Dhaka, Feb 16 (UNB) – Young people are large stakeholders in the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair as the Bangla Academy premises and nearby Suhrawardy Udyan get filled by mostly students from schools, colleges and universities. But the youth also play a pivotal role in manning the array of stalls and helping as best they can to match booklovers with their favourite books.
Across 770 stalls and 24 pavilions in the fairgrounds, the workforce hired by the publishing houses as sales staff is mostly made up of students. They consider it a good opportunity for a part-time job alongside their regular studies to make some extra income, or to gain some experience of managing inventories.
Miftu Mou, a final year student of Dhaka University, describes her experience as ‘practical’, as she started working for publishing house Priyomukh as a salesperson at their stall for the first-time. “Being surrounded by books is indeed enjoyable. Alongside handling the visitors I myself can read a few in spare times,” she added.
Indeed, these precious opportunities to spend time with and among books acts to motivate many who take on these roles. They are mostly lovers of books themselves.
Mou also told UNB that she is allowed to choose shifts based on her class schedule.
But this is often not the case in case of the other stalls, as many of the students have to work continuously.
Mohasin, a final year student of National University, said his work schedule consists of six hour shifts every day, and climbing up on holidays.
“Although we are given overtime for holidays, it’s not enough for the pressure we endure,” he added.
Students who have worked previously in stalls are preferred more by the publishing houses. One such is Israt Jahan, a third year student of Begum Badrunnesa College, who has been working as a sales staff at Boi Mela for the past three years.
“I first came to know about this job from my friend. Now, I personally have been working here for past three book fairs, as my experience in customer handling is valued by my employer,” Israt explains.
She also said the job is a great way for her to supplement her income.
Over and above everything else though, this temporary job during the annual event is valued by the students for bringing them closer to the writers.
A second year student of Kabi Nazrul Government College, Akash stated that this opportunity is the main concern for him. “Sure my job is tiring, but I got the chance to meet many noted writers and poets in the fair, which is why I like it,” he said.
The salary these students get for their services vary among publishing houses. According to them, the salary can be as low as Tk 5,000 and reach up to Tk 12,000 depending on the stalls.
Publishing houses mostly prefers students for working in stalls, said Liakat Ullah, a sales executive of Student Ways publishing house.
“Main visitors of the book fair are students. We try to employ students in stalls as they can communicate better with them,” he said.
Liakat also said as students keep themselves up to date about new books, it helps the publishers to sell more.
Not all is positive about student salespersons according to Humayun Kabir, a sales manager for Charulipi publishing house.
“Inexperience of some newcomers sometimes results in poor customer satisfaction,” he said.
After the month-long session of works, these students hope to take away a better knowledge about practical life and also rejoice their opportunity of working with books.
Dhaka, Feb 15 (UNB) – The final deal with Indian Reliance Group is finally going to be signed for its proposed LNG-based 750 MW power plant as the Power Division has recently received clearance from the ministries of Law and Finance for the agreement, official sources said.
Officials said it has almost been four years since Indian Reliance Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for making an investment worth $3 billion in power and energy sector of Bangladesh.
Four years down the line, Reliance is yet to roll out the investment as it could not sign any final deal with the government.
“The Ministry of Law and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) raised some issues over the insurance of the project while giving their vetting. But the Reliance Group is yet to agree with those issues,” a senior official at the Power Division told UNB.
“Those issues were delaying the signing of the final agreement with the government for the project,” he said adding, “We think things will move on soon once the Reliance agrees with the issue.”
The official hoped that the final deal will be signed within a month or two once the pending issues are resolved.
He mentioned that the Power Development Board and the Power Division have already approved the proposed deal and then it was sent to the Law Ministry and the NBR under the Finance Ministry for their vetting.
Power Division officials said Reliance signed the MoU during Indian Prime Minister Norendra Modi’s Dhaka visit in early June, 2015 announcing its plan to set up a 3000 MW gas-fired power plant and a 500 mmcfd LNG terminal in Bangladesh.
