Despite Bangladesh Bank Governor’s decision to not raise exchange rate before election, dollar rate hiked again
Bangladesh Bank decided not to bring major changes in the US dollar exchange rate before the upcoming national election. The central bank’s Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder informed of this decision at a meeting with managing directors and CEOs of banks recently. At that meeting, the governor said that Bangladesh Bank will not make any policy changes regarding the dollar market or the foreign currency market before the national election. Despite this decision, the dollar rate has been raised by Tk .50 or 50 paisa in all cases. The price of the dollar has increased to Tk 110 in case of export and expatriates’ income, and to Tk 110.50 in case of import. Read: Selling dollars at higher prices: What is Bangladesh Bank’s action against treasury heads of 10 banks?The dollar rate was hiked again yesterday, which is effective from today. The dollar crisis in the country has become evident since March 2023, following the downturn caused by the Russia-Ukraine war. To deal with this crisis, Bangladesh Bank fixed the dollar price at the beginning. This worsened the crisis. Later, last September, Bangladesh Bank withdrew from determining the price of the dollar. Read: Bangladesh Bank seeks explanations from 13 banks for selling dollars at higher prices This responsibility has been given to the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB) and Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers’ Association (BAFEDA). Since then the two organizations have been jointly setting the dollar price for export, remittance earnings, and payment of import liabilities. Read more: Dollar goes off kerb market after central bank-led raids of money exchanges
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has ruled out any tension in Bangladesh-US relations following the State Department’s announcement of initiating visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals. “We have no tension with the US,” he told reporters in Manhattan on Saturday (September 23, 2023), noting that the US will not grant visas to those who will try to foil the upcoming election in Bangladesh. Also read: Bangladesh fully committed to nuclear disarmament: Momen The foreign minister said that US President Joe Biden wants to strengthen the existing friendly relations with Bangladesh in the next 50 years. “I am confident our partnership will continue to flourish for the next 50 years and beyond,” Biden wrote in a letter sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marking the 50-year milestone in the bilateral relationship between the US and Bangladesh. Also read: Bangladesh among more than 30 countries approved to trade in rouble: Russian Embassy US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya said the visa policy announcement affirms the United States’ commitment to “free, fair and peaceful” elections worldwide and supports efforts of partners in the Government of Bangladesh, civil society, and media to ensure democratic elections that reflect the will of Bangladeshis. Earlier, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said that Bangladesh has nothing to lose and they are not worried about the visa restrictions issue, as they are doing nothing wrong. Also read: Visa restrictions: US didn’t issue any statement regarding anyone in particular, says Home Minister Talking to reporters at his residence on Friday night, the state minister also said there is no reason to see further sanctions from the US before the next election as the government has received assurance from the US. The United States has said it will not release the names or numbers of people in Bangladesh who would face visa restrictions. Also read: 'Nothing to lose' from visa restrictions: Shahriar Alam “Visa records are confidential under US law,” Embassy Spokesperson Bryan Schiller told UNB on Friday. But, he said, the US government has looked very closely at incidents since they announced the visa policy. “After a careful review of the evidence, we have imposed visa restrictions on members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition,” Schiller added.
Full transcript of UNB’s email interview with Michael Kugelman (MK), director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, in the wake of the US announcing it was taking steps to impose the first batch of visa restrictions on Bangladeshi law enforcement officials, and members of the ruling party and political opposition: UNB: First of all, what do you make of the timing? There was an impression earlier that these restrictions would most likely be imposed after the election, as they were in the case of Nicaragua and Zimbabwe. What do you think Washington is trying to signal by coming out 3 months prior and announcing the first restrictions? Is it dissatisfaction with how the overall preparations are going? MK: I think the US wanted to act proactively, to send a tough message. In effect: This is important to us, we mean business, we want that free and fair election, and here's what we'll do in the weeks leading up to it when we see someone trying to imperil that outcome. Keep in mind that the Biden administration genuinely wants a close relationship with Dhaka, and so it doesn't want to be in the tough position of having to decide whether to review the future of the relationship if the election is deemed to be unfree and unfair. For Washington, the goal is to give the full Bangladesh state—the political class, law enforcement, media, business leaders, and so on—the strongest possible incentive to ensure a free and fair election, so that the US doesn't have to make that difficult decision. Read: Visa restrictions imposed upon 'careful review of evidence': US embassy UNB: Although US law doesn't allow it, to the extent that we're allowed to speculate, do you think there are some really big fish that would have come under the restrictions? Without them it may be futile don't you think? MK: I don't know the identities of the people targeted, though indeed a stronger message would be sent if some big fish were among them. UNB: Visa restrictions are not the same of course, as Magnitsky sanctions. Do you think these individuals, whoever they are, should now worry that they might be brought under Magnitsky, say if they turn out to be repeat offenders in the days ahead? MK: I think this depends on who the people are that were targeted. If some of those targeted are business leaders and others that depend on transactions with the US, then one can't rule out Magnitsky. That said, as I understand them, these visa restriction policies are specific in scope and don't stipulate—at least not