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  • Guess sourced 27% of its apparel, jewelry and accessories from China in fiscal year 2021, according to its latest sustainability report, a sharp drop from 42% in fiscal year 2020 as the company continues reducing its reliance on China to avoid tariff risk.
  • Suppliers from Bangladesh and India made up a larger share of the apparel company's purchases in fiscal year 2021, at about 23.5% and 18%, respectively. In fiscal year 2020, both were at less than 15%.
  • Guess said in the report the changes occurred to diversify its sourcing and "as a result of changing economic conditions and purchasing strategy," noting it has reduced volume from countries outside its top sourcing regions to consolidate its supply chain.

Summit Oil and Shipping Co. Ltd. ("SOSCL"), the private sector importer and supplier of fuel oil to Bangladesh, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Commonwealth LNG to collaborate in the supply of LNG to Asia, including Bangladesh.

The SOSCL is part of the Summit Group, Bangladesh's largest infrastructure conglomerate.

According to Summit Group, the signing ceremony took place at the Bangabandhu Auditorium of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington, DC in the presence of Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Advisor to the Prime Minister.


The government is counting a monthly loss of Tk130 crore due to the delay in laying a high-priority transmission line that would take electricity from the Payra power plant to Dhaka across the Padma River.

According to official sources, the amount is being paid as “capacity payment” to the 1,320MW Payra power plant, a Bangladesh-China joint venture project, which is now ready to supply electricity to the national grid for distribution in Dhaka adjoining areas.

In this case, the capacity payment means the government’s commitment to purchase power generated at the plant at an agreed-upon rate. The government still has to pay the plant for its generation (capacity) even if it is unable to buy electricity from it.

The government is not ready to purchase electricity from the plant as it has failed to complete work on the 164.6 km 400 kV double-circuit transmission line that would supply power from Mongla to Dhaka’s Aminbazar via Mawa connected by the national grid.

The project has hit some hurdles in crossing the mighty river, where a multipurpose bridge is being built to connect Dhaka with the country’s southwestern region.


 

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SHAREit Group, the global internet technology company, mainly dedicated to mobile internet application development and digital services, is set to strengthen business in the Bangladesh market to fulfill the diverse demands of the people of the country, says a।press release.

The number of internet users in Bangladesh increased by 7.7 million (+19%) between 2020 and 2021. In January 2021, there were 47.61 million internet users and the Internet penetration in the country stood at 28.8%. A recent report has shown that the number of internet users in Bangladesh expanded by 3.3 crore between 2010 and 2019, bringing another 20 per cent of the population online.

Compared to the vast increasing number of internet users in Bangladesh, the development of internet channels and resources is fairly slow. A rapid and reliable internet application is highly required in the country. With a corporate value of making digital content equally accessible by everyone, the company sets its sights firmly on this market.

Currently, SHAREit Group has its offices in various countries and regions of the world, including Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, etc. And now, they are eyeing Bangladesh for their next destination as it is an emerging market and boasts a large base of users.

SHAREit Group has built a diversified suite of applications, which has been installed by nearly 2.4 billion users worldwide including the core app SHAREit. Taking this large number of users into account, SHAREit group has mapped out plans to strengthen business in Bangladesh to cater for the digital entertainment, brand marketing, and advertising solution needs of the country. The SHAREit Group has reached users in over 150 countries and the app is available in 45 different languages.

According to AppsFlyer Performance Index for H1, 2020, SHAREit was named as the fastest-growing media publisher globally.

As Karam Malhotra, Partner and Global Vice - President of SHAREit, shared, “From starting as a simple file transfer app, SHAREit has now branched out into other ventures such as brand marketing, digital advertising, entertainment solutions, etc. Over the years, our growth as a platform for marketing and entertainment as well as the meteoric rise of total users, has been phenomenal. Now that we have a large number of users in Bangladesh, we want to strengthen our business in this country to partner with local and global apps and serve our users in more enhanced ways.”

