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ADB irked by slow progress in project execution in Bangladesh

 FHM HUMAYAN KABIR | Published:  November 13, 2021 09:46:20 | Updated:  November 13, 2021 09:48:50


The Asian Development Bank is going to be tougher on funding Bangladesh's development recipe as the financier reviews a slew of slow-moving projects this month, officials said Friday.

Just one-and-a-half-month ago, the Manila-based lender also scrutinised those projects and took a critical view of their weak implementation trajectory, they added.

The ADB will sit with government's project-executing agencies for a review of the implementation progress of the already-approved projects, some of which are moving slow even after confirmation of the funds, they said.

The Economic Relations Division (ERD), the ADB and the directors of the ADB-funded projects are expected to sit for a two-day tripartite review meeting (TPRM) on November 24-25 in Dhaka.

"We will sit with the ADB and the project directors to review the projects," an additional secretary at the ERD told the FE.

He said they would basically make a stocktaking of the slow-moving projects in a bid to remove the bottlenecks and expedite their execution.

The TPRM will review some 60-70 ADB-funded projects in a bunch, the ERD official said.

The lender is financing some 52 projects in Bangladesh with some US$12.03 billion worth of funds so far confirmed.

According to the ERD, more than 40 projects are on a slow lane with poor progress as their weak performance from approval process to implementation stage crippled the execution works.

"The ADB in the last review meeting had cautioned the weak project-implementing agencies. If they failed to streamline the execution, the Bank would be forced to withdraw the funds," he said.

The slow-moving projects include the Tk42.68 billion Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) from Dhaka Airport to Gazipur, Tk 36.02-billion-cost Railway Rolling Stock Operations Improvement project, SASEC Road Connectivity project, SASEC Gazipur to Rangpur 4-lane road project, and SASEC Chittagong-Cox's Bazar railway project.

Besides, though undertaken back in 2014, the implementing agencies have failed to execute the Dhaka environmentally sustainable water- supply project, SASEC rail connectivity: Akhaura-Laksam double-track project, Urban governance and infrastructure improvement (sector) project-3, Flood and riverbank erosion risk management investment programme-1, Irrigation management improvement project, and Flood and riverbank erosion risk management investment programme.

ERD officials said it is needed to build stronger project pipeline and ensure higher project readiness and improved implementation discipline for better portfolio performance to boost the ongoing socioeconomic recovery process in the country.

"We are emphasising faster and compliant procurement of goods and services to increase contract award and fund disbursement, complimenting government initiatives for creating jobs and increasing public investment," said the ERD official about their resolve to be conveyed to the development financier.

In the previous review in March 2021, the TPRM had also asked the implementing agencies to speed up approval for the pipeline projects for the fiscal year 2021-2022, and agreed on utilization of the project money expeditiously for the slow-moving projects.

The Asian bank is facilitating Bangladesh's six sectors - energy, transport, water and urban/municipal infrastructure and services, education, finance, and agriculture, natural resources and rural development for development with its financial support.

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TBS Report

20 November, 2021, 02:40 pm

Last modified: 20 November, 2021, 03:43 pm

Rajuk for Dhaka circular waterway transportation to establish ‘Blue Network’



Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) has decided to introduce circular waterway transportation to establish "Blue Network" around Dhaka.

Of the total 1,327km waterway, surrounding and going through the capital, some 574km will be divided into three parts to ease pressure on the mainland.

Existing bridges on the circular waterway are to be renovated and rebuilt so that 25-foot high water vessels can move beneath them. 

Authorities are also planning to transform the launch terminals in Sadarghat and Narayanganj into "Multimodal Terminals" aiming to facilitate a smooth transfer of passengers from one transport mode to another.

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Jahir Rayhan

21 November, 2021, 03:30 pm

Last modified: 21 November, 2021, 05:31 pm

South Korean investors ahead of others in EPZs

In FY21, companies operating in the EPZs exported goods worth $6.64 billion, which was 17.14% of the country’s total export income that year



South Korea currently has the highest number of investors – 71, who have put their money in export processing zones (EPZs) in Bangladesh. 

Besides, 56 investors from China, 28 from Hong Kong, 31 from Japan, 25 from Taiwan, and 20 investors from India have invested in the EPZs, which are contributing hugely to the country's export earnings, foreign investment and employment.

A favourable investment atmosphere is drawing more foreign companies to EPZs. Kido Industrial Company, a renowned apparel manufacturer based in South Korea, is one of them. 

The company has announced to invest $36.17 million in the Adamjee EPZ to establish a new company and renovate an existing firm that it recently acquired.

The company will make high-value products including motorcycle safety jackets, leather jackets, and fibre jackets. 

There are many skilled workers in this sector in Bangladesh, said Joseph Ahn, director of Kido Dhaka Co Ltd.

Bangladeshi national Md Zahirul Islam, general manager (operations) of the company, told The Business Standard that the establishments of EPZs have created opportunities for local people to work with foreign companies.

"I have about 12 years of working experience in EPZs. I can apply my experience in Kido Dhaka Company Limited," he said.

Apart from local entrepreneurs, investors from 38 countries – including China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Sri Lanka, Canada, Malaysia, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Pakistan, Denmark, and France – currently have an investment in the EPZs here.

Economists attribute this success of EPZs to the availability of cheap labour and timely decisions of the government.

Besides, a good working environment has made the EPZs an attractive place to invest in – for both domestic and foreign investors.

Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told TBS that EPZs are playing an important role in Bangladesh compared to other countries.

"It is shown as a model. Dhaka and Chittagong EPZs have received many large investments. As foreign investors come up with new ideas and technologies, our entrepreneurs can learn from them. They can reform them [ideas and technologies] later.

"Local people are working in foreign industrial factories where they are coming to know about different technologies. As a result, technology is being transferred."

Mentioning that land in EPZs is in high demand among investors because of a good working environment, Moazzem said new EPZs should be developed quickly.

Bepza General Manager (public relations) Nazma Binte Alamgir told TBS that no plot is vacant in Chittagong EPZ, Dhaka EPZ, Cumilla EPZ, Karnaphuli EPZ, and Adamjee EPZ.

There are one or two plots vacant in the other EPZs, she mentioned, adding but those too were allotted.

The Bepza executive further said as both local and foreign investors are showing interest in investing in the EPZs, the government will establish three new EPZs Patuakhali, Jashore and Gaibandha.

Besides, the Bepza Economic Zone is being set up on a 1,150-acre land in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City, she added. Already, 78 companies have applied for more than 250 plots in the EPZ and initially 119 plots have been allotted.

There will be 539 plots in Bepza EZ, she said, adding once the economic zone is fully operational, it will create about 5 lakh jobs.

Mentioning that about 4,60,000 workers are employed in the eight EPZs, Nazma said Bepza has set a unique example in the case of female employment as 67% of the total employees are women.

Healthcare centres, transport and day-care facilities are among the services available for EPZ workers, she listed. 

Quality products of many global brands are being made in the EPZs, which are in high demand in the international market.

Of the 10 Lead Platinum Certified Factories in the world, seven are in Bangladesh and five of them are in EPZs, she added.

EPZs account 20% of export

According to official data, about 20% of Bangladesh's total export income now comes from the eight EPZs where 457 industrial units are currently in production.

Data provided by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) show that in the 2020-21 fiscal year, the eight EPZs exported goods worth $6.64 billion, which was 17.14% of the country's total export income that year.

In the first four months (July-October) of the current fiscal, export income from the EPZs stood at $2.58 billion. 

The total investment made in the EPZs currently stands at $5.71 billion, creating 4,54,708 jobs.

In FY21, the EPZs got $337.76 million in new investment and job opportunities were created for 47,131 people.

Diversified products are being made in these EPZ – built for 100% export-oriented investment – for world-renowned brands.

Encouraged by a huge response from investors, the government has planned to establish three new EPZs.

Besides, work is underway to establish the Bepza Economic Zone at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City in Mirsharai, Chattogram.

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Jahir Rayhan

22 November, 2021, 12:45 pm

Last modified: 22 November, 2021, 07:39 pm

Eyeing $1bn investment, Japanese economic zone revs up for 2022 opening



The Japanese Economic Zone in Araihazar upazila of Narayanganj will go into production in late 2022, with the potential of a $1 billion Japanese investment and creation of one lakh jobs, the authorities have said.

Japanese factories in the economic zone, which is now being built under a government-to-government (G2G) basis, will be manufacturing cars, motorcycles, mobile phones, electronic equipment and motor parts, according to the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza).

The Tk2,582-crore economic zone sprawls on 1,000 acres of land in Japaneseupazila, 32 kilometres away from Dhaka.

Beza Executive Chairman Yusuf Harun told The Business Standard that the government has already provided the authority with 620 acres of land as the remaining 380 acres are under acquisition process.

With the "China plus one strategy", Japanese manufacturers have already been seeking competitive labour costs and supply-chain diversification by moving some production units out of China for years as wages rose and infrastructure in countries like Vietnam and Bangladesh improved.

According to the Japanese embassy in Dhaka, the number of Japanese companies operating in Bangladesh has tripled to about 300 over the last one decade.

Naoki Ito, the Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, recently said in Dhaka that the island nation's plan is to have 100 companies in the economic zone with $1 billion investment.

Beza Executive Chairman Yusuf Harun said Bangladesh has a 30% share while Japan holds the remaining 70% share of the economic zone.

Japan has appointed Sumitomo Corporation as the land developer of the zone as the land development is approaching fast, said the executive chairman, adding they have handed over some 160 acres of land to the corporation recently.

"We were told by Japanese authorities that some 22 Japanese companies have been listed for setting up factories on that land," he added.

Beza will hand over another 160 acres to Sumitomo within the next three-four months. Then, the corporation will start constructing the internal road network.

According to Beza sources, the economic zone has drawn the attention of a number of renowned Japanese companies such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo and Sujit Limited.

The Timeline

Initial talks about the Japanese economic zone began in 2013, while it was finalised during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's official tour to Japan in 2014.

Land acquisition for the economic zone, however, took a couple of years. Besides, a terror attack on foreigners in a Dhaka café in 2016 also delayed the economic zone.

In 2019, Beza and Sumitomo Corporation signed a deal for the economic zone. Sumitomo is responsible for land development and maintenance while Beza is to allocate the plots.

Then came the Covid-19 outbreak last year, delaying construction of the zone further.

The Bangladesh government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) are jointly funding the project.

Araihazar 'a test case'

If the Japanese economic zone in Araihazar yields the desired outputs, Japanese investors would take a second economic zone in Chattogram's Mirsarai and third one in Cox's Bazar's Moheshkhali, according to the Japanese ambassador in Dhaka.

At a programme last month in Dhaka, Ambassador Naoki Ito said, "Once Japanese becomes a success story, another economic zone will be developed by Japan, maybe in Mirsarai, and if that venture becomes successful, then there will be another – in Moheshkhali".

Data obtained from the Japanese embassy in Dhaka say the cumulative direct investment from Japan in Bangladesh amounted to $390.18 million until September 2020.

Furthermore, as of April 2021, some 321 Japanese companies were operating in the country. The number quadrupled from 83 in 2010.

The amount of investment in FY20, even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, was $60 million – about three times higher compared to FY10.

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TBS Report

22 November, 2021, 09:35 pm

Last modified: 22 November, 2021, 09:37 pm

$2.67bn deals with Jica to finance MRT-1, Matarbari power plant


The government has inked final agreements amounting to $2.67 billion with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) to finance the country's first underground metro rail (MRT Line-1), Matarbari coal-fired plant and also to provide Covid emergency budget support to tackle Covid-19.

Fatima Yasmin, secretary to the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Yuho Hayakawa, chief representative at Jica Bangladesh Office, signed the deals on behalf of respective sides at the National Economic Council auditorium in the capital on Monday.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Ito Naoki, representatives from the ERD, Jica, the Embassy of Japan and project implementing agencies were also present at the event.

ERD officials said $1.10 billion loans from Jica would come as the second tranche for the Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project (Line 1) and about $1.20 billion as the 6th portion to implement Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project.

