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Infrastructure Development and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of Bangladesh


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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/bn/ঢাকা-মাওয়া-এক্সপ্রেসওয়েতে-স্বয়ংক্রিয়-টোল-আদায়ে-কোরীয়-কোম্পানি-1629370419

ঢাকা-মাওয়া এক্সপ্রেসওয়েতে স্বয়ংক্রিয় টোল আদায়ে কোরীয় কোম্পানি

Published:  August 19, 2021 16:53:39 | Updated:  August 19, 2021 16:56:36

দেশের প্রথম এক্সপ্রেসওয়ে ঢাকা-মাওয়া মহাসড়কে স্বয়ংক্রিয়ভাবে টোল আদায়ের জন্য একটি কোরীয় কোম্পানিকে কাজ দিচ্ছে সরকার। খবর বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকম-এর।

বৃহস্পতিবার সরকারি ক্রয় সংক্রান্ত ও অর্থনৈতিক বিষয় সংক্রান্ত মন্ত্রিসভা কমিটির সভায় কোরিয়া এক্সপ্রেসওয়ে করপোরেশনকে এ কাজ দেওয়ার প্রস্তাব অনুমোদন পায়।  খবর বিডিনিউজ টোয়েন্টিফোর ডটকম-এর।

মন্ত্রিপরিষদ বিভাগের অতিরিক্ত সচিব সামসুল আরেফিন বৈঠক শেষে বলেন, “স্বয়ংক্রিয় পদ্ধতিতে এই টোল আদায় করা হবে। গাড়ির সামনের যে উইন্ড স্ক্রিন সেখানে একটা স্টিকার থাকবে।

“গাড়িটি যখন যাবে তখন স্ক্যান করে গাড়ির অ্যাকাউন্ট থেকে অটোমেটিক টোল আদায় হয়ে যাবে। ঢাকা-মাওয়া মহাসড়কে ভাঙা পর্যন্ত তিনটি ব্রিজ রয়েছে। সমুদয় টোল একটা সমন্বিত সিস্টেমের মাধ্যমে আদায় হবে।”

তিনি জানান, কোরিয়ান ইন্টারন্যাশনাল এজেন্সির অর্থায়নে এই টোল আদায় কার্যক্রম চলবে। দক্ষিণ কোরিয়ায় ৪ হাজার ১১২ কিলোমিটার এক্সপ্রেসওয়ে ও ১ হাজার ৩৩২ কিলোমিটার দীর্ঘ সেতু ব্যবস্থাপনার অভিজ্ঞতা রয়েছে তাদের।

রাস্তায় কী পরিমাণ যানবাহন রয়েছে, কোন পথে দিয়ে গেলে সুবিধা হবে এসব তথ্যও তারা দেখাবে। প্রথমে ৫ বছরের জন্য তাদের নিয়োগ দেওয়া হবে, পরে চুক্তির মেয়াদ আরও বাড়ানো হতে পারে।

এদিন সরকারি ক্রয় সংক্রান্ত মন্ত্রিসভা কমিটির সভায় পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রামের প্রত্যন্ত এলাকায় সোলার প্যানেল স্থাপনের মাধ্যমে বিদ্যুৎ সরবরাহের (দ্বিতীয় পর্যায়) জন্য কেনাকাটার একটি প্রস্তাব পাস হয়।

পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রাম বিষয়ক মন্ত্রণালয়ের অধীন পার্বত্য চট্টগ্রাম উন্নয়ন বোর্ড বাংলাদেশ মেশিন টুলস ফ্যাক্টরি লিমিটেডের কাছ থেকে ২০৪ কোটি ৩৩ লাখ ২৫ হাজার টাকায় এই প্রকল্পের সরঞ্জাম কিনবে।

প্রকল্পের আওতায় (তিন পার্বত্য জেলার জন্য) ১০০ ওয়াট পিক ক্ষমতাসম্পন্ন ৪০ হাজার সোলার হোম সিস্টেম ও ৩২০ ওয়াট পিক ক্ষমতাসম্পন্ন ২ হাজার ৫০০ সোলার কমিউনিটি সিস্টেম স্থাপন করা হবে।

অতিরিক্ত সচিব সামসুল আরেফিন বলেন, “রাঙামাটি, খাগড়াছড়ি ও বান্দরবান এই তিনটি জেলার দুর্গম এলাকায় সোলার সিস্টেমগুলো দেওয়া হবে। স্থানীয়রা উপকৃত হবে। এটা গ্রাহকদের বিনামূল্যেই দেওয়া হবে।”

ক্রয় সংক্রান্ত কমিটির বৈঠকে সৌদি বেসিক ইন্ডাস্ট্রিজ (সাবিক) এর কাছ থেকে দ্বিতীয় লটে ১১৯ কোটি ৮২ লাখ ২ হাজার ৭৬০ টাকায় ৩০ হাজার টন ইউরিয়া সার আমদানির প্রস্তাবও এদিন অনুমোদন দেওয়া হয়। প্রতি টন সারের দাম পড়েছে

৪৭০ দশমিক ১৬ ডলার।

এছাড়া কর্ণফুলী ফার্টিলাইজার কোম্পানি লিমিটেড (কাফকো) এর কাছ থেকে তৃতীয় লটে ৩০ হাজার টন ব্যাগড গ্র্যানুলার ইউরিয়া সার কেনার প্রস্তাবে সায় দিয়েছে কমিটি।

১১১ কোটি ১১ লাখ ৪৬ হাজার টাকায় এই সার কিনছে বাংলাদেশ কেমিক্যাল ইন্ডাস্ট্রিজ কর্পোরেশন (বিসিআইসি)। প্রতি টনের মূল্য পড়ছে ৪৩১ ডলার।

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https://www.tbsnews.net/dropped/aviation/bangladesh-seeks-russian-investment-ishwardi-airport-290698

UNB

19 August, 2021, 09:25 pm

Last modified: 19 August, 2021, 09:34 pm

Bangladesh seeks Russian investment in Ishwardi Airport

Bangladesh is firmly committed to taking bilateral relations with Russia to a higher level, the state minister said

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Bangladesh has invited Russia to invest in Ishwardi Airport to make it functional.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam discussed the issue when newly appointed Ambassador of Russia to Bangladesh Alexander Vikentyevich Mantytskiy met with him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Thursday.

Bangladesh is firmly committed to taking bilateral relations with Russia to a higher level, the state minister said.

Also, he recalled the contributions of Russia during the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh.

The Russian ambassador said his country wants to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations with Bangladesh.

He also shared his country's commitment to expanding relations between the two countries.

The state minister mentioned that Bangladesh and Russia share the same view in various regional and international forums including in the UN to ensure global peace and security.

During the Second World War, the British government set up the Ishwardi Airport and in 1962 PIA operated the first passenger flight, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB).

After the independence of Bangladesh, Biman Bangladesh Airlines ran regular flights to and from Dhaka till 1989.

In 2013 United airways resumed their flights to Dhaka, but flights to the airport were suspended in 2014, CAAB says.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/infrastructure/my-village-my-town-mega-plan-upgrade-villages-290725

Saifuddin Saif

19 August, 2021, 10:45 pm

Last modified: 19 August, 2021, 10:56 pm

‘My Village My Town’ mega plan to upgrade villages

As a preliminary initiative to implement the mega plan – “My Village My Town”, the government has decided to develop 15 villages across the country as model villages on a pilot basis

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A mega plan to develop villages to have a range of civic amenities and growth centres around the country is on the drawing board.

The "My Village My Town" project will include road communication, telecommunication including Internet connectivity, health centres and sanitation and waste management among other targets, according to the work plan drafted by the Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives.

An initial expenditure of Tk1.5 trillion has been estimated in the work plan to be implemented by this ministry alone.   

As a first step towards executing this mega plan, the government has also decided to develop 15 villages as model villages on a pilot basis. Experience gathered from the pilot programme is expected to facilitate the expansion of modern civic amenities in other villages of the country.

Eight of the 15 model villages will be in eight divisions of the country.

The remaining seven will be in the haor, coastal, hilly, char, barind, and beel areas and one next to an economic zone. Since it is very difficult to implement development activities in these areas, the implementation of model villages there will make the implementation of the rural development master plan much easier.

