Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin has said that Bangladesh will urge the developed countries for $100 billion that they had promised to provide to the countries affected by climate change at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of The Parties, popularly called COP27. In an interview with UNB, the minister also said that Bangladesh expects the world leaders to implement Glasgow-Sharm El-Sheikh Work Program on The Global Goal on Adaptation at this year’s climate conference. COP27 is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 6-18 November 2022 where Bangladesh is playing a crucial role as one of the top actors on behalf of the vulnerable countries that are desperate to get funds to tackle the impacts of climate change. “To implement the National Adaptation Plan prepared by the Bangladesh government, we need $230 billion till 2030. We hope that international organisations like the United Nations will help us execute the plan effectively,” Shahab said.
Traders have started displaying winter clothing lines at their shops and stalls, expecting the mercury to drop with the onset of November. But sellers at the wholesale level are reporting a dearth of buyers so far in Dhaka’s traditionally large wholesale markets. Increased prices of the clothing items, just like almost any other item, fears of an impending famine to go with a global recession in 2023, and an overall climate of economic uncertainty might be causing consumers to stay away. Since October, wholesale traders in the capital have stocked their shops and warehouses with winter clothes. They are worried about business this year due to various fears, including late onset of winter, political uncertainty in the country, and global economic instability. Read: Bagerhat's Dublar Char abuzz as fish drying season begins Visiting different wholesale shops in Bangabazar, City Plaza, Zakir Plaza, Nagar Plaza, Dhaka Trade Center, Gulshan, and Banani DNCC markets, UNB found them filled with different items of winter clothing, but the same couldn’t be said for buyers. Traders are spending a lot of idle time waiting for buyers. Rabiul Alam, a trader at Bangabazar, told UNB that business remains uncertain with the higher cost of inputs and the lower presence of customers in the markets. He said the price of blankets is a little high compared to last year, due to increased cost of raw materials, and other costs. Read More: Dhaka’s air ‘unhealthy’ this morning as winter approaches Usually by this time of year, the Bangabazar traders are busy selling blankets and other gear meant to withstand the rigours of winter. But this year the winter is arriving late and the market is witnessing a ‘down’ season. Most of them were busy preparing blanket-packed cartons to be sent to different districts by courier.
Overgrowth of water hyacinth in Kaptai Lake has been hampering water transport operation in Rangamati. Movement of trawlers and boats is being disrupted due to overgrowth of water hyacinth in many parts of the lake in Kaptai upazila, Shahid Shamsuddin Ghat, and Kengrachari of Bilaichari upazila in Rangamati. Students and HSC candidates living around Kaptai Lake are suffering the most. Especially, HSC examinees are often not reaching exam centre on time as commute through the lake is taking much longer. Visiting the area this week, this UNB correspondent found a large swathe of the scenic Kaptai Lake covered with water hyacinth. Seen from a distance, one could mistake this as a lush, green field. Also read: Speedboats collision in Kaptai lake: Bodies of 2 missing students recovered HSC candidates Anand Tanchangya, Subir Chakma and Minti Chakma said water hyacinth has accumulated in the lake like every year. It takes three hours to reach a destination that used to take about three minutes before, they complained. Ujjal Das, another HSC candidate, said it is difficult to reach the exam centres on time. If authorities don’t take measures to remove water hyacinth from the lake immediately, local HSC candidates’ commute woes will continue. Boatman Shah Alam said, “Overgrowth of water hyacinth spells trouble for us too, causing engine fan to break often.” Also read: 7 injured, 2 missing after collision between two water vehicles in Kaptai Lake Over the last week, water hyacinth accumulated at the upstream jetty gate. As a result, it takes two to three hours, by boat, to reach the jetty from the island area, which normally takes two to three minutes. The unabated growth of the invasive aquatic plant is not only hampering operation of water transport but also threatening fish and marine resources – polluting Kaptai Lake’s water as well.