publicly—that they could expand into wider restrictions that would encompass Magnitsky. Read: US taking steps to impose first batch of visa restrictions UNB: A US delegation is due next month to assess the situation on the ground for an observer mission during the election. The EU has already said it won't send observers after its own team came and assessed the conditions. How much of a blow do you think it would be if the US also says no? Do you see a 'No' as a rejection of the process? MK: A decision not to send observers can be spun differently depending on where you sit politically. Certainly, for the opposition and other government critics, not sending observers can be pointed to as an indication of the international community having lost faith in the idea of a free and fair election and not wanting to be part of an electoral process that it feels is destined to fail. But the government could spin it as a success, that the international community must be sufficiently confident about the election being free and fair if it has no need to have observers in place. Read: 'Nothing to lose' from visa restrictions: Shahriar Alam UNB: Finally, do you see the possibility of wider sanctions on say trade or other things, depending on the quality of the election? MK: I do think the administration will review the future of the relationship if the election is deemed to be rigged. This could result in a decision to downgrade some aspects of the relationship, and possibly new sanctions. But the administration will need to be careful. It truly values its partnership with Bangladesh, which has grown in recent years, especially on the trade side. And against the backdrop of rapidly intensifying great power competition, Bangladesh, as a non-aligned state sitting astride the Indian Ocean, has great strategic importance for Washington. There are also influential actors, like the US-Bangladesh Business Council, which would likely push back against trade sanctions and any plan to rein in commercial relations. So the US would need to be cautious in its approach. Read more: A big moment for Bangladesh and its relations with US: South Asia specialist
Participation of all political parties in the next general election would not depend on the Election Commission, but rather the decision of the political parties themselves, an Election Commissioner said Sunday. “Whether all the political parties will participate in the general election or not, depends on the decision of the respective political parties and the Election Commission has no involvement in it,” Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman said, while talking to reporters at Kishoreganj Circuit House. NID server down since this morning: Election Commission “We are determined to create an election-friendly environment and we’ll do it. In the past one and half years we have urged the political parties to participate in the election and we are urging them repeatedly even now,” said Anisur. Election Commission didn’t dig its own grave: CEC “Whether the election would be participatory will depend on the decision of the political parties. The Election Commission has no scope to interfere in it. We have taken preparations to hold elections as per the constitution,” he said.
Arshad Adnan Rony, son of President Mohammed Shahabuddin, has expressed his interest in contesting the next national election from Pabna-5 constituency. Rony made the announcement while talking to reporters at his residence in Pabna town on Tuesday (August 29, 2023) night. “I want to inform the people the district that I will seek nomination for Pabna-5 (Sadar) constituency from the Prime Minister, and if she approves, I can work for the people,” Rony said. “After taking charge as the President of Bangladesh, my father is working for the people of Pabna,” he added. Referring to the President, Rony also said, “My father asked me to go to Pabna and work for the people of the district. ‘Please go to Pabna and see whether the people accept you,’ my father told me.” Make investments in Bangladesh: President Shahabuddin urges Italian businesses Referring to his political background, the President’s son said, “I joined Bangladesh Chhatra League when I was a student, and then I joined Jubo League. Sometimes, I was away because of my business. Currently, I am a member of Awami League’s subcommittee for cultural affairs. As I belong to an Awami family and I’m a son of Pabna, I believe I have a place for my claim.” Rony also said that he will try his level best to earn victory for ‘boat’. However, he also said that if he failed to get nomination from Awami League, he will work for whoever the party nominates. Chief Justice calls on President Shahabuddin at Bangabahaban
British High Commissioner wanted to know EC’s efforts in ensuring that journalists can work freely: CEC
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Sarah Cooke on Sunday said her country is encouraging “free, fair, participatory and peaceful” elections in Bangladesh. She said fair elections will help Bangladeshi citizens exercise their democratic rights. Read: UN expresses desire to see a fair, peaceful election in Bangladesh: Obaidul Quader “We had a very constructive introductory discussion,” High Commissioner Cooke told reporters after her first meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal and his team. She said they discussed the vital roles of strong democratic institutions, media, and civil society. The British high commissioner said they also discussed the role of independent observers during the election. Talking to reporters, the CEC said High Commissioner Cooke wanted to know the Election Commission’s efforts for ensuring that journalists can work freely. Read: UK keen to boost trade and investment with Bangladesh: Sarah Cooke tells PM Hasina He said the media raised the demand regarding the use of motorcycles. The CEC said they were considering whether it would be misused or not. Some — using muscle power— might create problems, taking advantage of motorcycle use. “Keeping that in mind, we made a provision,” said the CEC. Read: I’m committed to deepening Bangladesh-UK extensive cooperation: Sarah Cooke At the meeting, Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman and EC Secretary Md. Jahangir Alam were also present. Bangladesh Election Commission is taking preparations to hold the next national election in December this year or January next year.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Sunday (August 13, 2023) conveyed to visiting US congressmen Ed Case and Richard McCormick that there is no scope for reaching any consensus as BNP wants the government to step down. He conveyed the message when the congressmen wanted to know whether there is any way to reach consensus with the opposition. Momen also asked them whether the US government would step down prior to the election there. “Certainly not,” Momen said, adding that, “Will you sit in discussion if there is such a demand? Certainly not.” Read more: Foreign observers are welcome during Bangladesh's upcoming elections: Momen tells Swiss envoy
