Dhaka, Aug 12 (UNB) – Malaysia finds Bangladesh as a great market for its investors with huge opportunities, which the investors need to be made aware of, says a Malaysian diplomat.
“Awareness needs to be created among the Malaysian investors about the challenges and opportunities for them in Bangladesh to strengthen the trade relations between Bangladesh and Malaysia,” said Muzzafar Shah Hanafi, Malaysian Consul (Trade) at Consulate General in Chennai, India.
Muzzafar, whose mandate as a Malaysian trade envoy also requires him to look after trade issues in Bangladesh, gave an exclusive interview to UNB during his recent visit to Dhaka.
Bangladesh, he said, can also use Malaysia as a gateway to other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
The geographic location of Bangladesh also makes it significant for Malaysia as the country can be entry point for Malaysia to many other countries including Pakistan, Nepal and northern part of India which will help Malaysia with reduced shipping cost and time, he added.
Muzzafar Shah Hanafi suggested organizing seminars and business meetings frequently between the two countries that will help create better understanding about Bangladesh’s trade and investment opportunities.
He noted that people in Bangladesh are willing to pay higher prices for high quality products. He came up with the observation considering the steady economic growth of Bangladesh having huge population with higher purchasing capacity.
According to Muzzafar, the trade relations can be boosted with the implementation of the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) as consumers can enjoy Malaysian products at fair price with its enforcement.
Malaysia is waiting for the response from Bangladesh to hold the first official meeting on the proposed FTA, which might be arranged after the national election this year, hopes Muzzaffar adding that putting FTA in place will create win-win situation and prosperous trade relationship between the two countries being beneficial for both sides.
Pointing out high tax rate as one of the main obstacles that hinder Malaysian investors to explore the Bangladeshi market, Muzzafar said there are other scopes for Malaysians to consider the country as a huge export destination as countries like Japan and China are also exporting here despite of high tax.
He said Malaysian products such as foods, cosmetics, toiletries, luxury items and some other items have high demand in Bangladesh, but there are not much Malaysian products in the Bangladeshi Market currently.
Among the food products, fast-moving consumer goods such as biscuits, noodles, chips and snacks of Malaysia are of high quality, Muzzafar said.
Though Malaysian investors know about the opportunities of the market, he said, they do not have proper knowledge on how to enter into the market and invest here.
A platform to promote the opportunities of Bangladesh needs to be floated so that they know there are much more positive things in Bangladesh besides the high tax such as the purchasing power of the population, the high GDP growth and the facilities of economic zones, he suggested.
Muzzafar also considered halal market sector as a great opportunity to invest in Bangladesh.
Not only halal food, there are other halal products such as cosmetics, luxury products etc. as well as Islamic fashion such as hijab are the scopes for Malaysia to find market in Bangladesh.
Malaysia considers Bangladeshi textiles as of high quality, he said adding that, as the manufacturing cost of RMG products in Malaysia is very high, Malaysian manufacturers can utilize the facilities of the economic zones of Bangladesh and export their manufactured products back to Malaysia.
Mentioning that Malaysian women are being empowered through their involvements in business, having women owned companies and exporters, the trade consulate said, women entrepreneurs from both the countries also have good opportunities of business and partnership.
When asked about the opportunities Bangladeshi investors have in Malaysia to do business, Muzaffar said Malaysia is an open market with one of the best investment packages to offer the investors where anyone is free to invest and it also allows majority of foreign staffs in the industries.
As the entrepreneurs and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) of Bangladesh are emerging massively, stronger trade relationship between the two countries can also create platform for Bangladeshi businessmen to go global with diversified business opportunities, he added.
Muzzafar said Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) is working to promote opportunities both for Bangladeshi and Malaysian investors through various initiatives.
Dhaka, July 15 (UNB) – Absorbing all the unemployed youth to workforce is a daunting task for Bangladesh. It is nothing unique to this country though. This challenge is global.
As nations all over the globe observes the World Youth Skills Day on July 15, what Bangladesh probably needs to do is imbue skills into young working-age people turning them thereby market-ready for overseas jobs.