Apart from economic activities, social and cultural aspects will also get importance in building the model villages.

According to the government's announcement, all facilities including village communication and market infrastructure, modern health services, quality education, safe drinking water, information technology facilities and high-speed Internet, improved sewerage and waste management, community space and recreation, banking, rural resources, power and energy supply, and modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture will be ensured in the model villages.

Various ministries and departments of the government have already proposed 116 projects to implement the government's plan to extend modern urban facilities to every village.

Besides, a number of new projects will be taken based on a survey being conducted by the local government ministry. The final estimation can be made once the surveys are complete.

The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) is conducting 36 feasibility studies at a total cost of Tk28 crore to expand the civic facilities to the villages. The surveys are expected to be completed by January next year.

As some 237 ongoing projects of different ministries and departments are compatible with the goal of "My Village My Town", the government has included those projects in this plan.

If urban facilities are expanded to rural areas and rural youth and agro-entrepreneurs are brought under training as promised by the ruling party in its election manifesto, productive employment opportunities will be created, the government expects.

Besides, the prospects of light industries are also expected to be brighter, as a result of which rural people will be less inclined towards migration to urban centres.

All relevant ministries and departments of the government will work to build the model villages. However, the LGED under the Local Government Division will take the lead in setting up the model villages.

LGED officials said the list of the model villages would be finalised by an inter-ministerial committee this month. The committee is headed by the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Tajul Islam.

Soon after that, various agencies including the LGED, the Public Health Engineering Department, the Cooperatives Department and the Ministry of Agriculture will start the work for implementing the pilot project. Many of these organisations have already started preparatory work in this regard, they added.

When asked, Minister Tajul Islam said various ministries and departments are working to implement the "My Village My Town" project and that new projects are being taken up through surveys.

The inter-ministerial committee is discussing new projects and new ideas every two months, he mentioned, adding work is on to prepare a master plan for the implementation of the "My Village My Town" project.

He further said the authorities have instructed all the ministries and departments concerned to formulate a realistic action plan in the light of Awami League's election manifesto for the successful execution of the "My Village My Town" plan.

Local government officials said the country's population could reach 22 crore in 2041.

Agricultural land in the country is currently depleting at an annual rate of 0.5%-1% and a large part of this is being converted to residential use, they mentioned, adding if this trend continues, food security will be disrupted and rural biodiversity will be destroyed.

Plans will be made to build a compact township with multi-storey buildings to ensure all civic amenities in populated villages, they continued, this will significantly reduce the construction and maintenance cost of infrastructures including road communication and electricity. Villages will be easily flood-free, they further added.

"If there are schools and hospitals in such model villages, education and health services could be provided easily. Agricultural land will be protected and, in the long run, the country will remain liveable."

For this reason, plans have been taken to explore the feasibility of rural housing or compact housing, the officials said.

Besides, an action plan has been adopted to devise development plans for all upazilas by 2030.

Experts said the model village project of the government will help villagers to get city-like facilities and it will reduce pressure on the cities.

Saima Haque Bidisha, research director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (Sanem), stressed a holistic approach to take all civic amenities to the villages. "We have to go step by step through decentralisation.

"All the facilities available in cities including employment opportunities, health and education must be ensured at the district level first. After that, these facilities will have to be taken to the upazila level. And that's how we can get closer to establishing model villages."

Meanwhile, various government agencies are carrying out research work for the implementation of the "My Village My Town" programme. Various organisations including the LGED, the Department of Agricultural Extension, the Rural Electrification Board and the Rural Development Academy (RDA) Bogura are working in this regard.

15  model villages of LGED

Referring to the 36 feasibility studies being conducted by the LGED for the 15 pilot model villages, Abul Monzur Md Sadeque, director of the feasibility study project, said, "Experts are conducting the surveys on all types of villages in the country. They are trying to figure out what the model village would look like, for example, in the haor areas or in the char areas.

"These areas do not have any communication system except waterways. The survey report will try to find the ways to deliver all the civic amenities there," he said.

The reports will also include the ways to ensure quality education, modern medical services and employment in the model villages.

Monzur Sadeque said, "The 15 villages that will be developed as model villages have been initially identified. Once the survey is completed, it will be possible to start work on the pilot project in the next six months. After that, in stages, all the villages of the country will be developed as model villages."

Bangabandhu Model Village of the Department of Cooperatives

The Department of Cooperatives under Rural Development and Cooperatives Division has proposed to develop 10 villages as Bangabandhu Model Village as a pilot project. If the pilot project is successful, similar model villages will be set up in all the villages of the country.

The department has made the proposal to celebrate the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. A proposal of Tk49.93 crore has already been sent to the Planning Commission in this regard. The project is targeted for completion in 2024.

Initially, the project will provide 17 types of civic amenities including health, education, electricity and ICT etc.

According to the Department of Cooperatives, apart from cooperative farming, a fish and dairy farm will be set up in each village. For this, a cooperative society of 500 members will be formed in each village. The members of the cooperative will be trained. The government will also subsidise buying two tractors and transplanters and one harvester in each village. The members of the cooperative society will pay 30% of the agricultural machinery purchase and the remaining 70% will be paid from the project fund.

The department said two-cow models for hybrid cattle rearing will be introduced in each model village for which the project will provide a special loan facility. If the project is implemented, the agricultural production in the village would increase by 25%.

The pilot project proposed to build a community building in each village where there will be small-scale storage for local products.

The products produced by the members of the cooperative will be marketed with their own brand name. Each cooperative society will be linked with the e-commerce platform of the department of cooperatives.

According to the proposal, a fund of Tk2 crore will be set up for each cooperative society from where members would be able to take interest-free loans up to a maximum of Tk50,000. However, entrepreneurs in the agriculture processing and food processing sectors would get loans up to Tk2 lakh with a 3% service charge. Instalment repayment will start six months after taking the loan.

The pilot project has selected 10 villages – Patgati and Sriramkandi in Tungipara, Gopalganj; Charbhaga Miyarchar in Vedarganj, Shariatpur; Honabad in Gournadi, Barishal; Char Commissioner village of Muladi, Barishal; Charvatiani of Madarganj, Jamalpur; Pompao of Manoharganj, Cumilla; Dungria of Sunamganj; Parala of Manirampur, Jashore; and Ratia village of Mithapukur, Rangpur.

The project is expected to reduce poverty in the model villages by 7%.

Dr Md Harun-or-Rashid Biswas, registrar and director-general of the Department of Cooperatives said, "Poverty rate has increased in the villages due to the pandemic. So it will not be possible to reduce the poverty rate as per the target of the project. However, the project would be amended if needed."

He said that other government departments would also need to come forward for the implementation of the project.

Model villages in haor area by LGED

The Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) wants to set up model villages under the "Haor Region Infrastructure and Livelihood Development" project. The project is developing two model villages – Chandergaon of Bismambar in Sunamganj and Hamidpalli of Mithamin in Kishoreganj.

The survey work in Chandergaon village has already been completed. People concerned said the project work will start soon in the selected villages.

Gopal Chandra Sarker, superintending engineer (Current Charge) and project director of the Haor Infrastructure and livelihood Improvement Project, said, "Road communication is a big problem in the haor areas. We need to construct roads in such a way that people can use them all through the year. Everything will be designed according to the concept paper."

"There will be various trainings to increase the employment and income of the rural people. Besides, there will be loan programmes for various sectors including dairy farms and poultry farms. No one in the model village will be unemployed," he added.

Meanwhile, there is a doubt about implementing the project in the Hamidpalli village because of the time limit of the project which is only one year, said project officials.

Fisheries village

The fisheries village project under the Department of Fisheries has already progressed in the Dakshin Bishiura village of Netrokona Sadar, and Halisaar in Naria of Shariatpur.

The project started in February 2020 on the occasion of Mujib Year. As per the project, the Department of Fisheries has started scientific fish farming in 202 ponds in South Bishiura village. In the last year, the village has produced fish worth around Tk3 crore. The department has finished all the preparation for fish farming in the Halisaar village.

According to fisheries department officials, the main reason behind choosing the village of Halisaar in Naria is that the village is surrounded by the Padma River. It is a hilsa inhabited area. Most of the villagers are fishermen. There is also a big fish market here.

