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  1. Bangladesh plans Tk 2 trillion development budget for FY21 amid virus crisis The government has drafted an Annual Development Programme to the tune of more than Tk 2.05 trillion for 2020-21 fiscal year amid the coronavirus crisis. The Planning Commission cleared the draft in a meeting presided over by Planning Minister MA Mannan on Tuesday, Planning Secretary Md Nurul Amin said. It will be presented at the National Economic Council meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for final approval on May 19. Citing the draft, the secretary said the government was planning to finance Tk 1.34 trillion, or around 66 percent, from domestic sources and the rest from foreign funds. For the health sector, the draft ADP has proposed an allocation of Tk 130.33 billion, according to a top official at the Planning Commission. The amount was around Tk 101.1 billion in the revised development budget for the current fiscal year. The draft ADP sets aside the highest allocation for the transport sector – Tk 521.83 billion, followed by Tk 248.03 billion for the power sector and Tk 234.39 billion for education. The agriculture sector is going to get Tki 84.24 billion for development once the ADP is passed. The allocation for autonomous organisations and corporations has been proposed at Tk 94.66 billion. It was around Tk 124 billion in the current ADP. The original ADP for the current fiscal year was Tk 2.02 trillion in size before it was revised down to around Tk 1.93 trillion in March. The COVID-19 crisis has put the brakes on the implementation of the ADP by the end of this fiscal year with most parts of the world, including Bangladesh, on lockdown.
  2. Bangladesh Wants to Be South Asia’s Transport Hub Bangladesh has the potential to become the transport and transshipment hub for India, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar for their collective economic growth, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said. His comments came in a statement at the end of the 'Finance Minister’s meeting of South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC)' hosted by India in collaboration with Asian Development Bank. The meeting brought together finance ministers from seven SASEC member nations- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka-- to launch SASEC Vision Document 2025. Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presided over the day-long meeting, in which Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali was also present. Muhith said Bangladesh’s closeness with India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and China’s Kunming makes it an ideal regional hub of connectivity. A further improvement of the multi-modal connectivity will “lead to enhanced economic cooperation among the countries of the region,” he said. He said Bangladesh’s under-construction Padma Bridge will also help improve connectivity with the neighbouring countries. Bangladesh, Muhith said, is being supported under SASEC to strengthen road, rail, and maritime connectivity with neighbouring countries along the key trade routes. As part of the ADB-assisted SASEC platform for regional power trade and interconnection arrangements, Bangladesh has expanded power sharing arrangements with India, which will possibly be expanded with Bhutan and Nepal (via India), he said. Muhith said Bangladesh government is also very keen to take necessary steps for a more enabling environment to boost intra-sub-regional trade. Building a National Trade Portal is almost finalised with a view to processing and issuing of import export registration certificate as it is connected with the national single window system. “I would like to reiterate here that Bangladesh government is committed to introduce necessary reforms in its legal and regulatory environment and its institutional procedures and practices to meet international standards,” said the finance minister. Hailing the adoption of SASEC vision document 2025, Muhith said it defines the strategic objectives on South-Asian transport, trade facilitation and energy besides exploring the potential of Economic Corridor Development. SASEC aims to combine economic corridors being developed in individual SASEC countries in order to maximise the development impacts of investments through cross border links. He said Bangladesh is discussing two major corridors to pass through the most economically advanced region of the country, Dhaka. The first is on the Banglabandha-Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox Bazar route, the second on the Sylhet-Dhaka- Khulna route. The synergic effect of these in-country economic corridors will result in a larger regional impact with improved infrastructure and connectivity. SAARC, SASEC and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) initiatives may coordinate with each other to bring synergy in regional cooperation. In this regard, six priority sectors were identified by the countries: energy and power, transportation, tourism, environment, trade, investment and private sector cooperation, and ICT. Up to December, 2016, as many as 43 SASEC projects of $8.9 billion have been completed or under way in these sectors. The meeting concluded with the adoption of a joint ministerial statement. “Our vision is for SASEC to be Asia’s powerhouse in the 21st century. We will accelerate and sustain the growth momentum of recent years by unlocking the hitherto untapped potential of the sub-region’s natural resources, industry and infrastructure through sub regional cooperation," it said. "We will leverage natural resource-based industries by tapping into latent industrial demand within the sub region. We will utilize our common heritage, culture and tourism assets to position SASEC as a single tourist destination," the statement said. "We will promote sub regional industry-to-industry links to develop regional value chains and enhance the sub region's competitiveness. We will develop gateways and hubs to expand the sub region's trade and commerce to regional and global markets. We believe that these synergies can generate annually, an estimated $70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025.” CREDIT : BDNEWS24
