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Europe's largest packaging industry to build plant in Bangladesh


JASIM UDDIN HAROON | Published:  October 22, 2021 09:00:32 | Updated:  October 22, 2021 10:57:20

Europe's largest packaging enterprise, ALPLA, plans to build its plant in Bangladesh to seize a market share of packaging and its allied products which are complementary to the country's potential readymade garment industry and other export items.

The European Union as a bloc is the largest market of Bangladesh's RMG products, and this venture could be a promoter of the apparel industry.

ALPLA is an Austrian plastics manufacturer, headquartered in Hard, specialising in blow-moulded bottles and caps, injection-moulded parts, preforms and tubes.

The company wants to build its factory either in Chattogram or in Dhaka. But one person who is familiar with the matter told the FE that it wants to build its plant near Chattogram seaport in order to get raw materials and make shipment easily.

He also says it wants to set up its big-capacity factory on a more than 100,000-square-foot area.

Bangladesh's personal-care industry will be growing as a result of consistent economic growth. Hence it wants to produce high-quality home-and-personal-care products like hair shampoos, pharmaceuticals and so for both local and international markets from its integrated industrial hub as well.

"The company is a leader in Europe and famous for innovative plastic packaging solutions. It will grab local market following its strong goodwill on the international market," said another person also having direct knowledge of the matter.

He said the company is assessing the county's overall environment to prepare its business strategies.

With a total of 178 production plants in over 45 countries worldwide, employing around 21,600 employees, it had an annual sales turnover of € 3.69 billion in 2020.

The company was founded in 1955 as 'Alpenplastik Lehner Alwin OHG'.


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Economic zone for Japanese investors

Published:  October 21, 2021 22:18:11

The move for setting up economic zone with country-specific tag is the latest towards attracting foreign investment in the country. Earlier, it was the Korean EPZ meant exclusively for Korean investors which despite prospects did not make any headway--- most likely due to some unresolved issues with the government. Now, in recognition of the fact that EPZs are for hundred per cent export-oriented enterprises, the idea of economic zone with broader implications to cater to both domestic and overseas needs seems to fit in appropriately with the objective of achieving multiplier gains from foreign investment.

Clearly, it is with this intent that the Japanese economic zone is set to be launched next year. Reports say that the 1,000 acre economic zone to be exclusively used by Japanese firms is being developed in Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj, which is Bangladesh's first ever economic zone under the government-to-government initiative. This indeed is a remarkable move to attract investment from an industrial economy like Japan. Given the massive development projects undertaken in the country by Japan, it is expected that both governments would find it a good opportunity to work together in the years to come. Some of the major development projects under Japanese cooperation include the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt initiative, the Mass Rapid Transit project (Metro rail), expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, and Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI).

The government, reportedly, has assured that potential investors from Japan will be given full cooperation in a bid to boost Japanese investments. In a virtual meeting last week, Japanese envoy to Bangladesh also expressed his optimism about the bright prospect of the economic zone. He also referred to the prospect of relocating some vital manufacturing units to this zone, if things move in the desired direction. He said the automotive industry of Bangladesh could be a good source of investment. In this context, it may be noted that the Bangladesh government has finalised drafting the automotive policy with an eye to attracting foreign investment. The 10-year policy styled Automotive Industry Development Policy '21 recognises the need to create a sufficiently developed automotive production base towards building a modern, competitive and sustainable auto industry in the country. It is here that Japanese car manufacturers, who largely depend on offshore plants, could be potentially useful in achieving the objective. Surely, to make it happen, the economic zone has to be fully equipped-backed by well thought-out government policies. Also, there are scores of other products, including high-tech ones, that can be produced for marketing locally and exporting abroad.

It is a fact that significant benefits of large-scale FDI, particularly in manufacturing, include transfer of technology and development of backward linkage industries, besides employment generation. However, it all depends on sustaining the economic zone with continued support, along with providing routine services. No wonder, success of one economic zone is likely to attract other prospective overseas investors.


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Private sector investment crucial for Bangladesh's growth: UK envoy

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  October 27, 2021 17:59:11

British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson on Wednesday stressed the need for ease of doing business to attract more private sector investment, which he thinks is crucial to keep up the growth momentum of Bangladesh’s economy.

Terming private sector investment ‘very competitive’, he said the investors want to see improvement in the ‘ease of doing business’ ranking.

Mr Dickson was addressing the DCAB talks organised by the Diplomatic Correspondents’ Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) in the capital.

DCAB President Pantho Rahaman presided over the programme moderated by its general secretary AKM Moinuddin.

Lauding Bangladesh’s impressive economic growth, he said as the country is graduating from the LDC status to be a middle-income country, it will face new challenges.

On the upcoming climate change summit in Glasgow, he said if all the countries step up their efforts, the conference will be successful in mobilising the US$100 billion climate fund, which will play important role in mitigating the adverse impact of climate change on vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.

Responding to a question on extradition of convicted Bangladeshis from the UK, he said that a long legal process is involved here and it depends on the decision of the British courts, which act independently.

Asked about the investigation on the attack on Bangladeshi-born British MP Tulip Siddique, the envoy said that the British government took necessary measures to ensure the protection and security of the MPs, especially those from minority communities.

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Bangladesh expects new wave of Japanese investment next year, Momen says

Published:  October 27, 2021 19:19:30

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said Bangladesh expects a new wave of investment from Japanese origin companies and joint ventures after the completion of the Japanese economic zone at Araihazar in Narayanganj next year.

"Bangladesh welcomes investment, trade and engagement at both G-to-G and P-to-P levels," he said while addressing the 'Japan-Bangladesh Investment Summit 2021' on Wednesday, reports BSS.

The foreign minister said there are many areas where Japan and Bangladesh could engage as partners in development – be that in the development of infrastructure, or be that in the incubation of emerging sectors like ICT.   

He said Japan is one of our leading partners in the plethora of mega-projects in terms of finance, construction, capitalisation and technology while it is among the top 5 foreign investors in Bangladesh according to the cumulative Foreign Direct Investment.

The trade relation between Japan and Bangladesh is now at a unique height with a trading volume of 3 billion USD while export to Japan is 1.2 billion USD and import from Japan is 1.8 billion USD.

"We want to diversify our investment portfolio, our products and export market ...we wish to serve the global markets - both industrial and consumer - in the best ways possible," he said.

The foreign minister said all Bangladesh missions abroad have been instructed accordingly to support business and economic initiatives.

He said Bangladesh deeply values the strong, wide and deep layers of relations that Bangladesh shares with Japan.

 “The friendship between Bangladesh and Japan, as nation-states, which we enjoy today was rooted in the visit of the Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Japan in 1972”, he added. 

"Currently, we are pursuing a very consolidated approach towards the economic domain of diplomacy," Momen said adding that Bangladesh's Economic Diplomacy package is multi-pronged, multi-spatial and multi-dimensional.

The foreign minister said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is globally acknowledged for her remarkable performance in bringing a whole nation out of poverty and into a middle-income status in just less than twelve years.

"The development miracle of Sheikh Hasina remains a story to be told. It is the story of Bangladesh," he added.

While the world continues to struggle with unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the foreign minister said, Bangladesh has been able to achieve early recovery and be able to maintain economic growth.