United Nations recognises rising youth unemployment as one of the most significant problems of developed and developing countries. According to UN estimates, 475 million new jobs need to be created over the next decade to absorb the 73 million youth currently unemployed and the 40 million new annual entrants to the labour market worldwide.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in its ‘Bangladesh Labour Force Survey 2016-17’ shows that the overall estimated unemployment rate (defined as the unemployed as a percentage of the labour force) was 4.2 per cent in the country. It is 4.9 percent for urban and 4.0 percent for rural areas.
The highest unemployment rate was found among youths, those aged 15-24 which is 12.3 per cent, followed by those aged 25-34 years, which is 5.7 per cent.
There are an estimated 2.68 million unemployed persons who are aged 15 or older. Of them 1.36 million are aged between 15 to 24 years old, which is 50.8 percent of the working age population while 1.32 million are aged above 25 years, which is 49.2 percent of it, said the report.
The report also revealed that unemployment rate has been the highest among the literate persons (5.3 per cent) than that of illiterate persons (1.7 per cent).
According to the report, the unemployment rate signals to some extent the underutilization of the labour supply. It reflects the inability of an economy to generate employment for people who want to work but are not doing so, even though they are available for employment and actively seeking work.
While the youth unemployment rate is a big challenge for the country, experts believe that overseas employment from Bangladesh can be a solution for this.
To create skilled manpower for overseas employment, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) is providing skill development training. BMET has 70 training centers countrywide so far, said, Md Nurul Islam, Director (Training Operation) of BMET.
In 2017, BMET trained 839,727 people under various categories, he added.
With a growing youth population of almost 60 percent and tight job market, migration can be a solution to prevailing unemployment of the country, states BMET annual report.
In 2017, more than 10 lakh workers went for overseas jobs, a 33 percent surge over the number of 2016, says the report.
In 2015, Bangladesh was ranked 9th among top remittance recipients, fetching nearly US$ 15.4 billion, which is around 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2017, total remittance received by Bangladesh was US$ 13.58 billion, states the report.
Professor Mohammad Mainul Islam, Chairperson of Department of Population Sciences in Dhaka University told UNB, “The global scenario is changing. In the competitive global market, demand of skilled labour is growing while Bangladesh is exporting manpower mostly in low or semi-skilled jobs. If we could export high skilled labour force, then the country could have earned more remittance.”
Dr Mainul Islam said, countries like India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines have entered in the global market with their manpower. Bangladesh also needs to build skilled manpower keeping the competition in mind.
Also, if skilled manpower could be developed, there would have been no need to hire skilled people from other countries like India in Bangladesh, he added.
Bangladesh currently has the opportunity of utilizing its working age population. At present, a large share of the country’s population is working age people while the dependency rate is still quite low, added the professor.
“But Bangladesh will not enjoy the opportunity (demographic dividend) too long. We have around 20 to 22 years of time in our hand to utilize the working force”, claimed the demographer.
“After 2040, the dependency rate (aged people) may start increasing. So we must find ways to use the working age population and create skilled labour force within the time we have”, he added.
The professor stressed on vocational education to create skilled manpower as well as identify new markets globally to utilize the labour force.
He also stressed on the need of changing the existing market structure and education structure to create applied-knowledge oriented curriculum and job and draw more investment in the market to create more job opportunities.
Prof Mainul suggested that a balanced combination of practical and theoretical education is needed, while more cooperation between the ministries working for this sector should be ensured with more developed youth policy to reduce the youth unemployment rate.
United Nations also addressed education and training as the key determinants of success in the labor market.
According to UN, existing systems are failing to address the learning needs of many young people, and surveys of learning outcomes and skills show that a large number of youth have low levels of achievement in basic literacy and numeracy.
To raise awareness on the importance of investing in youth skills development, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate July 15 as World Youth Skills Day.
Dhaka, Feb 16 (UNB) – While the Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2018 is drawing greater number of crowd with each passing day, books authored by Bangladeshi writers also attracted many people at the 42nd edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair.
A Bangladesh pavilion received notable responses from the visitors at the just concluded Kolkata Book Fair.
With its Indo-Saracenic Revival architectural style, the pavilion boasting 42 stalls of rich Bangladeshi books drew attention of Kolkata book lovers throughout the fair duration - from January 30 to February 11at Salt Lake City in Kolkata.