Although the labour market in Libya has recently reopened for Bangladeshis after a pause of nearly a decade due to the Libyan Civil War, just 15 recruiting agencies are now calling the shots, making the once lucrative destination in the MENA region uncertain and costlier for job seekers. In February this year, Libya's labour market was reopened for Bangladeshis, but the Libyan Embassy in Dhaka was said to be lax in receiving and delivering passports submitted by any agency other than "the 15." The 15 recruiting agencies are said to have been "unethically demanding extra money" for delivering the passports submitted by them after stamping visas. However, following the intervention of the Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), the embassy started accepting and delivering passports submitted by other agencies on October 24, 2022. Also read: No headway in sending Bangladeshi workers to Malaysia despite agreement In November last year, Bangladesh lifted the restriction on sending workers to Libya considering the "improved political situation" in the war-torn country. In 2012, the government banned sending workers to Libya following political unrest in the country. Sohail Ahsan Khan, an exporter of labour, told UNB that he submitted 12 passports to Md Kefaitullah Mamun, managing partner of Sonar Bangla Krishi Khamar Recruiting Agency, an influential member of the 15 recruiting agencies, for stamping visas a few days back. Initially, Kefaitullah had agreed to accept a fee of $150 per passport from Khan for stamping them with visas. But then he ratcheted it up by 10 times to $1500 and declined to return the passports, else. Read More: Bangladesh wants to boost cooperation with Libya to curb illegal migration Some other victims said the migrant workers are having a hard time reaching Libya on time, as the 15 recruiting agencies, capitalising on the hopes of young people trying to escape poverty and hemmed in by a lack of opportunity, are taking hold of the passports for a long time demanding extra money. Abul Kashem, a youth from Noakhali, said he submitted his passport through a recruiting agency three months back to go to Libya. "I'm not getting my passport back after my visa was stamped due to a melee between two agencies. My visa will expire on November 9. I don't know whether I will, finally, be able to go to Libya," he added. Like Kashem, many other people are not getting their passports back in time before their visas – (for Libya or elsewhere) expire. If they do not get their passports back with their visas, their journey to Libya will become uncertain. Read More: Libya seeks joint commission with Bangladesh to expand cooperation We tried repeatedly, but Kefaitullah simply could not be reached over the phone. He also did not respond to an SMS sent to his number. BAIRA President Mohammed Abul Basher said 55 percent of Bangladesh's foreign exchange earnings come from remittances sent by expatriates. "But regrettably, no one including the ministry concerned or its subordinate offices, is taking any step for the development of the labour migration sector." "After a long time, the opportunity to export Bangladeshi manpower to Libya has been created, but due to the syndicate of 15 recruiting agencies, labour migration to Libya has been hurt," Basher said. He said BAIRA, which has over 1600 members, already wrote to the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment to take action against this "syndicate." "We also wrote to the Libyan Embassy in Dhaka. And the mission has started delivering the passports submitted by other agencies." Read More: Detained Bangladeshis in Libya to be brought back: FM The BAIRA president said they want a "syndicate-free" environment in labour migration so that the workers can go abroad cheaply, or at least spend less money. He also said a delegation from Libya will come to Bangladesh very soon and it will talk with the embassy and related stakeholders to do what it takes to take Bangladeshi workers to Libya at a low cost. About the allegation that Sonar Bangla and other agencies are charging extra money by taking hold of passports, Abul Basher said they are informed about it and are trying to resolve this. "Md Kefaitullah Mamun, managing partner of Sonar Bangla Agency, has been inflicting fatal damage on labour migration. He has been cooperating with the syndicate, harming the sector," the BAIRA president said. Read More: Bangladeshi journalist, engineer to return home from Libya soon: FM State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam Sunday said Bangladesh supports legal migration to other countries and wants to enhance cooperation with Libya to curb illegal migration. He particularly sought the cooperation of Libya in contract farming of Bangladesh agro-entrepreneurs in Libya by leasing land there. Libyan Ambassador Abdulmutalib SM Suliman told him that his country wants to employ Bangladeshi doctors, nurses, technicians