The import of liquefied natural gas (LNG), use of the required gas at the power plant and also selling of the remaining portion of the imported gas to Bangladesh government were all parts of Reliance’s initial plan.
“But, frequent changes in its proposal and mismatch with the government’s terms and conditions has put the Reliance in back foot in pushing forward its project in Bangladesh,” said a top official at the Power and Energy Ministry.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid also mentioned that Reliance has changed its proposal four times.
After a number of changes in its proposal, the officials said, the Indian conglomerate has finally agreed to set up a 750 MW gas-fired power plant in Meghnaghat near Narayanganj instead of 3,000 MW plant. The government has agreed to supply gas to run the power plan.
The latest proposal got approval from the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase on May 24, 2017 under which the state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) will import electricity from the Reliance plant at Tk 5.85 per kilowatt hour (unit cost) for the next 22 years.
The government will have to spend a total of Tk 80,945 crore (about $8 billion) over the 22-year period for buying electricity from the plant, the officials added.
Dhaka, Feb 14 (UNB) - The government has decided to establish 32 more tax zones across the country to bring more taxpayers in the tax net for improving the revenue collection to comply with the increasing target of tax collection.
"Yes, we are working on to set up 32 more offices," a senior NBR official told UNB.
He said the immediate past finance minister AMA Muhith, during his tenure, had been given the preliminary permission for this expansion.
“We are now working on it in details … we hope to submit the details of the proposal by the end of this month,” the NBR official said.
Responding to a question, he said although the establishment of the tax zones is yet to be decided, these should be set up in bigger districts like Faridpur and Jashore.
Currently, there are 31 tax zones under which there are 649 circle offices across the country.
There is also a proposal to increase the number of Tax Appellate Tribunal to 13 from the existing seven. The number of special wings will also be increased to eight from four.
Apart from the metropolitan cities, the economy is being expanded in the rural areas where factories and mills are also being set up, the NBR official added.
In this connection, he mentioned that the government has already taken a plan to setup 100 economic zones in different parts of the country.
“As a result, the gap between the rural and urban areas is decreasing faster; the district and upazila levels are becoming potential to us for revenue collection. We are hoping to increase the number of taxpayers significantly,” he said, adding that NBR is planning to expand its tax activities in the rural areas too.
The official also said that after getting approval from the Finance Ministry, the proposal of the expansion will be sent to the Public Administration Ministry for its approval to appoint new workforce.
“We are hopeful to get the government's clearance for the new zones and workforce within couple of months,” he opined adding that the Prime Minister has directed the NBR officials to finish the expansion works within six months.
Currently the number of electronic taxpayers’ identification number (eTIN) stood at 38.16 lakh, while the number of tax return submitters is over 17 lakh.
For 2018-19 fiscal year, the government has set the total revenue target (tax and nontax) at Tk 3,39,280 crore. Of the total amount, the NBR has been tasked to source Tk 2,96,201 crore.
Income Tax and Other Direct Taxes will contribute Tk 102,201 crore, Import and Export Tax will contribute Tk 32,589 crore, VAT will contribute Tk 110,543 crore, Supplementary Duty Tk 48,766 crore, Excise Duty Tk 2091 crore while Turnover Tax is Tk 11 crore.
Dhaka, Feb 13 (UNB) – The Amar Ekushey Book Fair has undergone many changes since its inception in 1972 but one thing has remained unchanged -- the relation with Dhaka University and its current and former students.
Over the decades, it has grown into a phenomenal fest. This year, the fair is drawing huge crowds every day. A large section of them -- current or former DU students – were seen roaming around stalls, gossiping about authors, arguing about their works and buying books.
Sociology student Julkarnain Ahmed was very excited. “I’m planning to buy lots of new book,” he said as his gaze shifted from one title to another. “But, I’m short on cash. I’ll wait for my tuition payday.”
He said the Suhrawardy Udyan and Bangla Academy premises turn into his favourite destination for an evening walk during the book fair.