Officials said that from next December, this village will be an ideal fishing village for the fishermen of the country.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/interviews/excelerate-expand-gas-supply-western-region-through-payra-290734#.YR89dJ_M6to.facebook

Eyamin Sajid

20 August, 2021, 11:00 am

Last modified: 20 August, 2021, 11:14 am

Excelerate to expand gas supply in western region through Payra

As the pioneer and global leader in floating LNG infrastructure, Excelerate is developing technologies to solve Bangladesh’s most pressing energy issues

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TBS Sketch of Ramon Wangdi

 

Excelerate Energy LP – a US-based Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) solutions company – has been supplying gas to Bangladesh's national grid through its floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) located in the Moheshkhali coast since August 2018.

As the pioneer and global leader in floating LNG infrastructure, Excelerate wants to expand its collaboration with Bangladesh's energy ministry in implementing solutions to reliably supply gas into the western part of the country.

Speaking recently to The Business Standard, Excelerate's Vice President for Asia Pacific Ramon Wangdi said Bangladesh's next landmark gas project will need to focus on supplying underserved parts of the market.

For example, reliable gas supply should be made available in western districts of Barishal, Gopalganj and Khulna to meet consumer demand – utilising an LNG import facility through Payra in the Patuakhali district of southern Bangladesh.

Being a leading LNG solution provider and innovator, how is Excelerate Energy's service since 2018 contributing to Bangladesh's economic growth and energy supply stability?

To better understand the contribution of Excelerate's LNG facilities in Moheshkhali, one must first recognise the recent history of Bangladesh's vibrant energy sector.

This has been defined by the country being blessed with abundant supply of a very affordable, clean natural resource – namely natural gas, which it has produced domestically and in large quantities for decades.

Today, natural gas accounts for two-thirds of the country's energy mix, and over the years, this has allowed Bangladesh to develop its downstream energy infrastructure across the entire value chain – from pipelines to power plants, transmission grids, to gas dependent industrial factories and even within residential communities, where gas is used for cooking.

So, reliable gas supply has played an enormous role in underpinning the rapid growth of Bangladesh's rich diverse economy – an economy which has grown over 6% on average, since the turn of the century. A remarkable feat by international standards!

In more recent times, as domestic reserves continue to decline, imports of LNG have played an essential role in ensuring the continuity of reliable gas deliveries through an abundant supply from the global marketplace, so that the government may continue on its ambitious, but achievable, vision to become a high-income nation by 2041.

Since Bangladesh started importing LNG through Excelerate's FSRU facilities in Moheshkhali in 2018, the country steadily increased its gas supply through LNG imports – which today accounts for about one quarter of the country's total gas supply. 

With this, LNG has brought enormous stability to the region's energy sector and has greatly contributed towards growing confidence in markets downstream, with many power plants and factories that previously lay dormant having now resumed operations. 

As a result, further infrastructure investments are taking place within the southeast region, which has witnessed an economic boon since reliable LNG supplies were introduced.

Excelerate has operations across nine countries worldwide. What is your experience in operating FSRU in Bangladesh, which is a highly natural disaster-prone country?

With a global portfolio of 13 floating LNG terminals and over 60 years of regasification experience under our belt, there isn't much which Excelerate hasn't experienced in its operational history within the LNG industry.

While operating terminals in the Bay of Bengal indeed comes with certain distinct challenges – such as cyclonic conditions from time to time – we have been able to draw upon those experiences to supply LNG into Bangladesh safely, reliably, and sustainably for over 3 years now.

For example, one of Excelerate's first terminals, the Gulf Gateway in the United States, was located over 180KM offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a hurricane prone region of the world.

At the time when "Katrina" – a category 5 hurricane that ravaged the coasts of Louisiana and Texas – made landfall, Excelerate's FSRU remained at the terminal, continuing to provide critical fuel supply to the gas grid during a time when the market needed it the most.

Experiences such as this and others have been invaluable to prepare Excelerate for environments like the Bay of Bengal.

Since we began operating in Bangladesh, we have faced two cyclones – Fani in 2019 and Amphan in 2020 – both of which had severe impact to the region, but I am happy to say that similar to our experiences in the US many years ago, we were able to continuously provide gas deliveries into Bangladesh throughout these events, and have generally had very minimal disruptions in our operations due to natural weather events.

This is a testament to the combined experience of Excelerate's entire operational team – men and women in the field, onshore and offshore, Bangladeshis and foreign – all collectively working together with Petrobangla and the government to face each challenge and overcome them together.

In a world that is seeing the rapid rise of cheap green energy, how do you project the future of LNG in terms of use and price globally?

Global shift in adopting green energy solutions is undeniable, as is the science behind climate change which is driving this trend. I believe the only question is how fast and in what form will this adoption be for different countries around the world.

As a regional leader in this effort, I think Bangladesh has already taken bold action to play a substantial role on the global stage in contributing towards a decarbonised future – as evidenced by the country's recent cancellation of several coal projects, along with the government's focus on expanding Bangladesh's renewable programme.

Looking ahead, Bangladesh has a few fundamental issues that it needs to address for the successful broad-based adoption of renewables within the country's energy grid. 

Firstly, when looking at renewables in isolation, it provides an incomplete energy solution due to its intermittency – for instance, how do you generate electricity when the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing?

Secondly, in order to implement utility-scale renewable facilities, projects require a substantial allocation of land. For example, a 100MW solar farm may take approximately 300 to 400 acres of land, which in a very densely populated country like Bangladesh comes at a significant cost due to the scarcity of land available for development.

For those reasons, I believe natural gas and LNG will continue to be instrumental in complementing renewables – first by ensuring continuous energy supply, by filling any gaps in generation from renewables, and secondly, by driving down net energy costs by enhancing energy efficiency and by utilizing existing infrastructure, such as pipelines, whose investments have already been made.

When coupled with the benefits in regards to clean air quality of gas over comparable fossil fuels, such as oil based fuels – which still accounts for about 30% of the country's energy mix, we believe that LNG clearly is, in and of itself, also a "green energy solution" for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh now plans to establish land-based LNG storage to meet the energy demand. Being the pioneer and market leader in floating LNG solutions, what is Excelerate's plan for the government's next project?

Since our founding, Excelerate has always focused its business on tackling the biggest problems within the energy sector of a market, and in turn, developing our technologies around finding solutions to these problems. 

To this end, we look at every technical solution – whether it be land based, near shore or offshore – through this lens and ask ourselves "does this solution in fact address the root problem which needs solving for a particular country?"

In the Bangladeshi context, that core problem that needs solving has been increasing gas supply quickly, reliably, and affordably – and any technical solution that gets built to address this fundamental issue must account for these three key items in order to succeed. 

With this in mind, land-based solutions are absolutely technically viable, but generally have been more costly and taken longer to construct. Floating LNG has effectively helped Bangladesh develop fast track solutions in addressing some of these issues.

What's next for Excelerate? Well, in keeping with this same philosophy, we believe the next major area in the country's gas sector which needed addressing was to broaden energy access to the under supplied regions of Bangladesh. 

In particular, the western region of Bangladesh has not been able to secure the same reliable access to gas supply due to its further distance from existing supply sources. 

For this reason, Excelerate began looking since 2018 at developing an LNG solution to supply gas into the Patuakhali, Barishal and Khulna districts – where currently there is no reliable gas supply source.

We have invested and been working diligently on developing a solution for supplying LNG into this region through an FSRU facility in Payra, and have submitted proposals to the Energy Mineral Resources Division and Petrobangla to implement the solution for gas supply through Payra all the way to Khulna. 

We are in discussions with the government to implement this program, and if we can move forward quickly, we would have gas supply in Khulna by 2024.

Besides LNG products, Excelerate also has power solutions. Does it have any plan for working with Bangladesh's power sector?

As an integrated energy company, Excelerate actively looks for investment opportunities in all areas of the gas value chain, including the power sector, where we can most add value. 

Within Bangladesh's power sector, there are two broad areas where Excelerate are exploring project development opportunities.

One is for new LNG-based power plants being developed along the coast of the country. An example of this is the 1,200MW Payra LNG power plant being developed by North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL) and Siemens. 

The NWPGCL has an impeccable track record of execution for innovative complex projects in the region, such as Payra LNG, and we strongly believe this important project will add to that long list of their achievements. 