and engineers in Libya. The International Organization for Migration's Mobility Tracking survey in Libya identified 17,409 Bangladeshi nationals in the country between February and April 2022. Read More: Libya’s migrant roundup reaches 4,000 amid major crackdown Mobility Tracking in Libya gathers data through key informant interviews at both the municipality and community level on a bi-monthly basis. Of the total migrants identified by key informants in the country in February and April 2022, Bangladeshi migrants made up only three percent of total migrants in the country; however, Bangladeshi nationals accounted for 34 percent of all migrants, including refugees, from South Asia and the Middle East. Ninety-one percent of Bangladeshi migrants used air travel as their means of transportation to Libya. In addition, the average cost of their migration was $2,423. Fifty-four percent of Bangladeshi migrants were identified in western Libya. However, the highest concentration was in Benghazi (33 percent) in the east, followed by Tripoli (20 percent) and Misrata (13 percent) in the west. Read More: Major General Shamim new Ambassador to Libya Turkey was a transit country to reach Libya for more than a third of Bangladeshi migrants (34 percent). Migrants transiting through the UAE and then Turkey reported paying more than those transiting through other countries.
Fishermen and hired hands in Dublar Char, close to the Sundarbans, are busy drying fish. Catches have been good, and hopes are high. Over 10,000 fishermen have already reached Dublar Char as fish drying is on in full swing. Fish drying season started on October 29 and will continue till February 28. The Forest Department expects to earn Tk 5 crore revenue from dried fish processing this fiscal. Dried fish, or shutki, have a shelf life of several months and is considered a delicacy not only in Bangladesh but also in several countries where they are exported. Also read: Dublar Char comes alive as Sutki fish season gets underway
The government of Bangladesh has projected to upgrade total investment in the country to 33.6 percent of the total GDP on a mid-term basis (in the 2024-25 fiscal year) aiming to overturn the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. In this investment, the private sector will contribute 26.65 percent of the GDP while the public sector will contribute 7.0 percent. According to an official document, to attain the gradual acceleration of the GDP, private investment expansion is necessary along with public investment. The estimated investment target for 2023-24 fiscal year is 32.8 percent with 25.91 percent from the private sector and 6.9 percent from the public sector. Read more: Lack of financing, policy support causes of weak startup growth in Bangladesh: Speakers For the running 2022-23 fiscal year, the investment target is 31.5 percent with the private sector contributing 24.81 percent and the public sector adding 6.7 percent. The estimated GDP target for the current 2022-23 fiscal year is 7.5 percent while the target for 2023-24 and 2024-25 is 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent respectively. The document stated that the GDP of the last 2021-22 fiscal year was 7.25 percent while in 2020-21 it was 6.94 percent. The growth in agriculture, industry and service sectors have been estimated at 5.0 percent, 8.8 percent and 7.9 percent respectively for the 2024-25 fiscal year. Read more: Bangladesh's strong growth could be at risk without urgent climate action: World Bank The official document said that About 7-8 percent real GDP growth is targeted over the medium term based on the assumptions of the gradual recovery of the world economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the early resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The document put emphasis on private investment, saying that it needs to be boosted along with public investment to increase capital accumulation. Total investment in fiscal 2020-21 stands at 31.0 percent of the GDP where the contributions of private and public sectors are 23.7 percent and 7.3 percent respectively. “But this level of investment is not adequate to achieve around 8.0 percent growth over the medium term,” the document said. Read more: Tier-2 cities like Gazipur, Narayanganj must promote urban growth outside Dhaka: World Bank It also mentioned that public investment could not be increased to an expected level due to the lack of capacity in implementing the annual development programme. Recognising this, the document stated the government has taken steps to bring about some structural changes at both project design and implementation levels. It mentioned that a potentially huge global supply shock that may reduce growth and push up inflation is 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,” it said. Read More: More development projects planned to support trade, investment The document said 