Ministry in Dhaka said yesterday. The Malaysian government had lifted the ban on hiring workers from Bangladesh, Labour counsellor at Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia Md Sayedul Islam told the media yesterday. On February 19, Malaysia froze hiring workers from abroad. Bangladesh has achieved remarkable successes and appreciations in countering terrorism and curbing terror financing at the national and international levels under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Additionally, Bangladesh continues to be the top troops contributing country to various peacekeeping missions of the United Nations in the conflict-ridden parts of the world. These revelations were made in a publication, prepared by the Center for Research and Information, compiling the successes of the present government, targeting the high profile visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). In 2016 antiterrorism financing index, Bangladesh has fared much better than many of South Asian countries. With a score of 6.4, the country stood second to lead the league table in South Asia. Another recent report by the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) set Bangladesh a risk-free country for money laundering and terror financing in international standards. A Philippines court yesterday ordered the country's central bank to return nearly $15 million, a part of the Bangladesh Bank's stolen fund that has been recovered, to the BB. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Philippines, will now have to comply with the court order, according to BB officials.

London, 19 September 2016

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the Bangladeshi expatriates in Canada and the USA to mobilize public opinion for the extradition of convicted killers of Bangabandhu from the two countries. The PM was addressing a reception accorded to her at Centre Mont-Royal in Montreal by Bangladeshi expatriates on Saturday. The PM said Bangladesh government has already asked the US and Canada why they are nurturing and giving shelter to the killers. She said the killers of Bangabandhu are the citizens of Bangladesh and their punishment will be ensured as per the law of the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived at New York City yesterday to attend the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly. She was welcomed by Ambassador of Bangladesh in USA Muhammad Ziauddin, Bangladesh Mission Chief in United Nations in New York Masud Bin Momen, senior officials of United Nations. The United Nations has appreciated Bangladesh's commitment so far shown to implementing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), mentioning that still there are more to be done. 'I am noticing that the government of Bangladesh has made some strong efforts through establishing inter-ministerial committee on SDGs monitoring and evaluation,' said Dr David Nabarro, UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while responding to a query of the news agency. There is no Bangladesh national among those injured or affected by the explosion occurred at Chelsea in Manhattan, said a Bangladesh diplomat in New York quoting preliminary information on Sunday. NGOs in Bangladesh do receive an average Taka 5,000 crore from donors every year, an executive of a leading NGO revealed on Sunday, suggesting such organizations for innovation and bringing higher efficiency in their operations in order to accelerate SDG implementations. Finance Minister A M A Muhith said the probe report on Bangladesh Bank reserve heist will be made public on September 22. The Minister said this to the media after a meeting with an ICMAB delegation at his office yesterday. The investigation report will be uploaded on the website of the Bank and Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance. The government has sought concessional loan from China for the Padma Rail Link Project, combining the two phases into a single project. When combined, it will be a bigger project than the one on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge. In a letter to the Chinese Embassy recently, the authorities concerned in Bangladesh suggested that the Padma Rail Link Phase-I and Phase-II projects be made into a single one named the Padma Rail Link Project. Two frigates of Bangladesh Navy with 511 officers and sailors left yesterday Chittagong Naval base for onward training tour to India and Sri Lanka on 22 days journey, BN sources said. The training tour is expected to boost up the image of Bangladesh before the world and further strengthen relationships of Bangladesh with India and Sri Lanka.