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TBS Report

27 October, 2021, 10:05 pm

Last modified: 27 October, 2021, 10:14 pm

Govt seeks Korean investment for Tongi-Jhilmil subway

At the event titled “Infra Project Roadshow” held at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday, the parties discussed several issues of different infrastructure projects to be implemented within the next few years



The Bridges Division has sought Korean investment to construct a subway from Tongi to Jhilmil and develop an elevated expressway to connect Hemayetpur in Savar with Madanpur in Narayanganj.

Korean investors are willing to invest in building a bridge on the River Meghna at Chandpur and Shariatpur points and another bridge in Bhola.

At the event titled "Infra Project Roadshow" held at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday, the parties discussed several issues of different infrastructure projects to be implemented within the next few years.

Representatives of 11 authorities of Bangladesh, including the Public Private Partnership Authority, the Roads and Highways Department, Bangladesh Railway, Bangladesh Bridge Authority presented their proposed projects to 31 Korean construction and engineering companies.

Representatives of Bangladesh and Korean companies sat together to explore potential opportunities for cooperation in the field of infrastructure projects through in-person and virtual meetings at the event, which was arranged by the embassy of Korea in Dhaka, in cooperation with the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra).

Appreciating collaboration in infrastructure between the two countries, particularly through the PPP platform, Sultana Afroz, secretary and chief executive officer at the Public Private Partnership Authority, said the event opened up an opportunity to discuss infrastructure projects in Bangladesh.

She said Korea is one of the important development partners of Bangladesh holding the ninth position of providing official development assistance.

Four projects, including the bridge on Bhulta-Araihazar-Bancharampur road over the River Meghna, expressway on the Dhaka-Joydebpur-Mymensingh route and a circular railway line around Dhaka city, Sultana also said.

Some private Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai, POSCO, GS, Halla, Taeyoug, Heelim, Dowha, Korea Expressway Corporation expressed their interest in investing on implementing PPP projects in Bangladesh, she added.

Lee Jang-keun, Korean ambassador in Dhaka, at the event said infrastructure development is the key to the success of Bangladesh's economic development and to the achievement of its grand vision to become a developed nation by 2041."

Md Abul Hossain, superintending Engineer of the Bangladesh Bridge Authority, told The Business Standard, "We have presented some projects to our Korean counterpart and they also expressed interest in some other projects. "We hope both parties will reach a decision to implement some projects with Korean support," he said.

Masudur Rahman, director of a railway project, said, "We presented a dozen of pipeline projects before the Korean team to reach a decision about investment. There are some multibillion dollar projects, including a circular rail line around Dhaka city and a rail line from Bhanga to Payra port."

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Korea seeks new areas of ties with Bangladesh

Published:  October 28, 2021 10:29:36


After its successful development collaboration in decades, South Korea now looks for areas of new investment and cooperation in Bangladesh to take the bilateral ties to a new height.

Korean ambassador Lee Jang-Keun has said many Korean big companies are eager to explore and expand partnership with Bangladesh to make the latter's dream towards a developed nation by 2041.

"Infrastructure is the area where our two countries have enjoyed very close collaboration in several decades. This history and stories of infrastructure collaboration will move on further."

The envoy hopes to make infrastructure cooperation next to the garment sector which is another success story of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Korean embassy in Dhaka and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency co-hosted the second 'Bangladesh Infrastructure Project Road Show' at a city hotel on Wednesday.

Eleven government agencies and 31 Korean construction and engineering companies, including 12 firms based in Dhaka, participated in exploring areas of future collaboration in infrastructure.

The Public-Private Partnership Authority (PPPA), Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), Roads and Highway Department (RHD), Bangladesh Railway (BR), Bangladesh Bridges Authority (BBA), Dhaka WASA and Chattogram WASA joined the event.

PPPA secretary and CEO Sultana Afroz, Payra Port Authority member Mamunur Rashid, RHD additional chief engineer Riaz Ahmad Jaber, CWASA managing director (MD) AKM Fazlullah, DWASA MD Taqsem A Khan and BPDB chairman Mohammad Belayet Hossain also spoke.

Envoy Mr Jang-Keun says infrastructure development is the key to the success of Bangladesh's economic development and achievement of its grand vision to become a developed nation by 2041.

More than 100 Korean companies have so far participated in 210 infrastructure projects, including the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge project built by Hyundai Construction in 1998, he adds.

Highlighting the Korean companies' engagement in infrastructure development since 1971, Mr Jang-Keun said Dhaka-Chattogram highway was developed by a Korean company after the independence of Bangladesh.

Korean companies' infrastructure collaboration is found in airport terminal and runway development, including the third terminal development at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.

Major Korean construction and engineering companies like Samsung, Hyundai, POSCO, GS, Halla, Taeyoug, Heelim and Dowhaare are operating their offices in Dhaka, according to the diplomat.

Bangladesh is the second-largest recipient of Korean ECDF (economic development cooperation fund) loan under which 24 projects worth $1.2 billion are implemented.

A framework agreement under Korean Exim Bank's ECDF loan was signed amounting to $700 million to invest in infrastructure projects here until 2025.

The amount may increase after Bangladesh's graduation from its least-developed country status.

Besides, five projects are under negotiation for Korean investment which was initiated through the 2019 PPP platform meeting.

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Ashraful Haque

28 October, 2021, 12:45 pm

Last modified: 28 October, 2021, 02:19 pm

Sluggish private investment: Why doing business in Bangladesh isn’t really easy



There are a total of 932 organisations of transport owners and workers which extort at least Tk2,000 crores every year from commercial bus services. Photo: Mumit M

Yesterday's front page of The Business Standard sported two optimistic headlines. 

In one, the country's premier, in an apparent bid to encourage potential investors, stated that the businessmen who come to invest here would avail the market of South and Southeast Asia as Bangladesh will create a bridge between the East and the West. She said this while inaugurating the weeklong 'Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2021.'

Another top headline revealed an ambitious new roadmap drafted by the ICT Division which will facilitate the production of digital devices in the country to increase export earnings in the information and technology sector by $4 billion in the next four years.

Despite continued optimism and a huge public investment in infrastructure, private investment and employment creation in the country have remained sluggish for some years now. At the same time, a large amount of capital is being laundered. 

It is worth looking into the ground reality.

Just two years back, when the World Bank's ease of doing business index was still a thing, Bangladesh stood 168th in the index, which says a lot about the business environment here. 

But irrespective of the rankings, and beyond the regulatory hurdles, how easy or hard is it to do business in Bangladesh? 

It is both easy and hard, according to business people. You can easily buy fitness certificates for your rickety buses, you can manage certification for adulterated food products. But if you are reluctant to spend your hard earned money to bribe officials, you will know what red tape means.

"It would take two minutes for us to do that work in the corporate world. For a government office, as we see it, it should not take longer than 20 minutes. Yet, I had to go again and again for two weeks to get the work done, while all my papers were perfectly okay," a handicrafts exporter described to this writer his experience with a certain government office. 

The exporter, unwilling to reveal his identity for obvious reasons, assumed that the officials involved wanted to squeeze some money out of his pocket, hence the delay.

