Ecnec clears 12 projects, including one to raise cost of Padma Bridge construction
The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved a total of 12 development projects including a revised one to raise the cost of the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Construction by Tk 2412.13 crore and extend the timeframe till June 2024. The overall estimated cost of the 12 projects is Tk 19,598.84 crore. Only additional costs of four revised projects were counted here. The approval came from the Ecnec meeting chaired by its chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the NEC conference room in the city’s Sher-e Banglanagar area. “A total of 15 projects were placed before today's meeting. Of them, 12 projects got approval and two were deferred. And the rest one got time extension only,” said Planning Minister MA Mannan while briefing reporters. Of the 12 approved projects, eight are new and the rest four are revised ones. Among the total estimated cost, Tk 13,203.66 crore will come from the foreign sources as project assistance, while Tk 6,260.72 crore from the GoB fund and the rest Tk 134.46 crore from the fund of an organisation concerned, said the Planning Secretary Satyajit Karmaker. Regarding the reasons behind the rise of cost of Padma Multipurpose Bridge Construction Project, member of Physical Infrastructure Division of the Planning Commission Dr Mohammad Emdad Ullah Mian said the VAT rate has risen to 15 percent now from 10 percent as well as the prices of construction materials for river trainings and the price of dollar went up. As per the project factsheet, the main work of Padma Bridge project has already been completed. But now the revision of the project is required to complete the remaining ancillary works and the payment of contractors’ dues. So, the project can be approved under this consideration, he said. In terms of cost, the largest three new projects approved in the Ecnec meeting are “Programme on Agricultural and Rural Transformation for Nutrition, Entrepreneurship and Resilience in Bangladesh Project,” involving an estimated cost of Tk 6,910.94 crore; “Bangladesh Road Safety Project” with Tk 4,988.14 crore; and “Collection of 2 Crude Oil Mother Tankers and 2 Mother Bulk Carrier Ships on the basis of G2G Project” with Tk 2,620.77 crore. The agricultural (PARTNER) project will be implemented in all the unions of 495 upazilas of the country’s 64 districts by June 2028, mainly for transformation of the traditional agricultural system into commercial agriculture and diversification in the food grains production. Other major objectives of the project are development of agricultural entrepreneurs for the export of agricultural products and expansion of climate resilient agro-food value-chains. Also Read: Tk 4323-crore project to improve disaster preparedness, 7 others get Ecnec nod The Bangladesh Road Safety project will be implemented in all the upazilas of the country by June 2028 in a bid to reduce road accidents and damages as well as enhance the capacity of government agencies concerned for ensuring road safety. The other new projects are “Improving Computer and Software Engineering Tertiary Education Project (ICSETEP)” involving Tk 1,219.80 crore; "Project for Protection of Charkaua, Chandmari, Jagua, Lamchari and Charmonai Areas in Sadar Upazila of Barisal District from Kirtankhola River Erosion (Phase-1) with Tk 512.92 crore; “Establishment of Institute of Nanotechnology (in Savar) Project” with Tk 380.78 crore; ‘’Building Climate Resilient Livelihoods in the Vulnerable Landscapes in Bangladesh (BCRL) Project” with Tk 76.06 crore; and “Safer Cyberspace for Digital Bangladesh: Enhancing National & Regional Digital Investigation Capability of Bangladesh Police Project” with Tk 59.08 crore. The three other revised projects are “Construction of Dhaka-Narayanganj dual gauge railway line in parallel to the existing meter gauge railway line (1st revised) Project” with additional cost of Tk 279.69 crore (now cost is Tk 658.35 crore); “Reconstruction of Mymensingh Central Jail (1st revised) Project” with extra cost of Tk 112.54 crore (now the total cost increased to Tk 240.15 crore); and “Reinstallation and Improvement of Level Crossing Gates of the Eastern Region of Bangladesh Railway (3rd revised) Project” with additional cost of Tk 25.99 crore ( now cost is Tk 130.50 crore). In the Ecnec meeting, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to ensure the facilities in the country’s jails to run the virtual court. She made this directive during the discussion about the first revision of Reconstruction of Mymensingh Central Jail Project.
