Dhaka, Sept 22 (UNB) – If one feels the urge to discover the history of currencies and explore the various aspects of evolution of human civilization, especially that of the Bangalees through coins and currencies of different eras, the Taka Museum (Currency Museum) at Mirpur in the city is the right place to do so.
Bangladesh Bank established the museum, the first of its kind in the country, beside Bangladesh Bank Training Academy with a collection of over three thousand coins and paper notes.
While talking to UNB, Dr Achia Khanom Likhon, the Keeper of the Taka Museum, said former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman took the initiative in 2012 to establish the museum equipped with modern technology and facilities to preserve and exhibit the history and tradition of currency.
In 2009, the museum was established on the third floor of the main building of the central bank at Motijheel, but that was not open to all. Now, visitors can visit the Taka Museum free of cost, said Achia Khanom.
Photo: Wahida Zaman Shithi/UNB
At the museum, the coins and currencies are currently being exhibited at two galleries. The first gallery with 43 showcases contains near about 1100 objects, and the story of evolution of coins and currencies starts right from here.
This gallery shows its visitors how people used to trade things much before the tradition of coins and bank notes started.
The ancient silver punch marked coins of fourth to second century BC tell the earliest history of coins in Indian subcontinent to the visitors. The collection also includes Kushan coins from 30 to 375 AD, Indo Greek Silver coins from 2nd to 1st century AD, Cowry shells, Harikel Coin from 7th to 9th century AD.
Next to the huge collection of Harikel coins brought from the ancient archaeological site, Mainamati, coins from the time of Delhi Sultans, Bengal Sultans and Mughal Emperors are showcased in different sections with details.
Gold coins of Chandragupta are also one of the main attractions of the gallery, while another main attraction is the collection of rare bank notes of China, Russia and Germany, Achia Khanom, the keeper of the museum, told UNB.
From the symbols of the British India from 1947 to the Pakistani coins and bank notes till 1971 are also showcased at the gallery.
Coins, bank notes and commemorative notes of all values and designs are showcased there along with some details.
Besides different currencies, the gallery also exhibits different pouches and pots which used to be used to preserve coins in ancient times as well as different dices which were used to make coins.
The second gallery showcases coins and currencies of about 120 countries including India, China, Cambodia, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Syria, Bahrain, Oman, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Australia and many other countries.
Digital technologies, including 3D television and LCD display, are there at the museum while visitors can print souvenir note having their faces on observe using the digital kiosk photo booth by spending Tk 50.
With the growing interest among the visitors, the second floor of Bangladesh Bank Training Academy has been allocated for the extension works of the Taka Museum, said Achia Khanom adding that two more galleries, a library, laboratory, multipurpose Cineplex, children corner are under construction as part of it.
The visiting hour of the museum is from 11am to 5pm from Saturday to Wednesday. The museum remains closed on Thursday except National holidays.
Sadrul Hasan, UNB Staff Writer
Dhaka, Sep 20 (UNB) – Thanks to high import cost of liquefied natural gas (LNG), government is all set to hike gas prices next week.
However, residential and commercial consumers will be spared from paying higher prices. The upward price revision will affect industrial consumers, power plants, fertilizer factories, captive power plants, and CNG refueling stations, officials concerned told UNB.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) sources hinted at a price hike of up to 40 percent.
The move comes at a time when government started supplying high-cost imported LNG in national gas network to supplement to locally produced gas since August this year. Per unit (thousand cubic feet or mcf) LNG costs USD 11 as against locally produced gas price of only USD 2.9 per unit.
Official sources in Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) said that after examining all the pros and cons of the gas price hike proposals placed by different government entities, the regulatory body is now fully prepared to announce its decision anytime.
BERC Member Mizanur Rahman said they were waiting for two things to settle – firstly, flow of imported LNG through pipeline and implementation of a government decision of giving supplementary duty (SD) waiver on imported LNG.
He said BERC is expecting a government order on SD waiver in a day or two.
Earlier in June the energy sector’s watchdog body held series of public hearings responding to the appeals of the state-owned different gas distribution and transmission companies.
All the 8 state-owned downstream entities in gas sector including six distribution companies, one transmission and an LNG marketing company, had appealed to the BERC seeking an average 75 percent hike on the existing gas prices for different consumer groups except the household and commercial ones.
The distribution companies are Titas Gas Transmission & Distribution Company Limited (Tatas Gas T&D), Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company Limited (BGDCL), Jalalabad Gas Transmission and Distribution System Limited, Pashchimanchal Gas Company Limited, Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited and Sundarbans Gas Company Limited (SGCL).
While participating in the hearing, the gas entities argued that as per the government decision they had to submit their respective price hike proposals because of the high import cost of LNG as it will push up their cost substantially.