The need to pay bribes, which a former minister called speed money, affects businesses in ways that are beyond financial. A private company employee gave an appalling anecdote. 

While working with a British-owned firm in Bangladesh, the employee needed to get an import realisation certificate for importing certain items for the firm. As the concerned official asked for "speed money," and he had no way to pay it due to strict office regulations, getting the certificate was delayed beyond his managing director's (who is a British citizen) patience. 

As the employee was asked to explain the delay, he mentioned that it was due to bribery. The MD was angered just because of mentioning it in the email and thus keeping evidence of possible illegal transactions. That poor guy narrowly saved his job.

Business insiders say, preliminary expenses of setting up industries are very high in Bangladesh because of bribery. Also, taking possession of land and starting construction also often involve the need to "satisfy" local political leaders. Paying a hefty amount of money for political and national events is also commonplace.

Extortion pervades many other sectors.

According to a report, ‍a bus travelling from Dhaka to Rangpur has to pay extortion at each of the seven districts on its way, and the total money amounts up to Tk4,500. There are a total of 932 organisations of transport owners and workers which extort at least Tk2,000 crores every year from commercial bus services.

Where does this money go? During the pandemic-induced shutdowns, transport workers passed miserable days. Whose welfare did these welfare funds ensure? The answer will surely "tarnish the image" of many highly placed persons.

This created fury among the workers during the shutdown. Yet, this extortion in the transport sector seems unstoppable. According to a TBS report, three days before the first transport shutdown was lifted, four top associations of transportation owners and workers in the country had issued statements seeking cooperation from the government to stop extortion at terminals and highways. But just within a short period, the extortion resumed.

Another TBS report titled "Why big companies shy away from road transportation business" published last year revealed that extortion, control of route permit issuance by shady groups, unruly roads, low profit margin etc. discourages big businesses from investing in the transport sector.


Ashraful Haque. Illustration: TBS

Last year, Bangladesh Road Transport Workers Federation decided to collect "service charge." It was seen by many as an attempt to institutionalise extortion. Such attempts to institutionalise extortion had actually been made earlier. The government turned down the associations' proposal to fix a rate for such extortion, thus earning recognition from the government. 

Such attempts to formalise extortion are common outside the transport sector too. In my small town, there was a spot where mugging took place on a regular basis. 

Someday, a group of local men opened an office in the neighbourhood, hung a sign with "community police" written on it, and started collecting a fixed amount of money from every vehicle plying on the route. The lion's share of the collected money went to a "leader" with a questionable past, and the rest was distributed among that band of people. The hijacking stopped. 

Ironically, an even larger amount of public money was pocketed by those men, and for them it became a permanent and legal source of income.

Shops and markets - both legal and illegal - also have to pay regular extortion money to certain influential quarters. People never raise a voice against it, knowing they have to pay it, only the receivers of the money will change after elections (even that stopped a while ago).

The fear of small businessmen is understandable. They are almost voiceless against mighty organised extortionists who even the law does not touch.

But surprisingly, the big industrialists hardly speak about these pervasive bribing and extortion problems; at least in public. In the past few months, I had to talk to a number of investors from the country's leading export earning industries. None of them was willing to give their names as they talked about the problems they face. 

One may genuinely wonder why. Business associations are pretty influential. Even before the nationwide shutdown could be announced, the premier of the government had to declare a hefty amount of incentive for the export industries.

The associations are not just financially strong; their political strength is evident too. The number of industrialists bagging public offices is soaring every year. Then why do they not use their influence to fix these criminal barriers to smooth business? 

This mystery is yet to be resolved, but some say, nobody wants to bell the cat, and that the "economy of extortion" is rooted so deep and reaches so high that they consider it impossible to eradicate. 

A business consultant working in the apparel industry openly talked to The Business Standard on these matters in an earlier report, but he still refrained from naming the companies he worked with to avoid the risk of any possible repercussions to his employers. The fear involved is manifest.

From small vegetable traders to large exporters, businesses are like sitting ducks to predators, compelled to pay extortion or bribes to people who enjoy impunity against legal ramifications mostly due to their political orientation, or connection with law enforcers.

This illegally collected money across the sectors mentioned above adds up to the business expenses, and consequently, reduces competitiveness in the global market, or makes local buyers' lives harder.

The current sluggish private investment, and the surge in money laundering signal one thing: Doing business in Bangladesh is not very easy, and the government must extend its ongoing efforts to attract investments way beyond regulations and capacities.

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ঢাকা-পায়রা বন্দর-কুয়াকাটা পর্যন্ত হচ্ছে নতুন রেলপথ


 প্রকাশিত ০১:৩৫ দুপুর অক্টোবর ২৮, ২০২১

এ রেলপথ নির্মাণের মধ্য দিয়ে দক্ষিণাঞ্চলের যোগাযোগ ও অর্থনীতির নতুন সম্ভাবনার দুয়ার খুলবে

ঢাকা-পায়রা বন্দর-কুয়াকাটা পর্যন্ত নতুন রেলপথ নির্মাণ প্রকল্প গ্রহণ করেছে সরকার। এ রেলপথ নির্মাণের মধ্য দিয়ে দক্ষিণাঞ্চলের যোগাযোগ ও অর্থনীতির নতুন সম্ভাবনার দুয়ার খুলবে। রেলপথ মন্ত্রণালয় ও প্রকল্প সূত্রে জানা যায়, ইআরডি অর্থায়নের উৎস নিশ্চিত করলেই ডিপিপি অনুমোদনের ব্যবস্থাসহ দরপত্র আহ্বান করা যাবে।

সমীক্ষা ও নকশা অনুযায়ী, ভাঙ্গা-পায়রা বন্দর-কুয়াকাটা পর্যন্ত রেলপথে নদীর ওপর ৮টি ছোট-বড় রেলওয়ে ব্রিজ নির্মিত হবে। এছাড়া ব্রিজের দু’পাশে ৩৭ কিলোমিটার ভয়াডাক্ট উড়ন্ত রেলপথ করা হবে। সব লেভেলক্রসিং হবে আন্ডারপাস, যা রেলওয়েতে এবারই প্রথম। ব্রডগেজ করা লাইনে ১৮০ কিলোমিটার গতিতে বৈদ্যুতিক ট্রেন (রেলগাড়ি) চালানোর বিকল্প ব্যবস্থা থাকছে।

প্রাথমিকভাবে এ প্রকল্পে ব্যয় ধরা হয়েছে ৪১ হাজার ৭৯৮ কোটি টাকা। মেয়াদ ২০২২ সালের জুলাই থেকে ২০২৯ সালের জুন পর্যন্ত।

প্রকল্প পরিচালক প্রকৌশলী মো. মামুনুল ইসলাম জানান, পায়রা বন্দর ঘিরে একের পর এক প্রকল্প হবে। পায়রা বন্দরের সঙ্গে রেলপথ সংযুক্ত হলে পায়রা ঢাকার সঙ্গে জুড়ে যাবে। এ প্রকল্প বাস্তবায়ন হলে রেলপথে নিশ্চিন্তে পায়রা-ঢাকা পণ্যবাহী ট্রেন চলবে। বন্দর থেকে মাত্র ৩ ঘণ্টায় ঢাকায় পণ্য পৌঁছানো সম্ভব হবে। ঘণ্টায় প্রায় ৭০ কিলোমিটার বেগে ছুটবে এ পথে পণ্যবাহী ট্রেন। এ বন্দর থেকে পর্যাপ্ত পণ্য রেলে বহন করা হবে। সাশ্রয় ও নির্ধারিত সময়ের মধ্যে পণ্য পৌঁছে দেওয়া হবে।