A total of $2.3 billion loan will be disbursed as the first tranche of the 42nd ODA Yen Loan Package from Jica, while another $365 million will come as the second of the Covid-19 crisis response emergency support loan.

In 2020, Japan provided $320 million as budget support for countercyclical expenditure plan to combat Covid-19 impacts in Bangladesh.

For the two development projects under the 42nd ODA Loan Package, the rate of interest is determined at 0.60% for construction, and 0.01% for consultancy service. Another 0.2% front end fee is also to be charged at a time.

The government will have to repay the loan within 30 years, including a grace period of 10 years.

AHM Mustafa Kamal at the event said, "At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we approached Japan for budget support and we received a very quick positive response."

Japan provided the first-ever budget support to Bangladesh last year and in line with that, the deal for the second tranche was signed.

Matarbari power project

The project is being implemented to meet growing electricity demand and to improve stable power supply by installing 1200MW Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Plant at Matarbari of Maheshkhali upazila in Cox's Bazar.

Work for constructing the power transmission line, access road, township development, and a channel for the Matarbari port is also going on under this project.

The total cost of the project is over Tk35,984 crore, while Jica will provide Tk28,939 crore. The physical progress of the project is 49% and the financial progress is 51%.

Jica has already provided $2.63 billion for the project in the first five tranches.

Underground metro rail

The 31.241km long MRT Line-1 will offer an underground metro rail from Dhaka airport to Kamalapur with an elevated connecting line from Notun Bazar to Pitalganj of Purbachal.

The detailed study, survey and basic design have been completed for both the routes. Now the detailed design is being worked on.

The total estimated cost of the project is Tk52,561 crore, and Jica will provide TK39,450 crore.

Jica has provided $49.06 million for engineering services and $461.16 million for construction of the first tranche earlier.

Covid crisis response emergency support loan

The objectives of the programme are to realise a resilient health system through concessional financing by supporting the smooth implementation of the policies to strengthen Covid-19 response capacity in the health sector, enhance economic and physical access to health services towards the achievement of universal health coverage and improve health finance thereby contributing to promoting the economic stabilisation and development efforts of the country.

Bangladesh is going to get such budget support of $365 million with an interest rate of 0.55% and front end fee of 0.2%.

The Finance Division is executing budget support and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will implement policy actions under the loan.

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পদ্মা সেতু ২০২২ সালের মাঝামাঝি খুলবে, আশাবাদ মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিবের

Published:  November 22, 2021 17:40:27 | Updated:  November 23, 2021 11:50:36

দক্ষিণ জনপদের মানুষের স্বপ্নের পদ্মা সেতু ২০২২ সালের জুন মাস বা তার কাছাকাছি সময়ে খুলে দেওয়া সম্ভব হবে বলে আশাবাদ জানিয়েছেন মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব খন্দকার আনোয়ারুল ইসলাম। খবর বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকম-এর।

সোমবার মন্ত্রিপরিষদের বৈঠক শেষে সচিবালয়ে ব্রিফিংয়ে তিনি বলেন, “পদ্মাসেতুর ৮৭ শতাংশ অগ্রগতি হয়েছে। আশা করছি, ৩০ শে জুন বা তার আশেপাশে সময়ে ইনশাআল্লাহ যান চলাচলের জন্য খুলে দেওয়া হবে।”

১৯৯৮ সালে আওয়ামী লীগ নেতৃত্বাধীন সরকার ক্ষমতায় থাকার সময়ই পদ্মা সেতু নির্মাণের উদ্যোগ নেয়। কিন্তু তা শুরু হতে দীর্ঘ সময় লেগে যায়।

২০০৯ সালে আওয়ামী লীগ সরকার ক্ষমতায় ফিরে পুনরায় পদ্মা সেতু নির্মাণের উদ্যোগ নেয়। প্রকল্পে প্রায় ১০ হাজার কোটি টাকার ঋণ সহায়তার প্রস্তাব নিয়ে আসে বিশ্ব ব্যাংক।

 কিন্তু বনিবনা না হওয়ায় পদ্মা সেতু প্রকল্পের বাস্তবায়ন বিলম্বিত হতে থাকে। ২০১০ সালের জুলাইয়ে সেতু নির্মাণের জন্য প্রাক-যোগ্যতা দরপত্র মূল্যায়ন করে পাঁচ দরদাতাকে বাছাই করে তা বিশ্ব ব্যাংকের অনাপত্তির জন্য পাঠানো হলেও সংস্থাটি তা ঝুলিয়ে রাখে।

এরপর পদ্মা সেতুতে ‘সম্ভাব্য দুর্নীতির’ অভিযোগ আনে বিশ্ব ব্যাংক। দীর্ঘ টানাপোড়েন শেষে বাংলাদেশ বিশ্ব ব্যাংককে ‘না’ বলে দেয়।

শেষ পর্যন্ত নকশা অপরিবর্তিত রেখে নিজস্ব অর্থায়নেই পদ্মা সেতু নির্মাণের ঘোষণা দেন প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা। ২০১৪ সালের ডিসেম্বরে শুরু হয় সেই বিপুল কর্মযজ্ঞ।

গত ১০ নভেম্বর পদ্মা সেতুর একেবারে শেষ পর্যায়ের কাজ মূল সেতুর সড়ক পথের পিচ ঢালাই শুরু হয়। একশ মিলিমিটার পুরুত্বের পিচ ঢালাই [কার্পেটিং] হবে দুই স্তরের। প্রথম স্তর হবে ৬০ মিলিমিটার এবং দ্বিতীয় স্তর হবে ৪০ মিলিমিটারের।

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Turkey eyes $3 billion trade with Bangladesh

 Tribune Report

 Published at 07:39 pm November 25th, 2021

The ambassador added that his country expressed its interest to invest in Bangladesh’s shipbuilding industry

Turkey is working on increasing the trade volume with Bangladesh to the tune of $3 billion in the next few years, now that it has crossed the $1 billion-mark.

Turkish Ambassador in Dhaka Mustafa Osman Turan said this while speaking with diplomatic correspondents at the new Turkish embassy in the capital on Wednesday.

Trade potential between the two countries needs to be tapped to increase the trade volume to $3 billion, said the Turkish envoy.

The Turkish diplomat said Ankara’s “deep rooted” ties with Dhaka remained cemented while some political developments over the past few years strengthened it further; opening scope for enhanced economic cooperation as well.

Turkey and Bangladesh enjoy a long-standing deep-rooted relationship, and nothing can change this, he also said.

Laying emphasis on the people-to people contact, the envoy said high-level political visits of the heads of two governments can help take the relations between Dhaka and Ankara to newer heights.

He said the defense cooperation between Dhaka and Ankara had been increasing for the last couple of years in view of Turkey’s near self-sufficiency in defense manufacturing.

Turan said Turkey would like to be a “solution maker” for the Bangladeshi armed forces.

The ambassador added that his country expressed its interest to invest in Bangladesh’s shipbuilding industry as well as enhance cooperation in the pharmaceuticals and ICT sectors.

Both the countries in recent periods purchased lands in the two capitals for setting up their embassies.

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Saifuddin Saif

26 November, 2021, 10:40 pm

Last modified: 26 November, 2021, 10:44 pm

8 expressways by 2041 – to boost regional connectivity

Experts say the proposed expressways will be the backbone of the country’s economy in the future



The government is formulating a mega plan to construct eight expressways connecting the country's seaports and a few land ports to develop strong connectivity with neighbouring countries.

The Roads and Highways Department, which is preparing the plan, says five expressways would be constructed to connect the southern and northern regions of the country while three others will connect the eastern and western regions.

The total length of the proposed four-lane expressways to be constructed on new routes instead of the existing ones will be 2,352 kilometres, officials say, adding only long-distance passenger and freight vehicles will be allowed to use the expressways paying tolls.

Dhaka has been left out of the proposed expressways.

The construction cost of the Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway, the only expressway so far built in Bangladesh, was Tk200 crore per kilometre. From this count, the total cost of constructing the proposed 2,352 kilometres of expressways will be Tk4,70,400 crore at the current market price. The cost is likely to increase manifold in the future as prices of construction materials and land will most likely increase.

As a result, financing the construction of this huge network of expressways is likely to be a major challenge, feel people concerned.

Even though some experts are doubtful whether all the proposed expressways will bring about economic benefits to the country, those involved in formulating the master plan say these throughways will be the mainstay of Bangladesh's economy in the future.

Mentioning that many countries and regions in the world, including Dubai, are now reaping the benefit of well-planned-out road infrastructure projects implemented earlier, they say  the foundation of Bangladesh's economic backbone – the proposed expressways – needs to be laid now taking lessons from other parts of the world.

As the expressways would allow long-distance vehicles to reach their destinations bypassing Dhaka's traffic congestion, it would reduce traffic pressure on the capital as well, they further observe.

The first expressway to connect the northern and southern regions would be constructed from Sylhet's Tamabil land port to Cox's Bazar's Gundum. It will also connect Chattogram and Matarbari seaports.

Another expressway from Mymensingh's Gobrakura land port will be divided in two parts in Kotalipara, Gopalganj – one will go to Mongla port and another to Payra port. The construction of the second Padma Bridge has been proposed at Manikganj-Rajbari point for this expressway.

The expressway from Bhomra land port in Satkhira will split into two parts at Jaldhaka in Nilphamari – one towards Panchagarh's Banglabandha land port and the other towards Burimari land port in Lalmonirhat.

Meanwhile, in the East and West, an expressway has been proposed from Benapole land port to Cumilla's Laksam that will be connected to the Tamabil-Gundum expressway including a bridge over the River Meghna at Chandpur-Shariatpur point. Another expressway is supposed to connect the Tamabil-Gundum expressway in Brahmanbaria with Chapainawabganj's Sona Masjid land port. One more expressway has been proposed from Tamabil to Joypurhat including a bridge over the River Brahmaputra.

Officials at the Roads and Highways Department said regional connectivity is common in Europe and a few other regions while Asia is still far behind in this regard.

Nevertheless, some Asian countries including those in South Asia have, of late, emphasised building roads and highways eyeing future regional connectivity. Bangladesh also is planning the expressways to keep pace with other Asian countries, they said.

The officials also noted that the government has several other plans for regional connectivity, including Asian Highway Connectivity, South Asian Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (Sasec) Road Connectivity, and Saarc Connectivity etc.

The new expressways have been proposed considering that using the existing road network of the country for regional connectivity would increase the pressure on the roads and discard economic benefits, they continued.

Officials of the Roads and Highways Department said, a strong connectivity not only strengthens the intra and inter regional trade but also generates higher income and prosperity. Increased connectivity between South and South-east Asia can play an important role in achieving efficiency and enhanced productivity. Transport connectivity along with trade facilitation measures may spur regional trade and commerce by reducing cost of transportation and logistics.

"The routes for the proposed expressways have been selected through survey, although the government is yet to make a final decision in this regard. The list of expressways can be even shorter," Md Zakir Hossain, additional secretary (planning wing) at the Road Transport and Highways Division, told The Business Standard.

He said, "The government wants to elevate Bangladesh to the status of developed countries in 2041. The expressway is being planned keeping that in mind. The construction of some of the expressways is expected to be completed before 2041."

Md Shamsul Hoque, a communication expert and a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), said, "This is the right time to construct expressways in Bangladesh. If we do not construct expressways now, it would not be possible in the future as Bangladesh's population is huge compared to its land area. So, land should be acquired now."

Some of the neighbouring countries have already built expressways, he mentioned, adding, "There are 11 expressways in Pakistan, 22 in India and 37 in Malaysia. But we have not made any progress in this regard. Our only expressway is the Dhaka-Mawa one."

The government has adopted the strategy to build expressways connecting the northern and southern regions, and eastern and western regions to establish a strong communication system among all parts of the country, said Shamsul Hoque who has worked closely with the government in formulating the expressway master plan.

In India, the master plan for the construction of expressways in the north-south, east-west and peripheral areas was passed 25 years ago, which has been implemented in phases later, the noted communication expert told TBS.