The largest gas distribution company Titas in its proposal sought to raise the gas price by 206 percent for power plants, to Tk10 per cubic meter (CM) from Tk3.16.
The highest raise of 372 percent was proposed for gas price for fertilizer factories to Tk 12.80 per CM from the existing rate of Tk 2.71 per CM.
The captive power plants’ gas price was proposed to be Tk 16 per CM against Tk 9.62 while price of gas provided to the industries was proposed at Tk 15 per CM against the existing Tk 7.76 per CM and CNG gas price was proposed to be Tk 40 per CM against existing rate of Tk 32.
Different consumer right groups including Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) opposed the proposals and appealed for reducing the gas prices.
per the BERC Act, the regulator is supposed to announce its decision within 90 days from the completion of the hearing.
They said the downstream companies had been asked to move their appeals to the energy regulator to bring rationality in their price by accommodating the cost of imported LNG.
The Petrobangla started imported LNG supply to national gas network from August 18 through re-gasification by private sector-operated floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU).
Officials said currently 300 mmcfd gas is being supplied from LNG and it will go up to 500 mmcfd in a month or two and then 1000 mmcfd gas will be flowed from next year as per a government plan.
Faridpur, Sept 19 (UNB) – The farmers of Sadarpur upazila are enjoying brinjal farming as it has turned out to be more profitable than many other traditional vegetables.
The farmers are cultivating brinjal, also known as eggplant, in their lands as this summer crop not only helps meet their demand but also brings them money, according to officials at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
This year around 290 hectares of land have been brought under brinjal cultivation while it was 250 hectares last year, the DAE officials said.
Farmers of Shouldubi, Math Shouldubi, Abuler intersection, Badhanoghat areas under Krishnapur union of Sadarpur upaizla have been cultivating brinjal for the last 15 years as it has been more profitable than other crops.
During a recent visit to the upazila, the UNB correspondent found that a vast track of lands has been brought under eggplant farming in the upazila.
Usually, they cultivate different varieties of eggplant, including BP Hybrid, Sinduri, White and Lafe.
Abul Bashar, a farmer of Shouldubi village, said he has been cultivating brinjal after taking 40 decimals of land on lease for Tk 20,000 for three years and he brought solvency to his family after farming the summertime vegetable.
Jamal Uddin, another farmer, said he cultivated brinjal on his 10 kathas of land.
As less water is needed for brinjal farming than boro’s, more and more farmers are showing interest in brinjal farming, said Jamal Uddin of Badhanoghat in the upazila, who has been farming brinjal on his 10 Kathas of land.
“Also, the costs of fertilizer and labour are less and it gives us more profit compared to other vegetables,” he told UNB.
A farmer needs Tk 40,000 to 50,000 for cultivating brinjal in one bigha of land from where they can yield around 120 to 150 maunds of brinjal.
Hafiz Matubbar, Jalil Pramanik, Kalam Paramanik and some other farmers said this summer vegetable starts blooming and continues to bloom for around six months within one month of planting.
Farmers can harvest eggplants twice a week, he said adding that the current market price of this crop is Tk 800 to Tk 1000 per maund.
Kartik Chakraborty, deputy director of Faridpur DAE, said, “We provide advices and suggestions to the farmers about brinjal farming and our staff keep visiting the field regularly.”
Kazi Shafiqul Islam, chairman of Sadarpur upazila, said the brinjal of Shoiladubi area is famous.
“The farmers of this area don’t have to go to the market to sell their product as the wholesale traders directly buy it from the land,” he said.
Amzad Hossain, a trader, said they purchased eggplant from Sadarpur upazila and supply it to Karwan Bazar, Shyambazar, Jatrabari, Dohar in Dhaka, and Narisha, Kartikpur, Sreenagar, Madaripur, Barishal, Khulna, Satkhira and other districts.
He said they sell eggplant at Tk 1,200-1,500 per maund.
Dhaka, Sept 19 (UNB) – The Election Commission will have the preparation to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in at least one polling station of 300 constituencies each in the general election to be held in December next.
Though the commission will take more time to take the final decision on the EVM use in the 11th national election, it has started taking preparation in this regard, said officials at the Commission.
As part of that, the EC is going to arrange a two-day EVM fair in the city by October 15 next to enable people to see the machine.
The Commission, however, has no plan to invite its main stakeholders -- representatives from political parties -- to visit the EVM fair, which is likely to be held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).
Students from different colleges and universities as well as 10-15 people from different age groups from every ward of Dhaka city corporations will be invited to visit the fair, according to a decision taken at a meeting of the EC Secretariat held on August 28.
