The government of Bangladesh has been compelled to pull down its projections for expenditure in the coming couple of years – in light of the changed economic reality brought about mainly by the Russia-Ukraine war and its aftermath of sanctions and counter-sanctions. In its projections for the 2021-22 budget, the government had projected its total expenditure at 17 percent of GDP for the next two fiscals, i.e. 2022-23 and 2023-24. However, in preparing the budget for 2022-23, the government has estimated expenditure at 15.2 percent of GDP for the 2022-23 fiscal, while it will be 15.5 percent for the 2023-24 fiscal. By 2024-25, as per a budget document, the target for expenditure has been set at 15.6 percent of GDP. Read more: Austerity is on but people will get electricity: PM The government in the last fiscal, 2021-22, had set the expenditure target at 17.5 percent, but it was revised to 14.9 percent. This is part of the government’s austerity drive in terms of expenditure, given all the forecasts that the world is heading towards an economic recession in 2023. According to the document, government expenditure was 13 percent of GDP in 2020-21 fiscal. As per the document, with successful implementation of reforms in Public Financial Management, government expenditure kept increasing since the 2015-16 fiscal. Read more: PM reiterates call to practice austerity in all spheres of life It also mentioned that the Annual Development Programme (ADP) was 4.5 percent of the GDP in the 2020-21 fiscal. In the current fiscal, the government plans to allocate 5.5 percent of the GDP for the ADP while it is 6.3 percent for 2022-23 and 6.4 percent for 2024-25. The document is revealing in how large the Russia-Ukraine conflict looms in the government’s calculations, and the challenges posed in its wake. The “unprecedented” price hike in the international energy market, food supplies and other essential commodities alongside the widespread disruption in international supply chains have adversely affected the global economy, including Bangladesh. Read More: Govt focuses on less current expenditure and increased capital spending: official document The conflict is likely to emerge as a new obstacle in the way of achieving development targets, as well as full recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The prices of essential import commodities for Bangladesh like oil, gas, fertiliser, edible oil, etc. have skyrocketed in the international market. According to Finance Division estimate, only nine essential commodities (crude and refined oil, LNG, wheat, fertiliser, palm oil, coal, soybean oil, maize and rice) imported to Bangladesh will cost an additional USD 8.2 billion in 2022, considering the rise in their prices over that in 2021. The other key import items like consumer goods, capital machineries and industrial raw materials have also seen significant price escalations in the international market. In addition, the costs of international logistics are on the rise. Import-induced inflation, therefore, is gradually emerging as a major concern for Bangladesh Government. Read More: Govt spending on public servants is to rise next fiscal
Jellyfish has always been considered an inedible and therefore useless catch by the fishing communities in the country’s coastal districts. Despite never being considered as commercially viable, new research by Bangladeshi scientists indicates jellyfish can eventually become a source of export earnings. Like elsewhere, the coast of Bangladesh too plays host to a large number of jellyfish. However, the researchers do not yet know how many jellyfish there are in the waters of Bangladesh. This amount will have to be verified in the research they have now started. Made up of 90 percent water, jellyfish have no brain, blood, or bones. Scientists say that the number of jellyfish depends largely on the salinity and temperature of the water. Due to the lack of rain this year, the salinity of the seawater was high, resulting in an abundance of jellyfish washing up on shore. Read more: Scores of jellyfish carcasses wash ashore on Cox’s Bazar beach Md. Rashed-Un-Nabi, Professor, Department of Fisheries, Chittagong University told UNB, "Many countries in the world are researching how to use jellyfish, we have also started research. It shows that it has a lot of economic potential.” Scientists saw a boom or excess of jellyfish on Patuakhali beach and Cox's Bazar beach in August. At that time, many fishermen were forced to cut their nets because they were filled with jellyfish. Golam Mostafa, associate professor of Noakhali Science and Technology University (NSTU) said, “We can divide the jellyfish found in the sea of Bangladesh into three categories.” “One is edible jellyfish. We don't eat it here. But it is in demand as food in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, and China. Each of these jellyfish can weigh up to 8 to 10 kg,” he said. Read more: Hundreds of Jellyfish carcasses wash ashore on Cox’s Bazar beach As a result, it is possible to export to the countries mentioned if extracted commercially, Mostafa said. This type of jellyfish can also be used as raw material for the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry. There is another type of jellyfish, which is poisonous. Physical contact with this type can damage a person’s nervous system and lead to paralysis. However it is only a very specific subtype of jellyfish that tends to be poisonous. The Box Jellyfish, so-called for its box-like physique, is classified as one of the most venomous creatures on Earth, containing toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. Golam Mostafa observes that fishermen need to be made aware of and trained on this type of jellyfish. Read more: Hundreds of Jellyfish carcasses wash ashore on Cox’s Bazar beach “The damage caused to fishermen is also an economic loss. Many times fishermen do not understand it properly,” he adds. The third and final type of jellyfish found in Bangladesh is a very small creature. These are used in aquariums or as part of beautification in many countries, he said. “You can call it recreational use. Many countries, including Thailand, have such aquariums, where palm-shaped transparent jellyfish are kept. The colour of the light you cast becomes that colour. It is a very attractive thing for tourists,'' Golam Mostafa said, an associate professor of NSTU. He said that the researchers of oceanography and fisheries departments of some universities and the Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute (BORI) are researching the potential of jellyfish. Read more: Fish scales: A promising new item to diversify exports
The government of Bangladesh is projecting to rein in the budget deficit back within 5 percent of GDP by 2024-25 fiscal from the current 5.5 percent. The budget deficit for 2023-24 fiscal has been projected at 5.1 percent, according to an official budget document. The revised deficit in fiscal 2021-22 was 5.1 percent. The deficit for 2020-21 fiscal was 3.7 percent. The current deficit remains higher than the norm prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic: the deficit averaged 3.5% of GDP in FY15-FY19. Read more: ADB provides assurances of $2 billion in budget support According to the document, the size of the country’s GDP for the running 2022-23 fiscal is Tk44,49,959 crore. It will be Tk 49,91,337 crore for the next 2023-24 fiscal while Tk 56,06,269 crore for 2024-25 fiscal. The document said that to mitigate the budget deficit the government will bank on the internal resources. In the running 2022-23 fiscal 3.3 percent of the GDP will come from the internal resources and 2.4 percent of the GDP will come from the banking sector. Read more: Budget’s highest priority is to tame inflation: PM The external financing will contribute some 2.2 percent of the GDP in the running fiscal, as per the document. For the 2023-24 fiscal 2.9 percent of the GDP will come from the internal resources and 2.3 percent of the GDP will be from the banking sector. The external financing will contribute some 2.2 percent of the GDP in the current fiscal. For 2024-25 fiscal 2.8 percent of the GDP will come from the internal resources and 2.3 percent of the GDP will come from the banking sector. Read more: Food production, price control should get prioritised in budget: Dr. Debapriya The external financing will contribute some 2.3 percent of the GDP in the running fiscal, as per the document, which says the economic activities of the country suffered a serious setback from March 2020 due to the spread of Coronavirus. While the economy was turning around the time of the Russia-Ukraine war, the sanctions and counter-sanctions caused another blow to the recovery as the world economy stared at another recession. The document mentioned that a potentially huge global supply-side shock may reduce growth and push up inflation, affecting the post-COVID-19 recovery. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic sanctions on Russia that followed put global energy supplies at risk. Read More: Govt struggles to lift tax-GDP ratio to double digits It mentioned that Russia supplies around 10 percent of the world’s energy, including 17 percent of its natural gas and 12 percent of its oil. The jump in oil and gas prices will add to industry costs and reduce consumers’ real income. Record inflation is currently evident in a number of countries, including Bangladesh. Twelve-month average inflation in the country was 5.6 percent for FY21. Considering the inflation scenario of trade partners, inflation projection for FY22 is as high as 5.8 percent and 5.6 percent for FY23. Read More:IMF suggests updating GDP report every 3 months On the other hand, the point-to-point inflation rate in Bangladesh is moving higher to 6.29 percent on March 22 which was 5.56 percent in the previous year.