"In Bangladesh, the conditions of national highways have remained like that of local roads as there are markets and other establishments adjacent to the highways and slow-moving vehicles ply them. This is why an outline of expressway construction is required now. Even if these expressways do not yield much economic benefit right away, the benefits will be huge in the future."

The expressway plan

The Tamabil-Gundum expressway would be the longest among the proposed expressways with a length of 545 kilometres. It will run from Tamabil to Cox's Bazar via Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Brahmanbaria, Cumilla and Chattogram.

The expressway would be linked with the two countries at the border – India and Myanmar. The Gundum border with Myanmar is expected to create opportunities for greater trade with Asean or Southeast Asian countries.

The expressway would also increase interest among other neighbouring countries to use the Chattogram and Matarbari ports.

The Gobrakura-Payra port expressway would run through Mymensingh, Sherpur, Tangail, Manikganj, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Barishal, Patuakhari, and Baraguna with a length of 375km including the proposed second Padma Bridge in Rajbari-Manikganj point.

Meanwhile, the bridges division is surveying the possibilities of constructing a bridge at Chandpur-Shariatpur point on the expressway. The survey is expected to be completed next year.

The authorities have proposed to connect Gobrakura-Payra port expressway with Mongla port. For this, another 75km expressway from Kotalipara in Gopalganj to Mongla port will be constructed.

The expressway would connect various districts including Rajbari, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Barishal and Patuakhali and Barguna with Mymensingh, Tangail, and Manikganj.

The length of Burimari-Bhomra expressway will be 432km from Lalmonirhat's Burimari land port at Patgram border to Bhomra land port in Satkhira.

It would also connect the northernmost land port of Banglabandha. To this end, another 85km expressway from Banglabandha to Jaldhaka in Nilphamari has been proposed.

According to people concerned, Burimari and Banglabandha land ports are playing an important role in Bangladesh's trade with India, Bhutan and Nepal. The expressway would increase the volume of trade with these countries by connecting these two ports.

With a length of 294km and a bridge over the River Meghna the Benapole-Laksam expressway would reduce the distance of Chattogram with the districts in Khulna division by more than 200 kilometres.

It would be connected with the Gobrakura-Payra port expressway at Faridpur, and with the Burimari-Bhomra expressway in Jashore.

The length of the Sonamashjid-Brahmanbaria expressway would be 310km. It will also be connected with the Tamabil-Gundum expressway. The expressway will reduce the distance of Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions with Chattogram and Sylhet divisions.

The Joypurhat to Tamabil expressway would be connected to Gobrakura-Payra port and Burimari-Bhomra expressways in Mymensingh and Joypurhat respectively with a length of 226km.

The plan is being prepared under the Technical Assistance for the Sub-Regional Road Transport Project Preparatory project.

Arguments over economic viability

There are doubts whether all of the proposed eight expressways will yield economic benefits.

Even though everyone concerned is quite sure the 545km Tamabil-Gundum Expressway will be economically viable for Bangladesh because of its location to use port facilities and trade and commerce facilities, whether the 432km Burimari-Bhomra Expressway will bring any economic benefits remains questionable.

Asked about the economic benefits of the proposed expressways for Bangladesh, Dr Shamsul Haque of Buet said in building expressways, countries around the world attach more importance to strategic reasons than the cost-benefit issue. "Had the cost-benefit analysis been taken into consideration, many expressways in Australia would not have been built. This is because no car can be seen on some expressways in the country even in 30 minutes."

Developed countries build expressways taking into account the integrity of the State, its economic development, regional connectivity, and the future development of the region concerned, he noted, adding not all expressways become popular in any country.

He further said the Burimari-Bhomra Expressway would facilitate easy communication between the north-western part and the south-western part of the country. "This will also facilitate road communication among different states of neighbouring India. The expressway will ease building connectivity of Nepal and Bhutan with other countries in the region."

Because of their geographical locations, such expressways are likely to benefit Bangladesh in the future, he continued.

At the beginning, the metro rail projects in Dubai yielded little benefits compared to their costs, Shamsul Hoque said, adding, "As the population of the city was only 55 lakh, there was not much hope of getting benefits immediately. But now Dubai has seven times more tourists than its population. They are now reaping the benefits of the well-planned metro projects."

Mohammad Yunus, senior research fellow at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), said Bangladesh needs to construct these expressways in its own interest of strengthening communication between different parts of the country.

Not all expressways will bring about the same economic benefits if regional connectivity is taken into account, he observed, adding, "But in overall consideration, the country is likely to benefit from all the expressways in the long run. Even though some expressways aimed at establishing regional connectivity will not be economically feasible for the country, they might help to improve trade as well as diplomatic relations.

"Hence, the potential economic benefits should not be the only consideration in the case of the proposed expressways. The other factors should also be taken into account."

He, however, suggested building the expressways on existing roads considering the construction costs and a scarcity of land in some areas.

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Abul Kashem & Eyamin Sajid

28 November, 2021, 12:30 pm

Last modified: 28 November, 2021, 03:29 pm

Chinese firms offer $70m in green energy, RMG and footwear

The two companies ask for a total of 220 acres of land to set up their production units

Two Chinese firms have proposed a total $70 million investment in Bangladesh for renewable energy, apparel and footwear manufacturing, said the authorities.       

The companies – Guopu Renewable Energy Technology and Hangshou JY Supply Chain – submitted the investment proposals to the Bangladesh embassy in Beijing that has been forwarded to Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), said Bida officials.

According to the proposals, Guopu is interested to invest around $50 million in solar and wind power. The company has requested to arrange 200 acres of land and water bodies where they would install the green energy generating units.

The second company Hangshou offers a $15-20 million investment in Chattogram'sBangabandhu Sheikh MujibShilpa Nagar (BSMSN) economic zone to set up garment and footwear making industries. It has requested for 20 acres of land in the economic zone.   

Like the Chinese firms, Bida officials said it has received a number of investment proposals centering the "Bangladesh Investment Summit 2021" slated for Sunday.

"Investment proposals have started to pour in and we expect that would increase after the summit aims at attracting foreign investors," Bida Executive Chairman MdSirazul Islam told The Business Standard Saturday.

"Foreign investors are not very aware of how much Bangladesh has changed. Our target is to showcase the success story of Bangladesh in front of them. Our expectation is to increase the foreign investment to 3% of the GDP, which is now less than 1%," he added.

Currently, Bangladesh is producing around 542MW electricity from different types of solar projects in both off-grid and on-grid areas.

Of those, the largest portion of power comes from solar home systems set up in off-grid households while seven solar parks across the country hold the second largest position with a capacity of 130MW.

But wind power projects are yet to receive visible success as three wind energy projects with a combined capacity of 2.9MW remain idle. The plants are in Feni and Kutubdia.    

Hangshou to generate at least 15,000 jobs

The investment proposal of Hangshou JY Supply Chain Co Ltd states that the company will build a garment factory on 12 acres and a footwear factory 8 on acres of land in the economic zone.

The proposal said the investment will generate more than 15,000 jobs. The factories will be under "Tech International Limited".    

The apparel list includes trousers, coats, jackets, shirts, blouses and baby garments.

Hangshou's products are mainly exported to Europe and the US, and the company has established close relations with large chain supermarkets such as Walmart and Decathlon. The company has branches in mainland China, Hong Kong and Paris. 

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Saudi companies keen to invest in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka | Published: 19:24, Nov 28,2021


Saudi Arabian minister for transport and logistic services engineer Saleh Nasser A Al-Jasser met Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Sunday. – BSS photo.

Saudi Arabian minister for transport and logistic services engineer Saleh Nasser A Al-Jasser on Sunday said that Saudi public and private companies were keen to invest in Bangladesh in infrastructure development, power, port, energy and renewable energy sectors.

He said this while calling on prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence Ganabhaban, according to the prime minister’s press wing.

The Saudi minister conveyed regards of king Salman, custodian of two holy mosques, to Sheikh Hasina.

The prime minister thanked the minister for his visit to Bangladesh.

The Saudi minster congratulated the prime minister on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50 years of independence of Bangladesh.

He said that he was highly impressed by the development and stability in Bangladesh.

He thanked the prime minister for Bangladesh’s support to Saudi Arabia in international platforms.

Sheikh Hasina said that Bangladesh had opened its door for investment from even East Asia, South East Asia and Middle East.

The Saudi minister appreciated the policy of Bangladesh government.

He said that some major companies of Saudi Arabia were doing very well in construction and power sector. ‘More than 30 Saudi companies want to invest in Bangladesh,’ he added.

The Saudi minister thanked the prime minister for her dynamic role in the development of Bangladesh and said that Saudi Arabia was giving top priority to strengthening relations with Bangladesh.

Sheikh Hasina thanked the minister and his delegation for their participation in the International Investment Summit, Bangladesh.

She hoped that both the countries would work together for their mutual development in the coming days.

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TBS Report

28 November, 2021, 08:50 pm

Last modified: 28 November, 2021, 08:49 pm

Saudi Arabia keen on funding Ctg-Cox’s Bazar, Jessore-Khulna 4-lane project

The minister further said that the Saudi transport minister expressed interest in financing the project of upgrading the 150-km highway from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar and 72-km long Jessore-Khulna highway to four lanes


The Saudi government has expressed a keen interest in financing the Chattogram-Cox's Bazar and Jessore-Khulna four-lane highway project, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said today.

The minister disclosed after a Saudi delegation led by Saudi Transport Minister Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser paid a courtesy call on Obaidul Quader on Sunday afternoon.

The minister further said that the Saudi transport minister expressed interest in financing the project of upgrading the 150-km highway from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar and 72-km long Jessore-Khulna highway to four lanes. 

"He [the Saudi minister] also expressed interest in investing in other potential areas of Bangladesh," Quader added.

The minister, during the meeting, mentioned the need to increase Bangladesh's manpower export opportunities to Saudi Arabia and stressed the need to further strengthen the friendly relations between the two countries.

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BEZA plans to create 1C new jobs in 100 EZs

 Meraj Mavis

 Published at 09:06 pm November 28th, 2021

The economic zones will help export products worth an additional $40 billion

By launching 100 Economic Zones (EZ), Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) plans to create 1 crore new jobs by 2030.

Through this BEZA expects to add another $40 billion to the country's export sector.

This was stated by M Erfan Sharif, executive member of BEZA in the keynote presentation of the first technical session of the opening day of Investment Summit 2021 on Sunday.

In his presentation Erfan said that: “The government of Bangladesh has taken the initiative to establish 100 Economic Zones across the country by 2030. Through this, we are expecting that one crore new jobs will be created.  On top of that, it will raise our exports by an additional $40 billion.”

He also informed that so far 97 sites have been earmarked by BEZA and they also expect four new economic zones will start very soon. The EZs are located in Narayanganj, Nawabganj, Gopalganj and Bogra.

At the first session, “Economic Zone: Exceeding All Expectations,” Speaking as the chairperson, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury said: "Our economy is moving forward under the direction of the prime minister.

“One of our main goals is to establish 100 economic zones within the country by 2030 to further consolidate the economy. This will directly help increase export earnings and besides, if these are established, a lot of new jobs will be created in each zone.”

The land minister also said: “Foreign investors are now keen to invest in Bangladesh and foreign direct investment is growing fast due to the government’s policy support for investment.”

“The time has come for the nation to feel proud because of the economic growth. The IMF in a recent study disclosed that Bangladesh is among the top five countries in terms of resilience shown during the Covid pandemic,” he added.

Major General Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, executive chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), said: “The country’s EPZs contributed almost 30% to the country’s GDP in the last fiscal year, while approximately $38.75 billion were earned from goods exports last year.”

“With 40 years of experience in investment-friendly policy support, BEPZA has been offering facilities to foreign investors,” he added.

IBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmad moderated the session.

The World Bank's Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan South Asia Region Dr Mercy Miyang Tembon, Yuho Hayakawa, chief representative of JICA Bangladesh, India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, Major General Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman, executive chairman of Bepza and ASM Mainuddin Monem also spoke at the session.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the two-day summit.

Inaugurating the two-day International Investment Summit-2021 in Dhaka on Sunday, she expressed confidence that the country would be able to attract the desired investment through this conference.