তিনি বলেন, “রেলপথে যানজট হয় না। আমরা সমীক্ষা, নকশা ও টেন্ডার ডকুমেন্ট তৈরি সম্পূর্ণ করেছি। সৌদি আরবসহ বিভিন্ন দেশ অর্থায়নের জন্য আগ্রহ দেখাচ্ছে। অত্যাধুনিক প্রযুক্তি ব্যবহার হবে স্টেশন দুটিতে।”

রেলপথ সচিব সেলিম রেজা বলেন, “রেলে আমূল পরিবর্তন আসছে। চলমান ৪৩টি প্রকল্প সমাপ্ত হলে লাইন বৃদ্ধির সঙ্গে দুই শতাধিক ট্রেন বাড়ানো সম্ভব হবে। আমরা শুধু পণ্যবাহী ট্রেন পরিচালনার জন্য আলাদাভাবে লাইন নির্মাণের পরিকল্পনা নিয়েছি। ঢাকা-পায়রা বন্দর হয়ে কুয়াকাটা পর্যন্ত ২১৫ কিলোমিটার রেলপথ হবে রেলের জন্য সবচেয়ে লাভজনক পথ।”

রেলপথ মন্ত্রী মো. নূরুল ইসলাম সুজন বলেন, “আমরা বন্দরমুখী নতুন রেলপথ নির্মাণ করছি। প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা বিশেষভাবে রেলকে গুরুত্ব দিচ্ছেন। তার নির্দেশনায় প্রতিটি বন্দরেই রেলপথ সংযুক্ত হচ্ছে। খুলনা-মোংলা বন্দর পর্যন্ত রেলপথ নির্মাণ চলমান রয়েছে। নতুন করে ঢাকা-পায়রা বন্দর-কুয়াকাটা পর্যন্ত নতুন রেলপথ নির্মাণ প্রকল্প গ্রহণ করা হয়েছে। চট্টগ্রাম বন্দরের মতো পায়রা ও মোংলা বন্দরে রেল সংযুক্ত হলে রেলে আমূল পরিবর্তন আসবে।”

তিনি আরও বলেন, “রেলপথে এসব বন্দর থেকে শুধু ৩০% পণ্য বহন করতে পারলে রেলের পুরো আয়ের কয়েক গুণ বেশি আয় হবে। ট্রান্স এশিয়া রেলওয়ে পণ্য বহনে এ পথ হবে অন্যতম। কুয়াকাটায় পর্যটক রেলপথ বাড়লে নতুন সম্ভাবনার দুয়ার খুলবে দক্ষিণাঞ্চলের।”


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Omar Faruque

31 October, 2021, 11:15 pm

Last modified: 01 November, 2021, 11:21 am

Karnaphuli tunnel was designed but not for traffic flow at ends

The CMP also says the tunnel will not be able to handle the huge pressure of traffic from different roads at the Anwara end either



The Karnaphuli tunnel will not yield optimum benefits even if it is inaugurated on time because the current design of traffic management system is not on par with the traffic pressure at either end of the tunnel, say Chattogram police.

In the current design, five roads – Outer Ring Road, Kathgarh Road, Elevated Expressway, Airport Road, and Patenga Beach Road – come together at the entrance of the Patenga end of the tunnel. The Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) fears this will create a traffic bottleneck there.

The CMP also says the tunnel will not be able to handle the huge pressure of traffic from different roads at the Anwara end either.

Vehicles from different projects including the Korean EPZ, the Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone, Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company, Matarbari Deep Seaport in Cox's Bazar, Banshkhali and Matarbari power projects would pass through this end. Roads from different areas of South Chattogram including Parki Beach also meet here.

The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli will also see increased traffic of tourists as the government is considering the construction of a new tourist area and a marine drive road in Teknaf.

The CMP has detected the design flaw recently when 75% work on the project – slated for completion by December 2022 – has already been done and dusted.

The Bridges Division has formed a committee to redesign the traffic management system at both ends of the tunnel and it is expected to be completed by 2023.

Until then, vehicles will have to continue to move through the tunnel under the current flawed traffic management system and traffic police will have to manage vehicles manually, which will not be effective, the CMP says.

If traffic pressure increases, vehicles will have to wait inside the tunnel, the police say.

Moreover, thousands of tourists and vehicles flocking to Patenga beach on holidays will add extra pressure to the existing traffic at the Patenga end of the tunnel. Experts have expressed concerns that this would cause traffic congestion as well as accidents in that area.

To tackle the huge traffic pressure, the CMP has recommended a different traffic management system like those at Faridpur's Bhanga Expressway and Kuril flyover in Dhaka.

Move to redesign traffic management system

On 22 September this year, CMP Commissioner Saleh Mohammad Tanvir informed Bridge Secretary Abu Bakar Siddique about the errors in the traffic management of the tunnel.

Later, the bridges secretary formed an 11-member committee headed by the CMP commissioner to correct the errors.

The committee met on 28 September and formed two technical sub-committees. They also decided that the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) will design the Patenga end of the tunnel and the Bridges Division will redesign the Anwara end.

"Both the technical sub-committees have prepared their reports, which will be submitted at a meeting this Wednesday [3 November]. There would be recommendations to ensure a modern traffic management system at both ends of the tunnel," Saleh Mohammad Tanvir told The Business Standard.

Engineer Harunur Rashid, director of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel project, said, "The design will be formulated based on the recommendations of the two technical committees. Before that, the work of the tunnel should be completed."

Engineer Subhash Barua, transportation secretary at the Planned Chattogram Forum, said, "It is unfortunate that errors are identified in the middle of the construction work. If the problem is not solved quickly, the benefits of the tunnel cannot be achieved."

The China EPZ is constructing a crossroads 2km away from the toll plaza at the Anwara end of the tunnel. There is no service road for a large number of vehicles near the toll plaza. As a result, vehicles from Parki beach and Kafco Fertiliser Factory will run from the intersection of the China Economic and Industrial Zone crossroads. However, there is no plan to reduce traffic congestion at that intersection.

The Bangladesh Bridges Authority, China Communication Construction Company Limited and Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd jointly conducted a technical and economic study for the construction of the tunnel.

Later, during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to China in June 2014, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries on G2G (government-to-government) basis. An agreement was signed between the Bangladesh Bridge Authority and the China Construction Company on 30 June that year.

In November 2015, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the Construction of Multi-Lane Road Tunnel under the River Karnaphuli project. The project was scheduled to end in June 2020 and the estimated cost was Tk8,446.63 crore.

However, although it was approved in 2015, the construction of the project started in December 2017. By this time, the authorities also revised the expenditure to Tk10,374 crore, increasing it by Tk1,927 crore.

