Dhaka, Apr 8 (UNB) - Switzerland has said Bangladesh will become a “more preferred destination” for Swiss businesses in the future with further improved infrastructures and energy supply, regulatory predictability, legal security and the rule of law.
“Potential investors sometimes find it challenging to venture into Bangladeshi market in terms of ease of doing business,” Assistant State Secretary for Asia-Pacific of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland Ambassador Raphael Nageli told UNB in an interview.
He, however, said Bangladesh has taken up several initiatives in recent years to draw foreign investments.
During their recent visit to Bangladesh, Ambassador Nageli and his delegation members have had “fruitful discussions” with various government agencies regarding these issues.
Responding to a question, he said he is aware of the potentials the Bangladeshi economy offers to the new investors.
“In order to take our economic relations to the next level, the two countries need to identify newer areas of cooperation, including the expansion of trade baskets,” he said.
The economic relations between Bangladesh and Switzerland, according to him, are growing rapidly and the bilateral trade volume has almost tripled since 2010.
Ambassador Nageli said investments and reinvestments from the Swiss companies operating in Bangladesh are also increasing regularly.
He said they held an exchange with Bangladeshi authorities to promote trade and investment relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh.
As a country, Ambassador Nageli said, Switzerland has a strong focus on innovation and R&D. “In this area, I see huge potentials for collaboration between the businesses of the two countries.”
He laid emphasis on identifying new areas of economic cooperation -- hi-tech, clean-tech, renewable energy etc. - where the two countries can mutually benefit.
Ambassador Nageli said the Swiss cooperation strategy for Bangladesh is largely aligned with Bangladesh’s priorities for SDGs and country priorities.
Under this strategy, he said, Switzerland will continue to promote human and social capital development in this country as well as the voice and rights of particularly poor and disadvantaged women and men for improving their wellbeing and equal participation in society.
Bangladesh and Switzerland held the fourth edition of biennial political consultations in Dhaka on April 2.
The main purpose of Ambassador Nageli’s visit was to participate in the meeting and lead the Swiss delegation.
Apart from taking stock of the current state of affairs of bilateral relations, the two countries discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of politics, economy and international cooperation during these discussions.
Evaluating the relations between Switzerland Bangladesh, Ambassador Nageli’s said the bilateral relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh are very friendly, historic and deeply rooted.
Humanitarian assistance and development cooperation were the corner stones of bilateral relations in the early days of bilateral relations, he said.
“The economic relations have grown considerably in the last 10 years. I’m absolutely confident that the multifaceted cooperation and partnership bonds between Switzerland and Bangladesh will be further strengthened in the days to come,” Ambassador Nageli said.
Responding to another question, he said Swiss Development Cooperation is still the strongest pillar in bilateral relations which are guided by partnership, solidarity and humanitarian values.
As a longstanding and reliable development partner of Bangladesh, he said, Switzerland is providing assistance in key sectors of poverty alleviation and rural development, including income and economic development, democratic governance and safer migration.
Dhaka, Apr 8 (UNB) - As part of the government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against graft, the Ministry of Public Administration (MoPA) has punished some 634 government officials for their involvement in irregularities and corruption.
“As there’re rewards for officials for good works, there should be punishment for unlawful tasks. These officials have been punished for violating the laws,” State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told UNB in an interview.
He further said the government will not allow corruption at any level as per the Prime Minister’s ‘zero-tolerance’ stance against it. “If we want to provide better services to people, it’s a must to establish discipline in the administration,” he added.
The current government has enhanced the salary of government employees by more than 120 percent. No previous government had been able to do so. It’s a rare instance,” the state minister told UNB.
It is the responsibility of the MoPA to implement the decisions taken by the government and it is working to this end, he said.
Farhad Hossain went on saying, “To provide better services to public, we’ve taken necessary measures, including infrastructure development, creation of posts, more employment and better transportation facilities.”
He said the government’s goal is to determine how to stop corruption and irregularities. “We’ll adopt techniques to stop graft when necessary. However, we won’t take much time. We’ll take steps within a short time and work to stop corruption and ensure good governance.”
About irregularities in the transfer and promotion process of the government officials, the state minister said efficiency should determine posting and promotion rather than political connection. “We want to place right man at the right place. For this, we’ll give priority to skills and talents,” he said.