This renewed journey of SHAREit Group in Bangladesh is expected to benefit the users in multi-faceted ways as it comes as an alternative channel for brand marketing as well. Apart from high-quality digital services, SHAREit Group will offer in-depth, customized, and locally-tailored advertising and branding solutions riding on its capabilities and billions of global users to the local brands and marketers.


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A total of 10 companies from the large taxpayers unit (LTU) were responsible for depositing the most value added tax (VAT) to the state coffers in fiscal year 2020-21, in the line of Tk38,111 crore.

Total VAT and supplementary duty (SD) paid in FY21 was Tk97,509 crore, of which the 10 companies paid about 40% of that.

The LTUs paid Tk49,252 crore in VAT of the total. Calculated, the 10 companies contributed to more than 77% of that amount.

According to the latest figures from the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the highest VAT payers were tobacco manufacturers, telecom operators and pharmaceutical companies.

Overall, the tobacco companies paid Tk27,000 crore, the telecom operators Tk8,466 crore and the pharmaceuticals companies Tk3,133 crore.

 

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Leading big tech and popular search engine Google has paid Tk2.3 crore in value-added tax (VAT) to the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

This makes them the second big tech after Facebook to pay VAT in Bangladesh, after the social networking giant paid Tk2.44 crore on July 29 earlier, both of which are registered with the Dhaka South VAT Commissionerate.

According to the Dhaka South VAT Commissionerate, a VAT of Tk55.78 lakh against the returns of last May has been filed by the foreign institution, and another Tk1.74 crore for June.

The company deposited the money to the government treasury on Thursday from the Citibank NA branch in Singapore.


Bangladesh’s economy has remained resilient and maintained a strong growth momentum despite disruptions created by the Covid-19 pandemic as consumption propelled growth in the country, according to HSBC.

The global bank made the observation on Wednesday at a webinar titled “Bangladesh Market Insights 2021: Consumption Propelling Growth.”

Devendra Joshi, equity strategist of ASEAN and Frontier Markets of HSBC Global Research, said in his keynote presentation that the resilient growth witnessed by Bangladesh has been driven by investment and consumption.

“The Bangladeshi stock market deserves more attention as it holds opportunities for investors looking for diversification and hidden gems,” he said.

He added that as the global growth forecast has been raised this year, Bangladesh has to rebuild its inventories to meet the demand.

Joshi further said that as oil prices are expected to rise, so will remittances. He also pointed out that the Bangladeshi taka has been quite stable against the US dollar.

Comparing Bangladesh to Vietnam, Joshi noted that both countries are geared towards domestic consumption.

“Bangladesh is on a similar growth trajectory to Vietnam. In fact, its stock market is where this ASEAN nation was five years ago, and it is well placed to start closing the gap,” Joshi explained.

“We think the country is on the cusp of an industrial revolution as incomes rise and technology plays an ever-increasing role in the economy. Urbanization, smaller households, and more women at work are powerful consumption drivers that support high levels of growth,” Joshi added.

He also said that Bangladesh’s economy is much larger than Vietnam and is growing at a much faster rate.

In his presentation, Joshi also pointed out that Bangladesh has a sound macro position and a robust external balance sheet with low external debt and high foreign exchange reserve coverage.

Its foreign direct investments (FDI) remain low but are expected to improve as it moves up the value-added ladder fast.

While Bangladesh is one of the cheapest places to manufacture goods in Asia, it will need to diversify away from garments.

In terms of ease of doing business, Bangladesh still lags behind Vietnam but is making efforts to improve, the HSBC strategist also said.

Speaking as the guest of honour at the webinar, Sandeep Uppal, global co-head of International Subsidiary Banking of HSBC Asia-Pacific, said that intra-Asia trade has significantly risen in recent years.

But he noted that although the Asian region accounts for 60% of the global population, it accounts for only 40% of the global GDP.

Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also spoke at the event as the chief guest.

“The economy of Bangladesh is seeing continuous growth because of the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, strategic location, and support from the financial sector,” Dr Kaikaus said.

“We are energized to do better and showcase our success stories through increased public-private partnerships and reach Bangladesh’s competitiveness globally,” he added.