Of the total cost, the Bangladesh government is providing Tk4,461.23 crore and the Exim Bank of China is providing the remaining Tk5,913.19 crore as a loan with a 2% interest rate.

The length of the main tunnel is 3.32km. Each of the 2.45km tubes has a 10.80-metre diameter and will have two lanes. There will be 5.35km of connecting roads at the two ends of the tunnel. There will also be a 727-metre-long overbridge.

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Bangladesh offers huge investment opportunities to Saudi companies

Published:  October 31, 2021 16:36:42 | Updated:  October 31, 2021 20:08:21

Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will open up a lot of investment opportunities for both countries.

The MoU seeks to attract Saudi companies who wish to invest in Bangladesh’s large infrastructure projects, said Salman F. Rahman, private industry and investment adviser to the prime minister.

Salman F. Rahman expressed Bangladesh’s desire to boost trade and investment ties with Saudi Arabia while talking to the reporter on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative conference held in Riyadh, reports Arab News on Saturday.

 “Bangladesh wanted to sign the deal for quite some time but it got delayed due to the pandemic,” Rahman said.

 “In Bangladesh, we have the Public-Private Partnership Authority, which is a government agency that looks after public-private projects, mainly infrastructure projects.”

“Development projects in other sectors also come under the purview of the authority,” he said.

Rahman also said that his country has signed several memorandums of understanding with other countries to increase cooperation and investment in different sectors.

Last year, a Saudi delegation visited Dhaka to take part in a two-day Joint Economic Council meeting during which some of the Kingdom’s top companies expressed interest in investing around $30 billion in different economic sectors of Bangladesh.

Red Sea Gateway Terminal, a leading port developer of the Kingdom, expressed interest in developing Bangladesh’s main Chottogram port which deals with more than 80 per cent of the country’s trade.

 “The RSGT wants to invest in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) form. To bring any investment in this mode, we need to have an agreement between the two governments,” Rafikul Islam Khan, joint secretary of the Bangladeshi shipping ministry told Arab News.

“As soon as the Saudi government will sign the PPP agreement with Bangladesh, we will move forward with RSGT’s investment proposals,” he said.

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Trade and investment summit ends with $1.16b investment potential

Bangladesh to consider SEZ for the footwear industry, commerce secretary informs

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  November 01, 2021 19:03:07 | Updated:  November 01, 2021 19:05:59


Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh and DCCI President Rizwan Rahman (left) addressed a press conference the auditorium of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on Monday –DCCI Photo

Seven-day Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2021 has brought a promise of $1.16 billion investment from foreign companies for Bangladesh.

"We received a promise from the foreign participants in the summit that there will be investment, business or trade of $1.16 billion,” Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman said at a press conference on Monday.

The press conference was arranged at the DCCI auditorium to disseminate the outcome report of the seven-day “Bangladesh Trade and Investment Summit 2021”, jointly organised by the Ministry of Commerce and DCCI from October 26 to November 1.

“The summit and DCCI inspired the foreign participants to make the commitment for investment by ensuring that Bangladesh does have a sustainable environment for investment, he mentioned.

In the outcome report of the seven-day summit, the DCCI president informed that 552 local and foreign companies from 38 countries attended 369 business to business (B2B) sessions where the potential investment interest size was USD1.16 billion.

The DCCI president said 20 companies from 13 countries showed their interest to do joint ventures.

He said 26 products have been identified as potential for export from Bangladesh during the summit.

“There were few sectors like infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, baby bottle, umbrella, agro and food processing and IT from 5 countries that showed their interest for direct investment in Bangladesh,” he added.

Power, energy, renewable energy, dairy products, FMCG, RMG, leather, automobile and jute are some of the sectors that have foreign investment opportunities.

He also said that speakers at different sessions underscored the need for improving ease of doing business, policy reforms, technology adaptation, skill development, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, strong economic diplomacy and signing FTA or PTA with potential trading partners.

“Bangladesh has the ability to grab the huge opportunity from African, Asia and Pacific and Middle Eastern countries in terms of inward or outward investments,” he continued.

“The country needs to go for PTA or FTA with other major trading partners,” he suggested.

Rizwan Rahman stressed market resource mobilisation and tariff rationalisation, pointing out that the summit showcased Bangladesh’s large consumer market.

Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh was also present at the press conference. He informed that the government is considering setting up a special economic zone (SEZ) for further booming foreign and local investment in the country’s footwear industry and ensuring a sustainable business environment in the country.

The commerce secretary said that the government is also considering replication of the RMG model in other export-oriented sectors.

“But, there are some issues to be addressed before going for the implications,” he said.

He also echoed the others’ opinion of allowing the bond facilities to make other export-oriented industries competitive like the RMG sector.

Replying to questions from the journalists, the commerce secretary said that after LDC graduation, Bangladesh may need to sign FTA or PTA with potential trading partners like EU countries, UK, Canada, Japan, and Australia etc.

“But averaging duty structure on both sides is a critical thing before signing FTA. But the government of Bangladesh is working on this matter. For FTA, a drastic duty cut is not possible as it may hamper internal revenue generation and local manufacturers but it may be considered gradually,” he added.

He said the government is trying to bring all its major services for instance land registration, mutation, company registration in joint-stock companies under automation that will ease the process simplification in near future.

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TBS report

01 November, 2021, 08:45 pm

Last modified: 01 November, 2021, 10:32 pm

Foreign cos keen to invest $1.16bn in Bangladesh

Some 20 companies from 13 countries want to invest in different sectors through joint ventures, while investors from six countries showed their interest for direct investment in infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, baby bottle, umbrella, agro and food processing and IT sectors


Cash might be out of the question, but there are other ways to reward. Photographer: THOMAS COEX/AFP via Bloomberg


  • Six countries showed interest for direct investment in six sectors
  • 20 companies from 13 countries want to go for joint-venture investment
  • Bangladesh's 26 products have been identified for imports to 14 countries


Foreign investors who participated in the weeklong trade and investment summit have expressed their interest in investing $1.16 billion in Bangladesh, said Rizwan Rahman, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), on Monday.

A Chinese company alone wanted to invest $1 billion in the infrastructure sector, he told the media while highlighting the summit's outcome in the chamber's conference room.

Some 20 companies from 13 countries, such as Vietnam, China, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Pakistan and Iran, want to invest in different sectors through joint ventures, while investors from six countries showed their interest for direct investment in infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, baby bottle, umbrella, agro and food processing, and IT sectors, according to him.

Nigeria wants to invest in pharmaceuticals, Thailand in baby bottles, Sri Lanka in umbrellas, and India in agro and food processing, Rizwan said.

Besides, Bangladesh's 26 products have been identified as potential items for exports to 14 countries. The country also has opportunities to import from 13 countries.

The commerce ministry and the DCCI jointly organised the seven-day trade and investment summit that ended on Monday.

Some 369 business-to-business meetings were held with organisations from 38 countries that took part at the virtual event.

The sectors that have foreign investment opportunities are power, energy, dairy products, ICT, digital land management, air conditioner and LED light, port and terminal development, infrastructure, renewable energy, payment gateway, readymade garment, leather, solar energy, fast moving consumer goods, jewellery, telecommunication, jute and jute made carpets.