The financial loss of the state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is likely to increase by Tk 18,094 crore in one year. According to BPDB’s own latest estimates, the financial loss will cross Tk 48,000 crore in the 2022-23 fiscal from Tk 29,915 crore in the fiscal year 2021-22, an increase of almost 67%. The directorate of Finance of BPDB prepared this calculation on the basis of an audited report, official sources said. A top official of the finance department of the BPDB said that the recent hike in bulk power tariff may reduce the estimated loss by only Tk 5,000 crore. Read more: Raising retail power tariff: 3 more distribution companies submit proposals “We get some extra revenue only for 7 months as the new bulk tariff which increased by 19.92 percent, will be effective from December this year,” he added. Each fiscal runs from July 1 to June 30 PDB is currently charging Tk 5.21 per unit of electricity generation, which was raised by Tk 1.03 per unit. As per the calculation, the financial loss has shot up excessively mainly for the two reasons—primary fuel price escalation and devaluation of the local currency. “Among the two—the devaluation of local currency emerged as the major reason,” a top official of the BPDB told UNB. He informed that the BPDB is going to incur a loss of about Tk 10,000 crore solely due to the high rate of US dollar. “We’ve to now calculate the exchange rate of US dollar at Tk 107 both in paying the private power plant operators and also opening a letter of credit (LC) with the bank in importing equipment,” said the source, requesting anonymity as the issue is highly sensitive. Not long ago, the BPDB calculated the US dollar exchange rate at Tk 85. Now Tk 107 exchange rate means Tk 22 extra in paying each dollar, said the official. The BPDB has a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a huge number of private power generation companies to buy their electricity. Read more: BPDB submits retail power tariff adjustment proposal seeking a 19.44 percent hike Available statistics reveal, currently, the country’s power generation capacity is over 25,500 MW and more than 50 percent of electricity is generated by the private sector through independent power producers (IPP), rental and quick rental power plants. Import of electricity from India is also counted as private sector generation. The private sector operators mainly use furnace oil, natural gas and diesel. Of these, 4,700 MW is generated by using furnace oil. According to Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda), of the total 25,585 MW of generation capacity comprising both public and private sector plants, currently 1768 MW (6.91 %) is coal-based, 11330 MW (44.28 %) gas-based, 6238 MW (24.38 %) furnace oil-based, 1341 MW (5.24 %) diesel-based, Imported 1160 MW (4.53 %), renewable 948.12 MW (3.71 %) and captive is 2800 MW (10.94 %). BPDB officials said the organisation had to spend Tk 31,245 crore in 2021-22 for import of 4.8 million metric tons (MT) of liquid fuel, mainly furnace oil, for its own plants and also for the private plant operators as the primary fuel is a “pass-through item” in the PPA with private plants. In the current fiscal year, the BPDB estimated to import 3.6 MT of furnace oil, down by 1.2 million MT, as the operation of diesel-based power plants has already been suspended by the government due to excessively higher prices. To import the lower quantity of furnace oil, the government has to spend Tk 28,441 crore in the current fiscal of 2022-23, said the BPDB official. Though the quantity of furnace oil is going to decrease substantially by 1.2 million MT, the cost is not substantially decreased as the BPDB will have to import the liquid fuel at much higher price than that in the previous year. The cost per litre of furnace oil was valued at Tk 65 in the previous fiscal year. The price has gone up to Tk 85 per litre in the current year, said another BPDB official involved in the price valuation job. “The higher cost of furnace oil by Tk 20 will ultimately create an additional burden of about Tk 2,500 crore,” he said, adding that the higher price of coal in local power generation and also import of power will have an impact in escalating the BPDB overall cost.
The government has initiated a pilot project to turn Bagerhat’s Fakirhat into a ‘smart’ upazila - one that utilises all the advances in modern technology to achieve the best service delivery for its residents. Besides public establishments, the people of the upazila have also started becoming digital citizens thanks to their adoption of modern technology. Local administrators, public representatives and politicians are working round the clock to ensure sustainable development of Fakirhat. The information was made public at an event held at Betaga Field of the upazila commemorating Betaga Day. Read more: ICT & Digital Technology to rule in new-look education system Attending the event as chief guest, Moloy Chowdhury, Additional Secretary of Local Government Division and Project Manager of Fakirhat Upazila Management and Development Project, said that it’s the people who are actually running the local government. “People need to develop themselves on their own to strengthen the local government. The education, health, agriculture and social works sectors of Betaga union have undergone