Bangladesh News Bangladesh Economy & Development Thread

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Bangladesh is set to bring in the first shipment of nuclear fuel to test run the Rooppur plant this September, according to Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman.

But, the government is not considering insurance coverage for the nuclear fuel's transportation from Dhaka airport to the project site by road initially owing to various reasons, including its potential impact on the project cost and electricity price, officials have told The Business Standard.

Instead, the authorities are now solely relying on the finance ministry's "financial assurance letter" to guarantee compensation for any damage that may occur during the transportation process.

As such, the government is likely to bear the entire risk of potential financial losses resulting from any damage to fuel imported for the Rooppur plant during its transportation from Dhaka airport to the project area by road.

The two units of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will require 70-80 tonnes of uranium annually, with uranium being loaded into the reactors every 18 months. Each kilogram of uranium will cost the government $550.

The plant authorities are expected to begin test operation next year.

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The uranium, which is sourced from Russia, will be transported in a specially designed container aboard a dedicated aircraft to Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. The Bangladesh Army will supervise the transportation of the containers, filled with uranium, by road to Rooppur, located in Ishwardi upazila of Pabna district. Some manpower is also being trained for this purpose, sources at the ministry said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will oversee the entire operation to ensure its compliance with safety protocols.

When asked about this last Tuesday, Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman told The Business Standard that the transportation method of nuclear fuel is considered a confidential matter due to security concerns. Hence, disclosing specific details about it is not possible.

The minister pointed out that other countries worldwide also maintain secrecy regarding the transport of such fuel for security reasons.

The minister chose not to provide any comments when enquired about the issue of insurance coverage.

However, a senior official of the ministry expressed concerns regarding the absence of insurance coverage for capital- and technology-intensive installations such as the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

The official said insurance companies in Bangladesh, both public and private, currently lack the necessary experience and capacity to insure such complex projects. Additionally, if the power plant were to be insured now, the annual premiums would be considered part of the project's investment cost, potentially impacting electricity tariffs. Considering all this, the authorities are not pursuing insurance coverage at the moment, added the official.

Under the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory (BAER) Act-2012, the maximum financial loss for each accident during the fuel transportation, storage, use, commissioning, operation, and maintenance of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is set at 300 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR), equivalent to approximately Tk3,300 crore at the current exchange rate. The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement the official reserves of its member countries.

To address the issue of financial security, the BAER recommends the establishment of an internationally accepted National Nuclear Insurance Pool or the provision of financial security by an insurance company designated or identified by the government of Bangladesh.

To ensure compliance with the necessary requirements for nuclear fuel transportation in the absence of any insurance coverage, the Ministry of Science and Technology on 5 June this year wrote to the Finance Division, requesting the issuance of a financial guarantee letter to cover any damage caused by an accident during transportation.

Before this, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Prof Dr Ashoke Kumar Paul wrote to the science and technology ministry in this regard.

It should be noted that, as per the Inter-Governmental Agreement between Bangladesh and the Russian Federation, and the General Contract signed between the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and the Russian contractor AtomstroyExport, the civil liability for nuclear damage lies with the Bangladesh side.

In light of the International Conventions on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the National Nuclear Regulatory Law, there are provisions to hold the operator or licensee of a nuclear power plant fully responsible for the commissioning, operation, maintenance, supervision, and transportation of nuclear materials and fuel in any nuclear accident-related damage at the nuclear facility.

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is a significant project being implemented through an agreement between the governments of Bangladesh and the Russian Federation.

The 2,400MW nuclear power project worth $13.5 billion is the biggest and the costliest power project in the country. Its construction began in 2017.

Although the upfront cost of this plant is very high, the project's 60-year lifespan is expected to give a cheap and emission-free power supply in the long run.


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The Red Sea Gateway Terminal (RSGT), a Saudi company, has been confirmed as the operator of Patenga container terminal for 22 years, according to officials involved in the matter.

This development marks a milestone for Bangladesh, as it is the first time in the country's history that a foreign company will be engaged to operate a port, which reflects the growing confidence of foreign firms in the country's future growth prospects.

The Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) and Red Sea Gateway which currently operates in the King Abdulaziz Port in Jeddah are expected to sign a deal in either August or September this year, officials said.

However, businesses have expressed frustration over the considerable delay in launching the port's operations, despite it being developed using CPA's own financing. They are urging the government to expedite the commencement of operations, as it would bring them significant cost and time reduction benefits.

According to the Public Private Partnership Authority (PPP Authority), procurement of equipment and additions to the terminal will be undertaken within two years of the 22-year contract. Red Sea Gateway is known for its use of the latest machinery and technology in port management.

Md Abul Bashar, director general (Programming and Investment Promotion) of the PPP Authority, told The Business Standard that the terminal operator appointment Request for Proposal was given on 12 June this year.

He added that Red Sea Gateway will have 42 days, as per international standards, to submit their proposal, which is expected by the end of July. Following proposal evaluation, other formalities, and Cabinet approval, the agreement with Red Sea Gateway is expected to be signed within the next two months.

The timeline for completing operational work, including procurement and installation of equipment, will depend on Red Sea Gateway. The faster the equipment can be made operational, the better it will be for the company.

Details about profit-sharing between Chattogram port and Red Sea Gateway in the operation of Patenga container terminal will be known after the proposal is submitted and approved, according to PPP Authority.

Businessmen have emphasised the importance of expediting operational activities of Patenga container terminal for the benefit of traders.

Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes that progress in the recruitment process for the Patenga container terminal operator is positive news for the country's import and export trade.