HSBC Bangladesh CEO Md Mahbub ur Rahman said that in its past 50 years, Bangladesh’s trajectory of economic growth has been a testament of the people’s insatiable desire and effort to do better.

“Continued digitalization and upgrade of technology, consistent rise in per capita income leading to incremental consumptions, and demographic dividend have been opening up a world of opportunities for Bangladesh,” he added.

“Historically, the private sector has always been resilient during challenging times and HSBC will continue to play its part through unparalleled international network and connectivity,” Rahman further said.

Kevin Green, country head of Wholesale Banking at HSBC Bangladesh, also spoke at the event alongside key members of the business community, regulatory bodies and representatives from state-owned enterprises.

Md Jashim Uddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) and vice-chairman of Bengal Group of Industries, attended the webinar as the special guest.

 

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Another privately built jetty has come to the aid of the Chattogram port as it allowed the country's largest seaport to use the facility to berth bulk vessels carrying heavy items.

Karnaphuli Ship Builders Ltd completed the construction of the jetty for the ship repairing works of its sister concern, Karnaphuli Dry Dock, in Anwara upazila last month.

A bulk vessel, Giulia-1, carrying 23,000 tonnes of scrap, imported by steel manufacturer BSRM Group, berthed at the jetty on July 28 and started unloading goods.

This was the second jetty of the private dry dock after it built the first one in March this year. The CPA has been using it since March 30.

CPA Chairman M Shahjahan said it gave the permission to Karnaphuli Dry Dock to build the jetties on condition that the port would use them when they were vacant.

"We are now using both jetties. As a result, we have been able to accommodate two additional vessels."

Ships, particularly bulk vessels arriving with scraps for steel industries, have to wait for days at the outer anchorage due to a lack of jetties.

In most cases, ships laden with scraps have to unload all of their cargoes at the outer anchorage with the help of lighter vessels. As a result, importers have to bear additional costs to hire the smaller vessels. The unloading also takes time.

"The two jetties have come as a relief since they are helping us accommodate two bulk vessels with scraps simultaneously," said CPA Director (Traffic) Enamul Karim.

Currently, the CPA can allocate a maximum of seven jetties of its general cargo berths (GCBs) to accommodate six bulk vessels. The rest 12 jetties are dedicated to handling container vessels.

The CPA is even unwilling to allow the bulk vessels transporting heavy items to use the GCB jetties as they have become old. It has not allowed scrap-carrying ships to berth at the port since July 1.

So far, eight vessels have berthed at the first jetty of Karnaphuli Dry Dock since March 30. Around 1.50 lakh tonnes of scraps have so far been unloaded.

Both jetties can accommodate two ships with a length of up to 180 metres each, said M Abdur Rashid, managing director of Karnaphuli Ship Builders.

"The port can now reduce vessels' waiting time and generate revenues using our jetties," he said.

He said the link road from the jetties to Chaturi, Anwara via Chittagong Urea Fertilizer Ltd needed to be widened and renovated to allow trucks to ply while carrying imported goods.

Giulia-1, with 33,000 tonnes of scrap, arrived at the outer anchorage in the middle of July. After unloading around 10,000 tonnes of goods to smaller lighter vessels there, it got berthed at the second jetty of Karnaphuli Dry Dock.

The unloading from the vessel would be complete by August 8, said Asif Iftekhar Hossain, director of Everett Bangladesh (Pvt) Ltd, the local agent of the ship.


BRAC, the largest microcredit provider in Bangladesh, has received approval from Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) to issue zero-coupon bonds valued BDT 1,350 crore through private placement. Issuance of zero coupon bond by a non-governmental organisation is the first of its kind in microcredit history of Bangladesh.


 
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The pharmaceutical industry of the country is going to make a giant stride as local companies are setting up factories in a dedicated park near Dhaka to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to reduce dependence on import for key raw materials for drugs.

At least five companies including Acme, Healthcare, UniHealth and Ibn Sina have started setting up factories in Munshiganj's Gazaria API Park and a dozen more companies including Square, Beximco, and Opsonin are going to do the same soon. Some of the companies said they would start production from the beginning of next year.