“I believe that through this conference, investors will be able to learn more about the potential of these sectors in Bangladesh. A new market for Bangladeshi products will be created in the world and Bangladesh will be able to attract the desired investment,” she said as she addressed the opening session at Radisson Blu Water Garden Hotel virtually from her Ganabhaban residence.

“I believe investors will be able to learn more about the potential of different investment sectors in Bangladesh through this conference,” she also added.

The prime minister said: “Foreign investors can invest in a number of sectors such as ICT, pharmaceutical, agro-processing, light engineering and automobile sectors, and the blue economy in addition to the apparel sector.”

Calling Bangladesh a role model for development she said the country has done a great job in securing economic progress.

Salman F Rahman, the prime minister's private industry and investment adviser, said at the inauguration event that the investment summit aims to brand the country towards foreign investors.

Representatives of different countries including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, China, India and Japan spoke at the inaugural ceremony of the summit and expressed their willingness to invest further in Bangladesh in the coming days.

To explore investment opportunities in Bangladesh, a number of high-level delegations from different countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States and Turkey, have already reached Dhaka, according to officials concerned.

BIDA Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam said: “So far, 2,574 people, including 465 foreigners, from 54 countries have already registered for the event.”

“Many high-level delegates from different countries have taken part in the event in person while many others will join the event virtually,” he added.

The summit will highlight 11 sectors to attract investments, with the tagline 'Bangladesh: Discover Limitless Opportunities'-- featured plenary sessions on the country's economic zones, blue economy, 4IR, pharmaceuticals, transport, capital market, energy, financial services, agribusiness, leather, RMG and electrical and electronics, and plastic goods.

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Bangladesh's economic zones bag $6.25b investment bids

 FE REPORT | Published:  November 29, 2021 09:11:20 | Updated:  November 29, 2021 16:39:34

Investment proposals for the country's economic zones (EZs) have amounted to US$ 6.25 billion with both foreign and local entrepreneurs showing a growing interest in setting up industries in those.

Foreign investors, however, emphasised improving Bangladesh's business climate as well as making timely response to requirements of potential investors and measures of other countries taking the changing global supply chain into consideration.

They also called for proper implementation of fiscal and tax incentives to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.

The statistics and observations were presented in a business session of the two-day International Investment Summit 2021 Bangladesh at Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden in the city.

President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) Abdul Matlub Ahmad moderated the session, and Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury also spoke at the event.

Addressing the session, the minister said people of the world are quite interested about Bangladesh due to its potentials.

Terming FDI important for the country's economic development, he said land is an important component of FDI. The government is setting up a total of 100 economic zones, while some of these are already established.

He called on foreign investors to invest in the country and grab its potentials.

"Investment in the economic zones continues amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and some 106 investors have so far made $6.25 billion investment proposals," said executive member of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) M Erfan Sharif while presenting his keynote titled 'economic zones: exceeding all expectations'.

The proposed 100 EZs would be set up by 2030, while 97 are already approved. These zones would generate direct and indirect employment for about 10 million people with $40 billion production, he noted.

Explaining the reasons why Bangladesh's EZs are the best place to invest, Mr Sharif said skilled workforce, adequate serviced land, uninterrupted utility connections, and fiscal and non-fiscal incentives are available in those, while there are opportunities for both domestic and international markets.

Detailing the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and other unique features, he called on foreign investors to invest in the country's economic zones, especially in Jamalpur, Sreehatta, Maheshkhali and Araihazar EZs as well as in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar.

Speaking at the session, chief representative of JICA Bangladesh Yuho Hayakawa, however, focused on improving investment climate with proper implementation of incentive policies.

"The EZs are important for attracting FDI in Bangladesh, as these can provide necessary infrastructure, utility services, and efficient and transparent process for investment. We can proceed to one-stop services and streamline custom clearances."

The country needs to overcome these hurdles, as these are the challenges and weak points of Bangladesh.

"Piecemeal approaches should be avoided," he said, explaining that the EZs have strong fiscal and tax incentives, but other countries are also offering powerful incentives.

Mr Hayakawa focused on the necessity of improved business climate, skill development, and neutral monitoring.

"We are in the middle of global competitiveness, as global supply chain is getting re-structurd especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic."

The global value chain is rapidly changing and so are the needs of investors. Other countries' responses are also changing, he mentioned, calling Bangladesh government for ensuring timely response with flexibility in this regard.

Bangladesh government has strong willingness to overcome these challenges, he opined.

Explaining the role of EPZs, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and South Asia Region Dr Mercy Miyang Tembon said the EPZs are making positive development by bringing FDI and creating employment.

"Bangladesh is one of the countries, where the EPZs have made impact and continued to make impact. These can be an example for all the countries in the region and the world."

She, however, suggested product diversification and ensuring EPZs' contribution towards smart, green and inclusive growth.

General Manager of Sumitomo Corporation, Dhaka Office Shinichi Nagata said construction of the Japan Economic Zone is expected to be completed shortly and it would start operation next year.

"Now we are receiving very strong queries from investors," he informed the session.

Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman said prospective investors can choose Bangladesh as the best destination for investment, and it would be their right choice.

Some 459 enterprises have so far invested a total of $5.74 billion in the country's eight EPZs under the BEPZA that have created 0.5 million employment. Annual exports of the EPZs stood at $6.64 billion, he added.

President of Bangladesh Private Economic Zones Investors Association A S M Mainuddin Monem also spoke at the session.

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TBS Report

29 November, 2021, 08:15 pm

Last modified: 29 November, 2021, 09:31 pm

Saudi company to invest $1.75B in Bangladesh


Saudi Arabian company Engineering Dimensions will invest $1.75 billion in Bangladesh.

Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Sirajul Islam confirmed the news to The Business Standard.

The Saudi company will jointly invest in two companies in Bangladesh.

Engineering Dimension has decided to invest $1.75 billion very shortly through MoUs, including-  

  • With Dipon Engineering: Strategic partnership for setting up fertilizer, paper mill, sugar-processing industry ($1.5 billion)
  • With Titas Enterprise: Petrochemical logistics hub (Chattogram) - ($150 million) 

Engineering Dimension has already invested in power generator production and a large scale cement factory.

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Bangladesh bags $2.7 billion investment at the summit

 Tribune Report

 Published at 09:29 pm November 29th, 2021

Most of the investor companies are from Saudi Arabia

Bangladesh signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) worth $2.7 billion at the International Investment Summit 2021, Bangladesh. 

In a press briefing, Sirajul Islam, executive chairman of BIDA revealed the information.

Most of the investor companies are from Saudi Arabia.

There are also 2 Turkish companies, 1 US company, and 3 Chinese companies. 

Investors invested in engineering, IT, cement, hospital, power and RMG sector.

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M&S plans to buy more high-end garments from Bangladesh

Says its country chief

Star Business Report

Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:00 AM Last update on: Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:38 AM

A few years ago, Marks & Spencer (M&S) could not find a single factory in Bangladesh that could produce suits in bulk quantity although the country was already one of the largest apparel exporters in the world.

But things have changed as the local suppliers have diversified products and are making high-end items alongside basic garments. This shift has turned Bangladesh into the largest suits sourcing destination for the British retail giant.

Today, Bangladesh is the largest sourcing destination for M&S for apparel items, and the company buys more than $1.2 billion worth of garment items from the country every year.

And Shwapna Bhowmick, country manager of M&S, said she wanted to buy more garment items from Bangladesh because of the commitments of the suppliers and the diversification of products.

"We are no longer interested in basic garments," she said, suggesting suppliers produce more value-added items to receive higher prices.

She was speaking at a session on the garment industry at the two-day International Investment Summit organised by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden in Dhaka.

Bhowmick also suggested for branding Bangladesh and easing of doing business.

Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), called for signing free trade agreements, preferential trade agreements and other regional trade agreements with trading partners to retain the duty-free export facility after the graduation of the country from a least-developed country to a developing nation in 2026.

Currently, $25 billion worth of garment items, out of a total of $34 billion, are shipped under the LDC category, he said. "So, retaining the trade advantage is important for Bangladesh after graduation."

An additional $5 billion to $7 billion worth of investment is required in the garment sector to attain the country's export targets by 2030, he said.

He expected Bangladesh's share in the global garment market to cross 7 per cent soon from 6.26 per cent last year as international retailers and brands were coming up with an increased volume of orders.

Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, said after two years, Bangladesh would not need to import yarn anymore as local investors were making fresh investment and expanding their capacity in the spinning sector.

He called for more policy supports for the growth of the primary textile sector, which includes the spinning, weaving, dyeing and printing industries.

"Many have been waiting for more than two years to get gas connections to run factories."

Mohammad Hatem, executive president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said many factories were facing a shortage of workers and called for producing skilled workforce through technical and vocational training centres.

Anwar ul Alam Chowdhury, a former president of the BGMEA, said in the post-LDC era, the garment sector would not lose businesses as the government was lobbying major trading partners to strike deals to retain the duty privilege.

Atiqul Islam, mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation and a former president of the BGMEA, credited the people, power, port, and political stability for the amazing growth of the garment business.

He hoped that congestion in Dhaka would ease within two or three years as the government was implementing a number of mega projects, such as the metro rail and the elevated expressway projects. 

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Top takeaways from Investment Summit 2021

 Tribune Desk

 Published at 09:03 pm December 1st, 2021

Bangladesh signed memorandum of understandings (MoUs) worth $2.7 billion at the International Investment Summit 2021.



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চট্টগ্রাম-কক্সবাজার রেলপথ

শত কিলোমিটার গতিতে ট্রেন ছুটবে কক্সবাজারে

শামীম রাহমান, কক্সবাজার থেকে ফিরে

ডিসেম্বর ০৪, ২০২১

পর্যটন নগরী কক্সবাজারকে রেল নেটওয়ার্কে সংযুক্ত করতে তৈরি হচ্ছে নতুন রেলপথ। সিঙ্গেল লাইন ডুয়াল গেজের রেলপথটির ডিজাইন স্পিড ঘণ্টায় ১২০ কিলোমিটার। এ লাইনে ট্রেন চলবে ঘণ্টায় ১০০ কিলোমিটারেরও বেশি গতিতে। এর মধ্য দিয়ে সড়ক ও আকাশপথের পাশাপাশি রেলপথেও ঢাকার সঙ্গে যুক্ত হচ্ছে দেশের সর্বদক্ষিণের জেলা কক্সবাজার। আগামী বছরের ডিসেম্বরের মধ্যেই রেলপথটি চালুর লক্ষ্যের কথা জানিয়েছেন রেলওয়ের কর্মকর্তারা।

নির্মাণাধীন রেলপথটির সবচেয়ে বড় আকর্ষণ ঝিনুকাকৃতির কক্সবাজার রেলওয়ে স্টেশন। রেলওয়ের কর্মকর্তারা বলছেন, এটিই হতে যাচ্ছে দেশের সবচেয়ে দৃষ্টিনন্দন রেলওয়ে স্টেশন। পুরো স্টেশনটি গড়ে উঠছে ২৯ একর জমির ওপর। আইকনিক স্টেশন ভবনটি ১ লাখ ৮৭ হাজার বর্গফুটের। অত্যাধুনিক সব সুযোগ-সুবিধার প্রায় সবই থাকছে স্টেশনটিতে।

সমুদ্রসৈকত থেকে মাত্র তিন কিলোমিটার দূরত্বে কক্সবাজার রেলওয়ে স্টেশনটি তৈরি করা হচ্ছে। স্টেশনটি পড়েছে ঝিলংঝা ইউনিয়নের চান্দের পাড়া এলাকায়। সরেজমিন নির্মাণাধীন স্টেশন এলাকা ঘুরে দেখা গেছে, ছয়তলা স্টেশন ভবনের চারতলা পর্যন্ত মূল কাঠামো এরই মধ্যে দৃশ্যমান হয়েছে। চার তলার উপরে চলছে ছাদ ঢালাইয়ের কাজ। কমবেশি ২০০ প্রকৌশলী ও শ্রমিক নিয়োজিত রয়েছেন স্টেশন ভবনটির নির্মাণকাজে। স্টেশন ভবন ছাড়াও আরো ১৭টি স্থাপনা তৈরি করা হচ্ছে, যেগুলো ব্যবহার করা হবে রেলওয়ের পরিচালনা ও বাণিজ্যিক কার্যক্রমে।