The DCCI president said the recommendations received from the weeklong summit will be sent to the government's divisions concerned.

Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh at the media briefing said one of the main objectives of the summit was to let foreign investors know about Bangladesh's ongoing economic recovery from pandemic shocks.

The potential of post-pandemic trade and investment in Bangladesh was highlighted at the event.

"After graduating to a developing country in 2026, we have to face a tough competition because of non-availability of duty-free export facilities," he said. 

There have been plenty of talks regarding free trade agreement (FTA) to counter post-LDC challenges, but the results are now virtually nil, he noted. 

Stating that signing FTAs might result in a probable loss of revenue, the commerce secretary said, "Our average tariff is much higher than those with whom we are in negotiations into signing FTAs." 

Bangladesh's average tariff is 14%-16%, while its competitor countries charge a 3%-6% tariff on average. 

"We need to reduce tariff rates, but we cannot do that indiscriminately for the sake of local industry," Tapan said.

There is a tendency of tax evasion in the country because of high tariff rates, he said adding, "We can reduce such fraud by offering all sectors bond facilities and making bond management online."

The commerce secretary suggested signing FTAs with the countries where Bangladesh is currently enjoying duty-free facilities on a priority basis during the LDC transition period to keep exports normal.

Senior officials from the commerce ministry and DCCI leaders also attended the press conference.

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Bangladesh seeks Russian investment in railway sector

Published:  November 01, 2021 18:03:26 | Updated:  November 01, 2021 20:42:52

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujon has sought Russian investment in Bangladesh’s railway sector.

The Minister said this when Russian Ambassador to Bangladesh Alexander Mantytskiy called on him at the Railway Bhaban in Dhaka on Monday.

“We are seeking foreign investment in the railway sector. Work on different projects is underway and more projects will be taken soon for the improvement of railway services under a master plan,” he said.

“We are procuring new coaches and engines. New rail tracks are being constructed while bridges are being constructed and renovated. Russian investors could invest in these sectors and establish a training institute jointly with Bangladesh,” said the minister.

When Alexander Mantytskiy invited the minister to visit his country Nurul Islam accepted the invitation saying that he will visit Russia at a suitable time next month to see their rail communication system, technology and coach and engine making factories.

Railways Secretary Selim Reza was, among others, present at the meeting.

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AIIB to give $260m loan for first arch steel bridge in Bangladesh

Published:  November 01, 2021 21:14:12


A bow-shaped steel structure bridge, similar to Australia's Sydney Harbor Bridge, will be built at Kewatkhali on the outskirts of Mymensingh.

Bangladesh will receive $260 million from the AIIB to implement the Kewatkhali bridge project, set to be the first arch steel bridge in Bangladesh, in Mymensingh.

The Economic Relations Division (ERD) signed a deal with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Monday in this regard.

Fatima Yasmin, secretary of ERD, and DJ Pandian, vice-president of Investment Operations (Region 1) of AIIB signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides, reports UNB.

Under the project, a 320-metre steel arch bridge, 780-metre approach bridge, 551-metre road overpass, 240-metre railway overpass, 6.20-km highway with four lanes, including slow-moving vehicular traffic (SMVT) lanes and one toll plaza, will be constructed, said a press release.

The loan will be received in AIIB’s standard terms and conditions. The repayment period of the loan is 33.5 years, including a five-year grace period. The payable front end fee is 0.25 per cent and the commitment fee is 0.25 per cent per annum for an undisbursed amount.

The Road Transport and Highways Division has taken the project as the capacity of the existing Shambhuganj Bridge over the Brahmaputra River in Mymensingh is inadequate against the huge pressure of vehicles, said the finance ministry.

The implementation of the project will reduce the additional traffic congestion on the existing bridge and facilitate road connectivity between several districts in the division and the land ports, EPZs, and economic zones of the region, the ministry added.

The Department of Roads and Highways will implement the project from July 2021 to June 2025.

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Dr Shamsul Hoque

02 November, 2021, 10:20 am

Last modified: 02 November, 2021, 10:35 am

The Karnaphuli tunnel fiasco and the fault in our plans

The under-construction Karnaphuli tunnel - 75% construction of which has been completed - apparently carries a major flaw. The potential for traffic bottlenecks, on both ends of the tunnel, had not been addressed in the plan. Now, the Bridges Division has formed a committee to redesign the traffic management system. The latest incident once again raises questions about the quality of the feasibility studies and general planning of our infrastructure projects. This is not the first example of mismanagement in mega projects. From 100+ design changes to the Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover and Gazipur-Airport Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, to Padma bridge railway land acquisition issues, the failure of planning, management, feasibility study and absence of accountability have meant wastage of large amounts of taxpayers’ money, amounting in thousands of crores. In a conversation with The Business Standard, BUET’s Civil Engineering department professor Dr Shamsul Hoque sheds light on the situation


Some parts of the Moghbazar-Mouchak flyover had been reconstructed (such as the road on the bottom left-hand side, pictured) because of its original faulty design compounded commuters' sufferings rather than easing it. Photo: Mumit M

When we take up development work, we take the route of simple development plans. We cannot walk on complex routes, because we do not have capable manpower. 

What we are facing now with the Karnaphuli tunnel should have definitely been identified in the feasibility study. 

Tunnels are bridge-like facilities that will go straight - for instance, the Cox's Bazar road and the Chittagong Basin, creates a triangle. However, there should be an interchange. It is not about increasing or decreasing traffic, rather, about an interchange being created. A common intersection does not enable communication broadband connection – and people who do not have this common sense are now spearheading the development projects.

The Padma Bridge is a good example of infrastructure development that has made travel to Dhaka from the southern districts smooth. However, at the entrance of Dhaka, whenever you enter Jatrabari, you get stuck in a traffic gridlock. This is a reflection of our 'partial' development, due to the absence of an integrated, holistic development plan of the entire route. 

This is an institutional weakness - that we do not learn before we encounter physical obstacles and stumble. It is a shame that we come to our senses only after someone literally points it out.  

For those who conduct the feasibility studies in our country, it has become a mere formality. A comprehensive, holistic idea of a development project should be presented in the feasibility study phase.  It is not just about this project, but all projects.  

For any road transport development project, whenever time is extended for whatever reasons, everyone in the development chain is equally responsible. Why? Because how come they did not ask why the feasibility study failed to predict the obstacles in the first place? It is the sole job of the feasibility study to estimate what happens in the decades to come. All the challenges and actions are supposed to be documented in the feasibility studies. 

The feasibility activities that happen here [in this country] are of very low standard, and accepting low standard work reflects our overall low standard in capacity. Why did the commission fail to realise that the report is not adequate? The planning commission is supposed to be full of efficient planners, just like any other country.

It is not just this tunnel project that the Bangladesh Bridge Authority has undertaken, the commission is responsible to coordinate with all other projects that are under progress. 

However, we do not have planners for coordinating the feasibility and multi-modal development at any level. As a result, our development projects are stumbling [case in point the Karnaphuli tunnel] and we cannot get expected returns. The synergy of a complete plan and the one that is amended [in an ad hoc approach] cannot be the same. 