He urges the swift appointment of operators to ensure 100% operational activities at the terminal.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) was appointed by the Chattogram port as the transaction adviser in August of last year to appoint a foreign operator for Patenga container terminal. The agency was given the responsibility for preparing the investment proposal for Red Sea Gateway.

According to the shipping ministry, the transaction adviser will provide advice and proposals on the process of appointing an operator to manage the Patenga container terminal. After the proposal, the port will negotiate with Red Sea on the terms of operating the terminal.

When contacted, Mustafa Kamal, secretary of the shipping ministry, referred the matter to the Chattogram Port Authority.

CPA Secretary Md Omar Faruk told TBS that the PPP Authority is currently negotiating with Red Sea for the appointment of the Patrenga container terminal operator and that the CPA will take actions in this regard once it gets information from the PPP Authority through the shipping ministry.

Patenga container terminal was completed in July last year. Initially, it was supposed to be operated by the CPA, but the government later decided to run it with a foreign operator under the PPP model.

According to Chattogram port, Patenga container terminal has three container jetties and one dolphin oil jetty, allowing for the simultaneous docking of three container ships and one oil tanker.

To reach the main jetty of Chattogram Port, ships have to traverse a river route of approximately 14 kilometres from the mouth of the River Karnaphuli. However, the distance from Patenga container terminal to the Karnaphuli estuary is only six kilometres.

Once the operation starts, the terminal has the capacity to handle 450,000 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit) containers annually.

According to the Chattogram port, the project was supposed to be completed in December 2019 after receiving the Development Project Proposal (DPP) approval on 13 June 2017. However, the duration of the project was extended until July 2022.

On 26 January this year, a 200-metre-long vessel anchored at Patenga container terminal. On the occasion of the inauguration of four new ships of the Meghna Group, one of the ships namely MV Meghna Victory also anchored at the terminal. Earlier, in November last, the terminal was inaugurated on a trial basis by unloading goods from the cargo vessel MCL-19 imported from Myanmar.

 

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Exciting news awaits local sneaker lovers and sports enthusiasts in Dhaka as the world's two leading sportswear giants – Nike from the USA and Adidas from Germany – are set to open showrooms in the city within the next two months.

This move is facilitated by the DBL Group, which previously introduced another famous sportswear brand Puma to Dhaka in 2019.

"We have already signed an agreement with Adidas, and their store will be ready to open in Gulshan by October. The number of stores will be increased based on the response received from consumers," said MA Rahim Feroz, vice chairman of DBL Group.

"The contract with Nike has also been finalised, and their store is scheduled to open by November," he added.

Stakeholders said the entry of these global brands into Bangladesh reflects their confidence in the country's promising growth prospects. Bangladesh has experienced rapid growth and currently boasts approximately 35 million affluent and middle-class consumers.

Although Adidas and Nike's products are available in Bangladesh to some extent, their prices have been considerably high.

For instance, Bata sells the Adidas Adizero Select sneaker for men at Tk18,999 even after a Tk1,000 discount. However, the same sneaker costs less than €88, which is around Tk9,150 or less than half the price in Bangladesh.

The primary products offered by Nike, Adidas, and Puma are shoes, particularly sports shoes. Additionally, they also provide sportswear, bags, caps, and other apparel products.

According to Nike's official website, they currently operate approximately 2,200 Nike stores across 80 countries and regions worldwide. Similarly, the Adidas website states that they have a presence in over 2,000 stores.

Nike, established in 1964 in Oregon, United States, has 125 outlets in neighbouring India, including various Nike Adidas stores located in Kolkata.

The opening of stores from two globally renowned companies in Dhaka has garnered positive reception among the upper middle class and upper-class buyers in the area.


Sheikh Mohammad Danial, director at an insurance company, expressed his views to TBS, stating, "When I travel abroad, I usually purchase Nike and Adidas shoes. Having the opportunity to buy them in Dhaka would be highly beneficial for us."

He further added, "Moreover, individuals involved in sports within the country, including players, currently have to travel overseas to acquire these products. Many people also resort to online purchases from abroad. If they can now purchase these products locally, it will not only be more convenient for them but also alleviate the pressure of foreign currency withdrawal."

Earlier, after launching its first store in Dhaka in 2019, Puma the number of stores of the global brand has now expanded to four, encompassing Dhaka and Chattogram. Stakeholders indicate that an additional store from the renowned brand is scheduled to open in Uttara in December of this year.

MA Rahim Feroz, vice chairman of DBL Group, said, "The country's economy is experiencing growth, and there is a rising number of individuals regularly using products from these companies."

He stated that the expansion of stores was driven by profitability, although they did not anticipate significant profits initially.

"The primary focus was on branding our group, the DBL Group, with connection with these global brands," he said.

Why price is high in Bangladesh

According to industry insiders, the main reason for the high prices of these products is the imposition of high import taxes, including customs duty, value-added tax, and other taxes.

MA Rahim Feroz highlighted that sneakers face a 100% import tax, while accessories and clothing are subject to a 125% import tax. Consequently, prices rise significantly, creating a significant gap compared to other markets.

"If the import taxes were reduced, it would enable us to offer products at a more competitive price," he said.

He also mentioned that if brands allowed franchisees to manufacture their products in Bangladesh, there would be a possibility of reducing prices. However, so far, such permissions have not been granted.

"Some products of these brands are manufactured in India. If our brand allows local manufacturing, particularly for clothing items, it would be feasible to offer those products at a lower price," he said.