massive development in recent years. Besides establishing good governance, accountability has also been ensured here. We’ll follow the Betaga Model to develop other parts of the country,” Moloy said. Read more: Govt plans to revitalise ICT sector Swapan Dash, Chairman of Fakirhat Upazila Parishad, said that after Gazipur, Fakirhat is the second place in the country where the government has launched its smart piloting program. “All the eight unions of the upazila are providing services digitally. We’re trying our best to build a smart Fakirhat,” Swapan said. Md Monwar, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Fakirhat, said that the people of the upazila have wholeheartedly accepted the Prime Minister’s idea of a smart Bangladesh. “A total of 54 government offices in Fakirhat have been digitalised till now. The uses of e-documents (Electronic Documents) and d-documents (Digital Documents) are ensuring smart government services. The government is providing a modern experience to the people of Fakirhat through the use of digital technology,” said Monwar. Read more: President Hamid wants digital transformation of Bangladesh courts Dr Shah Mohammad Mohibullah, Health and Family Planning Officer of Fakirhat, said that the health sector in the upazila has been fully digitalized. “We’re keeping information about the patients and their illnesses in digital databases. These databases will fix how much medicine and food the people of Fakirhat will receive from the government next year. Doctors are treating patients through telemedicine at community clinics, while birth and death registrations are also being filed digitally. All in all, the health sector of Fakirhat is widely accepting what technology has to offer,” said Mohibullah. Shupta Majumder, an Assistant Teacher of Betaga Model Girls High School, said that her school is reaping the benefits of the government’s smart piloting program. Read more: AL govt turned country into ‘Digital Bangladesh’, says PM “While giving lessons using projectors, we’re also using various online tools to educate our students who are competent enough to use digital technology,” Shupta said. The event was presided over by Md Yunus Ali, Chairman of Betaga Union Parishad. Amit Ray Chowdhury, Treasurer of Khulna University, Md Shahinuzzaman, Deputy Director of Local Government division, among others, spoke at the event. Read more: ICT division to digitize 73 libraries, says Palak
Fish traders in Jashore have started to earn much needed foreign currency by selling fish scales. Fish scales are sold at a rate of Tk 15 a kg in the fish markets of the district. After some processing, these residual parts of fishes are exported to many south-east Asian countries including China and Japan. According to Export Promotion Bureau statistics, Bangladesh exports fish scales worth Tk 200 crore every year. Fish scales are used to produce batteries, electrical products, artificial cornea and bones, medicines, fish and poultry feed and various cosmetics items. Visiting many fish markets in Jashore, UNB found fish scales in high demand. Besides charging Tk 10 for cutting a 1kg fish, fish cutters of Jashore earn Tk 20,000 extra per month by selling the scales. “Not only scales but we also sell fish galls. Galls are used to produce fish feed, while gills of fishes are used to make soups after drying,” said Md Jahid, a fish cutter. Read more: Bagerhat's Dublar Char abuzz as fish drying season begins Bagerhat's Dublar Char abuzz as fish drying season begins Md Bablu is a warehouse owner who collects fish scales from various fish markets of Jashore on a daily basis. Talking to UNB, Bablu said that he sells fish scales to traders in Chattogram, who then export the item to other countries. “I sell fish scales at a rate of Tk 2500 to Tk 3000 per maund (1 maund = approx. 40kg). The business was first started by a Dhaka-based trader named Shamsul Alam. Fish scales contain chemical components like collagen fibre and amino acid, which are necessary to produce cosmetics items and medicines,” said Bablu. After talking to some traders, UNB learned the process by which fish scales are prepared for selling. First, fish scales are collected and washed in clean or warm water to get rid of oily substances. After washing, wet scales are dried in the open to make them crispy. Some people grind the scales in mixers and sell them as powder. Prices of fish scales vary according to the type and size of fish from which they come. Scales of big fish are sold at high rates, while those of small fish like shrimp are sold at a different rate. Besides, the prices of fish galls and gills are also different from the prices of scales. According to Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, only 10-12 traders are involved in exporting fish scales. However, around 5,000 people are directly involved with the trade. A total of 2,500 tons of fish scales are exported every year, which brings home foreign currencies worth Tk 200 crore. Read more: Cox’s Bazar fishermen rejoice as Bay swarms with Hilsa Fish scale traders said that their business has the potential to grow more if they receive priority and focus from the government. “I’ll talk to the respective authorities so that fish scale business can be expanded,” said Tamijul Islam Khan, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Jashore.