API Industrial Park Project Director Syed Shahidul Islam told The Business Standard that 27 companies have taken allotment of plots with an expected investment of Tk3,000 crore. Acme and Healthcare have made considerable progress on their API facilities and they plan to start production in 2022.

Creation of specialised zones, 10-year tax holiday offer and formation of a national API policy are among the supports the industry finds encouraging for local production of key drug ingredients.

Experts say that the innovative production of API by the local pharmas would help keep this booming Tk27,000 crore sector on track in future.

According to the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (Bapi), at present, local companies can produce only 3% of the total demand for central ingredients of drugs and import the remaining 97% from various countries.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) are the main components of medicines. Inventors of such ingredients usually patent them to retain intellectual property rights. Any drug manufacturer that wants to produce medicines using that API must pay a royalty fee to the inventor.

Bangladesh does not have to pay any royalty or fee for the use of foreign patents in medicine production as the World Trade Organisation's Trade Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement gives the country the right to do so as a least developed nation.

Experts say that after five years, when Bangladesh leaves the LDC title in 2026, the TRIPS facility will no longer be applicable. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh will enter a new phase of paying royalties or fees for patents that will increase the cost of medicines.

However, sector insiders are hopeful that the country will go for innovation in medicine ingredients before that.

SM Shafiuzzaman, secretary general of Bapi, said, "We are moving towards becoming self-sufficient in raw material production. One or two factories will be able to start production in the industrial park from next year. By 2030, all the factories there will be able to go into API production."

Infrastructures completed by the government

The decision of the API Industrial Park was taken in 2008 to expand the domestic pharmaceutical industry, diversify products to create a competitive market, conduct research on improving the quality of medicines and produce the required raw materials. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the project in December of the same year.

The government has already completed the construction of the 200-acre project in Munshiganj's Gazaria including plot development, land filling, roads, drainage system, electricity and water lines etc.

Twenty-seven companies including big names like Square, Beximco, Incepta and Acme have already made places there. A company can take a maximum of 10 acres and a minimum of 5 acres of land. Several companies have already started construction of buildings. The government has initially decided to charge Tk2 crore per acre of land.

Project Director Shahidul Islam said, "Work on a section of the Central Waste Treatment Plant (CEPT) would be completed by this year. Companies will be able to start production from next January."

The preparation of the companies

Acme Laboratories Limited is at the forefront of setting up factories in API Industrial Park. The company has already completed the construction of the fourth floor of their building at a cost of Tk60 crore. The company hopes to start production in June 2022.

Mizanur Rahman Sinha, managing director of ACME Laboratories Ltd, said, "The construction of our building will be completed by December this year. It will take some more time to complete other preparations including capital machinery. However, we will be able to start production in June 2022."

Besides, Healthcare, UniHealth, Ibn Sina Pharmaceuticals have started construction of buildings in the industrial park.

Square Pharma, the country's leading pharmaceutical company, is conducting a feasibility study to set up a factory in the industrial park where they have three plots. They will start construction of their building there early next year.

Zahangir Alam, CFO of Square Pharmaceutical Ltd, said, "We have completed the initial feasibility study to invest in the API. Our construction work will start there soon. However, being a listed company in the capital market, we cannot disclose our investment."

Another top company Opsonin Pharma has taken two plots in the park. The company is also planning to invest from the beginning of next year.

Abdur Rouf Khan, managing director of Opsonin Pharmaceutical Ltd, said, "We put utmost importance on API production. However, as the company's existing factory renovation work is underway, we are not able to invest in API Park right now. We will do it next year."

Like Square and Opsonin, almost all companies, including Beximco, are planning to set up factories next year.

Syed Shahidul Islam, project director of the API, said, "The construction work of the factories of Healthcare and ACI Limited has progressed considerably. Next year almost everyone will start working on their factories."

Tax holiday facility in API production

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has allowed a 10-year tax holiday to the API Industrial Park for setting up factories to produce medicine raw materials. This facility is being provided in the light of the National Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) policy.