Excelerate is in the final phases of a Joint Development Agreement for the Payra LNG power plant, which we hope to conclude shortly.

The second area is to convert or replace existing oil-based power plants to gas-fired or LNG based plants. These plants are typically highly inefficient and expensive to run. While they are usually smaller modular plants, when looked at as a whole, they still account for a big part of Bangladesh's power mix today – almost 30%. 

Once reliable gas supply is made available, converting these plants to gas-fired is not only the greener choice, but also the more economical one.

These are the two segments of the power sector where Excelerate is most focused on within Bangladesh.

How do you project Bangladesh's energy sector scenario in the next 10 years? What areas need more focus?

Within the government's Vision 2041 plans, Bangladesh has laid what I believe is a very clear road map on the country's plans to continue on its path of socioeconomic growth. 

As a key pillar of this plan, sustainable growth of Bangladesh's energy sector will be crucial, as the government plans to double its energy generation capacity to about 40GW by 2041. 

In the next decade, as Bangladesh looks to strongly rebound from the pandemic in unison with the rest of the world, the energy sector must take steps now to prepare for what we fully expect to be a multi-year period of explosive economic recovery around the world.

This growth must be met with bold policy decisions, fiscal prudence, and continued innovation in project implementation models and technologies. This will require an even deeper collaboration between public and private sectors in the next ten years, when compared to the prior decade.

LNG will continue to be an instrumental part of that story in supporting Bangladesh's journey towards meeting its targets. 

In the next ten years, I believe LNG paired with robust gas distribution solutions can greatly contribute towards two main goals within Bangladesh's energy sector – firstly, to broaden energy access throughout the country, and secondly, to greatly increase energy efficiency.

Continued investment in downstream gas infrastructure will be essential – such as continued investments in the country's pipeline network, expanding use of CNG in the transportation sector and LNG trucks to deliver LNG to off grid customers that are currently disconnected from gas supply.

In its CSR policy, Excelerate focuses on Health, Education and climate. Would you say a bit about your CSR activities in Bangladesh?

Similar to many US energy companies, Excelerate follows a partnership model in all the markets in which we operate globally – not only with our customers, but also within the communities in which we serve and operate.

In Bangladesh, we have concentrated our community investments towards addressing some of the most important sustainable development goals which the government has clearly set as key areas of focus – such as the areas of clean energy, reducing the gender gap, healthcare and education. 

Before the pandemic, this manifested itself in various initiatives such as where Excelerate engages with schools within the communities of Moheshkhali to distribute school supplies or advancing on our Solar Maternity Clinic project – a solar powered hospital which provides maternal healthcare to women in the rural communities where we are operating.

Naturally, during the pandemic, our CSR program has been more focused on supporting Bangladesh in its time and areas of greatest need, so that it may overcome the devastating effects of Covid-19. 

This has meant sponsoring various programmes which contribute towards the recovery effort, such as the Hope Foundation infectious disease center opened in Cox Bazar in 2020, or through the sponsorship of project CURE – a program coordinated by the US Chamber of Commerce and USAID, where Excelerate along with other US companies made donations of medical supplies and other essential medical equipment to support Bangladesh's fight against the pandemic.

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১৯ জেলায় এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণ করছে সওজ

প্রকাশিত: ১৮ আগস্ট ২০২১

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মহাসড়কে অতিরিক্ত ওজন নিয়ে যানবাহন চলাচল রোধের উদ্যোগ নেয়া হয়েছে। এজন্য দেশের ১৯টি জেলায় এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণ করতে যাচ্ছে সড়ক ও জনপথ (সওজ) অধিদপ্তর। 

এসব জেলায় সব মিলিয়ে ২৮টি এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণ করা হবে। এজন্য ব্যয় হচ্ছে ৪৯০ কোটি টাকা।

জানা গেছে, এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণের জন্য এরই মধ্যে দুটি ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠানকে নিযুক্ত করা হয়েছে। ১৫ দিনের মধ্যে কাজ শুরু করবে তারা। এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশনগুলোর মধ্যে ১৮টি জাতীয় মহাসড়কে, পাঁচটি আঞ্চলিক মহাসড়কে ও বাকি পাঁচটি পড়বে জেলা মহাসড়কে।

নির্মাণ করতে যাওয়া এসব এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশনের মধ্যে হবিগঞ্জের জগদীশ্বরপুরে একটি, কুমিল্লার ময়নামতিতে দুটি, বাগেরহাটের দিগরাজে একটি, নবাবগঞ্জের কয়লাবাড়িতে একটি, দোহাজারীর কেরানীর হাটে দুটি, কুড়িগ্রামের তুরা স্থলবন্দরে একটি, পঞ্চগড়ের ভজনপুরে একটি, দিনাজপুরের হিলিতে একটি, শেরপুরের শিমুলতলায় একটি, ময়মনসিংহের গোবরাকুরায় একটি, সাতক্ষীরার নাওবাদকাঠিতে একটি, নীলফামারীর কাজিরবাজারে দুটি, টাঙ্গাইলের বড় ইসাপুরে একটি, ফেনীর বিলোনিয়ায় একটি, চুয়াডাঙ্গার দর্শনায় দুটি, চট্টগ্রাম বন্দর সংযোগ সড়কে একটি, গাজীপুরের মাস্টারবাড়িতে দুটি, মুন্সীগঞ্জের রোহিতপুরে একটি, মাদারীপুরের ভাঙ্গায় একটি, চট্টগ্রামের সীতাকুণ্ড ও দরগারহাটে দুটি এবং সিলেটের সুতারকান্দিতে দুটি স্টেশন রয়েছে।

হবিগঞ্জ, কুমিল্লা, চট্টগ্রাম, শেরপুর, ময়মনসিংহ, গাজীপুর, ফেনী, মুন্সীগঞ্জ, সিলেট ও টাঙ্গাইলের ১৭টি এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণের জন্য সওজের সঙ্গে চুক্তিবদ্ধ হয়েছে ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠান ন্যাশনাল ডেভেলপমেন্ট ইঞ্জিনিয়ার্স। চুক্তিমূল্য ৩০১ কোটি ৩৫ লাখ টাকা। 

অন্যদিকে বাগেরহাট, চাঁপাইনবাবগঞ্জ, কুড়িগ্রাম, পঞ্চগড়, দিনাজপুর, সাতক্ষীরা, নীলফামারী, ফেনী, চুয়াডাঙ্গা ও মাদারীপুরের ১১টি এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল স্টেশন নির্মাণের জন্য চুক্তিবদ্ধ হয়েছে ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠান স্পেকট্রা ইঞ্জিনিয়ার্স লিমিটেড। চুক্তিমূল্য ১৮৮ কোটি ৩৫ লাখ টাকা। গত সোমবার ঠিকাদারি প্রতিষ্ঠান দুটির সঙ্গে চুক্তিগুলো করেছে সওজ।

সওজের কর্মকর্তারা জানিয়েছেন, ২০১২ সালের এক্সেল লোড কন্ট্রোল নীতিমালার আলোকে স্টেশনগুলো পরিচালিত হবে। স্টেশনগুলোর কার্যক্রম ২৪ ঘণ্টা সচল রাখতে নিজস্ব জনবলের পাশাপাশি আউটসোর্সিংও করা হবে। স্টেশনগুলোতে এক্সেল লোড ডাটা সংগ্রহের যন্ত্রপাতি, বিল্ট ইন ভিডিও ক্যামেরাসহ ওয়েববেজড সিস্টেম করা হবে।  ফলে দূরবর্তী স্থান থেকে পরিচালনা কার্যক্রম পর্যবেক্ষণ করা সম্ভব হবে।

