Khulna, Dec 19 (UNB) – Rain and fog in the last couple days have taken a serious toll on the fish-drying process in different fishing colonies across the coastal area adjacent to the Sundarbans resulting in fish worth over Taka 1 crore going bad.
Torrential rain and ghastly winds have disrupted the loading-unloading of several national and international commercial ships alongside their transportation as a depression looms over the Northwest Bay leading the Met Office to issue a directive to hoist signal number three.
Dubla Fishermen Group General Secretary Md Kamal Uddin Ahmed said already money lenders of Dubla fishing colonies have suffered losses of a huge sum as the fishes could not be dried up.
He further said, “As there has been no sunshine lately, fishermen are failing to dry up fishes resulting tainting and loss of money. Moreover, disastrous weather is hampering fishing process in deep sea since the high waves and incessant rain is forcing fishing trawlers and ships to drift away.”
Generally every year thousands of fishermen catch fish from October-November to February-March in coastal areas bordering to the Sundarbans. Later, these fishes are dried up under the sun in different chars of the area and also been prepared for export.
Al Amin, a fisherman from Meher Ali Char, told this correspondent that they (fishermen) have invested over millions but still unable to dry up fishes for the foul the weather for last couple of days.
This year some 10-15 thousands fishermen have flocked to Dublar Char, Meher Ali Char, Alorkol, Ofiskilla, Majherkilla, Shelar Char and Narkelbaria Char to run their drying up process.
Mahmudul Hasan, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of East Sundarban Division, said, “If this situation continues to exist for more days, the target revenue from this sector might decrease this year.”
Light drizzles have been frequent for the past few days in the area as ‘Cyclone Fethai’ in the Bay of Bengal grows weaker. Met Office said the cyclone has turned into a depression upon weakening.
Dhaka, Dec 19 (UNB) – Political analysts have found the election manifestos of the two major parties -- Awami League and BNP -- highly positive for the country’s future development, but expressed doubts about the implementation of those as the commitments are largely appeasing.
They, however, think the Awami League manifesto is relatively pragmatic as the party formulated it based on its previous successes while find the BNP’s one lacking clear description in some cases about execution.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman and former Dhaka University Vice-chancellors Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique and Prof Emajuddin Ahmed came up with the remarks while talking to UNB hours after the two parties presented their respective manifestos.
The political experts also criticised BNP for skipping the issue of war crimes trial in its manifesto since its alliance Jatiya Oikyafront pledged to continue the trial if it is voted to power.
AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday unveiled the party’s 21-point manifesto promising to ensure urban facilities in every village and use the potentials of youths for the progress of the country with the slogan - ‘Bangladesh on the march towards prosperity’.
BNP also presented its 19–point election manifesto with a set of promises, including making democracy an everyday practice, building a vengeance-free Bangladesh and raising GDP growth to 11 percent.
Earlier on Monday, Jatiya Oikyafront rolled out its 35-point election manifesto with various promises, including ensuring the balance between the power of the President and the Prime Minister, and introducing upper house in Parliament, to restore people’s ownership of the country if it is voted to power through the upcoming election.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the election manifestos of Awami League, BNP and Oikyafront look very good and positive, but translating their commitments into reality is the main thing.
He said the Prime Minster, while unveiling Awami League’s manifesto, called upon people to kindly consider if any mistake was made by her government. “I think her such call is a positive signal for politics as our politicians hardly regret their mistakes.”
Iftekhar said there are many positive things in Awami League’s manifesto and the party deserves appreciation for it. “One positive thing I would like to highlight is that the ruling party has pledged to ensure participatory and inclusive development. The development won’t be sustainable and meaningful without the participation of all people.”
He said ensuring freedom of expression, press freedom and getting rid of politicisation and corruption are important to ensure inclusive development, progress of the country and implementation of the pledges of the political parties. “A reform in our constitutional institutions is also necessary to strengthen those.”
About the manifestos of the BNP and Oikyafront, the TIB Executive Director said there are very encouraging commitments in their charter of pledges such as making the practice of democracy an everyday affair, but doubts remain there whether they will be able to implement those.
He said their pledges for scrapping the black laws like Digital Security Act and creating jobs sound good.
Iftekhar also said Oikyafront’s announcement to form a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate and resolve the enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and false cases filed in the last 10 years is very positive. “It’s a good idea, but why won’t the commission look into those beyond the period.”