Shortfalls of local brands

Apex Footwear Limited, as a local company in Bangladesh, has made significant progress in the sale of footwear products. There are other local brands like Bay, along with multinational companies such as Bata and Lotto. However, their products lack the quality of the products from companies like Puma, Nike, or Adidas.

Tipu Sultan, managing director of Bengal Leather and former president of Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association, said that the lack of quality footwear products can be attributed to several factors: low demand, customer affordability, inadequate quality, limited technological advancements, and a lack of innovation.

"It is crucial to consider the level of investment required for such endeavours. Companies like Nike and Adidas have a long history, and it took time for their brand value to establish. However, that hasn't happened here," he told TBS.

He further added, "There is a noticeable lack of quality because the local market players have not placed sufficient emphasis on it. Development centres and innovation have not reached international standards. Additionally, customers do not value local brands as much as they value foreign brands."

 

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the government has undertaken a new plan to modernise the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) so that it is able to treat 4,000 patients at a time.

"We have already prepared a new plan to develop the hospital into a larger, more beautiful, and more modern establishment. We have prepared the plan so that 4,000 patients can receive treatment there at a time," she said.

The premier made the disclosure while addressing the ceremony of the 78th Dhaka Medical College Day through a virtual platform from her office in Dhaka.

The Dhaka Medical College Alumni Trust arranged the function at the Shaheed Dr Shamsul Alam Khan Auditorium of the college.

Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on immediate implementation of the new plan. "If this plan for the hospital can be started soon, it will set an example in healthcare," she said.

The prime minister asked physicians and medical experts to pay extensive attention to medical science research, as the extent of such studies is still low in Bangladesh.

"Only a handful of people conduct research here. But research is indispensable in this age. You should pay more attention to it," she said.

Stating that her government will create all sorts of opportunities for medical research, the prime minister said, "We'll provide funds as required."

 

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Mongla port – Bangladesh's second-largest seaport currently undergoing a development spree – is set to receive a substantial capacity boost through a Chinese-funded project aimed at facilitating efficient handling of neighbouring countries' transit cargo.

The Tk4,283 crore project, with Tk3,782 crore to be provided by China on a government-to-government (G2G) basis, will enhance the port's container handling capacity by 3.5 lakh TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

Once implemented by 2027, it is expected to boost the revenue of Mongla port and Mongla customs by Tk823 crore and Tk3,000 crore, respectively. In fiscal 2020-21, the port and customs earned Tk340 crore and Tk3,975 crore, in that order.

According to officials, the shipping ministry has already sent the project proposal to the planning commission.

Sheikh Sowkat Ali, chief engineer at Mongla Port Authority, told The Business Standard, "The Chinese-funded project will involve the development of two terminals and a delivery yard, along with the transformation of Mongla into a smart port. Additionally, an automated system for cargo handling will be introduced."

He added that the project is targeted to be completed by 2027, with implementation work scheduled to commence this year.

According to officials, four projects are already being implemented for the development of the port, at a total cost of Tk7,977 crore. One of these projects, aimed at upgrading the port, is being funded by India, which is providing a loan of Tk4,459 crore for the Tk6,014.61 crore project.

Sheikh Sowkat Ali said that under the India-funded project, the construction of container terminals at Jetty No. 1 and 2 is underway. Additionally, a total of 13 segments, including roads and residential buildings, are being implemented.

"An Indian consultant company has been appointed for the implementation of this project. Its role will involve preparing designs. Once this phase is complete, contractors will be hired for the main construction work," he added.

In the project proposal, which is awaiting approval at the planning commission, the Mongla Port Authority says the port is in a strategic position to support international trade.

The entire western part of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and border areas of India are considered its hinterland, and has a unique opportunity to play a vital role in the arena of world trade and the economy of the country and region as well, it adds.

According to officials, currently, 47 ships can berth at a time in Mongla port, which can handle one lakh TEU containers a year.

Shipping ministry officials said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council at a meeting on 6 June this year, to expedite the implementation of the G2G projects with an Indian line of credit and a Chinese loan.

As mentioned in the DPP, Mongla port is in a good position to provide enough facilities for handling more cargoes from the North and South-West zones of Bangladesh as well as its adjoining border areas with India, Nepal and Bhutan.

For this region, Mongla is considered to be the most suitable port from the point of view of regional trade and commerce, it adds.

With the inauguration of transit cargo of India, Nepal and Bhutan through this port, it is expected that initially 5-10 lakh tonnes of cargo will be handled, and that will increase to 15-20 lakh tonnes shortly, according to the DPP.

In comparison with the distance between Chattagram and Payra ports, Mongla port is the port nearest to Dhaka.


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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the recently completed modern and environment-friendly Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in Dhaka today, the largest of its kind in South Asia.

The Dasherkandi STP has the capacity to treat 500 million litres of sewage per day.

According to the Wasa authorities, the Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant will process sewage for nearly five million people in Dhaka City every day. The STP will treat sewage coming from a number of the city's areas, including Tejgaon, Gulshan (part), Niketan, Banani, Badda, Ramna, Eskaton, Nayatola, Moghbazar, Wireless, Mouchak, Outer Circular Road, Mohanagar Housing Project, Kalabagan, Hatirjheel, and parts of Dhanmondi and Gulistan.

The prime minister will inaugurate the operation of the Dasherkandi Treatment Plant at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) this morning. Besides, the foundation stone laying ceremony for Pagla treatment plant will be held, Mirza Golam Kibria, superintending engineer (Water and Sewage Treatment Plant Circle) of Dhaka Wasa, told The Business Standard yesterday.

