Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - South East Asian Co-operation (SEACO) Foundation and World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation will jointly organise a roundtable discussion in the city on October 29 that will address the challenges and prospects of Islamic finance and sukuk.
The WIEF-SEACO Foundation Dhaka Roundtable 2019 with the theme, ‘Regional Collaboration: Transforming Economies’,) will also look into the future direction of the halal industry as well as opportunities for infrastructure development.
A sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in Western finance.
The final session at the roundtable will introduce SEACO, a regional partnership platform, which will link Bangladesh and the Maldives in the Bay of Bengal with selected Asean countries through various initiatives targeted to strengthen economic cooperation among these nations.
“SEACO trusts that the way to raise the socio economy of a community is through trade, investment, tourism and overall cooperation where national economies become more connected regionally, and financial institutions such as Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) could play a catalytic role under their Special Development Programme (SDP),” said Salahuddin Kasem Khan, Executive Chairman, SEACO Foundation and International Advisory Panel Member of WIEF Foundation, on Thursday.
He said with the steady growth the country is experiencing, they wish that the private and public sectors from South-South East Asian economies will have further understanding of Islamic finance and banking as an alternative to conventional banking, as well as financing infrastructure investment such as sukuk in the power, transport and social infrastructure sectors.
“We are delighted to partner with WIEF Foundation in this Roundtable, by inviting subject matter experts to share their experiences with the business community in Bangladesh,” Salahuddin added.
Chairman of WIEF Foundation Tun Musa Hitam said the WIEF is pleased to take the first step in this initiative by working together with SEACO Foundation at this Roundtable. “I believe this will help us build closer trade integration, stronger institutions and financial links in the region.”
Tun Musa said they are hoping to see the private sectors to take the lead and participate in the economic development in these countries.
Islamic Economy Enjoys Steady Growth
The WIEF Foundation Chairman said the governments could provide support, for instance, through a blend of official development assistance (ODA), government-to-government (G2G) funding, alongside private financing in infrastructure projects.
“With 1.8 billion Muslims, the Islamic economy continues to enjoy steady growth. In the case of Islamic finance, it is a burgeoning sector with assets estimated at US$2.4 trillion in 2017 and expected to surge to US$3.8 trillion by 2023. The non-speculative nature of shariah compliant finance can help to ensure financial stability, a reason why it is gaining traction globally,” added Tun Misa Hitam.
The growing demand for shariah compliant finance, coupled with various initiatives undertaken by a number of governments and regulatory bodies across Asia have fueled the growth of the industry.
It is estimated that the value of shariah compliant assets in Asia will reach US$3.8 trillion by 2023.
According to a report by Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asia Development Outlook (ADO) 2019, South Asia’s growth is projected to be 6.2 percent in 2019 and 6.7 percent in 2020.
FY2019, Bangladesh (ended 30 June 2019) outperformed ADO 2019 projections, with Bangladesh accelerating to 8.1 percent on robust private consumption and exports, production exceeding expectations in all sectors, most notably, agriculture.
As growth in the economy will likely remain strong, forecasts for FY2020 are retained, according to a joint media release.
Developing Asia will require investment of $26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or $1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change (climate-adjusted estimate).
Without climate change mitigation and adaptation costs, $22.6 trillion will be needed, or $1.5 trillion per year (baseline estimate).
Of the total climate-adjusted investment needs over 2016–2030, $14.7 trillion will be for transport, power, telecommunications, and water supply and sanitation.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - Singapore Foreign Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on Thursday said his country would raise the Rohingya issue at the 35th ASEAN Summit that will begin in Bangkok on October 31.
The Singaporean minister’s remarks came as Bangladesh seeks sustainable return of Rohingyas to their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
The issue came up for discussion when a delegation from Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs headed by its chairman M Faruk Khan called on the Foreign Minister of Singapore at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
They discussed various issues related to Rohingya repatriation and ways for their early return to Myanmar who are temporarily sheltered in Bangladesh.