Additionally, when someone learns upon stumbling onto a problem, it is called real learning. But we can see that we are not learning either. There are no planners in the planning commission and in the institutions. Positions in the planning sectors are often called "dumping" or "punishment" posts. 

Since our government has lofty dreams, we have to focus on research, planning and development like the rest of the world, so that our development projects end on an estimated time and budget. We need brilliant minds here so that they put forth brilliant plans and things do not go south. 

The question of accountability 

When it comes to extending project duration and cost, one after another, good governance becomes critical. The development projects are being carried out on people's money. If there is a flaw here, definitely, someone should be held accountable. 

In Bangladesh's context, we have little land but a large population. So, our development planning needs to be very futuristic. To be futuristic requires talent. 

The construction part does not take much talent. For example, when you build a home, you go to a good architect. If you go to a good architect, s/he will give you an excellent design. To translate the plan into action is not a tough job. However, if you go to three architects, they will come up with three different designs. 

What the whole world does is that they first identify their existing capacity and how to best utilise it, equipment needed for the job, before commencing a development project. If I want to get the best return for the least amount of investment, I need to find the top expert for my project. 

If I do not have these people in my country, I bring them from abroad. This is what Dubai is doing. They find the best planners in the world and bring them onboard for their construction projects; it is no big deal. And they have their own construction firms to materialise the project. 

But in our country, planning is the most neglected area. This is a critical lacking that is making us stumble hard and fast. 

When a feasibility study is submitted, no one realises what is lacking. And when the lacking is revealed, no one is held accountable, instead it becomes an incentive of sorts. Because the contractor finds it doubly rewarding, the consultant finds his job extended for more years and the project director would also find an excellent idea to get rewarding outcomes from the mistake.  

But in all these, the element of good governance required to execute the real 'excellence' at the taxpayers' money is missing from the picture.  

As a result, after all the development work, the government cannot get rid of such blame because there are no planners and knowledgeable people at any chain of development. Instead the focus remains only on construction oriented activities. 

If there was focus on planning, things would have been different. 


Dr Shamsul Hoque

The author is a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet)

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Design fault in Dhaka-N'ganj dual-gauge project costs Bangladesh Railway Tk 2.54b

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  November 02, 2021 09:22:49 | Updated:  November 02, 2021 16:38:19


The Bangladesh Railway (BR) is going to bear an extra cost of Tk 2.54 billion and take an additional three-year time to complete the Dhaka-Narayanganj dual-gauge project due to faulty design and feasibility study.

The state-owned rail developer has already revised the development project proposal (DPP) estimating the cost at Tk 6.32 billion, which was Tk 3.78 billion in the original DPP.

In the revised design, the actual length of the new dual-gauge double-line has been cut from the previously planned 16-kilometre track between Dhaka and Narayanganj, sources said.

Now, the double-line rail track will be constructed from Dhaka's Jurain to Narayanganj's Chashara - in the original DPP, it was planned to construct the track up to Narayanganj Station considering the line's high demand in view of passenger and freight movement.

Instead, the revised design has proposed that the existing single-line metre-gauge track from Chashara to Narayanganj Station will be upgraded to single-line dual-gauge, sources said.

The BR planned to develop a 16-kilometre dual-gauge track parallel to the existing single-line metre-gauge track from Dhaka to Narayanganj based on its internal feasibility study conducted in 2014.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the Tk 3.78-billion project on January 20, 2015 which was supposed to be completed in 2018.

Power China was selected as the contractor of the project.

But the project office identified a problem after completing 15-km land-development works up to Chashara last year.

Official record showed that the feasibility study was very preliminary - and based on it, the DPP was prepared.

The problem in the study was identified when the land record of BR's ownership was found different from the study finding.

Due to failure to take control over the land, the BR took the initiative to revise the DPP with a new design.

The revised DPP has been made ready to be sent to the Planning Commission for approval.

Though BR initially planned to acquire 0.51 acres of land, it could not do it due to development of a road along the existing single-line rail track.

It is found that Narayanganj City Corporation owned the land as per cadastral survey (CS) recorded in 1910. The project office said the BR's study mentioned the land based on its acquisition in 1883.

The proposal to change the design was placed in a meeting with the Ministry of Railways. But the ministry refused the idea of acquiring land as it might take the project cost up to Tk 7.78 billion, up by 106 per cent from the main DPP.

However, the land-related problem forced the project office to revise the time of 16-km track development work for the third time.

Now, the revised DPP has proposed completion of the project by 2024 instead of 2021.

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Exclusive economic zone for foreign investors

 WASI AHMED | Published:  November 02, 2021 22:36:09


Against the backdrop of stagnating investment scenario in the country, the government has no choice but to explore all potential avenues to attract investment-that too on a large-scale --- both domestic and foreign. It is clear that the export processing zones (EPZs) which came with a bang decades ago are not the best possible investment augmenting avenues. The focus being on export with easy operational practices, the premise was not particularly beneficial for others except local and foreign firms. In order to make some headway, the government then embarked on having special economic zones (SEZs). SEZs were meant to precisely facilitate investment and generate employment while providing safe and secure atmosphere for investors from home and abroad.

The emphasis on special economic zones, a similar but wider concept not necessarily confined to manufacturing for exports (as in the case of EPZs), has received attention in many countries. In our region, India is a pioneer in setting up special economic zones (SEZs) with adequate facilities and has been deriving gainfully from the successes of the zones in export growth, increased sourcing of local materials and a boost in job creation. SEZs in India initially functioned under the provisions of the country's foreign trade policy, and fiscal incentives were made effective through the provisions of relevant statutes.  The idea of making SEZs an engine of economic growth is integrally linked to quality infrastructure complemented by an attractive fiscal package, with the minimum possible regulations. One key requirement is the operational rules which, among others are to envisage:

 Simplified procedures for development, operation, and maintenance of the zones and for setting up units and conducting business

Single window clearance for setting up a unit in a SEZ

Simplified compliance procedures and documentation with emphasis, as far as practicable, on self certification

Understandably, these are all about facilitations required to attract investment so that investing firms can operate in a congenial atmosphere, and more importantly, find the destination of their investment more suitable than in other countries. In other words, while investors, particularly foreign investors, are in the look out for better facilities, countries like Bangladesh are keen to provide more and more facilities in terms of infrastructure, financial, fiscal and scores of operational mechanisms. It is in this context that country-specific economic zones are the latest addition.

Evidently, significant positive impacts of large-scale FDI, particularly in manufacturing, include transfer of technology, and development of backward linkage industries, besides employment generation, are registered.

A couple of weeks back we came to know that an economic zone named Japanese Economic Zone is set go into operation by the next year. The 1,000-acre economic zone to be exclusively used by Japanese firms is being developed in Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj, which is Bangladesh's first ever economic zone under the government-to-government initiative. This indeed is a remarkable move to attract investment from a booming industrial economy like Japan. Given the massive development projects undertaken in the country by Japan, it is expected that both government would find it a good opportunity to work together in the years to come. Some of the major development projects under Japanese cooperation include the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt initiative, the Mass Rapid Transit project (Metro rail), expansion of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, and Moheshkhali-Matarbari Integrated Infrastructure Development Initiative (MIDI).