ECNEC nods 11 projects with estimated cost of Tk 4,252.66 crore
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Tuesday approved a total of 11 projects involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 4,252.66 crore. Of the total project cost, Tk 3,645.21 crore will come from the government fund while the rest of Taka 607.45 crore as project assistance. The approval came at the weekly ECNEC meeting held at the NEC Conference Room in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Planning Minister MA Mannan while briefing reporters after the ECNEC meeting said that of the approved 11 projects, six are new while five are revised projects. The approved projects are: Establishment of cancer centre at Dhaka CMH (2nd phase) with Tk 246 crore, Establishment of 10 secondary schools adjacent to Dhaka, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 76.94 crore, Secondary education sector investment Programme, 3rd revised, without any additional cost. Read more: Ecnec nods 6 projects worth Tk 7,018 crore The other projects are— construction of Swadhinata Tower at Suhrawardy Uddyan in Dhaka, 3rd phase, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 131.91 crore, nutrition development through production of fruits round the year, 2nd revised with an additional cost of Tk 211.32 crore and flood reconstruction emergency assistance project with Tk 300 crore. The rest of the projects are— infrastructural development of Jamalpur district with Tk 1,125 crore, WASH Sector Strengthening and Sanitation Market System (SanMarks) Development Project in Bangladesh with Tk 156.25 crore, climate resilient sustainable water supply, sanitation, and hygiene project in Bangladesh with Tk 274.48 crore, Dredging at inner bar at Mongla Port channel, 1st revised with an additional cost of Tk 198.54 crore and road widening and development on Bhulta-Araihazar-Bancharampur-Nabinagar-Shibpur-Radhika regional highway with Tk 1,532.22 crore.
Japan to provide grant aid for 2 projects
Bangladesh and Japan on Monday signed the exchange of notes on the Japanese grant Aad for two projects. Iwama Kiminori, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh and Sharifa Khan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, signed the documents representing the respective governments. One is to provide the grant for the “Project for Improvement of Equipment for Technical Education” - up to JPY 997million, approximately USD7.7 million. Another is to provide an additional grant for the costs of the development of Bangladesh Institute of Governance and Management（BIGM), the augmented grant of which is up to JPY2,762 million, about USD 21 million. Read more: Languages essential tools to communicate, share knowledge: UN expert “It gives me pleasure to sign both of these 2 projects, which are important supports for Bangladesh to develop world-class human resources. In this regard, these are particularly essential toward graduation from the least developed countries (LDC) status in 2026 and to become a developed country in 2041," said Ambassador Iwama. The grant for the “Project for Improvement of Equipment for Technical Education” is to provide training equipment in the field of electrical, electronic, mechanical and computer to Dhaka Polytechnic Institute, Dhaka Mohila Polytechnic Institute, and Technical Teachers Training College. This supports human resource development with a scientific and mathematical background and engineering skills, with a view to shifting the industrial structure in order to ensure competitiveness in the international market. The additional grant for BIGM is to construct new facilities and to procure equipment for the training of senior administrative officials and for policy research at BIGM, for which additional cost is incurred due to the price escalation affected by difficult global conditions. In order to promote sustainable development of Bangladesh in the future, it is essential to strengthen the policy formulation and execution capacity of senior administrative officials. BIGM is a higher education and research institute, and offers master's programs in the public sector to people from diverse backgrounds, including the private sector as well as the public officials.
Railway inks deal with joint consultancy firm for feasibility study of 11 projects
An agreement has been signed between Bangladesh Railway and joint consultancy firm Oriental Consultancy Global Company Limited (Japan) for carrying out preparatory work for feasibility study and detailed design of 11 projects. Project Director Mahbubur Rahman and GM Yuji Asano signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh Railway and Oriental Consultancy Global Company Limited, respectively, at Rail Bhaban on Tuesday. Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon was present during the signing ceremony. When talking to reporters, the minister said a number of projects have been taken to develop a modern rail communication system within 2045. New rail bridge beside the Hardinge Bridge, building cord line from Narayanganj-Cumilla/Laksham route, construction of dual gauge on Bangabandhu Bridge East-Tarakandi-Jamalpur-Dewanganj Bazar section route, building a broad gauge on the existing Jashore-Benapole route, setting up of dual gauge line or broad gauge line on Bhairab-Bazar-Mymensingh section and convert the meter gauge line of Santahar-Bogura-Kaunia-Lalmonirhat section into broad gauge are among the 11 projects, he said. “We have taken a decision in principle that the whole country will be brought under broad gauge line and the projects will be implemented at a cost of Tk 235.37 crore which will be financed by Asian Development Bank and the government,” said the minister.