He also said training courses for the government officials abroad need to be more advanced in quality. “Many officers are getting trained abroad. We’ll be looking into whether they’re being evaluated according to their merit or not,” Farhad Hossain said.
Dhaka, Apr 7 (UNB) – BNP leaders and lawyers are divided over the process to get their ailing Chairperson Khaleda Zia out of jail as her parole has been the talk of the town.
A number of BNP leaders say they want to follow legal procedures to free the former prime minister, who has been in jail since February 8, 2018. Another group insists that having her released on parole and sending her abroad for treatment is the best option right now as her health condition is gradually deteriorating.
But Khaleda, known to her supporters and admirers as an ‘uncompromising leader’, is unwilling to seek parole and go abroad, a BNP standing committee member told UNB wishing anonymity.
He also said the BNP chief’s family is worried about her deteriorating health condition and they want the party leaders to work together for her release either on bail or on parole.
Family members and party senior leaders may try to meet Khaleda, now undergoing treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), soon and take her opinion and convince her to go abroad.
Another BNP leader said negotiations are going on behind the scene between the party leaders and the government over the issue.
He said the government may agree to release Khaleda on parole only if BNP ensures that its six MPs-elect will join parliament.
The BNP leader said the government and the BNP leaders must reach an understanding by April 30 as it is the last date for the MPs-elect to be sworn in to protect their parliament membership.
According to Khaleda’s lawyers, she was convicted in two cases, among the 36 ones, filed against her.
To ensure her release through the legal process, they said, Khaleda will have to get bail in Zia Charitable Trust and Zia Orphanage Trust graft cases and two other defamation cases.
The government has apparently given a positive signal about her release on parole as Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Saturday said they would consider releasing Khaleda on parole if she files an application and cites specific reasons.
Contacted, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they never talked about their chairperson’s release on parole as she can be released on bail if the government does not interfere.
He also said their chairperson is very sick and her condition deteriorated so much that she cannot walk and eat anything properly. “Her proper treatment is not possible at BSMMU which is controlled by the government.”
Fakhrul also said the government should release Khaleda Zia without any condition to allow her to receive proper treatment.
Party standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said seeking parole completely depends on Khaleda’s decision. “She can only decide whether she’ll seek it or not. But I think she might not agree to apply for parole.”
Another party standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said Khaleda was supposed to be freed on bail in the cases filed against her much ago, but she is still in jail due to the government’s interference in the judiciary.
“As a lawyer, I can say now it’s not possible to free Khaleda Zia through the legal process without any strong movement,” he added.
BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said they still want to have Khaleda freed on bail. “But her health condition is very bad. The question of her release on parole will arise only when doctors recommend sending her abroad for treatment. But the physicians still didn’t say anything about it.”
Dhaka University ex-Vice-chancellor and pro-BNP intellectual Emajuddin Ahmed said the Home Minister’s remark on Khaleda’s release on parole is a positive development in politics.
He said BNP should now give priority to Khaleda’s release and her proper treatment abroad.
Two other BNP senior leaders, preferring not to be named, said BNP leaders should ensure their chairperson’s release, even if necessary on parole, to ensure her proper treatment.
On Thursday, BNP leaders had a meeting with foreign diplomats where they told the envoys that their chairperson is badly needed to go abroad for her treatment to save her life.
The BNP chief’s prime counsel Khandker Mahbub Hossain said releasing Khaleda Zia on parole is a political decision. “But it’s the main question whether Khaleda Zia will apply for it or the government will accept the application. As a lawyer, I can say release on parole is possible.”
Dhaka, Apr 6 (UNB) - Switzerland has reiterated that all efforts towards resolving the Rohingya crisis must be guided by respect for obligations under international laws, particularly human rights law.
The country has also called for full implementation of the recommendations stipulated in the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to resolve the Rohingya crisis.
“Switzerland together with the international community will continue to work closely with Myanmar and Bangladesh,” Ambassador Raphael Nageli, the Assistant State Secretary for Asia-Pacific of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, told UNB in an interview.