He also said BNP did not give specific explanation over its some pledges such as how they will attain 11 percent GDP growth.
Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique said Awami League formulated its manifesto imbued with the spirit of the Liberation War with its far-reaching plans to develop the country.
“There’s a new dimension in the manifesto that Awami League has formulated all of its future plans based on its previous success. I think the party’s work plans for development of all sectors have been reflected in the manifesto.”
Dr Arefin said the party’s future plans have also been made considering the current situation of the country and present condition of every sector.
He said maintaining stability and a peaceful atmosphere after the election is necessary to properly implement the manifesto. “I think most of the pledges of Awami League are implementable if a favourable situation prevails in the country.”
About BNP and Oikyfront’s election manifesto, the DU ex-VC said their work plans are good but it is a matter of big question whether they will be able to implement those. “We’ve seen the misrule and anarchy during the BNP-Jamaat’s previous rule.“
Dr Arefin also questioned the intention of BNP as it placed a separate manifesto with some differences with Oikyfront’s one. “Jatiya Oikyafront pledged to continue the war crimes trial but BNP avoided the issue which has made people confused,” he observed.
He said both BNP and Oikyafront made some ‘hollow’ pledges such as keeping no age limit for government jobs and introducing unemployment allowance for the educated jobless persons above the age of 30 to attract people, but they did not give any explanation about their implementation.
Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP and Oikyafront pledge to spend 5 percent each of GDP for the education and health sectors. ”I think it’s a very positive initiative to ensure quality education and good health for people. I found most of the pledges highly positive and the country’s fate will be changed drastically if 60 percent of those are implemented.”
He also thinks checking corruption and removing politicisation, nepotism and strengthening the democratic institutions are must to implement the pledges.
Prof Emajuddin, however, declined to make any comment on the ruling party’s manifesto as he still did not go through it.
Dhaka, Dec 18 (UNB) – Bangladesh expects increased foreign direct investment (FDI) from Germany as the bilateral relationship between the two countries is more extensive than ever, says the Bangladesh envoy in Berlin.
“With the rapid development of infrastructure in recent years, development of SEZs and Hi-Tech Parks, easing power and energy crises; we’re expecting that FDI flow from Germany will increase,” Bangladesh Ambassador to Germany Imtiaz Ahmed told UNB in an interview.
High officials of Siemens met him recently and they are also exploring opportunities in hi-tech apart from the power sector, said the Ambassador who is concurrently accredited to Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.
The envoy said the current excellent Bangladesh-Germany bilateral relationship is an outcome of the inter-personal intimacy between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Responding to a question, Ambassador Imtiaz said German officials advise Bangladesh to improve its ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index with suitable policies and infrastructure in the banking sector, with one stop service at airport and seaport and improving labour standard.
“Foreign businesses place great importance on this ranking before taking an investment decision,” said the Bangladesh Ambassador.
Each year, Bangladesh participates in a number of international fairs in Germany which are mainly trade and business promotion-oriented ones.
“There’s no alternative to the dissemination of information. Therefore, we’re planning to organise one investment seminar in Germany next year to showcase the incentives and opportunities for investment in Bangladesh,” said Ambassador Imtiaz.
The seminar will be organised in association with Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA).
“We’ve already talked to DIHK (equivalent to FBCCI), GTAI (equivalent to BIDA) and Federal Foreign Office from Germany for their possible involvement. And we’re also going to organise Bangladesh Day, where we’ll focus on every possible sector of Bangladesh, including painting, photographic, book, film and culinary,” said Ambassador Imtiaz.
Responding to a question on apparel exports, he said, Germany is globally one of the two largest importers of garments from Bangladesh and as sourcing country ranks second behind China.
Out of the top five sourcing countries Bangladesh is the only country to increase its export value in the first half of 2018. In recent times, Vietnam and Cambodia have become major competitors of Bangladesh due to their shorter lead-time.
“To maintain this position, Bangladesh needs to maintain its competitive edge...by continuing to deliver value for money for the competitive and price conscious German market without neglecting trends such as organic and vegan clothing, minimising the lead time, making doing business easy with policies and adequate infrastructure and modernising the industries,” he said.