শুধু কক্সবাজার রেলওয়ে স্টেশনটি নির্মাণ করতেই ২১৫ কোটি টাকা খরচ হচ্ছে বলে জানিয়েছেন দোহাজারী-কক্সবাজার রেলপথ নির্মাণ প্রকল্পটির উপপরিচালক মোহাম্মদ সেলিম। তিনি বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, ঝিনুকাকৃতির স্টেশনটি কক্সবাজারের পর্যটনকে প্রতিনিধিত্ব করছে। পর্যটকরা স্টেশনে এসেই কক্সবাজারের সৌন্দর্যের একটা স্বাদ পাবেন। এজন্য এটাকে আমরা আইকনিক স্টেশন বলছি। এটা হচ্ছে বাংলাদেশের একমাত্র আইকনিক স্টেশন। স্টেশনটিতে যাত্রী প্রবেশ ও বের হওয়ার জন্য রাখা হচ্ছে ভিন্ন পথ। কেন্দ্রীয় শীতাতপ নিয়ন্ত্রিত স্টেশনটিতে যাত্রীদের জন্য অত্যাধুনিক সব সুযোগ-সুবিধার প্রায় সবই রাখা হয়েছে। লকারের ব্যবস্থা রাখা হচ্ছে। পর্যটকরা তাদের প্রয়োজনীয় জিনিসপত্র এসব লকারে রেখে সমুদ্রস্নানে কিংবা বিভিন্ন দর্শনীয় স্থানে ঘুরতে যেতে পারবেন।

স্টেশনটির নির্মাণকাজের সার্বিক অগ্রগতি ৪৪ শতাংশ বলে জানিয়েছেন তিনি।

কক্সবাজারের আইকনিক স্টেশনসহ সবমিলে নয়টি স্টেশন নির্মাণ করা হচ্ছে রেলপথটিতে। কক্সবাজারের পরই রামু স্টেশন। এরপর পর্যায়ক্রমে ইসলামাবাদ, ডুলাহাজারা, চকরিয়া, হারবাং, লোহাগড়া, সাতকানিয়া ও দোহাজারী রেলওয়ে স্টেশন। ‘দোহাজারী থেকে রামু হয়ে কক্সবাজার এবং রামু থেকে ঘুমধুম পর্যন্ত সিঙ্গেল লাইন ডুয়াল গেজ রেলপথ নির্মাণ’ প্রকল্পের প্রথম পর্যায়ে নির্মাণ করা হচ্ছে ১০০ কিলোমিটার দীর্ঘ দোহাজারী-কক্সবাজার রেলপথ। রেলপথ বসানোর জন্য প্রয়োজনীয় মাটির কাজ এলাকাজুড়ে এরই মধ্যে শেষ হওয়ার কথা জানিয়েছেন প্রকল্পের কর্মকর্তারা।

মাটির কাজের পাশাপাশি এগিয়ে চলছে রেললাইন বসানোর কাজও। সরেজমিন কক্সবাজার সদর উপজেলার ঈদগাহ এলাকা থেকে রামু উপজেলার জোয়ারিয়া নালা এলাকা পর্যন্ত রেলপথ বসানোর কাজ করতে দেখা গেছে ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠান ম্যাক্স ইনফ্রাস্ট্রাকচার লিমিটেডের কর্মীদের। চকরিয়া থেকে কক্সবাজার পর্যন্ত ৫০ কিলোমিটার রেলপথসহ আনুষঙ্গিক অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের কাজ করছে প্রতিষ্ঠানটি। মাক্সের কর্মকর্তা আনোয়ার হোসেন বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, এখন পর্যন্ত আমাদের রেলপথ বসানো হয়েছে ১২ কিলোমিটার এলাকায়। ঈদগাহ থেকে জোয়ারিয়া নালা পর্যন্ত রেলপথ বসানো শেষ হয়েছে। বাকি অংশের কাজের মধ্যে ভূমি উন্নয়নের কাজ প্রায় শেষের দিকে। স্টেশন ভবনগুলোর কাজও একই সঙ্গে চলমান রয়েছে। আশা করছি, ২০২২ সালের ডিসেম্বরের মধ্যে আমাদের অংশের সব কাজ শেষ হয়ে যাবে।

আনুষঙ্গিক অবকাঠামোসহ দোহাজারী থেকে চকরিয়া পর্যন্ত আরো প্রায় ৫০ কিলোমিটার রেলপথ নির্মাণের কাজ করছে ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠান তমা কনস্ট্রাকশন কোম্পানি লিমিটেড। প্রকল্পের কর্মকর্তারা জানিয়েছেন, এ অংশে ১৯টি সেতুর সব ক’টি তৈরি হয়ে গেছে। স্টেশন বিল্ডিংগুলোর নির্মাণকাজ চলমান। ভূমি উন্নয়নকাজও শেষ পর্যায়ে। রেলপথটির দোহাজারী-চকরিয়া অংশের নির্মাণকাজও ২০২২ সালের ডিসেম্বরের মধ্যে শেষ করার লক্ষ্যের কথা জানিয়েছেন প্রকল্পের কর্মকর্তারা।

প্রকল্পের সার্বিক অগ্রগতি সম্পর্কে জানতে চাইলে ‘দোহাজারী থেকে রামু হয়ে কক্সবাজার এবং রামু থেকে ঘুমধুম পর্যন্ত সিঙ্গেল লাইন ডুয়াল গেজ রেলপথ নির্মাণ’ প্রকল্পের প্রকল্প পরিচালক মফিজুর রহমান বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, প্রকল্পটির কাজ শুরু হয়েছে ২০১৮ সালে। কাজ শুরুর এক বছর যেতে না যেতেই করোনা মহামারী আমাদের জন্য একটা বড় ধাক্কা হয়ে আসে। শুরুর দিকে নির্মাণকাজের অগ্রগতিও বাধাগ্রস্ত হয়। তবে বর্তমানে পুরোদমে নির্মাণকাজ এগিয়ে চলছে। আমাদের প্রত্যাশা, ২০২২ সালের মধ্যেই চালু হবে চট্টগ্রাম-কক্সবাজার রেলপথ।


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03 December, 2021, 08:15 pm

Last modified: 03 December, 2021, 08:29 pm

ঢাকায় যানজটে বছরে আর্থিক ক্ষতি ১ লাখ কোটি টাকা, যা দিয়ে নির্মাণ করা যাবে ৩টি পদ্মা সেতু

শুধু ঢাকার যানজটের কারণেই বছরে ক্ষতির পরিমাণ দাঁড়াচ্ছে মোট দেশজ উৎপাদনের (জিডিপি) ২ দশমিক ৯ শতাংশে। অর্থমূল্যে এই ক্ষতির পরিমাণ ১ লাখ ১ হাজার ৩৬ কোটি টাকা। 


রাজধানী ঢাকার অসহনীয় যানজটে শুধু মানুষের ভোগান্তি ও কর্মঘণ্টাই নষ্ট হচ্ছে না—এর ফলে ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত হচ্ছে জিডিপি এবং মাথাপিছু আয়ও।

শুধু ঢাকার যানজটের কারণেই বছরে ক্ষতির পরিমাণ দাঁড়াচ্ছে মোট দেশজ উৎপাদনের (জিডিপি) ২ দশমিক ৯ শতাংশে। ২০১৫-১৬ সালের নতুন ভিত্তি বছরের হিসাবে অর্থমূল্যে এই ক্ষতির পরিমাণ ১ লাখ ১ হাজার ৩৬ কোটি টাকা। 

আর অপরিকল্পিত নগর সম্প্রসারণের পরোক্ষ ক্ষতির হিসাব যুক্ত হলে এ ক্ষতি জিডিপির ৬ শতাংশের বেশি হয়ে যায়। বাংলাদেশ উন্নয়ন গবেষণা প্রতিষ্ঠানের (বিআইডিএস) একটি সম্মেলনে উপস্থাপিত এক গবেষণা প্রতিবেদনে এসব তথ্য জানানো হয়।

দেশের অর্থনীতিতে বড় অবদান রাখবে পদ্মা সেতু। এই সেতুতে বদলে যাবে দক্ষিণ ও দক্ষিণ-পশ্চিমাঞ্চলের মানুষের ভাগ্য। অর্থনীতিবিদরা জানিয়েছেন, পদ্মা সেতু দেশের জিডিপি প্রবৃদ্ধি ১ দশমিক ২৩ শতাংশ বাড়াবে। দক্ষিণ ও দক্ষিণ-পশ্চিমাঞ্চলের জিডিপি বাড়াবে ২ দশমিক ৩ শতাংশ। আর দারিদ্র্য বিমোচনের হার বাড়াবে শূন্য দশমিক ৮৪ শতাংশ। এই সেতুর নির্মাণ ব্যয় ৩০ হাজার ১৯৩ কোটি।

রাজধানীর যানজটের কারণে প্রত্যক্ষ যে ১ লাখ টাকার ক্ষতি হচ্ছে, তা দিয়ে তৈরি করা যেত পদ্মা সেতুর সমান দৈর্ঘ্য ও সুবিধার তিনটি সেতু। এতে অবকাঠামোর উন্নয়ন যেমন হতো, তেমনি গতি বাড়ত অর্থনৈতিক কর্মকাণ্ডেরও। ফলে জিডিপি প্রবৃদ্ধি বাড়তে পারত ৩ শতাংশের বেশি। দারিদ্র্য বিমোচনের হারও বাড়ত আড়াই শতাংশের কাছাকাছি।

এছাড়াও ঢাকার যানজটের কারণে প্রতি মাসে ৫০ লাখ কর্মঘণ্টা নষ্ট হচ্ছে। এর ফলে কর্মজীবীদের উৎপাদনশীলতা কমে যাচ্ছে, যার নেতিবাচক প্রভাব পড়ছে জিডিপিতে।  

অর্থনীতির এই ক্ষতিকে আরও বড় করে তুলেছে রাজধানীর অপরিকল্পিত নগরায়ণ। 

গবেষণা প্রতিবেদনটিতে নগরে অতিরিক্ত জনসংখ্যার চাপের বিষয়টিও উঠে এসেছে। প্রতিবেদনটিতে বলা হয়েছে, দেশের মোট জনসংখ্যার ১১ দশমিক ২ শতাংশই বাস করে ঢাকায়—যা এই অঞ্চলের মধ্যে সর্বোচ্চ। চীনের বৃহত্তম শহর সাংহাই, দেশের জনসংখ্যার মাত্র ১ দশমিক ৮ শতাংশ যেখানে বাস করে। প্রতিবেশী ভারতের প্রধান শহরে বাস করে দেশের জনসংখ্যার ২ শতাংশ, ইন্দোনেশিয়ায় ৪ শতাংশ, পাকিস্তানে ৮ দশমিক ৯ শতাংশ এবং ভিয়েতনামে ৮ দশমিক ১ শতাংশ।

প্রতিবেদনের তথ্যানুসারে, ১০ লাখের বেশি মানুষ বাস করে বাংলাদেশে এমন শহর আছে মাত্র ৫টি। চীনে এমন শহরের সংখ্যা ১০২। এছাড়া ভারতে ৫৪, ইন্দোনেশিয়ায় ১৪, পাকিস্তানে ১০।

বাংলাদেশ প্রকৌশল বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের (বুয়েট) দুর্ঘটনা গবেষণা ইনস্টিটিউটের (এআরআই) পরিচালক অধ্যাপক ড. মো. হাদীউজ্জামান বলেন, রাজধানীর অসহনীয় যানজটের সবচেয়ে বড় কারণ শহরটির দুর্বল পরিবহন ব্যবস্থাপনা ও যোগাযোগ অবকাঠামো। 