Not everyone from the university is looking for pleasure readings. Some are gathering materials for their current semesters. Jannatul Ferdous Brishty, a student of Women and Gender Studies, is one of them.
“The close proximity of the fair allows me to check new titles related to my studies,” Brishty explained. She said lucrative discounts brought down the expenses. “We even find rare books unavailable at our department’s library,” she added.
This year, the fairground has been extended to 550,000 square feet. It’s a welcome change for Fatima Akhond, a student of Peace and Conflict Studies.
“The growing compound of the fair has made visitors’ movement easier,” she said, quickly adding, “My experience may change depending on the number of visitors in the coming days.”
For many first-timers, including new DU students, the month-long festival offers a great experience. Antora Roy, a first-year psychology student said the fair was mesmerising.
“I’m from Barishal and as an avid reader, I’ve always dreamt of coming here,” she said. “It’s my first visit and I feel it’s a dream come true.”
The fair gives a nostalgic vibe. Private bank employee Moumi Khondoker, a former philosophy student, insisted that coming to the fair had become a routine since her university days.
“The stalls have changed, new students have taken our place, but the fair is still a place where I find a breath of fresh air,” she said. “Apart from the books, the fair is also a place to find old friends.”
Seminars and events held at the fair also attract many people such as Hridvika Paul, a student of DU English department. “They help expand my understanding of many things,” she said.
But it was Ishraq Sabbir, a third-year journalism student, who summed up the feeling.
“The fair is a fuel for the soul,” he told UNB. “You cannot imagine any other literary festivals on this scale in Bangladesh where one is surrounded by books, books, and books.”
Dhaka, Feb 12 (UNB) – Having failed to get necessary cooperation from government departments in using the rooftops of their buildings, Dhaka Power Distribution Company Ltd (DPDC) is now moving to Dhaka University buildings to implement a solar power project on their rooftops.
According to official sources, the Dhaka University authorities have agreed to provide the rooftops of its 72 structures, including different residential halls, administrative and academic buildings and housing complexes for the generation of 3.5 MW of solar power.
“We’ve already reached an understanding with Dhaka University to use the rooftops of their buildings for solar power generation,” BPDC executive director Ramiz Uddin Ahmed told UNB.
He said a private firm, ‘Bengal Solar’, will take the rooftops of the DU buildings on rental basis and set up solar power plants at its own cost and sell the solar electricity to DPDC.
“The firm will implement the project as independent power producer (IPP),” Ramiz Uddin added.
He said a tripartite agreement will soon be signed among the three parties on the plan.
Ramiz Uddin, however, said the negotiations on tariff of the project are yet to be completed with Bengal Solar. “But we hope we’ll be able to settle the tariff issue very soon,” he said.
The sources said Bengal Solar was asking for 11 US cents per kilowatt hour peak (each unit) while the DPDC was trying to fix it at 7.5 US cents.
Earlier, the DPDC had awarded a contract to Bengal Solar to set up rooftop solar power plants on different government departments and organisation buildings to general about 750 kilowatts of electricity.
But despite a long pursue, both the DPDC and Bengal solar failed to convince the government bodies to bring them to any agreement to rent out their rooftops for solar power generation.
The buildings include Food Directorate, Shilpakala Academy, Women and Children Directorate, and Education Directorate.
Ramiz Uddin said no one of the departments agreed to provide their rooftop spaces for the solar power project despite official request from both DPDC and the Power Ministry.
Ramiz Uddin said all the departments and organisations showed various ‘excuses’ for not providing the space and some of them mentioned that they have building expansion plan.
The Power Division and the DPDC assured them that all the solar structures will be set up on temporary basis and could be removed anytime, but they did not agree, he said.
Officials said the DPDC has taken the move for solar power as part of the government plan to generate 10 percent electricity from solar power by 2020 to promote renewable energy across the country.
They said the country’s solar power generation still remains below 300 MW while the total power generation capacity is about 18,000 MW while available power generation is about 11,000 MW.