US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells has said her country wants to make big investments in Bangladesh in the potential areas including infrastructure and energy under the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).
“We discussed how we can improve foreign direct investments and expand American business in Bangladesh and help the country develop its ambitious goals. That was a significant part of the conversation,” she told reporters after her meeting with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday evening.
She also held meeting with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal at his Secretariat office.
Alice is on a three-day visit and is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, civil society members, as well as visit the Rohingya camps.
“The point that I always underscored is that it’s going to be very attractive to foreign direct investors to strengthen Bangladeshi institutions, and so the free press that has investigative journalism, rule of law, judiciary and well-functioning civil society,” she said.
These are the forces that should play their role to advance Bangladesh, she said, adding, “All of that comes together and makes Bangladesh an advanced society.”
Momen said Alice showed US interest in big investments in Bangladesh under the IPS.
IPS is a vision of the Trump administration to improve connectivity between the Pacific and the Indian Oceans with three major components of it being economy, governance and security.
“We said we want to be partners and welcome investments in energy and infrastructure projects,” Momen told journalists in a separate briefing at his office.
Bangladesh has sought US’s initiative to send back convicted Maj (retd) Rashed Chowdhury, killer of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to help execute the court verdict establishing the rule of law in the country.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen raised the issue with US acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells during their meeting on Tuesday evening.
“We want to ensure the rule of law and good governance (in our country) what you want, too (in your country). But there’s a problem that a fugitive killer is living in your country. We want him back,” said Dr Momen as telling visiting US official Wells.
He was briefing reporters at his office after the meeting.
Wells conveyed the Foreign Minister that they will let Bangladesh know after looking into the papers of punishment.
Bangladesh expects the United States and Canada to make a “difference” by sending back self-confessed killers of Bangabandhu.
Of the six fugitive killers, Maj (retd) Noor Chowdhury is living in Canada while Maj (retd) Rashed Chowdhury in the USA. The other four fugitive killers are Col (dismissed) Khandaker Abdur Rashid, Lt Col (relieved) Shariful Haque Dalim, Capt Abdul Majed and Risaldar Moslehuddin Khan.
On August 15, 1975, Bangabandhu along with most of his family members was assassinated brutally at Dhanmondi road 32.
Eighteen members of his family, including Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib, three sons -- Captain Sheikh Kamal, Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal and 10-year-old Sheikh Russel, two daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Rosy Jamal, brother Sheikh Naser, peasant leader Abdur Rab Serniabat, youth leader Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni and his wife Arzu Moni, Baby Serniabat, Sukanta Babu, Arif and Abdul Nayeem Khan Rintu, were, among others, killed on that fateful night.
His Military Secretary Brigadier General Jamil was also killed. Several members of a family in the capital’s Mohammadpur area were also killed by artillery shells fired by the killers on the same day.
Five killers of Bangabandhu -- Syed Farooq Rahman, Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Bazlul Huda, AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed and Mohiuddin Ahmed -- were hanged in January 2010. Another killer Aziz Pasha met the natural death in Zimbabwe in 2001.
The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday started the first-ever registration process of expatriate Bangladeshis as voters in Malaysia.
Expatriates’ Welfare and Oversees Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda jointly inaugurated the registration process through videoconferencing.
Minister Imran Ahmad was there at the Bangladesh High Commission in Kuala Lumpur while CEC Nurul Huda at Nirbachan Bhaban in the city.
Besides, election commissioners Mahbub Talukder, Rafiqul Islam, Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury and Kabita Khanam, EC senior secretary Md Alamgir, DG of EC’s National Identity Registration Wing Brig Gen Saidul Islam were present at Nirbachan Bhaban, while Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam and other officials of the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
The expatriate Bangladeshis will have to apply online through www.services.nidw.gov.bd for getting registered as voters.
Besides, the EC will soon go to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Maldives, Singapore and the United Kingdom to enroll expatriate Bangladeshis in the voter list.
The major countries having larger number of Bangladeshis include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Since 1976 to 2019 (till Sept), a total of 1,26,69,389 (1.27 crore) Bangladeshis went abroad for doing jobs, according to statistics received from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
Bangladesh on Tuesday said Rohingyas will have a better living in Bhashan Char once relocated there reiterating that it “will not force” any of the displaced people to avail of the relocation opportunity.
