Dhaka, Jan 28 (UNB) – Bangladesh will import around 1.42 million tonnes of petroleum from eight state-owned companies of different countries under the government-to-government (G-to-G) arrangements in the first half of the current year.
According to sources at the Energy and Mineral Resources Division under the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, the government will require to spend about US$806.769 million, equivalent to Tk 6772.87 crore, to procure this bulk refined petroleum from January to June this year.
They said the Energy and Mineral Resources Division and state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) will import the bulk petroleum. Of the total fuel, the BPC will buy 1.19 million tonnes of gasoil (diesel) while 1 lakh tonnes of Jet A-1, 30,000 tonnes of petrol ((mogas) and 1 lakh tonnes of furnace oil.
Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase last week approved a proposal of the division allowing the corporation to import the bulk fuel.
The committee also approved the premium of the fuel import proposals which are $2.95 per barrel for diesel, $3.95 per barrel for Jet A-1, $5.50 per barrel for petrol and $29.75 per tonne for furnace oil.
As per the proposal, the state-owned corporation will import 90,000 tonnes of diesel, 40,000 tonnes of furnace oil and 15,000 tonnes of petrol from BSP Zapin of Indonesia while 1.10 lakh tonnes of diesel, 10,000 tonnes of Jet A-1 and 20,000 tonnes of furnace oil from PTLCL of Malaysia, some 90,000 tonnes of diesel and 20,000 tonnes of furnace oil from ENOC of the United Arab Emirate (UAE), and some 60,000 tonnes of diesel and 20,000 tonnes of furnace oil from Thailand’s state-owned PTTT.
It will buy only diesel from two state-owned Chinese companies. Of this, some 90,000 tonnes of diesel will be coming from China’s Petrochina and 1.5 lakh tonnes of diesel from Unipec. Some 51,000 tonnes of diesel and 90,000 tonnes of Jet A-1 will be imported from Kuwait’s state-owned KPC and some 90,000 tonnes of diesel and 15,000 tonnes of petrol from Philippines’ state-owned PITC.
Officials said the government is following a certain practice from the last few years for the import of petroleum as part of its energy import strategy.
Under the strategy, the BPC imports 50 percent of the total required fuel from state-owned companies of different countries through a negotiated premium at an international rate while remaining 50 percent is imported through open tender from open sources.
About the strategy, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the government follows such a strategy to secure its fuel import. “If the entire import is made through open tenders, there always remains a risk. In case of any international crisis, the supplier might decline to supply fuel which will push the country’s fuel import towards uncertainty,” he said adding that they are now following the strategy for this.
Dhaka, Jan 27 (UNB) - The government will increase the number of Commercially Important Person (CIP) status of non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) nearly threefold from this year to encourage the expatriates to send more remittances.
The CIP status is given to NRBs for their outstanding contributions to the country’s economy. Currently, 35 NRBs are enjoying the CIP status.
The Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment (MEWOE) issued a circular on January 10 and sent it to all Bangladeshi embassies and high commissions for distribution of the information among expatriates.
This year, the government will award CIP status to five highest NRB investors, 75 highest remittance senders and top 10 importers of Bangladeshi products.
“The government has decided to increase the number to inspire more people to send higher remittances through legal channel,” MEWOE Additional Secretary Munirus Saleheen told UNB.
Last year, a World Bank report said Bangladesh was the ninth highest recipient of remittances in 2018 with $15.9 billion. In South Asia, the country came in third after India ($79.5b) and Pakistan ($20.9b).
Any NRB who has sent at least $1,00,000 to Bangladesh in the 2017-18 fiscal year can apply for CIP status, he said. Previously, one needed to remit $2,00,000 to be eligible for application.
Criteria for the other two categories — investor and importer – will remain unchanged.
The NRBs who have directly invested money equivalent to $3,00,000 in the industry sector and those who imported Bangladeshi goods worth $3,00,000 in 2017-18, are eligible to apply for the CIP status, said Saleheen.