Dhaka Wasa Managing Director (MD) Taqsem A Khan on Tuesday told the media that some 45 tonnes of fly ash will be generated from sewage sludge a day, which can be used as raw material in cement factories.

The Dasherkandi plant will be able to treat 20-25% of the 2,000 million litres of sewage generated in the capital city.

The plant was constructed as part of a masterplan taken up by Wasa to construct five STPs to treat 100% of the sewage generated in Dhaka, in a modern and environment-friendly way, said Taqsem.

Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant, which is a China-funded project, was implemented on 62 acres of land in the capital's Khilgaon near Aftabnagar at the cost of Tk3,482 crore.

Of the cost, Tk1,106.42 crore came from the government's fund, while Tk10 crore from Dhaka Wasa, and Tk2,366 crore from the Exim Bank of China.

The project started on 1 July, 2018. Having the capacity to treat 500 million litres of sewage, the modern plant will play an enormous role in preventing environmental pollution and improving the water quality of the Rampura canal, Rivers Balu and Shitalakshya, and other water bodies.

With the opening of the plant constructed in the East of Aftabnagar area, Bangladesh is setting a milestone in the country's sewage treatment.

According to the project, a waste lifting station on the west side of Rampura bridge, a five-kilometre trunk sewer line from Rampura to Aftabnagar and Dasherkandi plant, and the main treatment plant at Dasherkandi were constructed.

In the government masterplan, Dhaka metropolis has been divided into five areas [Pagla, Dasherkandi, Uttara, Rayerbazar and Mirpur]. If this plan is implemented, 100% improved and sustainable sewage services will be ensured for the city dwellers, said Dhaka Wasa.

Wasa MD Taqsem A Khan said that water and environmental pollution will be prevented by purifying the sewage generated in a large part of Dhaka through the Dasherkandi treatment plant and discharging it into the River Balu.

Besides, the project also aims to reduce the water pollution of the River Shitalakshya at the intake point of Phase-1 and Phase-2 of Sayedabad water treatment plant.

Pagla sewage treatment plant will treat the sewage generated from Kalabagan, Moghbazar, Shahbagh, Eskaton, Arambagh, Paltan, Syedabad, Motijheel, Rampura, Taltala, Basabo, Golapbagh, Ahmedbagh, Shahidbagh, Goran, Begunbari, Khilgaon and West Nandipara.

Taqsem said, "Dasherkandi sewage treatment plant is one of the five master plans. Five hundred million litres can be treated here every day. According to the Chinese company, such a treatment plant does not even exist in China. Sewage treatment, plant treatment, incineration. All treatments are in the same plant. There may be bigger ones in China, but not three services at once."

The Dasherkandi project was approved on 25 August, 2015, and scheduled to be completed by February 2020. Later, the project's duration was extended till June 2022.

Initially the cost of the project was estimated at Tk3,317 crores, which later increased to Tk3,712 crores, for extension of the duration.

However, officials said that in the second amendment, the cost of the project has been saved by Tk230 crore, and the total cost of the project stands at Tk3,482 crore.

According to Wasa sources, at present about three and a half thousand litres of sewage are generated in Dhaka every day. There are 881 kilometres of sewer line in Dhaka, and other than that there is no sewerage system in place in any other area of the capital.

The government has taken a number of measures to radically change the water management and sewerage system of Dhaka city through the "Ghure Darao Dhaka Wasa" initiative, to bring the capital city into a 100% sewerage network, treat the sewage and dump it in rivers.

 

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Bangladesh's maiden maritime runway on the bay beach will be operational by December for hosting international tourist flights as the project may be completed ahead of time, sources said.

The US$185-million project was taken up for upgrading the Cox's Bazar airport to international standards, for promoting tourism by using the seascape of world's longest unbroken sea beach.

After completion of the project, being implemented by two Chinese companies, the Cox's Bazar airport will turn into an aviation hub, aviation experts have said.

Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority awarded the contract to China Civil Engineering Construction Company Ltd (CCECC) in February 2021. The firm (CCECC) started work in August 2021 in collaboration with Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB) in August 2021.

Under the project the existing 9000-foot runway is extended by 1,700ft towards the Maheshkhali Channel through coastal-land reclamation.

Once completed, it will be the longest runway in the country with a length of 10,700 feet.

The length of Hazrat Shajalal Airport in Dhaka is nearly 10,500 feet.

Talking to the FE, site manager of the project Li Guangqi said the major task of the project is extension of runway by 520 feet.

The other jobs include land development, embankment protection, construction of pavement, drainage, boundary wall and fencing, AGLfoundation and related civilian structural works, AGL system works and other facilities.

"So far, the progress rate of the project is 78 per cent," says Mr Li.

The project duration was 33 months and the implementation started on August 2021, the project official stated.

Earlier in 2012, the Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh (CAAB) had initiated a project to extend the runway from 6,775 feet to 9,000 feet and widen from 120 feet to 200 feet. In that phase, the load capability of the runway was strengthened and the runway lighting upgraded.

Mr Li said the project works started in August 2021, but it faced several challenges, including the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine war.

"But we continued our work maintaining health guidelines, and during the high onslaught of Covid-19, more than 50 foreign engineers, experts, and staff members were working relentlessly here," Mr Li adds.

He also mentioned that many of the construction materials for the project were imported from abroad. For example, stones are mostly imported from Malaysia and most of the equipment, tools and machinery are being imported from China.

According to civil aviation officials, this extended runway will allow much larger aircraft to take off and land at Cox's Bazar airport, paving the way for it to operate international flights.