“We wanted to avoid the risk as they (Rohingyas) die in landslides in the crowded camps. They’ll have a better living if they go there (Bhashan Char),” Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters at his office in the evening.
The Foreign Minister said he conveyed the message to visiting US acting assistant secretary Alice Wells during a meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr Momen and the senior US official briefed the reporters separately at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the hour-long meeting.
The government has a plan to house accommodate 100,000 Rohingyas in Bhashan Char which is ready now for living, as newly-built shelters will offer educational and livelihood options and help decongest the present camps.
The cluster in Bhashan Char comes with multistorey buildings, a typical model that is hugely successful in coastal belt.
The Foreign Minister said he wanted to know from the US official how they can help to ensure the repatriation of Rohingyas.
The US side said they are “fully engaged” with the Rohingya issue and they want to see the issue is resolved.
They (US side) also talked about education for Rohingya children, said the Foreign Minister.
Wells said they will continue to support the Rohingyas and host community in Cox’s Bazar – Rohingya.
Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas who have fled their homeland in Rakhine State after being persecuted by their own country.
Myanmar did not take back a single Rohingya from Bangladesh over the last two years but Myanmar, in its attempts to “mislead” the international community, claimed that a total of 397 displaced people have voluntarily returned from Bangladesh to Myanmar.
Two repatriation attempts were unsuccessful as Myanmar “failed to remove trust deficit” among the Rohingyas and there was “lack of conducive environment” in Rakhine for their return.
Last week, Bangladesh accused Myanmar of remaining engaged in a “persistent campaign” to mislead the international community to avoid its obligations for “sustained repatriation” and reintegration of the Rohingyas.
Dhaka also rejected “baseless accusations, falsification, and misrepresentation of facts” by Nay Pyi Taw, and urged it to stop concocted campaign and concentrate on the fulfillment of its obligations.
“Myanmar must act decisively to address the real causes that are preventing the displaced Rohingya from going back voluntarily,” said the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said it was a “matter of utter dismay” to witness such tenacious campaign with fabricated information, misrepresentation of facts, unsubstantiated claims and undue accusations on part of Myanmar to mislead the international community.
Bangladesh said Myanmar should seriously consider a comprehensive participation of the international community in creating conducive environment for the return as well as in the monitoring of repatriation and reintegration process.
“Myanmar should also cooperate with the international community to eliminate the culture of impunity for the sake of a durable solution to the protracted problem,” the Foreign Ministry said.
USAID’s Comprehensive Private Sector Assessment (PSA) has identified a number of potential areas for private sector engagement and investment in Bangladesh beyond the RMG sector which are poised to earn more than $60 billion by 2023.
The areas are agribusiness (food processing), healthcare, information and communications technology and outsourcing, light-engineering, pharmaceuticals, and tourism as some of the "most promising" industries beyond the readymade garments (RMG) sector.
Upon completion of the assessment, the USAID said these six areas are recognised as the key sectors to support sustainable economic growth in Bangladesh and for future USAID intervention.
The six selected sectors together contribute approximately 10 percent of the country’s GDP while generating around 3.5 million jobs.
The United States, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is partnering with the government of Bangladesh and Bangladesh’s private sector to help diversify its economy and stimulate new streams of economic growth.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam, USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Dhaka JoAnne Wagner and Bangladesh Mission Director of the USAID Derrick Brown attended the launching ceremony held in the city on Tuesday in a show of bilateral support towards strengthening Bangladesh’s economy through diversification.
The PSA, conducted between October 2018 and July 2019 by Inspira Advocacy and Consultancy Ltd., a Bangladeshi private consultation firm, examined 16 emerging sectors in total, which also included ceramics, entrepreneurship, leather and leather goods, medical equipment, plastic, renewable energy and energy efficiency, shipbuilding, shrimp and fish, telecommunications, and vehicle assembly.
The assessment did not cover some traditional industries, including the energy sector as a whole.
The PSA’s findings support the government of Bangladesh’s economic diversification reforms initiative and help the private sector deepen its engagement with the government and other stakeholders in order to further promote Bangladesh’s economic growth.
The US Embassy in Bangladesh, through USAID and other sections and in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh, will analyze the priority sectors identified in the PSA and explore specific strategies for investment and increased engagement with the Bangladeshi private sector in these fields.
The US government, through USAID, has provided more than $7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971.
In 2018, USAID provided nearly $219 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programmes that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resiliency to climate change.