ঢাকার রাস্তা যে পরিমাণ গাড়ি ধারণে সক্ষম, তার চেয়ে ৩০-৪০ শতাংশ বেশি গাড়ি চলে বলে জানান তিনি। 

হাদীউজ্জামান বলেন, ঢাকার সব যানজটের ৩০ শতাংশের জন্য দায়ী পার্কিং ব্যবস্থাপনায় বিশৃঙ্খলা। ঢাকার পরিবহন ব্যবস্থার উন্নয়নে নতুন নতুন অবকাঠামো গড়ে তুললেও সেগুলোর ব্যবস্থাপনা ভালো নয়। ফলে এসব অবকাঠামোর সুফল পাওয়া যাচ্ছে না। 

ঢাকার অসহনীয় যানজট সহনীয় পর্যায়ে নামিয়ে আনার জন্য হাদীউজ্জামান রাজধানীতে সঠিক ট্রাফিক ব্যবস্থাপনা ও পরিবহন ব্যবস্থাপনা চালুর পরামর্শ দেন। এছাড়াও পথচারীবান্ধব অবকাঠামো গড়ে তোলা, উন্নত গণপরিবহন প্রবর্তন, গণপরিবহনের জন্য আলাদা লেনের ব্যবস্থা, ব্যক্তিগত গাড়ি নিয়ন্ত্রণ, পার্কিং ব্যবস্থাপনা উন্নয়নের পাশাপাশি সড়ক ব্যবহারীদেরও মনস্তাত্ত্বিক পরিবর্তন ঘটানোর ওপর গুরুত্ব দেওয়ার ওপর জোর দেন তিনি।

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ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেলপথ

ডাবল লাইন করতে বাধা ৩১ কাঠা জমি

শামীম রাহমান

ডিসেম্বর ০৫, ২০২১

ঢাকা থেকে নারায়ণগঞ্জ পর্যন্ত রেলপথটি ডাবল লাইনে উন্নীতের উদ্যোগ নিয়েও কাজটি সম্পন্ন করতে পারছে না বাংলাদেশ রেলওয়ে। চাষাঢ়া রেলওয়ে স্টেশন এলাকার মাত্র দশমিক ৫১ একর বা ৩১ কাঠা জমি রেলপথটি ডাবল লাইন করার পথে বাধা হয়ে দাঁড়িয়েছে। জমিটি রেলওয়েরই অধিগ্রহণ করা ছিল। এখন বেহাত হয়ে চলে গেছে ব্যক্তি মালিকানায়। সেই জমি অধিগ্রহণের টাকার সংস্থান করতে না পেরে চাষাঢ়া-নারায়ণগঞ্জের দুই কিলোমিটার অংশ বাদ রেখেই ডাবল লাইন করা হচ্ছে ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেলপথ। রেলপথটি পুরো ডাবল লাইন না হলে প্রায় ৬৫০ কোটি টাকা বিনিয়োগের সুফল আসবে না বলে মনে করছেন সংশ্লিষ্টরা।

ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জের মধ্যে বর্তমানে মিটার গেজের একটি রেলপথ রয়েছে। এর মধ্যে কমলাপুর রেলওয়ে স্টেশন থেকে জুরাইন রেলগেট পর্যন্ত রেলপথটি ডাবল লাইন করা হচ্ছে পদ্মা সেতু রেল সংযোগ প্রকল্পের মাধ্যমে। আর জুরাইন থেকে নারায়ণগঞ্জ পর্যন্ত একটি নতুন ডুয়াল গেজ লাইন নির্মাণ করে পুরো রেলপথটি ডাবল লাইনে উন্নীতের কাজ করছে রেলওয়ে। এজন্য খরচ হচ্ছে ৬৩২ কোটি ৭৯ লাখ টাকা। ‘ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ সেকশনে বিদ্যমান মিটার গেজ রেললাইনের সমান্তরালে একটি ডুয়াল গেজ রেললাইন নির্মাণ’ প্রকল্পের প্রধান উদ্দেশ্য ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেলপথটিকে ডাবল লাইনে উন্নীত করা, যার মাধ্যমে সেকশনটিতে ট্রেন চলাচল আরো গতিশীল হবে, বাড়বে যাত্রী পরিবহন।

পুরো রেলপথটি ডাবল লাইনে উন্নীতের কাজে বিপত্তি বেধেছে চাষাঢ়া রেলওয়ে স্টেশন এলাকায়। রেলপথ তৈরির জন্য ১৮৮২ সালে চাষাঢ়া থেকে নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেলওয়ে স্টেশন পর্যন্ত ৬২ ফুট প্রস্থে জমি অধিগ্রহণ করেছিল তত্কালীন ইস্টার্ন বেঙ্গল রেলওয়ে। তবে চাষাঢ়া স্টেশন সংলগ্ন রেলগেট টি-১ থেকে টি-২ পর্যন্ত ৩১ কাঠা জমি সিএস ও আরএস জরিপে ব্যক্তিগত মালিকানায় রেকর্ড হয়ে যায়।

অধিগ্রহণ করা জমি বেহাত হওয়ার তথ্য জানতেনও না রেলওয়ের কর্মকর্তারা। ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জে নতুন ডুয়াল গেজ রেলপথ নির্মাণ প্রকল্পের যখন উন্নয়ন প্রকল্প প্রস্তাব (ডিপিপি) তৈরি হয়, তখন তারা ধরেই নিয়েছিলেন জমির মালিকানা রেলওয়ের হাতেই রয়েছে। এজন্য প্রকল্পের ডিপিপিতে জমি অধিগ্রহণের জন্য কোনো অর্থের সংস্থান রাখা হয়নি। জমি বেহাত হওয়ার বিষয়টি প্রথম ধরা পড়ে নতুন রেলপথটির নকশা তৈরির সময়। মাঠ পর্যায়ে গিয়ে প্রকল্পসংশ্লিষ্টরা দেখতে পান ১৮৮২ সালে অধিগ্রহণ করা জমির বেশকিছু অংশ সিএস ও আরএস জরিপে স্থানীয় বাসিন্দাদের নামে রেকর্ডভুক্ত হয়ে গেছে। এসব জমিতে বর্তমানে টিনশেড থেকে সাততলা পর্যন্ত ভবন তৈরি করা হয়েছে।

প্রকল্পের কর্মকর্তারা হিসাব করে দেখেছেন, বিদ্যমান ভূমি অধিগ্রহণ আইনে বেদখল হয়ে যাওয়া দশমিক ৫১ একর জমি পুনরায় অধিগ্রহণ করতে খরচ হবে প্রায় ৮৩ কোটি ৭৬ লাখ টাকা। আর এ জমিতে যেসব স্থাপনা রয়েছে, ‘পিডব্লিউডি নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেট’ অনুযায়ী সেগুলোর ক্ষতিপূরণ বাবদ খরচ হবে ৪৯ কোটি ৭৪ লাখ টাকা। সব মিলিয়ে বেহাত হওয়া জমি পুনরায় দখলে নিতে রেলওয়ের খরচ হবে ১৩৩ কোটি ৫০ লাখ টাকা।

প্রথমত জমির দাম বেশি, দ্বিতীয়ত একবার অধিগ্রহণ করা জমি পুনরায় অধিগ্রহণ হলে অডিট আপত্তি উঠতে পারে—এমন পরিপ্রেক্ষিতে চাষাঢ়া-নারায়ণগঞ্জ অংশ বাদ রেখেই ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ রেলপথের কাজ চালিয়ে যাওয়ার সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছেন রেলওয়ের কর্মকর্তারা।

কিছুদিন আগে অনুষ্ঠিত প্রকল্পটির যাচাই কমিটির সভায় বাংলাদেশ রেলওয়ের মহাপরিচালক ডিএন মজুমদার বলেন, চাষাঢ়া-নারায়ণগঞ্জ অংশটি ডাবল লাইন করা অত্যন্ত জরুরি। চাষাঢ়া স্টেশন থেকে রেলগেট টি-২ পর্যন্ত রেলভূমি বেদখল হওয়ার হাত থেকে রক্ষা এবং চাষাঢ়া ইয়ার্ডের ‘শান্টিং-স্ট্যাবলিং’ সুবিধা বৃদ্ধির জন্যই এটা করতে হবে। তবে এ কাজটি ভবিষ্যতের জন্য রেখে আপাতত চাষাঢ়া-নারায়ণগঞ্জ অংশটি মিটার গেজ লাইন থেকে ডুয়াল গেজ লাইনে উন্নীত করার পক্ষে মত দেন তিনি।

সার্বিক বিষয়ে জানতে চাইলে ‘ঢাকা-নারায়ণগঞ্জ সেকশনে বিদ্যমান মিটার গেজ রেললাইনের সমান্তরালে একটি ডুয়াল গেজ রেললাইন নির্মাণ’ প্রকল্পের প্রকল্প পরিচালক সেলিম রউফ বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, প্রকল্পটি বাস্তবায়ন হচ্ছে সরকারি ও বৈদেশিক সহায়তা তহবিলের মাধ্যমে। প্রকল্পে জমি অধিগ্রহণের জন্য কোনো অর্থ বরাদ্দ রাখা হয়নি। ফলে চাষাঢ়া স্টেশন এলাকার দশমিক ৫১ একর জমি অধিগ্রহণ করা যাচ্ছে না। ভবিষ্যতে এ জমি অধিগ্রহণের মাধ্যমে লাইনটি ডাবল লাইনে উন্নীত করা হবে। প্রকল্পের সার্বিক অগ্রগতি ৭১ শতাংশ ছাড়িয়েছে। ২০২২ সালের ডিসেম্বর মধ্যে নির্মাণকাজ শেষ হবে বলে প্রত্যাশা করছি।

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TBS Report

05 December, 2021, 06:10 pm

Last modified: 05 December, 2021, 06:18 pm

Govt undertakes Teesta development project worth Tk85b: Commerce minister


Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the government has undertaken a mega project for industrialisation on both sides of the Teesta River.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has already passed the project worth Tk85billion, the minister said at a scholarship distribution ceremony of late members of Rangpur Division Journalists Association (RDJA).

Speaking as the chief guest at the event, the commerce minister also said that gas connection activities are going on in Rangpur.

Munshi said that work for transforming Saidpur Airport into an international standard one was ongoing, adding the economy of Rangpur was moving forward with various economic activities.

An agriculture university was going to be established soon in Kurigram, he mentioned.

The commerce minister further said that giving scholarships to the children of late journalists was an exceptional initiative.

"I appreciate the initiative taken by Rangpur Division Journalists Association, Dhaka (RDJA). I don't know whether any other journalists' organisations have such initiatives."

Export Readiness Fund General Secretary SM Rashidul Islam echoed the minister's sentiments.

RDJA president Moksedur Rahman Masud said, "We stand beside the family of our late members with a small capacity. We want those capable to support us in this great work".

After coming to receive a scholarship, former RDJA member late Shafiul Alam Raza's wife Zakia Sultana said journalists can't leave anything behind for their families.

"After the death of my husband, I, along with my children, have gone through sufferings. The RDJA is standing beside us at such a time. I convey my best wishes to such a humanitarian initiative by the RDJA," she said.

Former Dhaka Reporters Unity president Shafiqul Karim Sabu also spoke at the occasion.

The scholarship money was handed over to 10 children of late members in the programme. Under the scholarships, each child of late RDJA members will be given Tk 3,000 per month. The scholarship will continue until the end of their educational programmes.