Dubai boom sees Russian cash, high rents and reborn projects
Fourteen years after a financial crisis nearly brought Dubai to its knees, several major abandoned real estate projects are finally showing signs of life as part of a new economic boom in the city-state. As with previous upturns in Dubai, war is a driving force. But this time it’s Russian investors fleeing Moscow’s war on Ukraine, rather than people escaping Mideast battlefields. “There’s lots of parts of the world where there are real challenges and people looking for a safe haven,” said Richard Waind, group managing director for Betterhomes, a real estate brokerage in the emirate. “I think that’s a safe haven both for the capital but also for their families.” While there’s no sign the market could be in similar trouble as in 2009, some concerns have started to surface. Skyrocketing rental costs are worsening a cost-of-living squeeze for the foreign workforce that powers the emirate. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury is worried about the amount of Russian money flowing into the real estate market of the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. “In theory, there should be significant reputational risk with the UAE apparently acting as a willing bridge, enabling Russian oligarchs to use the Emirates as a waystation between the Russian financial system and that of the West,” said Jodi Vittori, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has written extensively on Dubai being a money-laundering haven. “But the reality seems to point otherwise,” she said. Dubai's government and the UAE's Foreign Ministry did not respond to detailed questions from The Associated Press. It’s hard to overstate just how much the Emirates has changed over the last half century. Since 1968, the seven sheikdoms that make up the UAE have grown from a British protectorate of some 180,000 people to a federation that’s home to more than 9.2 million. Government statisticians say 3.5 million people live in Dubai alone, with an additional 1.1 million who temporarily live in the city or commute there for work each day. Oil, much of it from Abu Dhabi’s vast reserves, fueled the UAE’s initial modernization. After Dubai began allowing foreign ownership of “freehold” properties in 2002, the world’s tallest building, cavernous malls and sprawling subdivisions emerged from what once were uninterrupted stretches of windblown sand dunes. Real estate now represents some 10% of Dubai's overall gross domestic product. After a slump due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dubai saw 86,849 residential sales in 2022, beating a previous record of 80,831 set in 2009. Buyers and renters have filled exclusive neighborhoods such as the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made archipelago in the shape of a palm tree that juts into the Persian Gulf. The average asking rent for an apartment there is over $67,600 per year, with a villa renting for $276,000 annually, according to real estate firm CBRE. Analysts attribute growth in the luxury market to the wealthy fleeing pandemic restrictions elsewhere. That pressure has grown even outside the world of the ultra-wealthy. Rents on average across Dubai are up 26.9% year-on-year, even with anti-price-gouging protections. Families living in villas can expect to pay median rents of $76,000 a year. The sudden increase in rent prompted Gavin Hill, a 34-year-old car salesman from Essex, England, to move with his partner from a villa in the Dubai Hills neighborhood near downtown to a smaller apartment some 20 kilometers (12 miles) south. “In terms of looking for a new place, previously it was reasonably easy," said Hill, who has moved four times in the six years he has lived in Dubai. "This time it’s a minefield” Russian money has helped fuel this. Betterhomes, which has operated here since 1986, saw Russians lead all other nationalities in purchases by non-residents for the first time last year. Other real estate brokers have also acknowledged anecdotally the influence Russians have had. “Since the crisis in Eastern Europe, we have seen a lot of Russians, a lot of Ukrainians as well, looking to both move their family and and money out there," Waind said. Dubai has a history of seeking a business advantage in crises like the Arab Spring, COVID-19 and now Russia's war on Ukraine. During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, its new Jebel Ali port repaired ships damaged by explosions and gunfire in the Persian Gulf. The U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw wealthy émigrés arrive in Dubai and the wider UAE. Those booms included what the West would consider dirty money as well. Some of the nearly $1 billion embezzled in the 2010 Kabul Bank scandal in Afghanistan went toward luxury homes on Palm Jumeirah. A cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad tied to Assad's sanctioned business dealings also owned property there. It remains unclear how many Russians have bought in Dubai — and whether the purchases involve people fleeing potential conscription into the Russian army or mass purchases that can be the work of money launderers. Unlike in the U.S., where property records are public, Dubai does not offer an easily accessible database of transactions. A team from the U.S. Treasury stopped in the UAE on a Mideast tour in January. A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press that the agency is concerned about the Russian money coming into the Dubai real estate market. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity about discussing sanctions. Already, the Treasury has issued an alert aimed at U.S. commercial real estate stating that Russian oligarchs and their intermediaries could use “highly complex financing methods and opaque ownership structures" to hide illicit funds. But it remains unclear what, if any, action Treasury would take, considering the defense and economic ties the U.S. has with the Emirates. A global body focused on fighting money laundering put the UAE on its “gray list” over concerns it isn’t doing enough to stop criminals and militants from hiding wealth there. Once-abandoned projects that are showing new life include the Dubai Pearl, a planned $4 billion luxury development that was supposed to host multiple hotels and apartments in four, 73-story towers. Those plans collapsed during the 2009 financial crisis, brought on by the Great Recession, that forced Abu Dhabi to provide the city-state a $20 billion bailout. Demolition crews are now bringing down the concrete husk of the Dubai Pearl, though plans for the site remain unclear. Plans for the development of Palm Jumeirah's forgotten twin, the Palm Jebel Ali, are also being relaunched. One practice that helped fuel Dubai's 2009 crisis involved speculators buying yet-to-be built properties. “Off-plan” flipping is growing again as initial buyers “are capitalizing on the current market upswing and cashing out with a premium in hand,” local firm Property Monitor said. That company and others warn that speculative purchasing could lead to another bubble. “This does suggest a rise in speculative activity, which is a feature of any market that is seeing price rises,” said Scott Livermore, the chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East. Hill — the renter from England — would like to buy a place if the market comes down again. But he's cautious after what he's seen in this boomtown. Dubai "can eat people out and spit them out quite quickly," Hill said. "I’ve seen too many people go crazy and then go bust very, very fast.”
It is high time to work together on more projects, investment areas: Chinese Envoy
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yao Wen on Sunday said it is high time to work together to have more projects and investment from China overcoming the common challenges ahead. "We find that there is a great potential to work together on high level visits and economic development," he told reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador said China can do a lot and the two countries can work together for a better future. “That is something China can do together to overcome common challenges faced by the two countries,” Ambassador Wen said, referring to the challenges of Covid-19 and also problems that emerged amid the situation in Ukraine. Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision for 2041, the Chinese envoy said Bangladesh is now stepping into Smart Bangladesh from Digital Bangladesh and assured of his country’s support to that end. Also Read: Gate of Dhaka-Beijing cooperation opens wider: Ambassador Wen “I am confident that during my tenure I can work together with Bangladesh. China can do a lot. We can support each other. We can work together for the better future of our bilateral relationship,” he said. Responding to a question on Rohingya repatriation, Ambassador Wen said they have a common objective with Bangladesh regarding repatriation of Rohingyas to their homeland. He recognised Bangladesh's "sacrifice" in hosting the huge number of Rohingyas and assured of playing its role for their repatriation. “We discussed the issue. You pay a lot. You suffered a lot. You sacrificed a lot. We have the common objective (repatriation),”said Ambassador Wen. Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char and not a single Rohingya has been repatriated over the last six years. Earlier, the Chinese Ambassador had separate meetings with State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and discussed the Rohingya issues apart from other bilateral issues. “We discussed ways to expand bilateral ties,” said the Ambassador.