Sanctions, freezing assets, giving partner nations intel can be tools to fight corruption: US State Dept
The United States has encouraged Bangladesh to “root out corrupt actors,” operating within its borders “fairly and impartially.” “Generally speaking, sanctions can be a tool to fight corruption,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters in a regular briefing in Washington on August 8. He said they have other tools as well, such as freezing assets and giving partner nations information so they can prosecute cases. Read: US prioritizing global anti-corruption efforts, to focus on business aspects in future: US official tells foreign secretary Responding to a question on demand for free and fair election, Miller said they have made it clear several times that the US supports free and fair elections in Bangladesh. “We’ve made that clear publicly. We’ve made that clear in conversations with the Bangladeshi Government, and that will continue to be our policy,” he said. The US Department of State’s Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, Richard Nephew, echoed the same regarding sanctions to address corruption during his Bangladesh visit on August 6-8. Read: Bangladesh can draw more investment if corruption remains less prevalent: Peter Haas During his visit, Nephew met government officials, businesspersons, and civil society leaders to discuss how to fight the scourge of corruption. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, after his meeting with Nephew, said that Bangladesh laid emphasis on more transparency and accountability over issues involving money laundering, noting that in most cases Bangladesh does not get required feedback when it comes to mutual legal assistance. Read: Public Service Commission was plagued by corruption, depriving meritorious candidates during BNP-Jamaat govt: Sajeeb Wazed The US has invited Bangladesh to attend the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Corruption in Atlanta in December this year. The foreign secretary said Bangladesh will take part in the meeting where the host US will seek renewed commitment from the participating countries or institutions to jointly tackle global corruption.
Election Commissioners Md Alamgir and Rasheda Sultana on Sunday (August 06, 2023) indicated that there is no plan to monitor the upcoming 12th national election of Bangladesh by installing CCTV cameras in the polling centers. Election Commissioner Alamgir gave this indication to reporters at the Election Bhaban on Sunday when asked about the plan to install CCTV cameras in the risky centers. Read: Go all out for the victory of AL-nominated candidates in upcoming national election: PM Hasina asks party members "It hasn't been discussed much between us. There was no formal discussion…Because you know, there are about four lakh centres in 300 constituencies. There may be a number of risky centres. It is difficult to monitor through CCTV cameras in so many centers,” said Md Alamgir. "We will make special arrangements at the vulnerable centres in that case. I mean, we're going to hire more law enforcement members in those centers," he added. Read: UN rights body urges 'peaceful, inclusive, safe environment' ahead of election Mentioning that if all the parties participate in the election, a balanced environment is automatically prevailed, EC Alamgir said, “They (parties) play a great role in maintaining discipline rather than law enforcement agencies. Because they know that if the situation deteriorates or the situation worsens in the elections, they will be the ones who will be affected.” On the other hand, Election Commissioner Rasheda Sultana on Sunday said that the commission will not use CCTV cameras in the upcoming 12th parliamentary election. Read: Whole world may comment on election but India has a ‘very special relationship’ with Bangladesh: MEA Spokesperson She said this while talking to reporters at her election office at Agargaon in the capital. Rasheda Sultana said that there is no legal obligation to use CCTV cameras in the election, so the Commission is not obliged to use cameras.
Go all out for the victory of AL-nominated candidates in upcoming national election: PM Hasina asks party members
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday (August 06, 2023) asked her Awami League party leaders and activists to prepare for the upcoming national election. “All have to work unitedly to ensure the win of the Awami League-nominated candidates in the next election,” she said while delivering concluding remarks at the special extended meeting of Bangladesh Awami League at her official residence Ganabhaban. In reply to the call of their party chief, all the leaders attending the meeting raised their hands and expressed their commitment to do so accordingly. Read: Mass people are our only masters, no one else: PM Hasina tells AL special meet Issuing directives to all Awami League leaders and activists to prepare themselves for the upcoming national election, Hasina said “Our only strength is the people.” Noting that the upcoming national elections are very important, she urged her party members to highlight and present to the people the development works that have been implemented in every area during the last 14 years and a half of the Awami League rule. “All these developments in Bangladesh have been possible because Awami League has been in power," she said. Read: PMO for increasing leather export to $5 billion within four years Criticizing the activities of BNP and its leaders, the Awami League President said that the birth of BNP had been an outright sin. “The birth of the BNP had happened through the illegal seizure of power, through the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and through terrorism," she asserted. She mentioned that since the Awami League formed the government in 2009, BNP has carried out arson violence, killed people, staged blockade programmes, and committed many other misdeeds. “But, no movement can harm the country and the people as Awami League is a strong organisation and we are accepted by the people.” Read: PM Hasina urges private sector to patronize sports and culture Rather, they (BNP) are gradually being questioned by people, she added. Hasina called upon all to be vigilant against rumours and misinformation, saying Awami League never bow to anyone.