He said they want to see that the safety and protection of the Rohingyas people and their voluntary return in safety and dignity are addressed in an “effective and comprehensive” manner.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland commends the government and the people of Bangladesh for the assistance and protection offered on humanitarian grounds to those who fled from violence in Myanmar, despite various socio-economic and political challenges.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingya population and more than 700,000 Rohingya people took shelter in Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, according to officials in Dhaka.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland highly appreciates the way Bangladesh provided shelter and support to the Rohingya population.
“The needs in the (Rohingya) camps are still very high,” he said sharing his Rohingya camps visit experience. He along with his colleagues visited Rohingya camps on April 1.
Responding to a question, he said Switzerland, which was one of the first countries to respond to the latest crisis with humanitarian assistance, stands by Bangladesh firmly during this difficult period.
Since 2017, Switzerland has committed more than US$30 million in humanitarian aid to alleviate the sufferings of the Rohingya people as well as the host communities.
Besides financial contributions and direct action support, Swiss experts are supporting the UN agencies and NGOs on the ground in Cox’s Bazar.
Ambassador Nageli said Switzerland has a strong commitment to stay engaged with Bangladesh and the affected Rohingya refugees through both humanitarian and development assistance.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation agreement on November 23, 2017. On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement” to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland from Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Earlier on March 31, a five-member Swiss delegation arrived in Dhaka from Bern to participate in the consultations.
During their stay in Bangladesh, the Swiss delegation travelled to the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar on April 1 to obtain a firsthand impression about the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Ambassador Nageli also visited Myanmar wrapping up his Bangladesh visit.
Dhaka, Apr 5 (UNB) - The government has planned to set up 313 more courts across the country and appoint 346 judicial magistrates, aiming to reduce the plight of justice-seekers and ease the pressure of mounting cases, official sources said.
They said a process is underway to set up seven cyber tribunals, 122 additional district and session judges courts, 159 joint district judges courts, 19 environment courts, and six environment appeal courts.
According to an official document, the government has also decided to appoint 346 judicial magistrates or senior judicial magistrates or metropolitan magistrates to this end.
The Public Administration Minister and the Finance Minister were learned to have given their consent to set up seven cyber tribunals while the Public Administration Ministry has given its approval to create chief metropolitan magistrate courts in Gazipur and Rangpur.
The official document, obtained by UNB, shows that the crisis of courtrooms is one of the main obstacles to quick disposal of cases. "The government is working to streamline the trial process by increasing courtrooms and ensuring the best use of working hours," it reads.
In this connection, the government is implementing a project for the vertical expansion of district judges’ courts in 28 districts with modern facilities and constructing chief judicial magistrate court buildings in 42 districts, the document says.
The construction on 24 chief judicial magistrate court buildings have already been completed where judicial works are going on. The construction works on the rest of the districts are going on.
The process to prepare Development Project Proposals (DPPs) in the rest of the 36 district judge courts and 22 chief judicial magistrate court buildings is also in progress.
The government has approved another project of constructing a 12-storey building with modern facilities on the High Court compound.
Besides, a monitoring cell is working to dispose of the old cases on priority basis under the leadership of a solicitor in addition to forming case management committee in every district.
According to the official document, national and district-level 'Justice Coordination Committees' have been formed to ensure effective coordination for the quick disposal of cases in courts.
For resolving the transport problem of additional district and session judges, who usually deal with murder, dacoities, rape and other serious cases, the government has approved a project to procure 128 vehicles.
The government has taken another initiative for the training of the judges of lower courts for speedy trial and disposing of cases, the document further says.
It says a process to send 540 judges to Western Sydney University of Australia has started, while 253 judges have already received the training.
Besides, some 315 judges received training at the National Judicial Academy in Bhupal, India, while 30 in Japan, 20 judges in China and 14 and prosecutors in the USA.
Meanwhile, the Judicial Administration Training Institute provided training to 2,838 judges, 135 GP/PP and 193 court staff from 2014 to 2018. Besides, 59 judges have received training on e-procurement. "In phases, more judges will be given higher training both at home and abroad," the document says.
The number of pending cases with the country’s lower courts till December 31, 2018 is 35,69,750 while 14,29,861 is civil cases and 20,48,067 is criminal cases. The number of pending cases with the higher courts is 5,37,094.