FM thanks Japan for support in metro rail, other development projects
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has thanked the government of Japan for providing technical and financial support for the implementation of various projects including the metro rail. Welcoming newly appointed Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh Iwama Kiminori new Ambassador, Foreign Minister Momen said that Japan is Bangladesh's single largest bilateral development partner and an important country for trade and investment. Ambassador Kiminori had a courtesy meeting with Foreign Minister Momen at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday morning. Read more: Bangladesh maintaining good relations with both US, China but it’s challenging: Momen
PM inaugurates, lays foundation stones of 35 projects in Chattogram
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday inaugurated 29 development projects and unveiled the foundation stones of six proposed projects in Chattogram. The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid foundation stones of the projects ahead of joining a rally organised by Awami League’s Chattogram North and South district units at the historical Railway Polo Ground in the city. Read more: PM to inaugurate, lay foundation stones of 34 projects in Chattogram Sunday The total cost of the 35 projects is Tk 3,398.66 crore. Of them, Tk 1,897.61 crore was spent to implement the 29 projects, while the estimated cost of six other projects is some Tk 1501.05 crore. Read more: PM Hasina reaches CTG’s Polo Ground to address enormous rally Procurement of necessary equipment for different yards and terminals of Chittagong port, banks protection and flood control of the Halda River and Dhurang canal in Fatikchhari and Hathajari upazilas, construction and extension of different school, college and madrasa buildings were among the projects.
Complete ongoing prioritised projects: PM directs secretaries
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday directed secretaries to evaluate and finish ongoing projects – that can be completed within the shortest possible time – on a priority basis. “People of the country will be benefitted if prioritised projects can be completed as early as possible,” she said. The prime minister gave the directives while addressing the Secretaries’ Committee Meeting held at her office. Read more: After Bangladesh assisted Sri Lanka with $200mn, many countries made similar requests: PM Referring to the Russia-Ukraine war, Sheikh Hasina said that even developed countries are facing crisis due to the war, after the Covid-19 pandemic fallout. Against this backdrop, she stressed the need for exercising austerity and caution. About foreign currency reserve in the country, the prime minister said that it would be possible to meet import expenditure for the next five-six months, and Bangladesh will not face any crisis. Sheikh Hasina, however, underscored the need for diversifying exports considering the current global economic crisis. The government is developing 100 economic zones in the country and there will be foreign investment in the economic zones, while employment opportunities will be created there, she said. Read more: No problem with movement, but don’t go for violence: PM Hasina warns BNP In this regard, she mentioned that the 4th Industrial Revolution is knocking at the door and huge number of youths are now getting ready for employment, and their potential and capability should be utilised. Pointing out the propaganda being spread by a quarter with vested interest, Sheikh Hasina asked the secretaries to upload latest information on the respective websites so that everyone can access authentic information. She said, Awami League government has major success stories in different sectors including in communication as well as in education, health, energy, food production and others. She also highlighted construction of the Padma Bridge with the country’s own resources and said it has boosted the morale of people in the south and southwestern region. The Prime Minister said that government has been implementing the 8th five year plan, SDG of the UN, and the 2021-2041 perspective plan to establish Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country. Sheikh Hasina also asked the secretaries to take precautionary measures alongside making people aware that the country would not be hit by a looming famine due to the prolonged global crisis caused by coronavirus and Russia-Ukraine war. Read more: ‘Why did Bangladesh not see development in 29 years?’ – PM Hasina asks She suggested a number of proposals to be implemented that include being austere in public expenditure, setting prioritised development projects, diversifying exports, attracting investments, preparing skilled manpower for the fourth industrial revolution, and making people aware to bring every inch of fallow land under cultivation, and exercising austerity in using electricity and gas. “Inflation has increased manifolds across the globe. Our country is not out of the purview and it has also hit our country,” she said.
Govt urged to expedite dev projects at Ctg port to facilitate export-import
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has urged the government to expedite development projects at Chattogram port to facilitate export-import. A BGMEA delegation led by its President Faruque Hassan met with State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury at the secretariat Tuesday. Former BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman, incumbent first vice-president Syed Nazrul Islam and senior vice-president SM Mannan (Kochi) were present. The BGMEA leaders thanked the government for taking all the steps that have led to the smooth functioning of the Chattagram port. They requested the government to expedite the implementation of the projects taken to enhance capacity and improve the port facilities. Faruque Hassan said the economy of Bangladesh is expanding; so imports and exports of the country are also growing. He emphasised continuing efforts for enhancing the capacity and efficiency of the Chattogram port to meet the increased demand for exports and imports through the port. Faruque also called for the government's steps to further improve services and facilities in the land ports of the country to accelerate export and imports.