The project official said there will also be an airfield ground-lighting system. "Tourists who arrive in Bangladesh will be impressed to see it."

 
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The Akhaura-Laksam 72-km dual-gauge double rail line was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today.

The entire 321-km Dhaka-Chattogram corridor has turned into a double-lined one increasing its operational capacity, which will save travelling time by 30 minutes to one hour on this route.

She joined the inaugural function at Laksam in Cumilla through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganabhaban.

Hasina said there will be cameras everywhere and the culprits will be identified and punished properly in case of any destructive activity.

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan chaired the event from Laksam end, while LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Tazul Islam (local MP from Laksam-Monohorgonj) and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq (local MP from Akhaura-Kashba) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) country director for Bangladesh Edimon Ginting spoke on the occasion.

PMO Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin conducted the function and Railways Secretary Humayun Kabir delivered the welcome speech.

The double rain line was built under the Akhaura-Laksam Double Track Project. The project work, which began in July 2018, was extended four times.


RFL group has launched motorcycle helmets in the market, for the first time in the country, with the aim of delivering high-quality helmets within the purchasing power of people.

This helmet is being produced in the factory of Durable Plastic Limited, a sister concern of RFL Group, located in Palash, Narsingdi. The factory has an annual production capacity of over 120,000 pieces. Initially, around Tk20 crore has been invested in this factory.

Currently, the annual helmet market in the country is over Tk500 crore. Almost all helmets used in Bangladesh are imported. About 60% of imported helmets come from India and the remaining 40% come from China.

RN Paul, managing director of RFL Group, unveiled the cover of "Safemet" branded helmet at a hall in the capital on Thursday.

Addressing the occasion, RN Paul said that helmet is an important accessory for bikers. Apart from ensuring safety, it is mandatory for bikers and pillion riders to wear helmet as per the existing laws of the country. The number of motorcycle users in Bangladesh is increasing day by day due for various reasons including socio-economic conditions, lifestyle changes. For the same reason, the demand for helmets is also rising.

He also said, the helmets available in Bangladesh are almost imported and most of the imported helmets are not of standard quality. The Safemet helmet is BSTI certified, which is the only one in Bangladesh. Standard helmet should be used by everyone during journey. In this context, RFL started helmet business. The main purpose of entering into this business is to deliver high-quality helmets within the purchasing power of people.

During the ceremony, Toukirul Islam, executive director of Durable Plastic Limited, said that the main feature of Safemet helmet is that it is made of advanced ABS shell and PC material. It has high quality belt and locking system. Moreover, there is an advanced ventilation system to ensure the comfort of the user.

He also said that there is a plan to export Safemet helmets after meeting the needs of the country. Some foreign buyers already have visited the factory and expressed their satisfaction with the production system.

Initially two types of helmets will be available in the market. The half face helmet will have a maximum retail price of Tk1,400 and the full face helmet will have a maximum retail price of Tk2,250.

 

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The 20-year-long master plan to transform the tourism city Cox's Bazar into a modern and smart city is likely to be initiated next month.

The Cox's Bazar Development Authority (CoxDA) is ready to prepare a master plan for the tourism city.

"We're working to formulate a masterplan for 20 years — from 2023 to 2043 — to transform Cox's Bazar into a smart city. The formal work to this end will start next month," Chairman of the CoxDA, Commodore (retd) Muhammed Nurul Absar, told reporters in a views-exchange meeting held at his office on Saturday.

Prime Minister's Deputy Press Secretary Hasan Jahid Tusher also spoke at the programme.

A detailed area plan is also being formulated to ensure a planned development for an attractive and environment-friendly Cox's Bazar.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina earlier asked the authorities concerned to prepare a masterplan for Cox's Bazar, to develop it as a smart city with all the modern facilities.

She also asked the authorities concerned to keep the beauty of the "longest natural unbroken sea beach" in the world unharmed.

Sheikh Hasina wants to transform Cox's Bazar into a global hub of tourism and aviation by developing a dedicated tourist attraction for foreigners, and a state-of-the-art international airport with the longest and only marine runway in the country, the CoxDA chairman said.

The CoxDA chairman also said they are formulating the master plan following the directive of the prime minister.

It includes formulating a strategic policy plan, a detailed area plan of all the upazilas and beach areas of Cox's Bazar (690.67 sqkm), and tourism and regional development plans.

Disaster management, preparing a Smart City Model for Cox's Bazar, transport management, environment management, drainage and sanitation management, utilities and socio-economic development and sectoral plans are also the key features of the masterplan.

To support Vision 2041 announced by the Awami League government to turn Bangladesh into a developed country with high income, the CoxDA is undertaking several development projects.

The projects include cable car installation from Cox's Bazar to Sabrong and Cox's Bazar to Moheshkhali, introducing watersports and other amusement facilities on the sea beach, indoor amusement park, CoxDA Marina Bay Resort, CoxDA Condominium Project, Eco-resort in Moheshkhali, protecting lives and boosting marine tourism, preparing a roadmap to tap the potential of the blue economy, renewable energy project, installation of central sewerage treatment plant (STP), water treatment plant and introducing sea-plane, cruise ship and helicopter service and preparing integrated coastal zone management plan.

CoxDA chairman Commodore (retd) Muhammed Nurul Absar said they are working to set up the central STP in Cox's Bazar, otherwise, the Bay of Bengal will be a dead zone with huge amounts of sewerage going into the sea.

"Once the projects are completed, they can immensely contribute to achieving the targets of sustainable development goals," he said.