“As per the meeting minutes,” EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said, “We’ve to take preparation from right now if the EVMs are used in all upazilas and city corporations, and at least one polling station of each 300 parliamentary constituencies across the country.”
The meeting decided to open a registration page in the EC website for the possible visitors to the EVM fair. It will remain open to public from 3pm to 9pm on the first day and 9am to 9pm on the second day. Its inaugural session will be held from 11am to 1pm on the first day.
EC officials said though the meeting did not decide to invite political parties to visit the event, they can visit it as it is open to all.
At the event, the registered visitors can cast votes through the electronic machines, they said.
The EC on August 30 last decided to propose the amendment to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) incorporating a provision to pave the way for introducing the EVM use in national elections as in local body polls.
However, the decision was taken at a meeting of the five-member commission amid boycott of Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder who placed the ‘note of dissent’ over incorporation of EVM provision in the RPO.
He said the EVM use in the national election in a hurried manner will invite controversy as it has not yet gained public trust.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, at a press conference after the meeting, said they took the decision to amend the RPO incorporating the EVM issue, but they were yet to take the decision whether the EVMs will be used in the next general election.
Besides, the EC has sent a project proposal to the Planning Commission to procure some 1.5 lakh EVMs at a cost of Tk 3,821 crore. The EVM project is likely to be placed in the next meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) for its approval.
The EC needs some 4 lakh machines to arrange the national election fully based on EVMs across the country.
The CEC on September 3 said the EVM use in the upcoming national election will depend on enactment of law, stakeholders’ acceptance, attaining of capability and overall environment.
Noting that the machines instead of ballot papers will be used on a random basis, he said the EVM will be used in the national election provided the environment remains favourable.
Though the ruling Awami League supports the use of EVM in the general election, BNP and its like-minded parties oppose it.
The EC has been using the EVMs in local body elections since 2010 when the ATM Shamsul Huda-led EC first used EVMs on pilot basis in a few polling stations in Chittagong City Corporation polls. But these were different from the existing EVMs.
Dhaka, Sept 18 (UNB) - National Board of Revenue has decided to go tough against the business entities which will not install electronic fiscal device (EFD) from November 1 in city corporation areas and from December 1 in district towns.
The government earlier made the use of EFD mandatory in 13 types of business entities from November and December in city corporation areas and in district towns respectively to check Value Added Tax (VAT) evasion.
The NBR has already issued an order in this connection in August.
The new EFD will replace the electronic cash register (ECR) and the point of sale (POS).
The 13 types of businesses included hotels, restaurants, fast food shop, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, furniture shop, RMG shop or boutique shop, electronics shop, community center, all business entities in posh shopping mall, departmental stores, general shop or super shop, wholesalers and large retail stores.
“This will enable the National Board of Revenue to have real-time access to business transactions which will eventually protect revenue leakage and increase revenue collection significantly,” Finance Minister AMA Muhith had said in his speech unveiling fiscal measures for fiscal 2018-19.
If any business entity does not use this EFD or any deviation of using this is proved that entity will have to pay Tk 20,000-50,000. If this kind of offence committed repeatedly then the NBR will lock the Business Identification Number (BIN).
The EFDs will be connected online with a server at the NBR. Any entry from a particular business entity will be registered at the server of the NBR.
"This will bring transparency and the scope to evade the tax will be restricted. As a result the revenue collection will be improved," a senior NBR official told UNB.
He said that EFDs will help curb evasion because of connection with the server that will generate real time data of sales at shops.
He also mentioned that customers would be able to know if the VAT they paid went to the national exchequer as they will receive a code that would be generated by the NBR's central server.
The NBR had made the e-cash mandatory in 2008 for 11 types of businesses: hotels, restaurants, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, wholesalers and large retail stores. But the outcome of that decision did not reached at the desired level.
On the other hand, many businesses do not use the e-cash register even after installation to evade VAT allegedly in connivance with field officials of the revenue authority.
The move to install EFD comes following advice from Finance Minister AMA Muhith to introduce an EFD management system to combat non-payment of VAT at the retail and wholesale levels.
The NBR earlier planned to buy 10,000 ECRs for large shops, wholesalers, restaurants and other businesses as part of its target to implement the VAT law 2012 from fiscal 2017-18.
The plan was scrapped after the government deferred the implementation of the law by two years. Last year, it identified 8,007 entities eligible for fitting the electronic sales devices.
At present, several thousand shops use electronic cash registers and point-of-sale machines. However, not all use the device to issue sales invoices to customers in an attempt to appropriate the VAT and hide actual transaction figures from taxmen.
For fiscal year 2018-19, the government has set the total revenue target – tax and non-tax revenue - at Tk 3,39,280 crore. Of the above total amount, the NBR has been tasked to source Tk 2, 96,201 crore.