সওজের আওতাধীন গুরুত্বপূর্ণ মহাসড়কে পণ্য পরিবহনের উৎসমুখে এক্সেল লোড নিয়ন্ত্রণ কেন্দ্র স্থাপন শীর্ষক প্রকল্পের মাধ্যমে স্টেশনগুলো নির্মাণ করা হচ্ছে। প্রকল্পটির পটভূমিতে বলা হয়েছে, গেজেট অনুযায়ী, দুই চাকাবিশিষ্ট সামনের এক্সেলের এবং চার চাকাবিশিষ্ট পেছনের এক্সেলের সর্বোচ্চ ওজনসীমা ইউনিট ধরা হয়েছে ১৫ দশমিক ৫ টন। কিন্তু বাস্তবে দেখা যায়, মহাসড়কে নির্দিষ্ট সীমার চেয়ে বেশি ওজন নিয়ে ট্রাক-কাভার্ড ভ্যান চলাচল করে। ফলে নির্ধারিত আয়ুষ্কালের আগেই মহাসড়কের আয়ু ফুরিয়ে যায়। এগুলো রক্ষণাবেক্ষণ ও পুনর্বাসনের জন্য দরকার হয় অতিরিক্ত অর্থ। এছাড়া পণ্যবাহী গাড়ির অতিরিক্ত ওজন নিয়ে চলাচল সড়ক দুর্ঘটনারও অন্যতম কারণ। সামগ্রিকভাবে দেশে অতিরিক্ত ওজন নিয়ে যানবাহন চলাচল রোধ করাই প্রকল্পটির মূল উদ্দেশ্য।

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Md Foisal Ahmed

22 August, 2021, 08:45 am

Last modified: 22 August, 2021, 04:40 pm

63 out of 99 bridges too low for smooth navigation: BIWTA

A gazette notification issued in 2010 defined the minimum height of bridges, but constructions of low bridges on rivers are underway even after eleven years

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Highlights:

  • The Navigational Clearance shall be in accordance with the current BIWTA requirements. Therefore the latest situation i.e. any possible change in regulation needs to be verified with the BIWTA. 
     
  • Minimum vertical Clearance for Class-I routes 18.30 meters, Class-II 12.20, Class-III 7.62 and Class-IV 5.00 meters from the standard high water level (SHWL).
     
  • For waterways which have not been classified by BIWTA, consideration shall be given to the local requirement for passage of fishing vessels, boats, trawlers, barges etc. 
     
  • At least one span must be kept wide enough to accommodate intended river traffic. The vertical clearance should be measured from the Standard High Water Level. 
     
  • The same height for the bridge has also been defined by the Shipping Ministry's Gazette 2010. 
     
  • The guideline said the Minimum Vertical Clearance for Class-I routes 18.30 meters, Class-II 12.20, Class-III 7.62 and Class-IV 5.00 meters from SHWL. 

Low bridges constructed by the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) across different rivers in the country have been creating obstacles to the smooth navigation of vessels on the waterways.

A recent survey by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) found that 63 out of 99 bridges surveyed are blocking smooth navigation due to construction glitches.

Even though a gazette notification issued in 2010 defined the minimum height of bridges, constructions of low bridges on rivers are underway even after eleven years.

According to the 2010 gazette, minimum vertical clearance for Class-I route is 18.30 metres, Class-II 12.20 metres, Class-III 7.62 metres and Class-IV 5.00 metres, from the standard high water level (SHWL). For waterways that have not been classified by the BIWTA, the local requirement for passage of fishing vessels, boats, trawlers and barges has to be considered. At least one span must be kept wide enough to accommodate intended river traffic. 

Among the 99 bridges surveyed, the BIWTA spotted six under-construction low bridges, including Tongi Rail Bridge-2, Tongi Road Bridge-1, Kayetpara Bridge and Ichhapura Bridge (Narayanganj), which are in violation of the 2010 gazette.

BIWTA sources have said they failed to stop the construction of those bridges even after sending a letter earlier this year to the Roads and Highways Department, which is responsible for the construction and maintenance of bridges on the country's rivers.

In this regard, Rabiul Islam, assistant director (Conservation and Pilotage) of the BIWTA, said, "We sent a letter to the RHD in February recommending a stop to the construction of those bridges, but it has not been paying heed to our objections. We cannot do more due to legal bindings."

Apart from the above-mentioned bridges, the RHD is also constructing two bridges on the River Kopotakkho at Jhikargachha on the Jashore-Benapole highway in violation of the rules of minimum height defined in the 2010 gazette.

Sources have said the RHD is constructing the twin bridges on the River Kopotakkho without obtaining vertical and horizontal clearance from the BIWTA, which is mandatory before the construction of any bridge is undertaken.

"The BIWTA has not approved the construction of the bridges as the minimum height was not maintained," said Md Sobur Khan, deputy director (Conservation and Pilotage) of the BIWTA.

He said, "We have asked the hydrography department to measure the height from the standard water level. Once we get the report, we will lodge complains to the authorities concerned."

The bridges are being constructed at a cost of Tk150 crore, with funding by Japan International Cooperation Agency. Construction of a bridge has already been completed and work on another will begin soon.

In this regard, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury told The Business Standard (TBS), "No bridge can be constructed without getting a no objection certificate (NOC). We will look into the matter as to how the RHD is constructing the bridges. BIWTA has been instructed to investigate the issue and action will be taken once the investigation ends."

Replying to a query, he said, "We have no way of taking legal action. We are going to hold an inter-ministerial meeting to discuss the issue. Hopefully, it will be fruitful."

Asked about other low-height bridges, the state minister said some of the bridges are very old and some were built before the publication of the 2010 gazette.

"The prime minister is very much serious about recovering navigation routes across the country. She has instructed us to find out the low bridges and reconstruct them. Therefore, all low bridges constructed on different rivers across the country will be reconstructed to ensure smooth navigation," said the state minister, adding however, that it cannot be done overnight. It has to be done in phases.

"Initially, we want to recover the important routes. Then, gradually, all the routes will be recovered. Restoring 10,000km of waterways across the country is going on while, simultaneously, action will be taken regarding low bridges on those routes," Chowdhury held out the assurance.

Meanwhile, experts said inefficiency and whimsical decisions of the RHD, together with a lack of coordination and proper monitoring are the key reasons behind the construction of the low bridges.

"The RHD's argument that some of the bridges were constructed before the issuance of the 2010 gazette is a lame one. They should have kept in mind the fact that a bridge is made for 50-100 years," said Professor Mir Tareque Ali, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

He said the construction of low bridges is a result of their inefficiency. It happened due to the lack of coordination between the BIWTA and the RHD.

RHD Chief Engineer Md Abdus Sabur said, "Before the issuance of the gazette in 2010, we had been following our own guideline — RHD Bridge Design Standards 2004 — for construction of bridges. 

"Since the issuance of the gazette in 2010, we have been taking clearance from the BIWTA regularly before starting the construction of any bridge.  But in a recent gazette on 'Construction Over Rivers Control Rules', published in 2018 by the shipping ministry, classification of some routes was upgraded. As a result, bridges constructed on those routes turned into low ones."

Most of the bridges spotted by the BIWTA as low bridges were constructed even before RHD's 2004 guideline was prepared, he claimed.

"We are serious about the low or most talked about bridges and trying to fix the problem. We are working to find out an alternative to demolishing the existing bridges. We are considering whether it is possible to increase the height keeping the existing girders," he added.

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Twin projects for the same road, taken up by authorities!

 FHM HUMAYAN KABIR | Published:  August 22, 2021 08:22:29 | Updated:  August 22, 2021 14:43:22

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The Planning Commission (PC) is in a fix over the two separate projects taken up by the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) to widen a road, involving a substantial amount of money.

The PC held discussion with the RHD to find a solution, said an official concerned.

The RHD has undertaken two projects for widening one road in Sylhet, which created a stir inside the government planning regulator, sources said Thursday.

They said the RHD has been working to make wider the 16.35km Joyntapur-Jaflong road along the Sylhet-Tamabil highway at a cost of Tk 1.91 billion since October 2017.

The road development is still going on. Yet, the road-developer last year undertook another project costing Tk 35.86 billion in a bid to widen the same highway, they said.

A project-insider told the FE that a major portion of the newly built drains and roads on the Joynta-Jaflong alignment under the first project would need to be demolished during the Sylhet-Tamabil-highway-widening works under the second project.

"We were informed about the two projects for a same alignment while the RHD had recently brought the first project for revision to us," he said, requesting anonymity.

"When we got the revision proposal of the Joynta-Jafflong road project, we also scrutinised the last-year-approved Sylhet-Tamabil-road-widening project. Then we have found that the RHD is working on the same road!" he wondered.

"Then we called the public road-developer for a meeting and recommended cutting some provisions of the previously taken Tk 1.91-billion-cost project and finish it as soon as possible," the PC official said.