He added that they have already completed several projects that include reforming and rehabilitating Cox's Bazar's traditional Laldighi, Goldighi, markets and ponds, and building a multi-storey building for CoxDA.

The ongoing development schemes of the CoxDA are: building residential flats for CoxDA, sculpture and modern passenger shed at Moheshkhali, and reforming and expanding the main road of Cox's Bazar (Holiday Crossing-Bazatghata-Larpara Bus Stand).

 

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With the installation of the ventilation stack, Ruppur unit 1 in Bangladesh reached it's final height of 100 m. On monday, parts for the passive injection system and for the steam turbine of unit 2 where delivered to Mongla port. The biggest construction project in Bangladesh is still progressing smootly.

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Inauguration of the newly constructed terminal building of Jashore airport. The new terminal building has eight check-in counters, five luggage scanning machines, five archways, VIP lounges and car parking.

 

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today inaugurated a 200 megawatt (MW) solar power plant title, Teesta Solar Limited from a gathering at Rangpur Zila School ground.

Beximco Power has constructed the country's largest solar power plant at Sundarganj in Gaibandha, said a press release.

The power plant has commenced power generation and transmission to the national grid from December 2022 on a trial basis.

About the project, Shayan F. Rahman, Chairman of Beximco Power Limited, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a roadmap for global warming and environment protection.

The government is doing a lot of work on it, he added.

He said Beximco is a pioneer in many sectors.

"We think, the renewable energy sector will be very important for future energy. So we have taken decision to invest here," he added.

He said the project is a crucial solution to the power crisis in the northern region, which is facing challenges due to its dependence on imported primary fuels and the pressure it places on the country's forex reserves.

Mentioning that this project is 100 percent owned by Beximco Power Limited, he further said, "We launched the first green Sukuk bond, sharia-compliant bonds, in the country to finance this project. We have spent about US$300 million in this project. In the future, we are thinking of setting up more solar power plants as per government plans."

The construction of the power plant started in 2017. Around 5.50 lakh solar panels were installed.

To connect the produced electricity to the national grid, a 35 km power transmission line of 122 towers of 132 kilo volts has been constructed.


The Mongla Port Authority is set to get six modern vessels at a cost of Tk767 crore aiming to enhance its convenience and capacity.

Among the six vessels, two tugboats built at Cheoy Lee Shipyard in Hong Kong will arrive at the port at the end of the incumbent year and the rest four vessels will be added to the port in June next year as they are being made in Bangladesh.

Among them, Search and Rescue (SAR) Vessel is being built at Khulna Shipyard, and the remaining three are being built at Karnafuly Shipyard in Narayanganj, said Mongla Port Authority Chief Engineer (Marine) Commander Momen Ullah Mohammad Ziaul Islam.

Mongla, the second largest seaport of Bangladesh, was established in 1950 and had been incurring losses for the last several years.

These vessels are being purchased under the project titled "Upgradation of Mongla Port", and consultants have been appointed for this work through international tender. The six vessels are - a pilot mother vessel, two tugboats, a search and rescue (SAR) vessel, a survey and research vessel and a boiling vessel, Ziaul Islam said.

Among them, Tk 191.28 crore will be spent on the construction of the pilot mother vessel. This vessel will make it easier to bring the pilots and foreign sailors from the mother vessels to the river bank, he said, adding that “Besides, this ship can be also used for enhancing the security of the port, if necessary”

Two tugboats that will reach at the end of this year were purchased at Tk 233.38 crore and those will help to move and turn ships at the port. Besides, these boats will be also used to tow the mother vessels (foreign ships) with the propeller off and to tow the distressed ship and act as a helper to other vessels.

Besides, Tk 113.44 crores are being spent for the purchase of a Search and Rescue vessel that can assist the salvage operation to locate the ships in distress at sea and rescue the sailors and others.

Besides, this vessel will help to reduce damage to the ships hit by various natural calamities like storms and floods, said the port authorities.

Md Zahirul Haque, chief planning officer of Mongla Port Authority, said that the survey and research vessel will be used for research-related issues of the port and this ship will also be added to the Mongla port next year. This ship was purchased at Tk 113.44 crore for different survey and research works on the sea and sea animals.

The modern boiling vessel is being purchased at Tk 126.37 crore for placement of buoys in the port channel and giving signals which will potentially save time, he said.

Mongla Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mir Ershad Ali said, "The Port’s capacity will multiply after these vessels are added to the port. If everything goes well, two vessels this year and four next year will be added to the Mongla port,” he said.

 

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The ventilation stack has been installed in the design position of the reactor building at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant's unit-1 recently.

Rosatom, the Russian contractor of the project, informed that the extremely difficult process of installation of the 67-metre long and of 100-ton weight structure took 8 hours to complete and a powerful crane was used for the purpose.

"After installation of the ventilation stack, which is designed for removal of excessive heat and moisture from the reactor compartment, the reactor building has reached the elevation of +99.500," said Alexey Deriy, Director for Rooppur NPP Construction Project.

"If we take into account the lightning rod arrester, it is now +101.000, being exceeded only by the 175-metre evaporation cooling towers", he added.

Currently, he said, works for installation of large-size equipment are underway at the Power Unit.

"In August, we will continue the installation of the passive heat removal system elements – one of the most important safety systems in the reactor building", he added.

Rooppur NPP is under construction at Ishwardi upazila of Pabna district. Two units of the project with a total capacity of 2,400 MWe are being constructed under Russian design.

Each unit will be equipped with the Generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor that fully complies with all the international safety requirements.