At the same time, Ambassador Imtiaz said, Bangladesh needs to focus on ‘high value’ garments as well as quality assurance.
Other important issues are the maintenance of sustainable supply chain and building social image through the improvement of social, labour and environment standards in industries, he added.
Asked about other areas of cooperation, the Ambassador said Bangladesh and Germany have agreed on three priority areas of bilateral development cooperation.
These are, he said, renewable energy and energy efficiency; good governance, the rule of law and human rights; and adaptation to climate change in urban areas.
There is cooperation in the areas like support to management of Sundarbans, small and medium sized industries development, anti-terrorism and anti-corruption.
Responding to a question on SDGs, Ambassador Imtiaz said Germany believes that the implementation of the 2030 SDGs plays a pivotal role in the development discourse and it is a priority for all countries.
“Reducing poverty and inequality, and achieving sustainable development within planetary limits are fundamental challenges that need to be tackled jointly by all countries on the basis of a new universal agenda,” he said.
Terming Germany a reliable partner of Bangladesh, the Ambassador said SDGs and the Seventh Five Year Plan of Bangladesh continue to be the frame for Bangladesh-German development cooperation.
During the last two years, the Ambassador said, the Embassy in Berlin issued about 3000 business visas, 1200 tourist, 120 employment and 100 official visas to German citizens and officials.
“This has been a dramatic increase compared to the last few years,” he said adding that they are also expecting a VIP visit from Germany to Bangladesh in the coming months.
On people-to-people contact, the Ambassador said the increase in people-to-people contact and exchange of views would definitely have a positive impact on Bangladesh-Germany relationship in the coming days.
“We’re also working on the possibility of opening some other new avenues of cooperation. Germany will be a non-permanent member of UN Security Council from January 1, 2019 for two years,” said the Ambassador adding that this will bring ample opportunities for the two countries to work closely on issues related to migration and development, Rohingya refugees, climate change, violent extremism and counter-terrorism, UN peacekeeping and Blue Economy.
Ambassador Imtiaz said, “I’m confident that our relationships would further deepen and be strengthened in the coming days.”
He said German company-SIEMENS is going to invest US$ 7 billion in the power sector of Bangladesh for the production of 8000 MW electricity. “This would be the largest foreign investment in Bangladesh.”
Ties with Czech, Slovakia, Romania
With Czech Republic, the Ambassador said an agreement on trade and investment is at the final stage-- awaiting signature only. “Besides, talks are going on regarding avoidance of double taxation.”
He said the prospects of sending skilled and semiskilled manpower exist in all three countries - to Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.
“We’ve been in touch with the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment for already expressed interest shown by a Romanian company to recruit Bangladeshi workers; this company is in touch with BOESL now,” said Ambassador Imtiaz.
He said there are also scopes for Bangladesh’s investment in setting up of small and medium enterprises in all these three countries.
Particularly, Germany has a Federal Association for Silk Road Initiative which focuses on establishment of SMEs in other European countries to counter/balance the Chinese One Road One Belt initiative.
Dhaka, Dec 18 (UNB) -The government is moving ahead with a plan to open a $35 billion investment opportunity for private investors in the country’s power transmission sector.
According to official sources in the Power Division, the private sector`s enormous success in power generation has prompted the government to invite them to invest in the transmission segment of the sector.
The latest government statistics show the private sector’s contribution to power generation hit 11,057 MW representing 54.35percent while the public sector stands at 45.65 percent with its output of 9286 MW against the country`s total power generation of 20,343 MW.
Power Division officials claimed this substantial growth has been possible due to a favourable investment policy offered by the government over the last one decade.
“Seeing this great success, the government has now moved to unlock the investment scope for the private sector in the transmission segment as well,” Mohammad Hossain, director general of the Power Cell, told UNB.
Power Cell, a technical wing of the Power Division, which is responsible for preparing policy guideline and implement reforms in the power sector, has already started framing the proposed guideline by accumulating a number of models now being followed by different countries in this regard.
“We hope the guideline will be ready by January next,” said the Power Cell DG.
Official sources said as part of the Power System Master Plan, 2016, the Power Division outlined a $35 billion investment potentials in the transmission segment up to 2041.
As per the plan, the power transmission lines will be expanded to 36,870 kms across the country by 2041.