Faruk Khan was accompanied by other two parliament members Nurul Islam Nahid and Kazi Nabil Ahmed. Bangladesh High Commissioner in Singapore M Mustafizur Rahman was also present.
The Singapore Foreign Minister reiterated that his country’s support on the issue will be continued, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.
He appreciated Bangladesh’s efforts for providing best possible humanitarian assistance despite numerous challenges and constraints of Bangladesh.
Faruk Khan explained the reasons behind the enormous popularity of the current government and shared the growing economy of Bangladesh and various development initiatives taken by the government.
The members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs are now in Singapore on a four-day visit, and they will leave Singapore on October 27.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - Chief Minister of Assam Sarbananda Sonowal has stressed the need for continuing discussions on all fronts – government to government (G2G), government to business (G2B) and business to business (B2B) for mutual benefits of the two countries – Bangladesh and India.
The chief minister also emphasised on maintaining close relationship between chamber bodies of the two countries.
Sonowal discussed the issues when a 14-member delegation of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) met him on Wednesday in Guwahati, said the DCCI on Thursday.
The Assam Chief Minister was especially excited about opening up the multimodal inter-connectivity between the northeast region of India and Bangladesh leading to significant enhancement of bilateral trade.
The delegation was in Guwahati to attend the “India Bangladesh Stakeholders' Meet” led by DCCI Senior Vice President Waqar Ahmad Choudhury.
The two-day event was jointly organised by Indian Commerce and Industry Ministry, Assam Government and Indian Chamber of Commerce.
During the meeting with the Chief Minister, Waqar Ahmad said the size of Bangladesh-Indiabilateral trade is about USD11 billion but the trade balance is -9:1 -in favour of India.
He emphasised the need for cross border trade and investment through increased cooperation and connectivity between the two friendly nations and the seven sisters as a potential outlet for Bangladeshi goods into the ASEAN market.
The delegation also met the Minister for Commerce and Industry of Assam Chandra Mohan Patowary and discussed in detail the trade opportunities between the two countries.
DCCI Vice President Imran Ahmed, Directors Hossain ASikder, Engr Akber Hakim, Mohammad Bashiruddin, EngrMd Al Amin, Shams Mahmud, SM Zillur Rahman, Alhaj Deen Mohammed, former Senior Vice President Alhaj Abdus Salam and former Director Alhaj Mohammad Sharfuddin were also present during the meeting.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - Appreciating the country for opening its borders to huge Rohingya refugees, the United States has urged Bangladesh to "postpone" its Rohingya relocation plan to Bhashan char until independent experts can determine it a suitable location, though Bangladesh is looking for a voluntary nature of relocation.
"We urge Bangladesh to postpone any refugee relocations to Bhashan Char until independent experts can determine it is a suitable location," said Alice G Wells, US acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of South and Central Asia.
She made the call while delivering her statement at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Tuesday, chaired by Congressman Brad Sherman.
Earlier on October 21, Bangladesh and the European Union discussed the Bhashan char relocation plan and Bangladesh reassured the "voluntary nature" of such Rohingya relocation.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam also tweeted a couple of days back saying Bhashan Char is ready to welcome Rohingya families.
#Bhashanchar is ready to welcome #Rohingya families. Newly built shelters will offer educational n livelihood options n will decongest the present camps. Cluster comes with multistoried building, a typical model that is hugly successful in coastal belt.https://t.co/DY7OSJttfI— Md. Shahriar Alam (@MdShahriarAlam) October 19, 2019
"Newly-built shelters will offer educational and livelihood options and will decongest the present camps," his tweet reads.
Shahriar mentioned that cluster comes with multistoried buildings, a typical model that is hugely successful in coastal belt.
Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.1 million of Rohingyas in congested camps in the country's tourist hub - Cox's Bazar district - putting much burden on Bangladesh.
"Given Bangladesh’s own development needs, the decision Prime Minister Hasina made to open the country’s borders to over 700,000 Rohingya refugees since August 2017 deserves recognition from international partners, including the United States," Wells said.