  3. BEZA gets $20.5 billion investment proposals Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) has received investment proposals amounting to around US Dollar 20.50 billion from 151 local and foreign business entities thanks to various steps of government to attract new investments, officials said. BEZA is responsible for establishing and managing of state-run special economic zones (SEZs) across the country. Out of the investment proposals, top officials of BEZA said, around $2.80 billion has already been invested in different SEZs. Around $4.808 billion will come as foreign direct investment (FDI) from different companies in Japan, China, South Korea, India, Thailand, Australia, the UK, the Netherland and the USA. World-famous companies like Honda Motors, Sumitomo Nippon, Asian Paints, Barger Paints, Adani Group, Wilmar, Yabang, Siam Group, TIC Group, Unilever, Sakata Inch and Chain Harbour are the major foreign investors. Talking to BSS recently, BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury said beyond these investment proposals, many world-renowned foreign companies are coming with big investment offers. "We've already developed eight state-run SEZs as per a move to make the country an industrial hub in the world," Chowdhury informed. The zones, he said, are – Mirsarai Economic Zone, Mirsarai Economic Zone 2A, Mirsarai Economic Zone 2B, Feni Economic Zone and SBG Economic Zone under the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN), Jamalpur Economic Zone, Shreehatta Economic Zone and Mongla Economic Zone. The BEZA executive chairmen said many entrepreneurs from home and abroad have already started construction works of their industrial units in the economic zones, while many are taking preparations to set up factories there. He mentioned that the government is providing all sorts of facilities to the economic zones to ensure investment-friendly environment. "Both local and foreign businesses who will invest in the economic zones will enjoy the same facilities," he added. Chowdhury went on saying that Jinyuan Chemical Industry Limited, a sister concern of the Chinese ZhuzhouJinyuan Chemical Industry Company Limited, has already set up their factory in the BSMSN at Mirsarai, Sitakundu and Sonagazi upazillas under Chattogram and Feni districts. "We hope that at least 20 companies will start their construction works within this year," he said. The BEZA executive chairman said the development works of another seven state-owned SEZs are going at a quicker pace to attract both foreign and local investors. "We're also planning to establish another 14 state-owned SEZs across the country," he said. Of them, the feasibility study of two SEZs – Netrokona Economic Zone and Bogura Economic Zone – has already been completed, he added. Another 12 other SEZs which is mulling to be set up are – Gopalgonj EZ-1 in Kotalipara upazila under Gopalganj district, Sitakundo Economic Zone, Tangail Economic Zone, Manikganj Economic Zone, Bhola Economic Zone, Nababganj Economic Zone, Sylhet Special Economic Zone, Chandpur Economic Zone, Jamalpur Economic Zone-2, Nilphamari Economic Zone, Araihazar Economic Zone-2 and Panchagarh Economic Zone, he continued. Chowdhury informed that the BEZA has already awarded pre-qualification license to 20 private economic zones and of them, 11 were given final license. The private economic zones who obtained the final license are Meghna Economic Zone, Abdul Monem Economic Zone, Aman Economic Zone, Bay Economic Zone, Meghna Industrial Economic Zone, City Economic Zone, Sirajganj Economic Zone, Karnaphuli Dry Dock Special Economic Zone, East West Special Economic Zone, Kishoreganj Economic Zone and Hosendi Economic Zone, he said. The BEZA chief said they have given pre-qualification license to the AK Khan Economic Zone, Arisha Economic Zone, United City IT Park, Bashundara Economic Zone, Sonargaon Economic Zone, Cumilla Economic Zone, Hamid Economic Zone and Standard Global Economic Zone. He said the economic zones have already created direct employment opportunities for around 30,000 people, and through the proposed industrial units, there will be direct employment scope for at least eight lakh people. Chowdhury said BEZA has undertaken a plan to establish 'Bhumi Bank' so that industrial development is not hindered in the next 50 years due to land scarcity. "We've already acquired 47,856.3350 acres of land for developing the 22 state-run EZs," he said. https://tbsnews.net/economy/beza-gets-205-billion-investment-proposals-51025?fbclid=IwAR3MLr_43q7x2rTOSy4rLev4OI6gpKtGY0xP2ba79oryTDiTWe7Hc8T-Py8
  4. 2nd perspective plan 2021-2041: Extreme poverty to be 0.68%, GDP 9.9% By 2031, it aims to bring down the extreme poverty rate to 2.55%, and increase the GDP growth to 9% The government has set targets to bring down the extreme poverty rate to 0.68%, and increase the gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 9.9% by 2041. By 2031, it aims to bring down the extreme poverty rate to 2.55%, and increase the GDP growth to 9%. The projections incorporated in “Bangladesh’s 2nd Perspective Plan 2021-2041,” was approved on Tuesday. The plan envisages the target to become a developed country by 2041. Chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the National Economic Council (NEC) approved the country’s second perspective plan to turn Bangladesh as a higher middle-income country by 2031 and a higher income and developed country by 2041. For graduating the country to higher income status, the government has put emphasis on sustainable electricity and energy, while for rapid and continued growth it also stresses development of roads and transport and infrastructure. After