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বাংলাদেশে কৌশলগত অবস্থান শক্তিশালী করছে মার্কিন কোম্পানি জিই

মেহেদী হাসান রাহাত

ডিসেম্বর ০৬, ২০২১


বিদ্যুৎ খাতে বিনিয়োগের মাধ্যমে দেশে পদচারণা শুরু যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের কোম্পানি জেনারেল ইলেকট্রিকের (জিই)। প্রথমদিকে সরকারি বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে অর্থায়ন ও প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করত তারা। বিদ্যুৎ খাতে বেসরকারি খাতের অংশগ্রহণ শুরু হলে প্রতিষ্ঠানটি সেখানেও প্রযুক্তি ও অর্থায়ন করে। বর্তমানে সামিট করপোরেশন, ইউনিক গ্রুপ ও রিলায়েন্সের মতো কোম্পানির বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে কৌশলগত অংশীদারিত্ব রয়েছে জিইর। এছাড়া নবায়নযোগ্য জ্বালানি, স্বাস্থ্য, এভিয়েশন, তেল, গ্যাস ও যোগাযোগ খাতে প্রযুক্তিগত সহায়তা ও অর্থায়নের মাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশে কৌশলগত অবস্থান আরো বিস্তৃত করছে মার্কিন কোম্পানি জিই।

২০১৯ সালে জিইর সঙ্গে ২২ বছরের জন্য ৫৮৩ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্র নির্মাণ, রক্ষণাবেক্ষণ ও মেরামতের জন্য চুক্তি করে সামিট করপোরেশন। রিলায়েন্স বাংলাদেশ এলএনজি অ্যান্ড পাওয়ারের নির্মাণাধীন ৭১৮ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার গ্যাসভিত্তিক বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে উন্নত প্রযুক্তির গ্যাস টারবাইন সরবরাহের চুক্তি করে জিই। সর্বশেষ এ বছর রিলায়েন্সের এ বিদ্যুকেন্দ্রের রক্ষণাবেক্ষণ ও ডিজিটাল সমাধান প্রদানে ২২ বছরের জন্য চুক্তি স্বাক্ষর করেছে জিই। 

যুক্তরাষ্ট্রভিত্তিক বাণিজ্য ও বিনিয়োগ-সংশ্লিষ্ট সংস্থার প্রতিনিধিরা বলছেন, বাংলাদেশে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের বিনিয়োগ ক্রমেই বাড়ছে। আরো বাড়বে। দেশটির অন্যতম বৃহৎ বিনিয়োগকারী হিসেবে এতদিন শুধু শেভরনের নামই উচ্চারণ হলেও এখন জিইসহ আরো বেশকিছু কোম্পানির নাম উঠে আসছে। শেভরনের কাজের পরিসর নিকটভবিষ্যতে যদি আর না বাড়ে সেক্ষেত্রে অবধারিতভাবেই জিই হবে বাংলাদেশে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের সবচেয়ে বড় বিনিয়োগকারী কোম্পানি। বাংলাদেশের ধারাবাহিক অর্থনৈতিক প্রবৃদ্ধির কারণেও আগের তুলনায় বর্তমানে জিইর মতো বহুজাতিক কোম্পানিগুলোকে এ দেশে আরো বেশি বিনিয়োগের জন্য আকৃষ্ট করা হচ্ছে।

বাংলাদেশে জিইর কৌশলগত ব্যবসায়িক অংশীদারদের মধ্যে রয়েছে সামিট করপোরেশন, ডানা ইঞ্জিনিয়ার্স ইন্টারন্যাশনাল, ট্রান্সকম ইলেকট্রনিকস, ক্লার্ক এনার্জি, মেডিট্রাস্ট, ইউনিহেলথসহ আরো অনেক প্রতিষ্ঠান। গ্যাসের পাশাপাশি বাষ্পভিত্তিক বিদ্যুৎ উৎপাদনের ক্ষেত্রেও জিই প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করে। এছাড়া জিই পাওয়ার সার্ভিস বিজনেসের মাধ্যমে বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের নতুন আয়ের সুযোগ খোঁজার পাশাপাশি পরিচালন ব্যয় কমানো এবং কেন্দ্র সচল রাখার মতো সমাধান দেয় প্রতিষ্ঠানটি। ভূ-তাপীয়, স্রোত, জৈব ও সৌরবিদ্যুতের মতো নবায়নযোগ্য উৎস থেকে বিদ্যুৎ উৎপাদনের প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করছে জিই। বিদ্যুৎ উৎপাদনের পাশাপাশি সঞ্চালন অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের ক্ষেত্রেও অত্যাধুনিক প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করছে জিই। সমুদ্র ও ভূপৃষ্ঠে তেল ও গ্যাস অনুসন্ধান ও উত্তোলনের প্রযুক্তিও সরবরাহ করে কোম্পানিটি। ফলে ভবিষ্যতে এ খাতেও বাংলাদেশের সঙ্গে জিইর অংশীদারিত্ব আরো বাড়ার সুযোগ রয়েছে। এভিয়েশন খাতে বাণিজ্যিক ও সামরিক দুই ধরনের প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করে জিই। রেলপথ নির্মাণ, রেলের ইঞ্জিন ও খননকাজে ব্যবহূত প্রযুক্তির অন্যতম বড় সরবরাহকারী জিই। ফলে এসব খাতেও প্রতিষ্ঠানটির সঙ্গে বাংলাদেশের অংশীদারিত্বের ভালো সম্ভাবনা রয়েছে। 

বাংলাদেশে জিইর যাত্রা ১৯৭০ সালে প্রথম গ্যাসভিত্তিক টারবাইন সরবরাহের মাধ্যমে। ১৯৭৬ সালে দেশে প্রথম কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করে কোম্পানিটি। ১৯৯৫ সালে জিই প্রথমবারের মতো গ্যাস টারবাইনে কন্ট্রোলস রেট্রোফিট স্থাপন করে। ২০০৯ সালে প্রতিষ্ঠানটি বাংলাদেশের মেঘনাঘাটে প্রথমবারের মতো বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে ইকুইটি বিনিয়োগ করে। একই বছর বিবিয়ানা-২ গ্যাসভিত্তিক কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে প্রথমবারের মতো এফ ক্লাস প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহ করে। ২০১৩ সালে রাষ্ট্রায়ত্ত ইলেকট্রিসিটি জেনারেশন কোম্পানি অব বাংলাদেশ (ইজিসিবি) জিইর কাছ থেকে পূর্ণাঙ্গ কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল পাওয়ার ব্লক গ্রহণ করে।

একই বছর বিবিয়ানা-২ গ্যাসভিত্তিক কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে সবচেয়ে বেশি সক্ষমতার ট্রান্সমিটার সরবরাহ করে। ওই বছর ফেঞ্চুগঞ্জে ম্যাক্স পাওয়ারের বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রে ৯ই ভিত্তিক পূর্ণাঙ্গ পাওয়ার ব্লক সরবরাহ করে। ২০১৬ সালে ঘোড়াশাল গ্যাসভিত্তিক বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের ইউনিট-৩-এর রি-পাওয়ারিং চুক্তি পায় জিই। একই বছর একই বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের ইউনিট-৪-এর সরঞ্জামাদি সরবরাহের কাজ পায় প্রতিষ্ঠানটি। ওই বছরই ওরিয়ন পাওয়ারের কয়লাভিত্তিক বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের বয়লার ও এসটিজি প্যাকেজের কাজ পায় জিই। ২০১৭ সালে সামিট করপোরেশনের ৬০০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার মেঘনাঘাট বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের গ্যাস টারবাইনের কার্যাদেশ পায় প্রতিষ্ঠানটি। ওই বছরই জিয়াংশু ইটার্ন কোম্পানির ১০০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার শাহজিবাজার বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের গ্যাস টারবাইন ও ভোলায় শাপুরজি পাল্লোনজি গ্রুপের ২২০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের সরঞ্জামাদি সরবরাহের কার্যাদেশ পায় জিই। একই বছর বাংলাদেশ ও ভারতের যৌথ উদ্যোগে নির্মিত ৬৬০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার মৈত্রী সুপার থারমাল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের যন্ত্রাংশ সরবরাহের কাজ পায় মার্কিন এ কোম্পানি।

২০১৮ সালে মেঘনাঘাটে ইউনিক গ্রুপের ৬০০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্র উন্নয়ন ও গ্যাস টারবাইন সরবরাহের দায়িত্ব পায় জিই। ভারতের গদ্দায় আদানি গ্রুপের ৮০০ মেগাওয়াট সক্ষমতার কয়লাভিত্তিক বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্রের এসটিজি প্যাকেজ সরবরাহে চুক্তি করে জিই। এ কেন্দ্র থেকে বাংলাদেশে বিদ্যুৎ রফতানি করবে ভারত।

দেশের বিদ্যুৎ খাতে জিইর অংশীদারিত্বের বিষয়ে জানতে চাইলে বাংলাদেশ ইনডিপেনডেন্ট পাওয়ার প্রডিউসার অ্যাসোসিয়েশনের (বিআইপিপিএ) প্রেসিডেন্ট ইমরান করিম বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, শুরু থেকেই বিশ্বস্ত সহযোগী হিসেবে জিই আমাদের সঙ্গে ছিল। গ্যাসভিত্তিক কম্বাইন্ড সাইকেল বিদ্যুৎকেন্দ্র তৈরি করতে গেলে জিইর কোনো বিকল্প নেই। প্রযুক্তি ও আর্থিক সহায়তার পাশাপাশি জিইর কাছ থেকে আপনি সব ধরনের সেবাই পাবেন, যা প্রতিষ্ঠানটিকে বাংলাদেশের বিদ্যুৎ খাতের বড় অংশীদারে পরিণত করেছে। এমনকি ভবিষ্যতে ব্যবসাকে কীভাবে টেকসই করা সম্ভব সে বিষয়েও তাদের কাছ থেকে পরামর্শ পাওয়া যায়, যা এ খাতের অন্যান্য বিদেশী প্রতিষ্ঠানের ক্ষেত্রে চিন্তাও করা যায় না। ফলে সামনের দিনগুলোয় বাংলাদেশের সঙ্গে জিইর একটি দীর্ঘমেয়াদি অংশীদারিত্ব থাকবে।

২০০২ সালে দেশের স্বাস্থ্য খাতে প্রথমবারের মতো সিটি ও এমআরআই প্রযুক্তি স্থাপন করে মার্কিন প্রতিষ্ঠানটি। ২০০২-০৫ সালের মধ্যে জিই প্রযুক্তিভিত্তিক স্বাস্থ্যসেবা হেলদিম্যাজিনেশন চালু করে। ২০১০ সালে প্রাথমিক পর্যায়ে ক্যান্সার শনাক্তে প্রথম ডিজিটাল ম্যামোগ্রাফি সিস্টেম, পিইটি সিটি ইমেজিং সিস্টেম ও মেডিকেল সাইক্লোট্রন সুবিধা স্থাপন করে জিই। ২০১২ সালে জিই হেলথকেয়ার প্রথম ও একমাত্র ১২৮-স্লাইস সিটি অ্যান্ড ১.৫টি এমআরআই সরবরাহ করে। ২০১৪ সালে যৌথ উদ্যোগে প্রতিষ্ঠিত ফরটিস হাসপাতালে পূর্ণাঙ্গ সাপোর্ট সিস্টেম ও এমআরআই সিস্টেম স্থাপন করে জিই।

স্বাস্থ্য খাতে জিইর কার্যক্রম প্রসঙ্গে ল্যাবএইড গ্রুপের ব্যবস্থাপনা পরিচালক ডা. এএম শামীম বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, জিই স্বাস্থ্য খাতে ট্রেডিং কোম্পানি হিসেবে কাজ করে। দেশের স্বাস্থ্য খাতে যন্ত্রপাতি সরবরাহের ক্ষেত্রে জিইর অবস্থান এখন তৃতীয়।

জিই এভিয়েশনের কাছ থেকে ২০০৯ সালে ইঞ্জিন কিনতে উদ্যোগ নেয় বাংলাদেশ বিমান। ২০১১ সালে বিমান বাংলাদেশ জিইর কাছ থেকে আরো ইঞ্জিন কেনার কার্যাদেশ দেয়। এছাড়া ২০১৮ সালে কর্ণফুলী পেপার মিলের সোডা বয়লার সংস্কারের কাজ পায় তারা। মেমব্রেন বায়ো রিঅ্যাক্টর পদ্ধতির ইফ্লুয়েন্ট ট্রিটমেন্ট প্লান্টের (ইটিপি) প্রযুক্তিও সরবরাহ করছে জিই।