Fresh nuclear fuel for unit-1 of the plant is expected to arrive in Bangladesh by the end of September 2023.

The Engineering Division of Rosatom State Corporation is implementing the project as the General Contractor.

The 2400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project, with two units, was undertaken in 2010 by the Bangladesh government.

A target was set by the government to complete the construction of the first unit in 2022 and second unit in 2023.

But later the target was reset, and the first unit was to be completed by June 2024 and second unit by June 2025.

 

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Bangladesh's garment industry has touched a new milestone after two more factories received the certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for their green initiatives, raising the total to 200.

Lida Textile & Dyeing Limited, situated in Kaliakoir of Gazipur, and Liz Fashion Industry Limited, also located in the same industrial belt, received the platinum-rated LEED certification from USGBC, said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

In a WhatsApp message, Hassan said: "The BGMEA proudly announces a significant achievement in its journey towards sustainable industrialisation, as the nation celebrates the certification of the 200th LEED green factory by the USGBC."

"This remarkable milestone underscores Bangladesh's steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship, economic growth, and global competitiveness."

Of the 200 factories, 73 are platinum-rated, 113 are gold-rated, 10 are silver-rated, and four are certified factories.

Bangladesh is home to some of the best factories in the world: 13 out of 15 top LEED green factories are located in the country.

In 2022, 30 garment factories received LEED certification. In 2023 so far, 18 factories have secured the recognition.

"I hope by the end of 2023, we will be able to reach a new milestone," Hassan said, adding that as many as 500 factories are awaiting USGBC certification.

 

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Bangladesh's garment industry has touched a new milestone after two more factories received the certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for their green initiatives, raising the total to 200.

Lida Textile & Dyeing Limited, situated in Kaliakoir of Gazipur, and Liz Fashion Industry Limited, also located in the same industrial belt, received the platinum-rated LEED certification from USGBC, said Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

In a WhatsApp message, Hassan said: "The BGMEA proudly announces a significant achievement in its journey towards sustainable industrialisation, as the nation celebrates the certification of the 200th LEED green factory by the USGBC."

"This remarkable milestone underscores Bangladesh's steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship, economic growth, and global competitiveness."

Of the 200 factories, 73 are platinum-rated, 113 are gold-rated, 10 are silver-rated, and four are certified factories.

Bangladesh is home to some of the best factories in the world: 13 out of 15 top LEED green factories are located in the country.

In 2022, 30 garment factories received LEED certification. In 2023 so far, 18 factories have secured the recognition.

"I hope by the end of 2023, we will be able to reach a new milestone," Hassan said, adding that as many as 500 factories are awaiting USGBC certification.


Is Bangladesh trying to diversify away from garments? If yes, how is that going?
 

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No, but IT and shipbuilding sectors are getting increased attention.

There is no stepping up in the value chain when it comes to garments. Why is there no effort towards more value adding industries/services?
 

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There is no stepping up in the value chain when it comes to garments.

Yes there is no stepping up in the value chain when it comes to Garments, but that does not means, we will abondan. It makes tons of money and create large job opertunity for lower income families. (Specially women, as they made up 58% of the employees in the garment sector. Which in itself accounts for over 40 percent of the country's total industrial employment)

Current RMG export is around 40 billions. And by 2030 it is targeted to be around 100 billions.


It is very likely that Bangladesh will to continue to be the world second largest garments exporters for the foreseeable future.


Why is there no effort towards more value adding industries/services?

Because of rampant corruption and mismanagement.

However, despite the hurdles there are some effort.
Apart from Shipbuilding and IT sectors, there are some progress in other domains.

One is pharmaceutical industry.
It fact, it is porbbaly the most developed sector after garment industry.
Thanks to it, we can make 98% of our drugs and medicine domestically. They export it to 150 countries.

However, until now over 90% of the raw Pharmaceutical material were used to be imported. But now after a long delay, finally 'Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients industrial park' project has started to be realized and for the first time we will be able to manufacture raw material indeginously on industrial scale. (Ultimately 27 leading companies are to projected to build plants in API industrial park to manufacture raw materials. And some plants are already halfway through building and should start operating next 2/3 years)

For now at least, the pharma sector is the only promising high value industry that already came some distance and I am (rightfully) optimistic about its future.


Also, very little by little we are making some progress in electronics sector.

If you can make free time you may watch this later.


Walton is the front runner of our electronics industry.

'The company currently has more than 30 thousand employees. Walton also has a 75% market share in refrigerators, 50% in televisions, and 20% in AC. Currently, this company is exporting its product to forty countries around the world. Walton Home Appliances currently has a total of 377 models, with a production capacity of 2.7 million units. According to a report by the Dhaka Tribune on compressor production, Walton is ranked 8th in Asia and 15th in the world.'

They are really good with low-end but everyday necessary electronic hardwares. Hopefully, in next 10-15 years they will also be able to catch domestic market (and later the international market) in high-end electronics like laptops, PC, smart phones, ect.


Although tbh, electronics sector is still in a very early stage and would require a lot of efforts (both from government and private sector) to grow in a highly contested and competitive market.
 

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Two days ago, the Nuclear Power Plant Company of Bangladesh Limited
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signed the final contract that transferred the ownership of the first nuclear fuel batch for Ruppur unit-1. Bangladesh now owns it's first nuclear fuel load for it's first nuclear power plant. Today an on-site inspection took place by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. The commission inspected the fuel and completed the final acceptance inspection of the fuel batch. The fuel is now ready for delivery.