This year, the Bangladesh pavilion was designed replicating one of the country’s historic sites - Ahsan Manzil, one time official residential palace and the seat of the Dhaka Nawab situated on the bank of Buriganga at old part of Dhaka.
Of the 42 stalls, eight were of government organisations while 34 others showcased books published by private publishers.
Anup Datta, owner of Mowla Brothers’ stall, told UNB that, the pavilion got huge response from the visitors from the very first day.
Almost 40 percent books were sold in the first two days of the fair, he claimed adding that the popularity of Bangladeshi writers especially Humayun Ahmed is commendable.
Ranju Prasad Mondol, a visitor of the fair from Kalyani said that, the pavilion is a great opportunity for those who want to buy original copies from the Bangladeshi publishers all in one place.
Bangladeshi books are in good demand among the readers here, said Md Saifuddin from the Bangla Academy stall.
People visited the pavilion with much enthusiasm and bought books of their choices, he said adding that Bangladesh is participating in this book fair for over past two decades.
Every year, the pavilion is gaining more responses from the visitors, he said.
Ahnaf Tahmid Ratul from Dhaka, who visited the fair during his visit to Kolkata, told UNB that, it’s a good experience to explore such a huge pavilion of own country in the ground of such a large international book fair.
“Undoubtedly Amar Ekushey Boi Mela is the biggest event for every Bangladeshi book lovers, yet those who are visiting Kolkata can also pay a visit to this international book fair and find books from countries all over the world including Russia, Spain, Australia, France, USA and many more and of course from Bangladesh”, Ratul said when the Kolkata Book Fair was still in progress.
According to the organizers, the increased participation of Bangladesh in Kolkata Book Fair 2018 is a part of strengthening diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring countries.
In the Kolkata Book Fair, January 3 was observed as Bangladesh Day with the arrangement of a seminar on Liberation War.
This year, the International Kolkata Book Fair, dubbed as the world’s largest book fair, was organized with focal country theme- France, the centre of culture of Europe.
This year on the occasion of the 70th year of the Indo-France diplomatic relationship, the cultural wing of the French Embassy organized the Bonjour India Festival in selected cities of India.
Dhaka, June 15 (UNB) – As soon as the holy moon confirms the arrival of Eid-ul-Fitr, eid wishes will start popping up on digital screens of mobile phones, tablets and laptops. But once, these wishes used to be sent with colorful ‘Eid Cards’.
While visiting the country’s one of the largest card manufacturer ‘Ideal Products’, staff were seen busy making wedding cards. One of its staff, Moslem Uddin, told UNB that in this age of mobile and internet, people have forgotten the tradition of sending printed Eid cards.
Eid card business has dropped down a lot over the years, as people now prefer sending e-cards to wish Eid Mubarak, he said.
DM Towhidul Alam, a government official, said, buying Eid cards for friends and family was one of the most exciting part of Eid celebration during the childhood. But the tradition has faded away in the busy city life.
“Now we send wishes through SMS, e-mails or through social media. E-cards have taken the places of those printed cards,” he said adding, “But, the e-cards cannot replace handwritten emotions.”
There are still some people who like to carry on the almost forgotten tradition.
Fahmida Farhana Priti, a student of Dhaka University, bought some Eid greeting cards from Arong for her cousins to pass the tradition to the next generation.
“Eid cards are not only the token of love and affection, but it’s also a nice way to invite close people to your home on Eid days,” she added.
“In the past, we could buy cards from our neighbourhood. But now, such shops are not seen anywhere nearby,” said Priti who sends eid greeting cards to her cousins living in other countries through courier services every year to share her affection for them.
“I want them to know the value of the emotions attached with these handwritten wishes and also I like to recall my childhood memories through sending them eid cards,” she added.
Though the tradition of sending Eid cards for individuals is fading away, printed cards are still in demand because of various corporate organisations as they are now the largest part of the customers of the card manufacturers.
Shahin Alam, Branch Manager of Azad Products, another one of the largest card manufacturers, said most orders for eid cards come from different organisations.
“But, the people of mid-age and elderly ones, who still like to practise the tradition of sending hand written wishes to their dear ones, come and buy eid cards from here,” he added.