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, it added, saying that record-high inflation is currently evident, which also affects Bangladesh. The total investment in 2018-19 fiscal year was 31.6 percent of the GDP where the share of private and public sector were 23.5 percent and 8 percent respectively. The investment in 2019-20 fiscal year was 20.8 percent of the GDP (private sector 12.7 percent and public sector 8.1 percent). Read More: “Bangladesh can be the right place for investment from Brunei” "But to attain 8 percent GDP in the mid-term basis” such investment is not adequate, it said. The document mentioned that the government has taken various reforms measures like simplification of the fund release process for accelerating the rate of ADP implementation. It mentioned that the overall agriculture sector, especially foodgrain, vegetables, livestock and forest resources was less affected due to coronavirus. It said that disbursement of agriculture loans played an important role in the satisfactory growth of the agriculture sector in Bangladesh. Read More: Shares vs Bonds: What is the Ideal Investment Opportunity
The unpaid bills to the private power plant operators have now crossed $2.5 billion as the government has failed to pay since May this year. “Our payments have been cleared until May...For the last 5 months no payment has been received from the government”, Imran Karim, president of the Bangladesh Independent Power Producers Association (Bippa), told UNB. The association is the apex body of the private power producers in the country. The association president also claimed that despite a harsh reality, the private plant operators have been making their highest efforts to continue power generation and supplying electricity to the national grid for the sake of the interest of the nation. “But some of the plant operators have now become unable to generate electricity from their plants as they could not import furnace oil due to the fund crisis”, he noted. Read more: Tk 1893 crore unpaid as electricity bill by govt ministries, departments, Nasrul Hamid tells JS Officials of the state-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) admitted about the non-payment of the bills against the electricity purchased from the private power plant operators. true, the private plant operators did not get any bill after May this year”, said Sheikh Aktar Hossain, member (finance) of the BPDB. He, however, said the government is trying to clear the payment. “BPDB will take measures as per the directive of the government”, he told UNB. Sources said the government on an average has to pay about Tk5,400 crore per month to the private sector against the purchase of electricity from the private plants. It was Tk 4000 crore before the increase in fuel and US dollar price. Read more: Nasrul Hamid now hopes power supply situation will improve from Nov Considering these statistics, the total unpaid bills will be around Tk 27,000 crore or $2.575 billion (considering US dollar exchange rate at Tk 105), he added. The government purchases electricity from the private sector at the US dollar as per the agreement with them, he noted. Beyond this liabilities with the private sector, the BPDB purchases electricity from some power plants under different state-owned companies like Ashuganj Power Station Company Limited, Bangladesh-China Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BCPCL), Rural Power Company Limited (RPCL) and B-R Power Gen Ltd. The BPDB has similar power purchase agreements (PPA) with the companies and it has to buy electricity of Tk 2,200 crore on an average per month from them. The BPDB has unpaid bills of 11,000 crore to these companies, said a BPDB official requesting anonymity. Read more: 2 weeks after grid failure, Ghorashal Power Station’s unit-5 resumes operation 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 their independent power producer (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 and diesel to generate electricity while natural gas is used in some plants. Of these, 4,700 MW is generated by using furnace oil. According to Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda), of the total 25585 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 (HFO) based, 1341 MW (5.24 %) diesel-based (HSD), Imported 1160 MW (4.53 %), renewable 948.12 MW (3.71 %) and captive is 2800 MW (10.94 %). Read More: Nasrul Hamid under fire in Parliament for electricity crisis Private sector power industry insiders said that recently the private plants operators had to suspend about 800 MW of their furnace oil-based electricity generation because of the fund shortage. “We had to suspend our operation because of a lack of furnace oil. We can’t import fuel as we are not getting bills from the government”, said one operator preferring anonymity. According to the sources, of the 800 MW now remaining suspended are EnergyPac’s 230 MW, Hosaf’s 113 MW, Ray Lanka’s 200 MW, Desh