Work is progressing on the construction site of Ruppur NPP. Today at Ruppur unit-1, the last passive air heat exchanger was mounted in place. Currently the unit is undergoing final inspection for readiness to store it's first nuclear fuel. As planned, the first nuclear fuel batch out of three will be delivered next month.

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At a time when many businesses are hesitant to make fresh investments due to economic slowdowns, the enterprising sons of the late Sheikh Akij Uddin, founder of Akij Group, are defying the odds and continuing to pour money into Bangladesh's jute industry.

Sheikh Bashir Uddin, the youngest of the Akij brothers, has already invested around Tk1,500 crore in this sector over the past three years. Now his elder brother, Sheikh Nasir Uddin, chairman of Akij Group and owner of Akij Jute Mills, has taken the lead with an even more substantial investment of approximately Tk2,500 crore. This massive sum is being used to establish what will be the world's largest jute mill in Muksudpur upazila in Gopalganj.

The jute mill, named Akij Jute Mills, had a soft launch last month and is currently busy installing machinery for commercial production scheduled to begin this December. Covering a sprawling area of 450 bighas, the mill will have six factories, each spanning an impressive 175,000 square feet.

With a staggering production capacity of 600 tonnes per day, the mill "will be the largest jute composite textile mill in the world", said G Murshid Bappi, director (operations) of Akij Jute.

"We are focusing on producing jute fabrics in the mill. Also, our goal is to introduce printing techniques on these fabrics, similar to those commonly seen on cotton cloths," Bappi, a seasoned member of Akij Jute Mills with more than two decades of experience, told The Business Standard.

Industry insiders said these strategic moves have firmly established the Akij brothers as significant players in the jute sector, with their mills' combined capacity now accounting for around 50% of Bangladesh's jute production.

Since 2020, Sheikh Bashir Uddin, former managing director of Akij Group, who formed Akij Bashir Group, has made significant acquisitions in the jute industry, purchasing Janata Jute Mills and Sadat Jute Mills, with a combined cost of over Tk700 crore. He also bought Partex Jute Mills from Partex Group, reportedly at a price of around Tk500 crore. That was not the end for Bashir as he continued to invest in the jute to modernise his mills and diversify products.

Helal Ahmed, chief operating officer of Akij Bashir Group who looks after the group's jute business, said they are currently the market leader with their production in Janata, Partex and Sadat jute mills.

"After taking over Janata in June 2020, we have invested to expand and diversify the capacity of the mill," said Helal, who has been working for Akij Group for 35 years and has vast experience in the jute sector.

In addition to Nasir and Bashir's endeavours, their brother Sheikh Afil Uddin has been successfully running Afil Jute Weaving Mills for several years. His mill is the largest supplier of jute sacks, used for packaging rice and potatoes in the country, having 170 million consumers.

Remarkably, they have not only expanded their operations but also positioned themselves as competitors in producing similar jute goods.

Though Bashir and Nasir have a focus on the export markets, Afil works with the local market.

Currently, 13 items including rice, flour, potato, pulse, onion and poultry and fish feeds are under the mandatory jute packaging rules, but it is not being followed properly, according to jute industry insiders.

"If the mandatory packaging rules are followed diligently, the demand for jute in the local market will double from present two lakh tonnes per year," said an official of Afil Jute Weaving Mills, preferring not to be named as he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Bangladesh's jute industry

Bangladesh produces 11-12 lakh tonnes of jute per year. Of which, two lakh tonnes of raw jute are exported directly and another two lakh tonnes are utilised locally. The remaining seven lakh tonnes are used for making different products, especially yarn, for export to the world markets.

Bangladesh exported $912 million worth of jute and jute goods in the fiscal year 2022-23, down by 19% from a year ago. Of these export earnings, nearly $500 million came from yarn and twine, down by over 28% compared to a year ago.

Exporters blamed the global economic slowdown for the degrowth in jute exports. Export to Turkey, the biggest market for Bangladesh's jute yarn and twine, has declined significantly – from over two lakh tonnes to around one lakh tonnes now, industry insiders said.

Export to other major markets such as Iran, India and China are also declining. They said the high price of raw jute – Tk6,000 per maund – two years ago forced many buyers to look for alternatives to jute products.

Akij brothers are taking the leaf

When many mills, especially smaller ones are getting shut down in the last few years, due to their inability to become competitive, the brothers of Akij Group continue to venture into the sector.

Cost of production has increased significantly in the last several years, while the prices of products went down in the international markets, causing closure of small mills, industry insiders said.

According to Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association, out of 80 mills in the country, 12 are fully closed and over a dozen factories are struggling for survival.


South Korean company Giant BD Footwear Ltd is going to invest $9.39 million to set up a Shoe & Shoe Accessories manufacturing factory in BEPZA Economic Zone (BEPZA EZ).

Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) signed an agreement with the company to this effect at BEPZA Complex in Dhaka today (10 August).

Ali Reza Mazid, Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA and Kim Byung Jin, Chairman of Giant BD Footwear Ltd signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

The Executive Chairman of BEPZA Major General Abul Kalam Mohammad Ziaur Rahman witnessed the signing ceremony.

This fully foreign owned company will produce annually 20 million pairs of different kinds of shoes/sandals & shoe accessories where 600 Bangladeshi nationals will get employment opportunities.

Among others, Member (Engineering) Mohammad Faruque Alam, Executive Director (Public Relations) Nazma Binte Alamgir, Executive Director (Investment Promotion) Md. Tanvir Hossain and Executive Director (Enterprise Services) Md. Khorshid Alam were present during this time.

 

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