Guidelines for application are available at www.probashi.gov.bd. One has to apply with necessary documents either directly to MEWOE or at the concerned Bangladesh missions by February 15 this year.
Replying to a question, Saleheen said the government would announce names of 35 NRB CIPs for the 2016-17 fiscal within June.
Of the NRB CIPs announced last year, 29 were given the status for remitting the highest amount of foreign currencies and another six for importing Bangladesh goods for the year 2015-16.
CIP (NRB) cardholders are entitled to a number of facilities for one year from the day of the issuance of gazette. They get reserved seats in government airlines, trains, buses and water vessels for business-related visits, while their spouses and children also get priority in getting cabin facilities at government hospitals for medical treatment.
CIP cardholders can use VIP lounges and receive special luggage handling facilities at airports. They also get special treatment in meeting high officials at home and abroad.
Dhaka, Jan 26 (UNB) - Though BNP senior leaders remained united for a long time in absence of its chairperson Khaleda Zia, a crack now has apparently developed among them over its leadership and party overhauling, worrying its already demoralised grassroots.
Party insiders said some BNP standing committee members want a change in the party leadership, including the post of party secretary general, through holding a council to stage a comeback in politics after the drubbing in the 11th parliamentary election.
But most party policymakers are unwilling to hold the council keeping Khaleda Zia in jail. They think their party should now focus on finding ways to have their chairperson released from jail alongside reorganising the party grassroots.
BNP senior leaders are also divided over the issue of maintaining their unity with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikyafront and keeping Jamaat in the 20-Party Alliance.
Under the circumstances, the party grassroots leaders think, a new charismatic and well-reputed face like Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the helm of the party for removing the misunderstanding among the senior leaders and revitalising the dispirited party leaders and activists in obscene of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and acting chairman Tarique Rahman.
As per the BNP’s constitution, the party will have to hold its national council after every three years. But the party repeatedly violated such provision in holding the councils in the past.
BNP’s last council was held on March 19, 2016 where Khaleda Zia was reelected party chairperson while Tarique Rahman and Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were made senior vice chairman and secretary general respectively.
A BNP standing committee member, wishing anonymity, said BNP standing committee members Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain and Moudud Ahmed along with some vice chairmen took a position against party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and they want a change in the post of party secretary general, and some other ones through a council.
He, however, said other standing committee members are still backing Fakhrul.
The BNP leader said the BNP group, led by Mosharraf and Moudud, also wants BNP to focus on its own organisation now and prepare the party for waging a strong mass movement against the government instead of spending time on strengthening Oikyafront.
“But Mirza Fakhrul and other senior leaders think their party should work for strengthening the party and forging a greater unity by making Oikyafront stronger further,” the BNP leader said.
Besides, he said, as Mosharraf and Moudud are unwilling to be there in Oikyafront’s steering committee, their party is going to replace them with BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy and Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan.
The rift among the BNP senior leaders got exposed for the first time on January 18 last as Moudud and Mosharraf at a discussion suggested a change in the party leadership through holding a council.
Meanwhile, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday alleged that many plots are now on to weaken BNP and split it.
Contacted, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said they talked about party overhauling through a council, but they do not have any intra-party conflict. “I don’t want to say anything more about it.”
Asked about Fakhrul’s comment over the plots to split BNP, he said their secretary general indicated that the government, not any BNP leader, is conspiring to divide BNP.
Asked when their council may be held, Moudud declined to make any comment on it.
Another BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said their party is going to take steps for holding the council as soon as possible in a bid to reorganise it.
“I think young and new leaders should be brought in the frontline of the party leadership through the council to strengthen the party,” he said.
Mahbub, however, was unwilling to make any comment over the conflict among the party senior leaders and the conspiracy against the party.
Mohammadpur unit BNP president Haji Mohammad Yusuf said it is usual to create misunderstanding among the senior leaders in absence of their chairperson and acting chairman. “I think Dr Zubaida Rahman should now take the charge of the party to keep BNP united and revitalise its demoralised party grassroots. She’s a very capable and well-educated person to deal with the current situation as I saw her during the 1/11 political changeover,” he added.