The endangered Ganges river dolphin is one of two distinct dolphins living in the rivers of South Asia. It lives in the Ganges and related rivers of South Asia, namely in the countries of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The Ganges river dolphin’s range lies within some of the Earth’s most densely populated areas. Typically, both fishermen and dolphins congregate in the same spots where nutrients are rich, currents slower, and fish concentrated. Because of this intersection, Ganges river dolphins are mainly threatened by human activities such as pollution, bycatch, and infrastructure, but also suffer similar consequences of climate change as other marine mammals. Although the Halda River in Chattogram was declared as Bangabandhu Fisheries Heritage in 2020, it has gradually become more dangerous for these freshwater mammals. The Ganges dolphins locally known as Utom or Shushuk like to live in clean water. But Halda's aquatic environment is becoming increasingly unsafe for dolphins due to water pollution, which experts say is a gloomy sign for the environment and Halda as well. The Ganges dolphin was red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species in the country. Read more: Another dead dolphin recovered from Halda River According to experts, there are only 1,100 of these dolphins in the rivers across the world. Among them, there are 170 in Halda alone. Unfortunately, 39 dolphins are documented to have died in the Halda in the last four years, including 6 in 2022. Of these, three dead dolphins were recovered within a span of just one week in July. The last dolphin carcass (39th) was recovered from the Halda River in Hathazari upazila of Chattogram district on November 3, 2022. The cause of the dolphin's death could not be known as the carcass was found decomposed. These aquatic animals are dying one after another but no one cares. Dr. Md Shafiqul Islam, a researcher on the Halda River, said fishing is being done illegally in various parts of the river using different types of nets, spears and poison. Besides, food scarcity, pollution, poor water quality and climate change are behind the deaths of dolphins. Lack of awareness about the existing laws among the people, indifference on the part of authorities concerned have made water pollution a negligible crime - even though its effects on the environment can be severe. The authorities concerned as well as everyone involved in Halda must work together to make the Halda a safe habitat for dolphins, added Dr. Shafiqul. According to Halda River Research Laboratory, the local administration has recovered 39 carcasses of dolphins from the Halda River since September 2017 and most of the carcasses bore several injury marks. Read more: Halda fish egg collectors brood on misfortune A research report on the biodiversity and pollution of the two banks of the Karnaphuli River, led by Omar Faruq Russell, associate professor of the Botany Department of Chittagong University, was published in October 2022. According to the report, Shikalbaha and Boalkhali are the two points of the Karnaphuli River where dolphins are usually sighted due to the fewer water vessels. It also mentioned that dolphins are under constant threat due to pollution. Manjurul Kibria, river researcher and chairman of the zoology department of Chittagong University, told UNB that the rate at which dolphins are dying in the Halda River is alarming. Effective steps should be taken now to protect the Halda dolphins immediately. Otherwise, it won't take long for the number of dolphins in Halda to drop to zero. “In 2018, we found the presence of 167 dolphins in Halda. In 2020, that number decreased to 127. In 2022, the number again rose to 147, which is the highest in the rivers of Bangladesh,” he added. Nets are the main cause of death of these dolphins as most of them died after being caught in the nets of poachers, the researcher observed. When asked about this, Hathazari Upazila Executive Officer (UNO) Muhammad Shahidul Alam told UNB that they are working regularly to protect the dolphins and biodiversity of Halda River. New action plans are being taken to protect the dolphins, he added. In 2019, the High Court formed a committee to protect Halda river dolphins comprising Chattogram District Commissioner and Chittagong Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife and Nature Conservation Department) as Member Secretary. Read more: Miscreants kill dolphin in Halda River According to the instructions of the High Court, the responsibility of protecting these dolphins goes to the Forest Department. But they have no headache in this regard. Locals complained that they did not get any rescue support from the Forest Department upon the death of any dolphin. In this regard, Chittagong Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife and Nature Conservation Department) Md. Rafiq said dolphins are dying due to geographical changes. "We are taking necessary measures upon the news of any dolphin's death," he said. Mohammad Mominur Rahman, district commissioner of Chattogram said, "We have stopped all sources that pollute Halda, and 17 industrial plants along the Halda river have already been shut. And the waste from the remaining industries is not allowed into the river.” He also said that the district administration is doing everything necessary to protect the Halda River. “We have brought the important part of Halda River under CCTV camera. Not only that, we have closed 9 brick kilns adjacent to the river. Motorboats have been completely banned. But we are yet to identify the reason behind the death of dolphins in Halda,” he sighed.