London, 08 September 2016

Expressing her firm optimism that not a single person would remain hungry and poor in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said her party does politics for changing the lot of the countrymen, not changing its own fortune. The Prime Minister made her pledge while addressing a civic rally, marking the inauguration of firstever nationwide 'Food-Friendly Programme for the Ultra Poor' at Chilmari in Kurigram. Through distributing fair price food ration cards among the heads of 15 families at the function, she launched rice distribution programme among the local people at Tk 10 a killogram. She again called upon all to always stay alert so that no one could slip into the wrong path of terrorism and militancy, and mobilize public opinion against these two menaces. The government is urging Facebook to establish an office in Bangladesh in order to keep a better eye on the activities on the social networking site that has upwards of 2.2 crore users from the country. Every second 12 new Facebook accounts are created in Bangladesh, said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, at a seminar on ICT, new media and revolution of the mass media, held at Dhaka Reporters' Unity yesterday. The Cabinet Committee on Purchase yesterday approved the proposal to award the Tk 291 crore project of supervising the construction work of Karnaphuli tunnel to a multinational joint venture. The company led by SMEC International Private Ltd of Australia would review and supervise the design and construction work of the tunnel, according to the proposal of the Bridges Division. The government is going to build 'National Single Window' to simplify cross-border trade procedures under a World Bank-sponsored agenda for facilitating quick processing of import, export and transit transactions. Officials said yesterday the virtual port formalities would bring all workers under an automated system to ease doing business. They said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has drafted a Tk 5.74 billion (US$72 million) project to set up the NSW for brining all export-import procedures onto one virtual platform. The Philippines' Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assured Bangladesh of his government's hundred percent supports behind ongoing efforts to recover $81 million that cyber thieves had stolen from its central bank last February. But Dominguez pointed out to Bangladesh ambassador John Gomes that the recovery efforts would have to go through the proper legal procedures for Bangladesh's own protection so that no other party could contest its rightful claim to this stolen money in the future. Dominguez said during a meeting with the Bangladesh ambassador at the Land Bank of the Philippines office in Makati City. Bangladesh has got the prestigious recognition from the World Health Organization (WHO) for successfully eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT). 'MNT elimination is a big success for us,' State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque told BSS after receiving the WHO certificate for the achievement. The WHO handed over the certificate to the Bangladesh's State Minister at a program held on Tuesday at the WHO's South Asia regional office in Colombo. State Minister is visiting Colombo for attending the 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia began on September 5. The government has proposed Myanmar to export its surplus gas to Bangladesh and import electricity from here in order to meet the country’s growing gas demand and tap the emerging opportunities in Myanmar’s power and energy market. Energy and Mineral Resources Division Secretary told the media yesterday that they had already requested the Foreign Ministry to take necessary steps in this regard. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry held an inter-ministerial meeting on Sunday over gearing up the bilateral relations with Myanmar.

London, 06 September 2016

Country's exports bounced back in August with a 19.76 per cent growth to $3.30 billion, compared to August 2015, after July slump. Industry-insiders said the turnaround was driven by increased apparel shipments in August. The August figure was 16.53 per cent above the government's monthly target set for the month, according to provisional data with Export Promotion Bureau.

The 12th session of the 10th Jatiya Sangsad (JS) will begin on September 25. President Md. Abdul Hamid summoned the session yesterday.

Public servants of the country will enjoy an extended vacation during Eid-ul-Azha as the government has declared September 11 a public holiday. However, the government employees will have to work on September 24 (Saturday) in exchange for September 11. The decision came from the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat yesterday. At the outset of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched 'instant messaging app' named 'Alapon' for some 1.4 million (14 lakh) government officials which is expected to bring about a revolutionary change in intercommunication of government officials. The app is like Viber and no fee would be charged for using it. Meanwhile, the Cabinet adopted an obituary reference at the death of former lawmaker from Dinajpur and a key member of the country's constitution formulation committee and Bangabandhu's close political aide M Abdur Rahim. Norway has lauded Bangladesh government's actions against terrorism and violent extremism, saying it 'has done a lot' in two months in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's 'zero tolerance policy' against terrorism. Two countries vowed to fight together the global menace of terrorism and violent extremism. The commitment comes when Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali met Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende on Saturday in Oslo, Foreign Ministry said on Sunday. The Foreign Minister also held a meeting with the delegation of Telenor Group, a mobile phone operator having majority share owned by the Norwegian government. Group President briefed the minister about their proposed US$ 800 million investment plan to generate around 500 MW power from solar installations in different parts of Bangladesh. Bangladesh and Denmark have agreed to continue working together in the areas of green growth, climate change, development, and trade and investments for mutual benefits. The two countries have also decided to cooperate with each other to counter terrorism and violent extremism. The decision was taken in a meeting between Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A H Mahmood Ali and Kristian Jensen of Denmark held on Monday in Copenhagen, said a press release. The freedom fighters decorated for valour and the injured freedom fighters would get more than double their monthly allowance from January 1. A total 669 awarded freedom fighters as well as the families of seven Bir Shreshthas and around 12,500 injured freedom fighters would get the benefits. A cabinet committee on freedom fighters' allowance and benefits made the decision yesterday at a meeting at the Finance Ministry with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the chair. In July 2015, the government increased the allowance of freedom fighters to Tk 8,000 from Tk 5,000. It was increased to Tk 10,000 from Tk 8,000 in January this year. The government yesterday signed an agreement with a Chinese firm to procure 16 bulk carrier ships that will be used in transportation of coal-based power plants in the country. To bring six mother bulk carriers and 10 light bulk carriers from China, Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC), a handout said. The government plans special security measures for all foreign-aided projects following requests from development and bilateral partners. After a meeting with a number of ministers yesterday, Finance Minister A M A Muhith said the home ministry told the meeting that it was mulling special security for all donor-supported projects following requests from development and bilateral partners, particularly Japan. The minister said the government was hiring an international consultant in an effort to improve security at all key point installations (KPIs). Bangladesh has been elected president of the Working Group of Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (APIS) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Banamali Bhowmick, Director General of Information and Communication Technology Directorate, will represent Bangladesh and perform as the president of the Working Group of APIS.