Echoing Yusuf’s view, ex-Dhaka city unit BNP office secretary Shamsul Alam said Dr Zubaida will be the best suitable option for their party to strengthen it now and take it forward.
Khulna, Jan 25 (UNB) – “Sundarban”, a new brand of bottled water under the Bottled Water Treatment Plant (BWTP) project of Khulna Water and Sewerage Authority (KWASA), is going to be launched in February next.
Construction of buildings housing the treatment plant, installation of all machinery for the production of bottles, water treatment, filling, and level attaching process are complete.
Managing Director of Khulna Wasa Md Abdullah said test production will start in the last week of this month. If everything goes well, Sundarban bottled water will start selling commercially in February.
Initially, the consumers will get to buy Sundarban at the same retail price as other brands already in the market, but the wholesalers can buy at a lower price.
Sources said the initiative to set up a bottled water treatment plant was undertaken in 2015. KWASA selected a site in Rayermahal in the city to locate the plant and a Tk 19.75 crore installation agreement was signed with Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory (BMTF) in 2016.
Water will be lifted from the ground, and it will be treated to make it drinkable and then be bottled.
The bottle production facility is located on the same compound as the treatment plant.
According to the agreement, 8,000 litres of water will be produced an hour at the plant.
Every day, some 64,000 litres of water will be prepared to supply to market in 148,880 containers of 7 sizes -- measuring 300ml, 500ml, 1 litre, 2 litres, 3 litres, 5 litres and 20 litres.
During a recent visit, the UNB correspondent found the construction work on a power sub-station for the plant is almost complete.
Director of WASA water supply project Khan Selim Ahammad said the entire manufacturing process, including the bottle production, water treatment and bottling, will be an automated one.
“We’ll be ready within 15 days,” he said confidently.
Dhaka, Jan 25 (UNB) – Preparations are going on in full swing for Bangladesh’s biggest literary festival, the month-long ‘Amar Ekushey Boimela’, scheduled to begin on February 1 at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan and Bangla Academy premises.
“This year’s fair will be bigger than ever before and have a more reader-friendly atmosphere,” said poet Habibullah Siraji, the director general of Bangla Academy.
The theme for this year is ‘Bijoy: 1952 to 1971 Ebong Naboporjay’, said Dr Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the fair’s organising committee.
Works on the stalls and the main stage are almost finished.
Siraji said the area of last year’s fair was extended with the increase in number of stalls. In 2018, the land earmarked for the fair was expanded to 5,50,000 square feet – 37,000 sq feet more than the year before.
This year, architect Enamul Karim Nirjhor is focusing on the glass tower of Suhrawardy Udyan so that light from it showers the whole area. Nirapad Media and Communication, run by actor Ilias Kanchan, will oversee the total management of the fair.
Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair throughout the month wherein freedom fighters, researchers and organisers of Liberation War will participate.
Hopes of buoyant sales
Publishing houses, including 19 new ones, have been allotted over 600 stalls and around 42 pavilions. More than 100 stalls have been earmarked for government and non-government organisations on the academy premises, Bangla Academy sources said.
The number of pavilions will remain the same this year. Bangla Academy and 23 publishing houses have been allotted pavilions. Apart from them, 593 units have been distributed among 338 publishing houses at Suhrawardy Udyan.
Publishers are working round the clock to get the books ready. The academy said 4,591 new titles will hit the fair. Writers and publishers are busy promoting their books on the social media.
Last year, the month-long event ended with a record Tk 70.54 crore sales. The amount was Tk 65.40 crore in 2017, Tk 40.50 crore in 2016 and Tk 21.95 crore in 2015, according to Bangla Academy information centre.
Publishers said they were hoping for a buoyant sale this time, too.
Bangla Academy has launched an online application system for publications for the first time while GPS has been added to assist visitors locate their desired stalls.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the fair on February 1 while two honorary guests — Indian poet Shanka Ghosh and Egyptian writer and poet Mohsin Al Arishi – will grace the opening ceremony.