"We have found some less-priority works, including the inter-section and some drain constructions, in the first project. So, we had recommended trimming down those works under the Tk 1.91 billion scheme," he added.

The PC recommended not building an intersection at Bollahat, axel-load- regulation centre and some drains under the Joynta-Jaflong-road-development project, the official further said.

When asked, a RHD official told the FE that they had also informed the Commission that they wanted to cut the construction of Bollahat intersection for its lesser priority and wanted to trim down the land acquisition in bazaar (market) areas on the highway due to complex procedure, the project-insider said.

"Realising the overlapping we had recently sought revision of the Tk 1.91 billion Joyntapur-Jafflong-road-development project for completing it shortly," he added.

They proposed to reduce the project cost to Tk 1.24 billion from Tk 1.91 billion of the first project. Now it will require one more year to complete.

Meanwhile, the RHD had already completed 62 percent works on the Joyntapur-Jafflong road under the first project.

The department undertook the 'Widening of Joynta-Jaflong road on the Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil-Jaflong highways along with Tamabil land connection and Bollaghat connection-road project' at Tk 1.91 billion in October 2017.

The widening works were scheduled to be completed in June last FY2021.

But the RHD recently sought another year from the Planning Commission to complete the development works on the Joynta-Jaflong road.

Meanwhile, the road-developer had undertaken 'Upgradation of the Sylhet-Tamabil highway into four-lane, including a separate slow-moving vehicular traffic lane (SMVT)".

The purpose of both the projects is to connect neighbouring India with the capital city, Dhaka, and establish a regional connectivity.

With the financial support of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the RHD has taken up the Sylhet-Tamabil Highway upgradation project, scheduled to be completed by June 2025.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/08/22/deal-inked-under-sasec-2-to-develop-roads-in-northern-region

Deal inked under Sasec-2 to develop roads in northern region

 BSS

 Published at 10:36 pm August 22nd, 2021

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File photo of the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway Collected

Once the project is implemented, strong road connectivity will be built between Dhaka and northern region of the country

The government today signed an agreement for two packages under South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec-2) for the development of road connectivity in the country’s northern region.

Roads and Highways Department Chief Engineer Md Abdus Sabur and Farhana Momen of package-5’s construction company Abdul Momen Limited and Zhou Libo, authorized representative of package-13’s construction company, China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Limited, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective institutions.       

Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader joined the agreement signing ceremony at Roads and Highways Department here through videoconferencing.    

Under package-5, around 13.5 kilometres highway from Elenga in Tangail to east part of Bangabandhu Bridge will be upgraded to four-lane.

A flyover, eight bridges and two underpasses and 10 culverts will be constructed under the package at a cost of Tk601 crore.

Under package-13, an international standard separate-grade modified cloverleaf interchange will be constructed.

Besides, a highway service area will be built for taking rest for drivers and passengers of long-route vehicles. The works will be done at a cost of Tk743 crore.

The two construction companies will bear defect liability for one-year and provide maintenance facilities for six years after completion of construction works by three years.

Under SASEC-2, around 190 kilometres of highway is being upgraded to four-lane from Elenga to Modern intersection in Rangpur. The cost of the project is around Tk16,662 crore.  

Once the project is implemented, strong road connectivity will be built between Dhaka and northern region of the country.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2021/08/22/bangladesh-to-get-first-maritime-runway-in-2024

Bangladesh to get first maritime runway in 2024

 Shohel Mamun

 Published at 11:07 pm August 22nd, 2021

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The new 10,700ft-long runway will allow much larger aircraft to take off and land at the airport Courtesy

Runway at Cox’s Bazar airport to be extended by 1,700ft, effectively turning it into an international airport

The government has taken up an ambitious project to extend the runway at Cox’s Bazar airport by reclaiming land from the sea.

Once completed, the new 10,700-foot runway will allow much larger aircraft to take off and land at the airport, paving the way for it to operate international flights.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to virtually inaugurate the construction work of the project on August 29. 

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) inked the deal for the project with the Chinese joint venture of Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on February 9, 2021. The estimated cost of the project is Tk1,568.86 crore.

According to the project documents, the deadline to finish construction is May 10, 2024. However, a spokesperson for the contractor said they would be given additional commission if they could finish construction before November 14, 2023.

Under the agreement, the contractor will extend the existing 9,000ft runway by 1,700ft towards the Maheshkhali Channel through coastal land reclamation. 

Representatives of the contractor said CYWEB-CCECC JV had mobilized personnel at the site immediately after the signing of the contract with CAAB. The detailed design and construction of temporary facilities, including a site office, road networks, jetty, and concrete batching plant had been substantially completed.

CAAB officials said the main construction work would begin after the prime minister laid the foundation stone of the project.   

“The latest technology will be used to build a spectacular runway by reclaiming coastal land. It will include the installation of an airfield ground lighting system, installation of instrument landing systems, construction of safety walls and a bridge over the Bakkhali river,” officials said.

The project was approved by the government on November 4, 2018.  

Md Mahbub Ali, minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, said various development projects were underway to turn Cox's Bazar into an international tourist destination. The runway extension project is one of the most crucial of these projects.

“The dream is to transform Cox’s Bazar Airport into an airline hub. People can directly visit Cox’s Bazar as a tourism destination once the extension is completed,” he told Dhaka Tribune.   

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/bb-bida-run-parallel-to-guide-equity-investment-abroad-1629685411

BB, BIDA run parallel to guide equity investment abroad

 SYFUL ISLAM | Published:  August 23, 2021 08:23:31 | Updated:  August 23, 2021 09:27:58

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Two regulatory bodies run parallel preparing separate guidelines on equity investment abroad by Bangladeshi businesses, raising concern about possible clash of authority, sources said.

Both the Bangladesh Bank (BB) and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) are preparing the guidebook under instructions from two separate government high-ups, according to the sources.

The central bank has already prepared its draft of the guidelines and the ministry of finance has forwarded it to the law ministry for vetting, being instructed by the cabinet committee on government purchase back in June 2017.

Besides, the sub-section 6 of the section 4 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947 empowered the central bank to specify, in consultation with the government, the classes of permissible capital-account transaction.

On the other hand, the BIDA also has prepared a separate set of draft guidelines on the same, being instructed by its governing body, headed by the Prime Minister.

In March this year, the BIDA shared the guidelines with the ministries and departments concerned for their opinion. The financial institutions division had forwarded the copy to the central bank for comment on the draft.

According to sources, the BB in its comment said according to the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act only the central bank is empowered to specify the classes of permissible capital-account transaction.

If any organisation other than the central bank wants to prepare guidelines on capital- account transaction, necessary amendment has to be brought first in the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, it argued.

Contacted Sunday, Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Kazi Sayedur Rahman said the draft prepared by the BB was now waiting at ministry level for necessary approvals.

He would not make any further comment on this matter of policy duplication in the matter of offshore investment.

BIDA executive chairman Sirazul Islam told the FE Sunday his office is preparing the guidelines being instructed by its governing board led by the Prime Minister.

"I am bound to carry out a task when the governing board asks for. I am carrying out its decision," he said.

Mr Islam said the draft is now at the final stage and would be sent to government high-ups. "Since it will be national guidelines, it will go to the prime minister's office (PMO)."

He thinks the PMO may also have an inter-ministerial meeting and then it will be sent to the cabinet division for the all-clear.

Mr Islam would not comment on the Bangladesh Bank's opinion in this respect.

When contacted, former central bank governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed stated that BIDA is responsible to facilitate both local and foreign investment inside the country.

Handling equity investment abroad is not BIDA's task, he said.

"It is central bank which has sole authority to take any decision on foreign-currency issue," said Mr Ahmed.

He noted that it is also the responsibility of the central bank to check who will make the investment abroad in which sector, whether the funds will be repatriated or not, and what guarantee is given against the investment etc.

Executive Director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) Dr Ahsan H Mansur said both the government bodies can sit together to prepare a set of guidelines instead of drafting two separate documents.

"The main issue is making equity investment abroad has to be allowed by the government," he said

Dr Mansur said in this case the government has to give approval on a case-to-case basis, and to companies having good reputation.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/50-railway-stations-are-getting-facelift-with-modern-amenities-says-railways-minister-1629640920

50 railway stations are getting facelift with modern amenities, says railways minister

Published:  August 22, 2021 20:02:01

As part of initiative taken to modernise the railway services, more than 50 railway stations are now being renovated on the occasion of the Mujib Year, said Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan on Sunday.