London, 01 September 2016

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday sought Norwegian support to further develop and expand Bangladesh's aquaculture and shipbuilding sectors for mutual benefits. The PM came up with the request when Norwegian Ambassador in Bangladesh Merete Lundemo paid a farewell call on her at her office in the city. Highlighting Bangladesh's progress in the shipbuilding and ship recycling sector, the PM said that her government would set up a new shipyard in southern part of the country. In this connection, the Norwegian envoy lauded the progress of Bangladesh's shipbuilding industry saying that two of their ships are being built in Chittagong while negotiation is on to build four more ships.

Bangladesh Army Col Dr Nazma Begum has been given a special UN award for her outstanding leadership in the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI). The UN has thanked Bangladesh Army for this, says an ISPR press release. Nazma, who served the UNOCI from February 27 to August 31, 2016 as the first female contingent commander in UNOCI's history, has also been selected for the 'Military Gender Advocate of the Year-2016 Award'.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reaffirmed her determination to continue the trial of war criminals and said she is ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of the country and its people. The PM was addressing a discussion in the city yesterday. She urged all to remain always ready for any sacrifice for the country. Australia has expressed its interest to further strengthen bilateral cooperation with Bangladesh in different sectors, particularly in energy and education. Newly-appointed Australian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Julia Niblett said this when she called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office yesterday. Praising Bangladesh's economic growth under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Australian envoy described Bangladesh as the champion of economic development and women empowerment. The government will install the single-point mooring (SPM) with a double pipeline linking the state-run Eastern Refinery Ltd storage facilities, officials said. The cabinet committee on economic affairs gave its nod yesterday for appointing a Chinese firm for installing the SPM at Sonadia Island in the deep sea where large oil tankers will anchor. The cost of the project now stands at Tk 5,426 crore, with China's Exim Bank giving $550.4 million in low-cost loans. It is expected to be completed by 2018. China has come forward to discuss on how both Bangladesh and China can strengthen cooperation in fight against terrorism. To that end, Chinese officials, including Cao Xiaolin, Deputy Director General of the Department of External Security Affairs of Chinese Foreign Ministry, had meetings with Bangladesh government officials on August 28-31 and discussed various ways of cooperation, diplomatic sources said to the media. Dhaka and Washington are set to hold a bilateral meeting in Dhaka in early November to boost bilateral trade and investment under the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) the two countries inked nearly three years back. DG of WTO cell of Ministry of Commerce said this to the media on Tuesday. Duty-free and quota-free access of Bangladeshi products to the US market and restoration of Generalized System of Preferences will be the major priorities from Bangladesh side at the meeting, he added. Bangladesh girls have ridden on their rich vein of form with a 10-0 thumping of Kyrgyzstan for a third straight victory in the AFC Under-16 Women's Champions qualifiers.