There are numerous factors that have turned Dhaka into one of the most unliveable cities in the world, but one that manages to fly under the radar despite growing to alarming levels in recent years is noise pollution. Most residents are vocal about traffic, the lack of green spaces, the toxic air we breathe (itself a form of pollution), poor public transport, the lack of utilities in some areas. And the authorities too are sensitive on these matters at least to some extent. They are acknowledged, even if they are not fixed. The same cannot be said of noise pollution, according to Sheikh Kanta Reza, a development worker. “Often I have to scold some motorcyclists or fight with another human hauler or private car driver for their habit of honking horns unnecessarily while waiting in traffic signals. The situation is worsening day by day,” says Kanta, who commutes from Jhigatola to Farmgate for work during the very busy office hours. Read: WASA key reason behind pollution of Dhaka’s rivers, NRCC chairman says Dhaka’s noise pollution is mainly caused by traffic horns, construction works, loudspeakers, political programmes, factory work and often generators. Together, they constitute a menace for which everyone suffers every minute of the day. Lack of awareness about the existing laws among common people, indifference on the part of authorities concerned and even the law enforcers' convenience have made causing noise pollution a negligible crime - even though its effects on human health can be severe. Use of hydraulic horns in motor vehicles in Bangladesh was banned by the High Court in 2017, as it can reach volumes of 120 decibels, and exposure to such levels for longer than 60 seconds can cause immediate injury and harm to hearing. In reality, the High Court’s directive to the government was forgotten with time and most of the vehicles on Dhaka roads are still using them, according to Abdus Sobahan, General Secretary of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Save the Environment Movement, popularly known as Poba). Read: Effects of Air Pollution on Unborn Children, Neonates, Infants Often the drivers speed away using those hydraulic horns, startling pedestrians who often become victims of unfortunate road accidents as a result, he said. “Honking horns on roads has become an addiction for drivers of almost all vehicles in the city while some do it merely to exert their arrogance. But it impacts public health and mental health of children, elderly people and patients,” he added. Tanjila Akter Lina, a private jobholder, said she hardly takes her two-year- old daughter out anymore. “When I have to take her out with me anyway, I make sure to cover her ears with my hands as she gets too frightened,” she said. Read: Climate Change: How Bangladesh is being affected by Global Warming? WHO guidelines and relevant laws in Bangladesh To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining noises below 70 dBA (adjusted decibels, a scale of measuring noise taking sensitivity of human ear to different sound frequencies into account) over 24-hours. According to section 45 (2) of the Road Transport Act, 2018, no motor vehicle driver should produce any noise exceeding the noise level prescribed under sub-section (1), which provides that the government or any institution or body entrusted by the government from time to time may fix the noise limit and make it public through gazette notification. According to the WHO, prolonged exposure to sounds above 60 decibels can cause temporary deafness and more than 100 decibels can cause permanent deafness. Meanwhile, in Dhaka a busy road usually produces 70 or 80 decibels of noise, said Poba general secretary Abdus Sobahan. Read: Light pollution threatens birds in cities Regulations and reality The government has divided five areas to fix the acceptable noise level according to the Noise Pollution (Control) Rules 2006. However the fact that those areas were not built in a planned manner to be distinguished and the issue was totally ignored by the government. The rule says the acceptable sound level in the silent areas is 50 dB at daytime and 40dB at night, in residential areas its 55dB at day and 45dB at night, in the mixed areas 60dB at day and 50dB at night, in commercial areas 70dB at day and 60dB at night, and in the industrial areas 75dB for day and 70dB for night. The law says exceeding the maximum noise level in certain areas is a punishable offence but the laws are hardly ever enforced. The noise pollution law has a provision that in residential areas from 6pm to 6am, no noises exceeding an acceptable level can be made at construction sites or projects. And it also mentions stone crushing machines cannot be used at any time of the day or night in these areas. Yet contravening that provision, Dhaka Metropolitan Police in 2014 directed no freight trucks, covered vans, lorries, pickup vans except emergency exports goods carrying transports will be allowed to enter the capital from 8am to 10pm. Read: Urban noise pollution, wildfires among biggest emerging environmental threats: UN Though the directive gets violated on a regular basis, many have been using it as an excuse for conducting construction works in residential and all other areas through the night to meet project deadlines. Anamika (given name), a resident of Moghbazar area, recently called 999 to complain about construction work running beside her building from 12am to 5am, disrupting the sleep of local residents. “Though police came and asked them to stop the work, the Sub Inspector of Hatirjheel Police station