 “The government has taken different initiatives in order to build a modern, up-to-date and advanced railway communication system,” he said.

The minister said this while laying the foundation stone of a modern public toilet adjacent to the Kamalapur Railway Station here. WaterAid Bangladesh and Bangladesh Railway jointly constructed the toilet, said a PID handout.

 “Some 52 railway stations are being renovated and modernised throughout the country on the occasion of the Mujib birth centenary. These will have modern toilets,” he said.

Nurul said many projects are now being implemented and many others have already been undertaken for the development of the railway sector. “Old rail tracks and bridges are being repaired. New rail coaches and engines are being brought. The new trains would have bio toilets to avoid the pollution of the environment,” he said, reports UNB.

He said the Khulna-Mongla railway and Tongi-Joydebpur double-track railway would be launched  next year. Had the railway faced no brunt of Coronavirus, the sector would be more developed now, he said.

The minister said the Bangladesh Railway has taken initiative to form a consultancy firm under its own management as part of enhancing the capacity. “We would be able to provide consultancy service with our own manpower and thus it would save the foreign currency,” he said.

Talking about the new public toilet, he said WaterAid Bangladesh and Bangladesh Railway will also construct two such toilets at the valiant freedom fighter Sirajul Islam Railway Station in Panchagarh and Ishwardi Railway Station in Pabna.

The public toilet would be a friendly one to women, children and even persons with disabilities.  Alongside the separate entry doors for both women and men, there would be safe water, rainwater conservation system, breast-feeding corner and solar power system in the toilets.

Railway Secretary Md. Salim Reza and WaterAid Bangladesh country director Hasin Jahan also spoke at the function presided over by Director General of Bangladesh Railways Dhirendra Nath Mazumder.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/construction-work-laying-roadway-slab-padma-bridge-completed-291880#.YSNOEg53RiQ.facebook

TBS Report

23 August, 2021, 01:25 pm

Last modified: 23 August, 2021, 01:28 pm

Construction work of laying roadway slab on Padma bridge completed

 

The construction work of laying the roadway slab on Padma Bridge has been completed.

The last of the 2,917 roadway slabs was laid on Monday which marks the Bridge's length 6.15 km.

Dewan Abdul Quader, executive engineer of the Padma Bridge project, confirmed the matter and said, "The last roadway slab has been laid today on the span of piers 12 and 13 of the bridge."

Earlier, on 20 June, the work of laying the railway slab of the two-storey bridge was completed.

According to the engineer sources, 87.25% of the overall bridge project has been completed till July this year. The progress of the work of the main bridge is 94.25%.

The bridge is expected to be opened to use by June 2022.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/national/faulty-study-blamed-for-dhaka-narayanganj-railway-project-cost-overruns-1629773451

Faulty study blamed for Dhaka-Narayanganj railway project cost overruns

 MUNIMA SULTANA | Published:  August 24, 2021 08:50:51 | Updated:  August 24, 2021 10:31:31

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The Bangladesh Railway (BR) is going to bear an extra cost and take additional time to complete the Dhaka-Narayanganj new track-development works due to its faulty feasibility study.

Sources said the BR will now either acquire 0.51 acres of land at a cost of Tk 1.33 billion or make a major change to the design of the dual-gauge track.

Despite having no records, they said, the feasibility study done by the BR showed that it owns the land from Chasara.

But the project work came to a halt at Chasara last year after BR failed to recover the land from Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC).

"Six years after running the project, the railway authority came to know that the land is owned by NCC as recorded in 1910 as per cadastral survey (CS)," said an insider.

He said the BR's study mentioned the land based on its acquisition in 1883.

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. The Power China was selected as the contractor of the project.

But the project office identified the problem after completing 15-km land-development works up to Chasara last year due to wrong information provided by the people concerned without cross-checking the land records, sources said.

Officials said the BR moved to resolve the problem and started revising the project with an option to acquire the land as most works from Dhaka to Chasara station have been completed.

It also added new components to infrastructures in the revised development project and proposed extending the deadline for the third time until 2024 from 2021.

The proposed project cost after land acquisition was shown at Tk 7.78 billion, up by 106 per cent.

But sources said the Ministry of Railways in a recent meeting asked the BR to drop the idea of land acquisition and proposed merging the new dual-gauge track from Chasara with the existing metre-gauge track.

However, more feasibility studies and changes to the track design would also be required for merging as the height of the new track is much higher than the metre gauge.

Besides, they said, due to the single-line track from Chasara to Narayanganj Station, train movement on 1.0-km track may need to be halted when the construction work will be going on.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/dbl-industrial-park-looks-grow-big-huge-investment-291715#.YSJ_h9JAx9k.facebook

TBS Report

22 August, 2021, 10:30 pm

Last modified: 23 August, 2021, 10:39 am

DBL Industrial Park looks to grow big with huge investment

The industrial park – to be established on 167.6 acres of land – is expected to create employment for 5,630 people and generate $500 million yearly turnover

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The economy of Bangladesh is seeing continuous growth because of the entrepreneurial spirit of its people and the ever-increasing investment from the industrial sectors to expand into new business frontiers, said Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the prime minister.

While addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of DBL Industrial Park – to be constructed at Shreehatta Economic Zone in Moulvibazar – on Sunday, he also said the government has taken up a comprehensive development plan under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for advancing towards more export-oriented economy to boost the growth.

Under the plan, the Beza economic zones will play a pivotal role in building successful manufacturing hubs, he expected.

The industrial park – to be established on 167.6 acres of land – is expected to create employment for 5,630 people and generate $500 million yearly turnover.

A total of 10 manufacturing units will be set up in the industrial park featuring state-of-the-art technology. These are textile, spinning, recycled polyester, ceramic tiles, sanitary ware, ceramic frit, floral glass, glass processing, dry mortar and faucet units.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the launching ceremony of the industrial park was held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital, instead of the original venue located in Moulvibazar. The industrial park will be constructed by DBL Group, one of the leading business conglomerates of the country.

Besides creating a good number of employment opportunities, this industrial park will manufacture raw materials and finished products for domestic and export markets, the company stated.

Dr Ahmad Kaikaus attended the foundation laying ceremony as the chief guest while Shaikh Yusuf Harun, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, was the special guest.

DBL Group Chairman Abdul Wahed, Managing Director MA Jabbar, Vice Chairman MA Rahim, Deputy Managing Director MA Quader, and Senior Secretary to Youth and Sports Ministry Akther Hossain, among others, also attended the event.

Yusuf Harun said, "Beza is working to establish 100 economic zones across the country. DBL Group, one of the largest business conglomerates of Bangladesh, has joined this journey of economic expansion.

"It will surely fulfill the goals of creating world class quality products and materials which would contribute to the country's national economy. This investment will make foreign investors more confident about investing in our country."

infograph_dbl_industrial_park-02.jpg?ito

DBL Group Managing Director MA Jabbar said: "Today, Bangladesh is at the cusp of growth led by innovation and huge investment. We are witnessing an age where technology is being effectively integrated into infrastructure at an increasing rate. Our aim is to fast forward this progress through a revolutionary change in the industrial sector of Bangladesh."

"At DBL Group, we challenge conventional manufacturing methods and move the industry towards an efficient and automated platform. The launch of DBL industrial park is an important step towards achieving our vision of pushing forth the next phase of Bangladesh's growth through world-class infrastructure," he added.

At the park, DBL plans to build a world-class textile mill to produce 43.5 tonnes of fine cotton yarn and rotor yarn per day, to cater for the diverse needs of the textile industry.

The unit will be further expanded by the same capacity in future. The park will have a recycled polyester unit also which will produce 18 tonnes of staple fiber per day as a raw material for the spinning factory.

In the industrial park, DBL aims to produce over 40,000 square meters of ceramic tiles per day in its ceramic factory unit.

In another ceramic facility they will produce 90-99 tonnes of ceramic frit per day, which is a major ingredient of ceramic glaze used widely in the ceramic industry.

The park will also feature float glass manufacturing, glass processing, faucet manufacturing units. The dry mortar facility of the industrial park is expected to generate $8.8m revenue per year.