The government, reportedly, has assured that potential investors from Japan will be given full cooperation in a bid to boost Japanese investments. In a virtual meeting last week, Japanese envoy to Bangladesh also expressed his optimism about the good prospect of the economic zone. He also referred to the prospect of relocating some vital manufacturing units to this zone, if things move in the desired direction. He said the automotive industry of Bangladesh could be a good source of investment. Japan's Mitsubishi has completed their feasibility study and they will take decision on investment in Bangladesh next year. In this context, it may be recalled that the government has finalised drafting the automotive policy with an eye to attract foreign investment. In the virtual meeting, the chief of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) informed that currently over 300 Japanese companies operate in Bangladesh. In a 2019 survey, it was found that 70.3 per cent of Japanese companies are willing to expand their operations in Bangladesh, not only in trading but also in manufacturing.

The Bangladesh Bank has recently taken up a move that, many believe, would facilitate business transactions between local and foreign business counterparts. The central bank announced that all banks and non-banking institutions can now extend financial support to foreign companies against their overseas guarantees. Likewise, the bill-of-entry process was also simplified through automation. This and other facilitating initiatives are most likely to add more comfort for foreign firms willing to invest in the country.


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বাড়ছে বঙ্গবন্ধু সেতু ও মুক্তারপুর সেতুর টোল

 ট্রিবিউন ডেস্ক

 প্রকাশিত ১০:০৯ রাত নভেম্বর ২, ২০২১


বঙ্গবন্ধু সেতু। ফাইল ছবি

শিগগিরই নতুন টোলের হার কার্যকর করা হবে

বঙ্গবন্ধু সেতু ও মুন্সিগঞ্জের মুক্তারপুর সেতুর টোলের হার ২০% থেকে ৩০% পর্যন্ত বাড়ানোর সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে সরকার।

মঙ্গলবার (২ অক্টোবর) সেতু বিভাগের জারি করা এক প্রজ্ঞাপনে শিগগিরই নতুন টোলের হার কার্যকর করার কথা জানানো হয়েছে।

এর মধ্যে যাত্রীবাহী বড় বাস ও মালবাহী যানবাহনের টোলের হারই বেশি বাড়ানো হয়েছে। তবে, পরিবহন মালিক-শ্রমিকরা জানান, টোল বাড়ালে সেতু ব্যবহারকারী যানবাহনের ভাড়াও বাড়বে।

জানা গেছে, বাংলাদেশ সড়ক পরিবহন কর্তৃপক্ষ (বিআরটিএ) বাসভাড়া নির্ধারণের ক্ষেত্রে টোলের ব্যয় আলাদা যোগ করতে বলে। আবার পণ্য পরিবহনেরও কোনো সরকার নির্ধারিত ভাড়া না থাকায়, দর-কষাকষি করে ভাড়া ঠিক করতে হয় যানবাহন শ্রমিক ও মালিকদের।

দেশের উত্তরাঞ্চলকে রাজধানী ও সারা দেশের সঙ্গে যুক্ত করা বঙ্গবন্ধু সেতুর টোলের হার ২০১২ সালে সর্বশেষ বাড়ানো হয়েছিল।

অন্যদিকে, ২০০৮ সালে চালু করার পর থেকে এই প্রথম মুক্তারপুর সেতুর টোলের হার বাড়ানো হচ্ছে।

টোলের নতুন হার অনুযায়ী বঙ্গবন্ধু সেতুতে, মোটরসাইকেলের জন্য ৪০ টাকার বদলে ৫০ টাকা, কার ও জিপের জন্য ৫০০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ৫৫০ টাকা, ছোট বাসের জন্য ৬৫০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ৭৫০ টাকা, বড় বাসের জন্য ৯০০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ১০০০ টাকা, ছোট ট্রাকের জন্য ৮৫০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ১০০০ টাকা, মাঝারি ট্রাকের (৫ থেকে ৮ টন ওজনের) জন্য ১ হাজার ১০০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ১ হাজার ২৫০ টাকা, বড় ট্রাকের (৮ থেকে ১১ টন ওজনের) জন্য ১ হাজার ৪০০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ১ হাজার ৬০০ টাকা। এবং চেয়েও বড় ট্রাক ও টেইলরের জন্য ২ হাজার থেকে ৩ হাজার টাকা টোল নির্ধারণ করা হয়েছে।

অন্যদিকে, মুক্তারপুর সেতুর নতুন নির্ধারিত টোল অনুযায়ী কার ও টেম্পোর টোল ৪০ টাকার পরিবর্তে ৫০ টাকা, ছোট বাসের টোল ১৫০ টাকা ও বড় বাসের টোল ২৫০ টাকা এবং ট্রাক ও ট্রেইলরের ৬০০ থেকে ১০০০ টাকা করা হয়েছে।

এ বিষয়ে সেতু কর্তৃপক্ষের প্রধান প্রকৌশলী কাজী মো. ফেরদৌস বলেছেন, শিগগিরই নতুন টোলের হার কার্যকর করা হবে।

এছাড়া, টোল আদায়ের জন্য সফটওয়্যারও হালনাগাদ করা হবে তিনি জানান।

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Saudi company seeks to invest in Patenga terminal

 SYFUL ISLAM | Published:  November 13, 2021 09:47:32


Saudi Arabian port developer Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT) has intensified efforts to mark its footprint in Bangladesh's port sector by investing in under-construction Patenga Container Terminal (PCT) in Chattogram.

A delegation, led by RSGT global investment director Gagan Seksaria, sat with shipping ministry officials in Dhaka on Thursday where they enquired about the investment procedure in Bangladesh.

According to the officials concerned, the delegates expressed their eagerness to invest in PCT operation alongside other ports and terminals that require funds.

A shipping official, who attended the meeting, said the RSGT delegation had also visited the planned Bay Terminal area in Chittagong to check the possibility of making investment there too.

However, the delegation did not place any investment proposal for the terminal, he told the FE on Friday.

The RSGT team was accompanied by officials of the local company SHR Group, a multi-modal transportation conglomerate in Bangladesh.

However, no SHR official could be reached for comment on the outcome of the meeting.

In September, Prime minister's private-sector adviser Salman F Rahman had a meeting with Saudi transport minister Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser who also spoke about RSGT's interest in Patenga terminal.

Mr Rahman told him that a government-to-government deal could pave the way for Saudi investment in Bangladesh's various sectors, including in ports.

Back in Dhaka, the adviser told the media that a deal between the two nations was expected soon.

The PCT, being built on 32 acres of land by Bangladesh Army, is expected to start operation early next year.

The construction of the 600-metre terminal costs the state exchequer Tk 20.75 billion. The facility will have an annual capacity to handle 450,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers.

It will be able to accommodate three vessels, up to 10.5-metre-water draft, 190-metre length and a 220-metre-long oil tanker at a time.

Vessels up to the size of 4,500 TEUs will be able to take berth in the terminal.

Up till now, the government has not opened its port sector to any foreign company for either construction or operation.

Officials, however, say the government plans to operate a portion of the PCT by a foreign firm to ensure competitiveness among local and foreign operators, and high-quality service as well.

If awarded a contract, they add, the RSGT will bring modern equipment and operate the terminal for a period before its handover to the Chittagong Port Authority.

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