Energy’s 200 MW, and Ena Power’s 50 MW. BPDB has been in a cash crunch for the last several months which forced the organisation to move a proposal to the energy regulator to raise the electricity price at bulk level. Read More: 80 lakh people remain without electricity: Nasrul Hamid But the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) held a public hearing on the issue in May this year and finally rejected the BPDB’s plea on October 13 through its decision. The BPDB documents reveal the government has to spend a total of Tk 71,878 crore in the FY2021-22 for total power production, of which Tk 44,434 crore will be spent for purchasing electricity from the private sector. Of this amount, Tk 37,963 crore will be required to purchase electricity from the independent power producer (IPP) and small IPP plants in the private sector which produce 38 per cent (8,807 MW) of the total generation. Bippa officials said the delay in payment is not the only problem that the private power producers are facing. “The shooting trend in dollar price, unavailability of the green bucks with banks and counting penalties for delayed payment to foreign lenders and equipment suppliers have been the major problems”, said the Bippa president. Read More: Nepal will export up to 50 MW electricity to Bangladesh for now, envoy tells PM
The fishing community of Cox’s Bazar is very happy with business catching Hilsa in swarms. Fishing trawlers are returning to the shore full of Hilsa and other fish, bringing down the prices to a tolerable level. Once deserted fish warehouses and markets of the district are now buzzing with fishermen, traders, and buyers from morning to night. Visiting Cox’s Bazar Fisheries Landing Station, UNB found the place in a celebratory mood. After the onslaught of Cyclone Sitrang and a 22-day ban on Hilsa catching, hundreds of fishing trawlers are arriving at the station with tons of Hilsa every day. Read More: With Hilsa catch declining, Bagerhat fishermen stare at penury No one seems to have time for doing anything else at the landing station. Some were loading the fish into warehouses, some were breaking ice while others were arranging the fishes in baskets. Many traders were also seen sending truckloads of Hilsa consignments to different parts of the country after getting expected prices.
Australian expert Dr David Brewster has said there are gaps in Bangladesh’s maritime security capabilities that need to be built upon or enhanced with a comprehensive picture of its maritime domain in place first. “Bangladesh does not have a clear picture of what is happening in the maritime domain,” Brewster, who specializes in South Asian and Indian Ocean strategic affairs, told UNB in an interview. He said there needs to be a system so that Bangladesh understands what is happening out there and it is necessary to create a basis to get benefitted from the blue economy. The expert said, for example, there is illegal fishing going on but no one has ever done a proper study on its extent. Read More: Bangladesh Navy deserves appreciation for ensuring maritime security while facing natural challenges: PM “That is an absolutely fundamental thing,” he said, adding, “study first if you want to get benefit from the marine resources. You have to do the study to figure it out – the amount of resources and how much illegal fishing is taking place.” Brewster, from the National Security College in Canberra, laid emphasis on generating awareness about everything that is going on in the maritime domain – illegal fishing, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, if any. “In my view, Australia can be very useful to Bangladesh,” he said, mentioning that lack of a clear picture hinders law enforcement and the protection of maritime resources. Brewster said Australia has useful experience in this area and can help Bangladesh develop its maritime search and rescue capabilities. Read more: Bangladesh, Australia want meaningful partnership “We want to see all our neighbours having the ability to properly manage and govern their maritime spaces. More broadly, we want to see a stable and prosperous Bangladesh,” said the expert. He said Australia can also provide targeted capability-building assistance on selected transnational security issues. Talking about growing “competition and rivalries” among major powers in the region, the Australian expert said, “I should say, Bangladesh has handled this competition very well, at least so far.” Appreciating the process and policies that Bangladesh follows in terms of taking projects and investment, he said, “In my view, Bangladesh has been very cautious.” Read More: Blue economy potentials: Experts for maritime affairs ministry Responding to a question, Brewster said beyond economy, Bangladesh and Australia have a lot of shared interests in the region in terms of stability, resilience and making sure that other countries in the region are stable and resilient.