who talked to me over phone at first tried to say that the late night construction work is legal. He said Rajuk has given them permission and what would they do as freight vehicles are not allowed to enter the city before night,” she said. The last study to identify the sound level in the eight divisional cities was conducted by The Department of Environment (DoE) in 2017 which revealed shocking data of noise levels exceeding the acceptable levels for human ears by at least two times in all of them. Read More: Noise pollution: Even the pandemic has failed to quiet Dhaka! The survey was conducted at 70 points of Dhaka city and the recorded sound level reached up to 120-130dB at many points. According to the study, the highest sound level was between 90-130 db in Dhaka’s 20 selected residential areas while it remained above 110-130 db in 20 selected mixed areas. These areas include prime areas like Shyamoli, Tajmahal Road, Azimpur, New Market area, Shahjahanpur, Nikunja, Dhanmondi, Farmgate intersection, Karwan Bazar, Gulshan, Gulistan, Eskaton, Moghbazar intersection,Shantinagar, Jatrabari. Among the 70 points, the lowest sound level was recorded at 100.8 at Road-18 of Uttara-14 while the highest noise level was recorded at Farmgate at 135.6 throughout the day and night time. Read More: Noise pollution: A threat to Kunjaban's winged visitors? According to the number of horns counted, mixed area Shyamoly was at top where 598 horns were counted in just 10 minutes and of them 158 were hydraulic horns back in 2017. Even the fact that the last study was done in 2017 goes to show how the problem is neglected. In the absence of any study since, one can only imagine to what levels it has grown by now. But you can be sure it has grown. Additional Director General (Administration) of Health Department Ahmadul Kabir told UNB that deafness, heart disease, irritability, lack of concentration among students, lack of sleep and various inconsistencies have become common among the capital’s residents that can be traced to extreme noise pollution Noise pollution is also responsible for various problems of eyes and brain and due to continuous pollution, people can suffer from diabetes, gastric and even liver cirrhosis, he said. Read More: Decibel Hell: Noise pollution ‘affecting 50 lakh people’ in Dhaka Authorities’ excuses When UNB asked Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin about the non-enforcement of existing laws he cited lack of manpower as the main reason behind it. “It is hard to implement the laws to mitigate noise pollution due to lack of manpower in the Department of Environment (DoE),” he said. In December 2019, the surrounding areas of Bangladesh Secretariat i.e. Zero Point, Paltan Mor, Secretariat Link Road were declared a 'no horn zone’ but this was never implemented and the drivers did not stop honking. When the minister was asked about it he said that the mobile courts will be conducted again in the declared quiet areas. Read More: How Can One Person Reduce Environmental Pollution? “Even earlier, drivers of many vehicles, including many government vehicles, were fined,” he said. But clearly to no avail.
The government of Bangladesh has projected to improve the ratio of revenue to GDP to 10.6 percent in the mid-term (by 2024-25 fiscal), even though the revenue sectors are suffering a lot due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine War. The ratio of revenue to GDP expresses total government revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product. The vast majority of government revenue comes in the form of tax collection. Consequently it is also sometimes known as the tax-GDP ratio. Other smaller revenue streams include things like bonded warehouses, a customs-controlled warehouse for the retention of imported goods until the duty owed on them is paid. According to an official document, the revenue-GDP ratio for the running 2022-23 fiscal has been estimated at 9.7 percent, rising to 10.4 percent in the 2023-24 fiscal. Read more: IMF suggests updating GDP report every 3 months It said that in preparing fiscal policy, the government has been maintaining an expansionary fiscal stance by keeping the budget deficit at a moderate level. Moreover, the government has taken up many reform initiatives to improve the revenue-GDP ratio which is low compared to the neighbouring countries. Due to the rebasing of GDP to the 2015-16 fiscal, the ratio has dropped even further. Although revenue-GDP ratio has been growing slowly due to high GDP growth, revenue growth has been on a positive trend. The official document of the Finance Ministry said that several reform initiatives have been taken by the government to reinforce domestic resource mobilisation as well as to improve the revenue-GDP ratio. It is envisaged that positive impacts of ongoing and future reforms will ensure significantly higher revenue and hence, total revenue is projected to grow to 10.6 percent of GDP in the fiscal 2024-25. Read more: Bangladesh has one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios: Finance Minister tells ADB In south Asia Bangladesh has the lowest tax-GDP ratio. A 2016 World Bank report said that the South Asian tax -GDP ratio is 19.1 percent in Nepal, 16 percent in Bhutan, 12 percent in India, 9.9 percent in Afghanistan, 9.1 percent in the Maldive while in Bangladesh it is 8.8 percent. In 2017 Bangladesh's position in tax-GDP ratio slid to 7.6. According to available data from World Economic Outlook of October 2019 issue, the revenue GDP ratio of the country is 9.9 percent on average since 2015-2019 