DBL's biggest initiation at the industrial park is the Jinnat Textile Mills Limited with two spinning factories, which will be a vital part of DBL's vertically integrated textile composite.

These manufacturing units will cater to existing renowned buyers such as H&M, George, Puma, Esprit, G-Star, Decathlon, Tom Tailor, MQ Retail, NEXT, M&S, Bench, Gymboree, LIDL, C&A and Target.

Total investment on the first factory will be $83.35 million with a yearly revenue of $70 million. Jinnat Textile Mills Limited will be expanded in future with 43.5 tonnes per day totaling $140 million revenue per year.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2021/08/24/mymensingh-to-get-modern-bridge-over-brahmaputra-river

Mymensingh to get steel arch bridge over Brahmaputra River

 UNB

 Published at 04:03 pm August 24th, 2021

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Members of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) attend a weekly meeting at the NEC Bhaban in Dhaka on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 PID

PM Hasina okays Tk3,263.63 crore project

The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday cleared eight projects, including a Tk3,263.63-crore one to construct Kewatkhali Bridge over the Brahmaputra River in Mymensingh.

The approval came from the weekly Ecnec meeting held with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The premier joined the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban, while others from the NEC conference room of the Planning Commission.

“Today, the meeting approved eight projects with the overall estimated cost of Tk5,441.63 crore [only additional cost of a revised project was counted here],” said Planning Minister MA Mannan while briefing reporters after the meeting.

pm-ivy-s-off-springs-were-locked-in-cmh-

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) from Ganabhaban through a videoconference on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 | PID

Of the cost, Tk3,332.72 crore will come from the public coffer while Tk2,060.98 crore from foreign sources as loans and the rest Tk47.93 crore from the own fund of an organization concerned, he said.

The Kewatkhali steel arch bridge will be constructed by June, 2025 in order to establish improved road connectivity of Sherpur and Netrakona with the Mymensingh headquarters and the capital.

The main project operations include construction of a 2,093-meter bridge foundation and substructure, 320-meter steel arch bridge superstructure, 1,773-meter concrete bridge and construction of culverts, construction of a toll plaza, and 33.02 hectares of land acquisition and rehabilitation.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/bgmea-seeks-spanish-investment-in-manufacturing-non-cotton-and-technical-textiles-1629808311

BGMEA seeks Spanish investment in manufacturing non-cotton and technical textiles

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  August 24, 2021 18:31:51

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Tuesday sought Spanish investment in manufacturing non-cotton and technical textiles.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan made the call during a meeting with the Spanish Ambassador to Bangladesh Francisco de Asís Benítez Salas at the apex apparel body’s office in the capital, according to a statement.

BGMEA Vice President Shahidullah Azim also attended the meeting.

The trio discussed various issues, including the progress made in implementing workplace safety and social and environmental sustainability of the local readymade garment industry, added the statement.

“Bangladesh is proud to have the highest number of green garment factories in the world and more factories are in the process of achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from US Green Building Council (USGBC)”, Mr Hassan said.

Apprising the priorities of the RMG industry, the BGMEA president stressed the production of value-added apparel items made from man-made fibre (MMF) and innovation in product development and process optimisation.

He highlighted the potential of the industry and the need for industry upgrading, particularly in skills and efficiency enhancement areas, technological expertise, and diversification of products, especially those produced from non-cotton.

Mr Hassan sought support from the Spanish embassy regarding the potential of foreign investment in non-cotton and technical textiles and high-end apparel items.

They also discussed the country's  LDC graduation sought cooperation from the Spanish government in this regard. 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/matarbari-port-faces-land-acquisition-hiccup-292780#.YSXgWmlz6aQ.facebook

Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury

25 August, 2021, 12:00 pm

Last modified: 25 August, 2021, 12:00 pm

Matarbari port faces land acquisition hiccup

Cox’s Bazar district administration is yet to hand over the land to the project implementation agency

matarbari_project.jpg?itok=KdYfXYn0&time

The Chattogram Port Authority under the Ministry of Shipping is constructing Matarbari Deep Sea Port at Moheshkhali upazila’s Matarbari and Dhalghata area in Cox’s Bazar. Photo: TBS

The Matarbari Port Development project, a Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) funded fast-track project of the government inaugurated in 2020, is now caught in land acquisition delay as Cox's Bazar district administration is yet to hand over the land to the implementing agency Chattogram Port Authority.

The port authority in June paid Tk75.11 crore land acquisition cheque to the district administration, and subsequently reached out to Cox's Bazar deputy commissioner multiple times. But the district administration neither replied to the letters from the port authority nor handed over the land in the last two and a half months.

"By sending letters and making verbal requests, we have repeatedly asked the district administration to hand over the acquired land to us. But it has not been responding," said Mir Zahid Hasan, director of the Matarbari Port Development project.

He noted that the land accusation delay could set back the overall implementation time for the project.

On 2 June, the Chattogram Port Authority – the implementing agency of the Matarbari Port Development project – handed over the cheque to the district admin as acquisition value for around 283 acres of land in Cox's Bazar. The district administration was supposed to disburse the amount to the land owners and immediately hand over the land to the port authority.

Sources at the Chattogram Port Authority have said that three letters have been sent to the Cox's Bazar deputy commissioner seeking possession of the land – two in June and the last one in August.

"Matarbari Port Development is a fast-track project and the Prime Minister's Office monitors it regularly. Therefore, an immediate handover of the 283 acres of land is requested," read the letters.

Project officials said as many as 229 people have plots at the project site, and some of the owners are still residing on the land. The land owners are yet to be notified by the district administration about receiving the money for their plots and moving away.

"Lockdown delayed us," said Al Amin Parvege, additional deputy commissioner (Revenue) of Cox's Bazar, adding the department is now preparing a list of the plot owners.

He did not mention any specific date for the handover, but said it would be "soon".

Matarbari Deep Sea Port is being constructed at Moheshkhali upazila's Matarbari and Dhalghata area in Cox's Bazar. The Chattogram Port Authority under the Ministry of Shipping is implementing the work.

On 16 November 2020, the Chattogram Port Authority inaugurated the project at a press briefing at its office.

Ships with an 18.5 metre draft will be able to dock at the port once its construction is completed in mid-2025. The port will be hosting cargo carriers with a capacity of 8,000-10,000 containers. The initial design of the deep seaport supports 8 lakh containers per year while the capacity could be enhanced further with additional jetties.

Currently, 92% of the country's trade is conducted through Chattogram port, which has been struggling to cope with the growing volume of trade by sea.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade/hsbc-beza-brac-to-make-mirsarai-economic-zone-greener-1629903862

HSBC, BEZA, Brac to make Mirsarai Economic Zone greener

Published:  August 25, 2021 21:04:22

HSBC Bangladesh has recently partnered with the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Brac to build a green economic zone in Chattogram's Mirsarai.

The collaboration will ensure over 40,000 mangroves plantation across 10 acres of coastal land at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) in Mirsarai.

The mangrove plantation is estimated to capture 492 tonnes of carbon each year.

To mark the inauguration of this initiative, HSBC CEO Md Mahbub ur Rahman planted saplings at the Shilpa Nagar.

He was accompanied by M Erfan Sharif, additional secretary, executive member, BEZA, Md Liakath Ali, director, Climate Change Program, Brac and Brac International, and colleagues from HSBC.

"Mangrove forest is known for its incremental carbon capture capacity and can grow well in the coastal areas where water salinity is high. This is the very first mangrove initiative by a private sector among all the economic zones in Bangladesh and will play its part in ecological development in the area," Mahbub ur Rahman said.

"BEZA is always supportive of sustainable industrialisation – plantations to restore the environment have been part of our key activities," BEZA Executive Chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun said. "In collaboration with HSBC, this initiative of mangrove plantation at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar is a phenomenal example of partnership with a financial institution for climate solution in an economic zone."

"Mangrove plantation is a nature-based solution and one of the most effective actions for offsetting the global emission of GHGs. Brac has been doing similar work for long and is happy to be part of this noble initiative jointly with HSBC," said Md Liakath Ali, director, Climate Change Program, Brac and Brac International.

Also, HSBC will support the Covid-19 awareness campaign and skills development programme at the BSMSN, reports UNB.

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