Despite the decreasing number of customers, there are many shops in the city from where people can buy Eid greeting cards.
In Ideal Products at Paltan, printed cards are available at Tk 1 to Tk 20, in Azad Products the cards cost from Tk 12 to Tk25. Handmade cards are available at Arong at a price starting from Tk 60.
Different chain gift shops like Archies Gallery and Hallmarks also have colorful greeting cards at different price range.
One can also visit places such as New Market and Bangla Bazar to look for their desired cards. These places as well as Nilkhet and Katabon also have craft accessories to offer people who want to surprise their dear ones with handmade cards with special messages.
Dhaka, Aug 10 (UNB) - As social media have turned out to be the tools of spreading rumours, media and IT experts think there is a necessity to make people, especially the youngsters, aware about mature digital lifestyle and increase their media literacy.
Besides, they said, a strong campaign is needed to be launched to make people understand the difference between rumours and truth and asses the validity of information being spread through Facebook, twitter, different apps and blogs.
The issue of social media abuse has come in the limelight once again as various false campaigns and rumours were carried out over the student movement for road safety. An actress was arrested and a number of less known online news outlets were sued by the cyber unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police for spreading rumours and fake news.
Contacted, former Chief Information Commissioner Prof Golam Rahman said some people are spreading false information and rumours using social media platforms with political or ill motives while some people doing the same simply for lack of awareness.
“People believe rumours when there is dearth of information or obstruction to free flow of information of the mainstream media,” said Golam Rahman, now a professor at Journalism and Mass Communication department of Daffodil University.
About some recent rumours on social media regarding the killing and rape of some demonstrating students, he said many people still believe those rumours as the mainstream TV channels could not properly broadcast live the attacks on students by miscreants.
He said the government must ensure the free flow of information of the mainstream media so that people do not get confused with rumours and false information.
Besides, Golam Rahman, also a former professor of Dhaka University’s Journalism department, said vigorous campaigns and discussions are needed to make people aware about how they can avoid rumours and how they should use the social media. “The mainstream media can play a vital role in this regard. “Teachers in educational institutions also can teach students how to use social media.”
Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar said people are using social media without having knowledge of how to deal with it. “Social media are being used across the globe as a communication tool. But the users must be responsible and literate.”
“A vested quarter is repeatedly trying to make their political gains by spreading propaganda and rumours using the Facebook,” he said.
The minister said the same quarter used social media as a propaganda tool during the trial of top war criminals, Hefajat’s agitation at Shapla Chattar, quota movement and students’ current movement for road safety.
Jabbar, also a noted IT expert, said people must know about digital lifestyle and be aware of its responsible use and protection.
Alongside people’s awareness, he said, the government must have technological capacity to tackle the abuse of technology. “That’s why we’re taking various steps in this regard.”
“I can give you good news that the Telecommunications Division has taken a around Tk 100-crore project on cyber security to enhance the government’s capability to check social media abuse using technology. We’ll monitor the social media and check rumours and find out its sources.”
Jabbar said the ICT Division is carrying out various campaigns to make people aware of justified use of social media. “We’ll intensify it further. We’re also now thinking of introducing a module on social media use in various trainings on ICT.”
Prof Fahmidul Haq of Dhaka University’s Mass Communication and Journalism department said increasing social media literacy is crucial to check the abuse of social media platforms. “We must make people aware to think before posting or sharing anything on the social media.”
He said the social media users should know their responsibility and how to use it. “An attitude or a habit must grow among people to cross-check the content of the social media so that they can ascertain the authenticity of any post before spreading or sharing it. A campaign is necessary for it”.
Besides, the media expert said the government and different socio-cultural organisations can arrange seminars, workshops and discussions to create mass awareness about responsible use of social media.
Ekushey TV CEO Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul also echoed Fahmid, saying social media literacy is important for discouraging people from spreading false campaigns or rumours on the social media.
He said the government should not interrupt the free flow of information of the mainstream media or regulate those to tackle the rumours on social media. “When people don’t get proper information from the mainstream media, they look for alternative media for information, and sometimes believe those.”
“Any false campaign or rumour will have to be dealt with authentic information. When people will get the right information from the mainstream media, they’ll trash the false information on social media,” the noted journalist said.