Of the total grid transmission lines, 16,655 kms will be of 132 kV while 9,717 kms of 230 kV, 1,740 kms of 400 kV and 796 kms of 765 kV, according to officials at the Power Division.
According to the Power Cell statistics, the total length of transmission lines at present are 11,123 kms covering all over Bangladesh. Of this, 132 kV transmission lines are 7,082 kms while 230 kV 3,343 kms and 400 kV lines are 698 kms. Until now, there is no 765 kV line anywhere in the country.
Power Division officials informed that a good number of foreign and local firms lined up with the government by placing their offers to express their intention for investment in the transmission segment.
They said that the transmission segment is coming into focus because of the government strategy to keep the power generation momentum continued until 2041 when electricity generation is planned to reach about 60,000 MW.
Power Division officials said the government envisioned a total of $216 billion investment in three segments of power sector—generation, transmission and distribution—up to 2041 from 2017.
Of this, it requires $150 billion in generation, $35 billion in transmission and $31 billion in distribution.
But so far the private investment is allowed only in generation segment while transmission and distribution segments are not opened for private investors.
With new policy guidelines coming into place, the transmission segment will be opened for private investors.
Mohammad Hossain noted that private sector`s involvement in transmission segment is a little bit sensitive as national security is involved in the sector.
But overcoming the security concerns, many countries including neighbouring India has allowed private investment in transmission segment.”The investment could be in private-public partnership (PPP) as well.”
Power Division additional secretary RahmatUllah Mohammad Dastagir in a recent presentation to a group of Chinese investor said the country needs an average $9 billion investment in power sector each year up to 2041.
Welcoming the government`s move for allowing private sector in the transmission segment, Imran Karim, vice president of Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (BIPPA), said the new scope will definitely encourage the private investors to continue their contribution in the country`s power sector development.
"Without a strong support from the state, it was not possible for the private sector producers to reach the milestone in power generation."
According to BIPPA, the private sector has invested about $12 billion over the last 10 years by setting up more than 50 power plants.
BIPPA leaders said they have now planned to invest $50 billion in the next 12 years to keep up the private sector's participation in power sector development.
The private investors want to invest as independent power producers (IPPs) as well as private partners via the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to set up at least 55 plants to generate some 12,000 MW of power or more.
Narayanganj, Dec 17 (UNB) - Panam Nagar was once a thriving city in Sonargaon bustling with life. The city, believed to have been founded in late 13th century, got preferential treatment from the rulers over the centuries because of its strategic location.
Sonargaon was the capital of the 15th-century Bengal ruler Isa Khan. It used to be an important trading and political centre and boasted of the architectures of the Sultanate, Mughal, and colonial periods.
But time took its toll on it and the city was eventually abandoned. Once a prosperous city, the Panam Nagar has now turned into a ‘ghost town’. Anyone visiting the place now can get the glimpses of its lost grandeur through the relics of ancient buildings and scattered terracotta.
Panam Nagar keeps losing its appeal – and its gorgeous structures – for the lack of maintenance and preservation works. In 2006, the World Monument Fund listed it as one of the world's 100 most devastating historical establishments.
There are many historical memories which are about to decline. Structural failure is also evident in some buildings. It may not be possible to preserve the area without swift restoration works.
Researcher Shamsuddoha Chowdhury said brick chips and outer layers were falling off from the buildings due to a lack of preservation and restoration works.
Two years ago, Youngone Corporation, a Korean company, expressed interest to fund and carry out the restoration. But Youngone and Bangladesh’s Department of Archaeology could not reach an understanding over whether the site would remain open to tourists during the work.
This prevented the two sides from signing a contract, officials at Archaeology Department said.
Back in 2001, the archaeology department took an initiative to renovate Panam City. Fifty-two buildings – and eventually the city – were freed from unauthorised occupation in 2009.
The repair works on several buildings started with an initial budget of Tk 50 lakh. But the restoration attempts by applying layers of lime and brick dust destroyed the archaeological beauty of nine buildings.
The botchy repairs were finally put on hold after stiff opposition from a team of experts from Jahangirnagar University and locals.
Shahinur Islam, the upazila nirbahi officer of Sonargaon, said the Ministry of Cultural Affairs has already taken initiatives to renovate and preserve the city.
“Five buildings will initially be renovated. The ministry has already contacted a foreign company,” he said, hoping the restoration works will begin soon.