the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan briefed the media on the document for the next 20 years, a pathway to become a developed country. The document is based on four pillars — governance, democratization, decentralization and capacity building. “The document is framed and approved to alleviate poverty, strengthen good governance further and transform Bangladesh into a modern and world-standard digital country,” said Mannan. As per the Bangladesh’s 2nd Perspective Plan 2021-2041, the extreme poverty rate in the country was expected to reduce to 2.55% in 2031 from 9.38% in 2020 (base year), while it was expected to come down further to 0.68% in 2041, the minister said. On the other hand, Mannan said the government set target to attain 9% GDP growth by 2031 while it would further expect to grow at 9.9% in 2041. The base year is 2020. In the last fiscal year, Bangladesh attained 8.15%, while in the current budget for fiscal year 2019-20, the government set target to attain 8.20% GDP. According to the second perspective plan, the country’s per capita income on current price would stand at $12,500 by 2041. In addition, moderate poverty rate is projected to come down to 7% in 2031 and to 3% in 2041. The plan also set target to reduce the income inequality to 2.80%, 2.75% and 2.70% by 2025, 2031 and 2041 respectively. To take the advantage of demographic dividend and develop human resource through quality education, the government in the plan set target to provide free education for all aged up to 12 years, 100% literacy, low cost health insurance and treatment facility for all. Meanwhile, to cope up with the global changes in the information technology, the meeting focused Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and ICT, skills development, while attention has been given to agriculture, rural poverty eradication, education and researches, and tourism infrastructures. General Economics Division (GED) member of the Planning Commission Dr Shamsul Alam said the Perspective Plan was a historic and dream document for the country as it gave a guideline about what would be the socio-economic position of the country over the next 20 years. As per the 2nd Perspective Plan, the inflation rate will come down to 4.51% by 2031 and 3.96% by 2041, while the country’s export earnings to increase to $150 billion by 2031 and $300 billion by 2041. https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2020/02/25/2nd-perspective-plan-2021-2041-extreme-poverty-to-be-0-68-gdp-9-9
  5. Bangladesh eyes $50b Saudi investment Both countries will sit together next week to discuss issues such as prioritising projects and other critical bottlenecks Bangladesh is expecting up to $50 billion worth of investments from oil-rich Saudi Arabia, but officials are unsure when the investments will materialise. Both countries will sit together next week to discuss issues such as prioritising the projects and other critical bottlenecks. "We will make a presentation to the Saudi delegate on potential investment areas in Bangladesh," Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), told The Business Standard yesterday. Riyadh has asked for data and information on prevailing investment and commercial opportunities in the private sector, and procedures and capital protection in Bangladesh for Saudi investors. Saudi company AL-Bawani and its partners want 1,000 hectares of land where they will develop infrastructure to attract industries and foreign investment. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed in this regard. A Saudi delegation headed by Commerce and Investment Affair Minister Dr Majid bin Al Qasabi and Finance and Planning Minister Mohammad bin Majyad Altuajari visited Bangladesh in April last year when they agreed to fund $35b in eight projects. The projects include the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway link, Dhaka-Barishal-Payra Port railway link, setting up an oil refinery and petro-chemical storage facility, aircraft maintenance and repair facilities at Lalmonirhat Airport, DAP (DI-ammonium Phosphate) industry, an investment support fund and portfolio investment fund, and upgrading services of state-owned mobile operator Teletalk. Officials said all concept papers of the projects, except for the DAP industry, have been sent to Saudi Arabia for consideration. In May 2019, the Bangladesh government sent another proposal for five priority projects for consideration by the Saudi government. Mohammad Shamsul Alam, additional secretary to the Economic Relations Division, told The Business Standard, "Several issues, including visa, trading, manpower, investment in various sectors such as power, energy, railway, aviation, telecommunication, and public-private partnership, and cooperation in health, education and family welfare will be discussed in the meeting." The Bangladesh Power Development Board has signed an agreement with ACWA Power and Aramco of Saudi Arabia for the installation of a 3,600 MW LNG-based power plant. Saudi state-owned energy company Aramco plans to supply liquefied natural gas to Bangladesh as part of a tentative $3 billion deal signed in October 2019. The power plant and an onshore LNG regasification terminal would be built in the Moheshkhali area of Cox's Bazar, or at an alternative location. ERD officials say that the leading Saudi construction and manufacturing conglomerate Alfanar Group has agreed to provide $100 million worth of financing for an upcoming solar-power project in Bangladesh. Riyadh-based Alfanar has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry at a business meeting in Dhaka. Additionally, both sides will discuss the formation of a joint committee to work on formulating and signing a general agreement on overall manpower issues. https://tbsnews.net/economy/bangladesh-eyes-50b-saudi-investment-42181?fbclid=IwAR3nm93fWHPpqgpfnu03eplk8IOaS0O5HG5RBPBzK1sPrURyE-riKYJY6rU#.XjqrfsILsQg.facebookBoth
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