বাংলাদেশের অন্যতম বড় বাণিজ্য অংশীদার দেশ যুক্তরাষ্ট্র। একক দেশ হিসেবে বাংলাদেশের রফতানি পণ্যের বৃহত্তম গন্তব্য যুক্তরাষ্ট্র। আবার বাংলাদেশের পণ্য আমদানির উৎস দেশগুলোর মধ্যে চতুর্থ অবস্থানে রয়েছে দেশটি। ২০২০-২১ অর্থবছরে দেশটির সঙ্গে বাণিজ্য হয়েছে ৯২৪ কোটি ২২ লাখ ৮ হাজার ৬৫৩ ডলারের। এর মধ্যে রফতানি হয়েছে ৬৯৭ কোটি ৪০ লাখ ৮ হাজার ৬৫৩ ডলারের পণ্য। আমদানি হয়েছে ২২৬ কোটি ৮২ লাখ ডলারের।

এদিকে দেশে প্রত্যক্ষ বিদেশী বিনিয়োগের (এফডিআই) সবচেয়ে বড় উৎস দেশও যুক্তরাষ্ট্র। পুঞ্জীভূত প্রত্যক্ষ বিদেশী বিনিয়োগ বা এফডিআই স্টক বিবেচনায় বাংলাদেশে সবচেয়ে বেশি বিনিয়োগ এসেছে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রভিত্তিক কোম্পানিগুলোর মাধ্যমে। চলতি বছরের জুন পর্যন্ত যুক্তরাষ্ট্র থেকে আসা এফডিআই স্টকের আকার ছিল ৩৮৭ কোটি ১৩ লাখ ৬০ হাজার ডলার। গত অর্থবছরে দেশটি থেকে আসা নিট এফডিআই প্রবাহ ছিল ২৪ কোটি ২ লাখ ডলারের।

আমেরিকান চেম্বার অব কমার্স ইন বাংলাদেশের (অ্যামচ্যাম) প্রেসিডেন্ট সৈয়দ এরশাদ আহমেদ বণিক বার্তাকে বলেন, শেভরন এখন পর্যন্ত বাংলাদেশে আছে শুধু গ্যাস উত্তোলনের ক্ষেত্রে। গভীর সমুদ্রে কাজের সুযোগ পেলে কোম্পানিটির বিনিয়োগ অনেক বেড়ে যাওয়ার সম্ভাবনা আছে। অন্যদিকে জিইর বিনিয়োগের ক্ষেত্র বাংলাদেশে অনেক বিস্তৃত। শুধু সামিটের সঙ্গেই কোম্পানিটির ৭ বিলিয়ন ডলারের বিনিয়োগ হওয়ার কথা। স্বাস্থ্য খাতের কারিগরি উপকরণগুলোয় জিই অনেক বেশি শক্তিশালী। বাংলাদেশে বিনিয়োগের সম্ভাবনা শেভরনের চেয়ে জিইর অনেক বেশি। বলা যায় বহুমুখী সম্ভাবনা আছে জিইর। এ কোম্পানিগুলোসহ বাংলাদেশে এখন মার্কিন অনেক কোম্পানি আছে যারা বিনিয়োগের ব্যাপ্তি ধীরে হলেও বাড়াচ্ছে। যেমন ওরাকল, গুগল, ভিসা, কোকা-কোলা। আবার প্রাণের সঙ্গে প্রডাকশন শেয়ারিংয়ে গিয়েছে প্রক্টর অ্যান্ড গ্যাম্বল। সামগ্রিকভাবে আগে শেভরনের মাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশে মার্কিন বিনিয়োগ কেন্দ্রীভূত ছিল মূলত জ্বালানি খাতে। এখন জিই ও অন্য বিনিয়োগকারী কোম্পানিগুলোর মাধ্যমে বাংলাদেশে মার্কিন বিনিয়োগ আগের চেয়ে অনেক বৈচিত্র্যময়।

১৮৭৬ সালে যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের নিউ জার্সিতে একটি ল্যাবরেটরি স্থাপন করেছিলেন বিজ্ঞানী টমাস আলভা এডিসন। পরবর্তী সময়ে এ ল্যাবরেটরিতেই তিনি বৈদ্যুতিক বাতি আবিষ্কার করেছিলেন, যা পৃথিবীর পুরো সভ্যতাকেই বদলে দিয়েছিল। ১৮৯০ সালে তিনি তার বিভিন্ন ব্যবসাকে একত্র করে এডিসন জেনারেল ইলেকট্রিক কোম্পানি প্রতিষ্ঠা করেন, যেটি আজকের বিশ্ববিখ্যাত প্রযুক্তি সরবরাহকারী প্রতিষ্ঠান জেনারেল ইলেকট্রিক (জিই) কোম্পানি। সম্প্রতি জিইর গ্লোবাল হেডকোয়ার্টার থেকে এভিয়েশন, হেলথকেয়ার, নবায়নযোগ্য জ্বালানি, বিদ্যুৎ ও ডিজিটাল খাতকে বেশি প্রাধান্য দেয়ার ঘোষণা এসেছে। এক্ষেত্রে তিনটি কোম্পানির মাধ্যমে তারা এসব কার্যক্রম পরিচালনা করবে। ২০২০ সালে জিইর বার্ষিক আয় হয়েছে ৭৫ দশমিক ৬২ বিলিয়ন ডলার। এ সময়ে প্রতিষ্ঠানটির নিট আয় দাঁড়িয়েছে ৫ দশমিক ২৩ বিলিয়ন ডলারে। প্রতিষ্ঠানটির বর্তমান সম্পদের পরিমাণ ২৫৫ দশমিক ৫০ বিলিয়ন ডলার।

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BTRC amends licencing clauses to bag more FDI

 FE REPORT | Published:  December 06, 2021 10:23:19


The country's telecom regulator has amended clauses for its 21 types of licences to open the sector for more foreign direct investment (FDI).

According to the draft circular - issued on Sunday, from now on, licences will be issued to all, irrespective of Bangladeshi (resident citizens, non-resident Bangladeshis or NRBs, proprietorships, partnerships under the Partnership Act 1932, and companies registered under joint stock companies and firms under the Companies Act 1994) or foreign entities (citizens, companies or subsidiaries or holding companies).

Foreign partnership or joint venture will also be permitted, the amendment noted.

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will accept opinions on the draft guideline for 10 days.

Previously, there were clauses for limited FDI for only eight types of licences, including cellular mobile services, NTTN, submarine cable system and services.

As per the amended guidelines, the entity concerned will invest foreign currency directly - according to its percentage of ownership, and it will not be allowed to take any loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution and leasing company.

After fulfilment of rollout obligation and if loan is required for operational purpose/business expansion, the entity can take maximum 20 per cent of its total loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution and leasing company.

In that case, the entity will take prior permission from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the amended guideline mentioned.

It also said the existing licensee - having loan amounting to more than 20 per cent of its total loan from any Bangladeshi scheduled bank, financial institution and leasing company - will reduce the loan to 20 per cent within five years from the date of amendment of the guideline.

As per the draft amendment, the foreign entity will comply with all the rules, regulations and instructions of the Bangladesh Bank, the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and any other authority concerned of the country.

The licences that the BTRC proposed for amendments are: cellular mobile services (2G, 3G, 4G/LTE), 4G/LTE cellular mobile phone service, 3G cellular mobile phone services, 2G cellular mobile phone services, nationwide telecommunication transmission network (NTTN), internet service provider (ISP), international gateway (IGW) services, telecom value added service (TVAS), mobile number portability service (MNPS), submarine cable systems and services, tower sharing services, vehicle tracking service (VTS), broadband wireless access (BWA) services, PSTN operator licence 2004, international terrestrial cable (ITC) services, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service provider (VSP), internet protocol telephony service provider (IPTSP) services, national internet exchange (NIX) services, international internet gateway (IIG) services, and interconnection exchange (ICX) services.

However, the draft guideline eased clauses for licences of NIX services and ISP service.

"No revenue will be shared for local investment for these two types of licences," the draft proposed.

"In case of foreign investment and/or having foreign investment along with local investment, the licencee will pay a sum equivalent to 5.5 per cent of the annual audited gross revenue (AGR) of the foreign investment, part of which will be paid on a quarterly basis within the first 10 (ten) days at the end of each quarter."

It also proposed that one per cent of the annual audited gross revenue of foreign part will be paid on a quarterly basis as social obligation fee within the first 10 (ten) days at the end of each quarter.

In the event of any over payment by the licencee, the company may set off the excess amount against quarterly payments next year with prior permission from the BTRC.

"The percentage of subscription to social obligation fund (SOF) may be changed from time to time by the government. There will be no social obligation fee for the local investment part," the draft added.

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Dhaka Elevated Expressway construction eludes timeline

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  December 06, 2021 08:53:52

Dhaka Elevated Expressway (DEE) construction still eludes desired pace to keep the three-and-a-half-year timeline as per the project's public-private partnership (PPP) modality, sources said.

For the delay, they added, the tenure of the deal on toll collection under the project on the 47-kilometre thruway may fall into uncertainty.

Though some progress in the first PPP project of the DEE is visible after several years of stagnation since 2011, the sources said, the project's private concessionaire in fact could make only 37.3-per cent execution progress till November.

Bangladesh Bridge Authority signed the concessionaire deal first in January 2011 and a revised one in December 2013 with authority vested on the company to collect tolls for 22 years, keeping space for construction of 19.73 kms of the elevated road and 31 ramps of 27 kms in three and a half years.

But official record shows that almost two years have elapsed from the construction period, which officially commenced in January 2020, with many challenges still remaining to meet the construction period.

The BBA announced the project's commencement officially in January 2020 for the sake of the project's survival as the Italian-Thai Public Development Company Ltd, the private partner of the Tk 89.40-billion project, couldn't arrange funds in time for the construction works.

It also could not hand over the land to the Thai concessionaire firm in time, thus delaying the process of the commencement.

The gamut was, however, overcome after the selling of 34 per cent and 15 per cent shares to two Chinese companies by March 2020.

The DEE has been planned to bypass the highway traffic from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) to Shanirakhra on the Dhaka-Chattogram highway keeping scope of connecting the capital city's different areas to get traffic.

According to official record available until October, the first-phase works involving 7.45km infrastructure from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Banani rail crossing recorded over 70 per cent.

This part was supposed to open in 2020-and it missed the deadline.

Official sources claim the project progress has been made "simultaneously in all three phases of construction as per reschedule".

And nearly 30 per cent of the works in the second phase have been completed and it is planned that the entire first phase and part of the second phase up to Tejgaon rail station will be opened within next year.

The length under the second phase is 5.85km elevated road from Banani rail station to Moghbazar rail crossing.

"It is now planned to open the expressway from airport to Tajgaon rail station for traffic by December 2022," said project director AHMS Aktar, echoing the Road Transport Minister's recent announcement.

Admitting challenges in continuing road infrastructures in the congested Dhaka city, he said whatever scope has been found to work in three phases it is being carried out to meet the construction timeframe.

The PD claimed that major hurdle facing the project is over with the continuing of funding as well as land acquisition.

He ruled out the possibility of failing to meet construction time, saying: "The concessionaire for its own sake will meet it."

However, sources said, when part of the project will be inaugurated, three years of the project's entire construction period will be over by then.

Still third-phase work has yet to start and also work on the 31 ramps having 27 kms was not visible.

Besides, sources said, the project still needs to accommodate its design with Hatijheel area and Kamalapur Rail Station-the section which is being planned to develop under multimodal transport hub with a huge investment.

They see conflicts having arisen with the height limit of the DEE with some points of the rail corridor as its major part crosses over the rail line across the city. It has yet to resolve pier-related problems with some flyovers, including Moghbazar-Mouchak and Khilgaon flyovers.

Design of ramps are also not finalised till now.

The official sources said the BBA has been continuing its effort to resolve all these problems with authorities concerned. It has already held inter-ministerial meetings, including with Bangladesh Railway.

The BBA in support of the DEE project also is implementing support-to-DEE PPP project to acquire the land. Sources said land of the first two phases had already been handed over to the concessionaire. But the land to be acquired from the BR is yet to be completed.

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