Shrimp once held the second spot in top export goods from Bangladesh but in the last few years it failed to hold up against the growing competition and fell down to seventh. Traders and exporters involved in frozen shrimp export have been demanding approval for commercial production of Vannamei Shrimps in Bangladesh instead of Freshwater Prawns (Golda Shrimp) and Tiger Prawns (Bagda) as its export to European and American markets can bring back the golden days of shrimp export. Fourteen of the 15 countries that cultivate shrimps in Asia and export to Europe, USA and other large importers have already been commercially producing Vannamei Shrimp and exporting it while Bangladesh lags far behind, SM Humayun Kabir President of Bangladesh Frozen food Exporters Association told UNB. Also read: Virus cripples Satkhira shrimp sector; farmers counting huge losses Country’s export figure of shrimp from Fiscal Year 2013-14 to 2020-21 shows a steady decline. In FY 2013-14 Bangladesh earned USD550 million by exporting shrimp, in FY 2017-18 it came down to USD 409 million, and finally in FY 2020-21 it came down to 329 USD million, according to the data of Fisheries Department and Export Promotion Bureau. How Vannamei can replace Bagda and Golda? Currently, there are 105 approved frozen food processing factories in Bangladesh but only 60 of them are operating due to the struggle for the shortage of raw materials. Also read: Climate change: Shrimp farming endangered in Khulna In Bangladesh, 2, 58,000 hectares of land are used for shrimp farming where 300 to 400 kg of Golda and Bagda shrimps per hectare are produced in 160 days. But as the Golda and Bagda shrimps cannot be produced in any land more than twice a year the production cost of these shrimps becomes very high. Comparatively high-yielding Vannamei Shrimp, with low production cost and easy availability, has been dominating the global market while Bangladesh’s shrimp industry suffers. Read More: Shrimp farmers in Bagerhat stare at starvation Recently, the Fisheries Department has given conditional approval to conduct two pilot projects for harvesting Vannamei Shrimp on 10 acres of land. According to project results, in just 110 days 10 to 15 MT of Vannamei shrimp can be produced per hectares of land which is quite high compared to 300-400 Kg of Bagda and Golda shrimp production in 160 days, said Prafulla Kumar Roy, owner Jagannath Balaram Subhadra hatchery contracted for the pilot project. Vannamei Shrimp can also be produced thrice in the same land in one year, he said. Read More: Chandpur: Coast Guard seizes 1MT shrimps inflated with jelly Shyamal Kumar Das, another owner of hatchery under the project said if the experimental initiative taken by the Fisheries Department to commercialise Vannamei shrimp production is implemented, it will be possible to produce four to six lakh MTs of shrimp like Bangladesh and India within the next five years. President of Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association SM Humayun Kabir said, commercial production and export of Vanami shrimp can earn 3 to 4 billion US dollars revenue and it will help Bangladesh regain its position in the global shrimp market. Khodeza Begum, a housewife who came to Gallamari market of Khulna to buy shrimp said Vanamei shrimps are cheap and delicious. Read More: Vannamei Shrimp pilot project shows commercial potential Rabiul Sheikh, a fish seller said that the demand for this shrimp was low in the beginning, but it is increasing day by day. Prasenjit, who looks after Vannamei shrimp farming pilot project, said that harvesting of this shrimp does not have any adverse impact on nature rather vegetables can be cultivated around the shrimp enclosure. According to the pilot project data, 77 percent of the world’s shrimp market is occupied by Vannamei Shrimp. As production of this fish isn’t widespread in Bangladesh, the country has to compete for 23 percent of market share through exporting Freshwater Prawn (Golda Shrimp) and Tiger Prawn (Bagda) shrimp. Read More: Satkhira flood washes away Tk8.28 crore worth of fish, crab, shrimp.