The hosting of Rohingyas has come with genuine consequences for Bangladesh, which was already one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the US official said.
Wells said the government estimates host communities in Cox’s Bazar are outnumbered by Rohingyas two to one, and that these communities have endured economic disruptions, ecological damage, and uncertainty about their own future just as the Rohingya face uncertainty about theirs.
She said the United States is Bangladesh’s leading partner in responding to the humanitarian crisis with more than $669 million in assistance provided since August 2017.
"As we have met the immediate emergency response, we maintain that Burma [Myanmar] must create the conditions for the Rohingya’s voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable repatriation and guarantee their rights as recommended by the Annan Commission recommendations," Wells said.
She said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly reaffirmed Bangladesh’s commitment to voluntary repatriation.
Bangladesh remains a "key Indo-Pacific partner" of the United States in regional stability, counterterrorism, two-way trade, development, and poverty reduction, as well as the hosting of 700,000 Rohingyas.
"We have emphasized that fully respecting democratic rights and improving transparency and accountability will contribute directly to Bangladesh’s aspirations for economic growth and development" Wells said.
Bangladesh Now Healthier, Wealthier
The United States has recognised that Bangladesh made impressive strides in growing its economy and shrinking poverty.
"As a secular, developing country that prides itself on tolerance and diversity with a female head of state, Bangladesh serves as an example for many Muslim-majority countries around the world," said Wells.
Over the last decade, she said, Bangladesh has grown healthier and wealthier, and is on course to graduate from the Least Developing Country status by 2024.
Wells mentioned that Bangladesh has maintained GDP growth of more than seven percent for over a decade and the government is committed to achieving its Social Development Goals including in areas of gender equality and infrastructure development.
While nearly one in five Bangladeshis live in poverty, that represents a significant reduction from nearly half the population living below the poverty line just two decades ago, she said.
Wells said additional gains include the reduction in child mortality rates by a factor of three and increases in secondary school enrollment (by 50 percent) over the same time period.
Dhaka, Oct 24 (UNB) - A UN human rights expert on Myanmar has called for sanctions against Myanmar military-run companies and commanders responsible for serious rights violations.
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee told the UN General Assembly in New York that she sees no discernable improvement to the situation in Myanmar.
Lee called for targeted sanctions against the Tatmadaw’s companies and its commanders most responsible for serious violations.
She said the Security Council must refer the entire situation to the International Criminal Court or establish an international tribunal to try alleged perpetrators of international crimes, according to a message received here from Geneva on Thursday.
The international community should also work with civil society to develop transformative processes in accordance with the pillars of justice, truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, Lee said.
“An end to impunity in Myanmar remains a lofty, far-off goal,” Lee said. “However, the international community must maintain its resolve and do more if that goal is to become within reach.”
Lee said that since April of this year, there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases involving military reprisals against critical protesters, activists and journalists reporting on the conflict in Rakhine State.
In September, government officials filed separate criminal defamation complaints against two satirists and a cartoonist for their social media posts, which were critical of the ruling National League for Democracy.
“With general elections next year, this is a deeply worrying trend,” she said.
Lee expressed concern about the Myanmar government plans for hydropower development in conflict areas where communities have been displaced from their land, including in Rakhine and Chin States.
Communities in Kachin, Shan and Kayin states continue to protest proposed hydropower dams that will submerge their lands, and with very little information made public about the plans, they are left in limbo about their fate.
Lee said she “remains resolute in my belief that it is unsafe for Rohingya refugees to return to Myanmar until the fundamental circumstances leading to their expulsion are remedied”.
She cited the case of up to 30 Rohingyas being arrested, charged and convicted of criminal offences because they had left Rakhine State in September. Among them were eight children sent to a detention centre, and a five-year-old who is in prison with his mother.
“This abhorrent treatment is completely antithetical to Myanmar’s human rights and child rights obligations, and is indicative of the risk that any returning Rohingya would face if they wished to exercise the freedom of movement that they are demanding,” Lee said.
“This is the living reality faced by the 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Myanmar.”