while it is 19.8 percent for India, 23.9 for Nepal, 14.7 for Pakistan, 13.5 for Sri Lanka, 25.6 for developing countries and 35.9 for developed countries. Due to COVID-19, the revenue collection declined while pressure mounted on the budget as the government made high expenditure to face the adverse impact of the economic situation. The Russia-Ukraine war just added to the woes for the revenue collection authorities as the economic conditions across the globe are suffering heavily. Read More: Without reforms, Bangladesh’s GDP could fall below 4% by 2035: World Bank study The document stated that of the 10.6 percent of the revenue GDP ratio in 2024-25 fiscal 9.0 percent will come from National Board of Revenue (NBR), 0.5 percent will be from non-NBR sources while 1.1 percent will be from non-tax sources. The target for the revenue GDP ratio for 2023-24 fiscal has been estimated at 10.4 percent where 8.8 percent will be from National Board of Revenue (NBR), 0.5 percent will be from non-NBR sources while 1.1 percent will be from non-tax sources. In the running 2022-23 fiscal the government is projected to get 8.3 percent from National Board of Revenue (NBR), 0.4 percent from non-NBR sources while 1 percent from non-tax sources. In the previous 2021-22 fiscal, the government had projected to boost the revenue GDP ratio to 11.3 percent with 9.5 percent from National Board of Revenue (NBR), 0.5 percent from non-NBR source while 1.2 percent from non-tax sources. Read More: Bangladesh’s GDP likely to grow by 6.6% in FY 2023: ADB But in the revised estimation, it lowered down the ratio to 9.8 percent where 8.3 percent was from the NBR, 0.4 percent was from non-NBR sources and 1.1 percent from non-tax sources. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war was the main cause of lowering down the ratio. The document said that the government has taken various reform activities to improve the overall revenue collection. It mentioned that an automated system has been introduced for VAT and income tax collection along with bonded warehouses. Read more: Focus on extending tax net to enhance Tax-GDP ratio: ICAB The document hoped that apart from reforms programmes for modernisation of the tax administration, expansion of the tax net, developments in tax compliance and law amendment, and simplification of the tax system in Bangladesh would create significant positive impact on revenue collection in the future.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud has said that developed countries have decided to fund climate-vulnerable countries like Bangladesh under a “loss and damage” programme at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of The Parties, popularly called COP27. In an exclusive interview with UNB, the Minister, who has joined the conference representing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, added that Bangladesh wants a separate fund like the green climate fund to get the money promised by the rich countries. “Bangladesh is incurring huge losses and damages due to frequent natural disasters like floods and cyclones, which are direct results of climate change. The good news is that the world has recognised these problems of ours. These issues are being widely discussed at this year’s conference, and countries like Denmark and Belgium have promised to provide money to tackle these crises,” Hasan said. Hasan added that the topic of Climate Finance has become a burning issue at this year’s climate conference. Read: Adapting to climate change is the main focus of COP27: Info Minister “The issue of Climate Finance is being debated at COP27, especially by the developed countries. They’re trying to find out who gave $82 billion to whom last year. Despite providing additional funding, rich countries have provided this money as bilateral assistance, which is kind of wrong,” Hasan added. Replying to a question, Hasan said that the Russia-Ukraine war is standing in the way of saving the planet from climate change. “The sanctions and counter sanctions which are being imposed on Russia and the Western countries are hurting the people severely. Climate financing is facing great risk due to the Russia-Ukraine war as developed countries are busy financing the war. To protect the people from climate-induced dangers, first we need to stop the war,” said Hasan. Read: COP27: Bangladesh wants developed countries to deliver on $100 billion promise The Minister further said that Bangladesh has demanded the allocation of a separate fund to recover from the billion dollar losses incurred by the country’s water and sanitary systems due to natural disasters. “At COP27, we’ve presented the issues of rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, salinity, droughts, floods and cyclones as the disasters which are damaging the water and sanitary systems of climate-vulnerable countries like us. About 98 percent of Bangladeshi people are getting clean water, while we’ve also secured complete success in ensuring sanitation for all. Still, we’re facing challenges in these sectors due to climate change,” Hasan said. Replying to another question, Hasan added that it creates extra burden for poor countries like Bangladesh when the developed countries tell them to reduce the emission of carbon and methane gas from the agricultural sector. “We need to make our agricultural sector climate tolerant while ensuring food for all. We can’t do anything that hampers the food security of the people,” Hasan concluded. Read: COP27: Bangladesh prioritises realisation of green climate fund, Environment Minister tells UNB