A company will get this facility for 10 years after starting production. Under this, the producers of raw materials in the pharmaceutical industry will enjoy 100% corporate tax exemption and other tax benefits.

Pharmaceutical industry market

The pharmaceutical industry has developed considerably in Bangladesh. In the post-independence period, Bangladesh was almost 100% dependent on foreign medicines. But now Bangladeshi medicines are even being exported to 180 countries of the world.

Local companies are now meeting 98% of the demands of the domestic market. They are now developing and producing a variety of complex and international standard medicines including vaccines, medicines for heart and cancer diseases and insulin.

According to IQVIA, an American multinational company serving the pharma industry, the country's pharmaceutical market has surpassed Tk27,000 crore in 2020 with an annual growth of more than 10%. Bangladeshi companies also export medicines worth around Tk1500 crore per year. However, the top 10 companies in the country sell about 71% of the country's total medicines.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau, the revenue from drug exports in the 2020-21 fiscal year was Tk1,433 crore. In that year, the income growth in this sector was 24.50%. In 2019-20, medicines worth Tk1,153 crore were exported from Bangladesh.

Industries are expecting a brighter day for medicine export once the API is completed. But experts think API is not the only solution for patent rights.

Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said after setting up the API industrial park, innovation in generic medicine and patent rights should get importance. It needs foreign investment or joint ventures for new innovation in an API park.

Secondly, the Ministry of Commerce will have to negotiate to get the benefit of patent exemption until 2033, after LDC graduation in 2026.


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The government is working to export cashew nuts worth billions of dollars to the global market by increasing the capacity of the local processing industry, encouraging new investments and increasing local production.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the local production of cashew nuts is very low at present and so raw cashew nuts will be imported in large quantities at the initial stage and re-exported after processing. Work on exporting cashew nuts from this year is going on.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Extension and cashew nut processing industry insiders, the local cashew nut orchards are currently producing about 1,500 tonnes of fruits, among which 260-320 tonnes of cashew nuts are produced through processing in the country per year.

Currently, only locally produced cashew nuts are being processed in the domestic industry. Meanwhile, about 700 tonnes of processed cashew nuts are being imported by the country in a year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the import of processed cashew nuts in the country has increased more than 32 times in the last four years.

Demand for cashew nuts is growing globally at the rate of 4.5%, while in Bangladesh it is increasing at 15-20%, according to industry insiders.

Current production situation

The hilly region is suitable for cashew nut cultivation, so it has started extensively in Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati. Currently more than 2,000 people are involved in cultivating cashew nuts here.

Rening Mro, a farmer in Bandarban, has planted 3,000 cashew nut trees on 5 acres of land. The Department of Agricultural Extension has provided all the trees. Last year, he sold 90 maunds of cashew fruits (also known as cashew apple) grown on these trees at Tk2,000 per maund.

He told The Business Standard, "There is not much cost once the orchard is created. After the flowers come, you just have to clean the garden. As a result of this, there is a lot of profit in cultivating cashew."

Another farmer, Nasrang Tripura, has planted cashew on 3.25 acres of land. He has been gardening for 16 years and trying to find a high yielding variety of cashew by collecting good quality seeds himself.

Agriculture officials said a cashew nut tree lives for 30-40 years and yields fruit from the age of three. They plan to increase the production of cashew from 1,500 tonnes to 10,000-12,000 tonnes by 2024. To this end, they have been distributing free saplings among the farmers. Last year they distributed 1.65 lakh saplings and this year they plan to distribute 3 lakh saplings.

A project involving Tk211 crore has been taken up for the production and development of cashew nuts in the country. The Department of Agricultural Extension (DoE) and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) are implementing the project, known as "Research, Development and Expansion of Cashew Nuts and Coffee." Bari is especially working on innovating new varieties of cashew nuts.

Under the project, work is underway to expand cashew nut and coffee cultivation in hilly areas in 66 upazilas of 19 districts in seven divisions.

The Ministry of Agriculture said at least 5 lakh hectares of land in the three hilly districts – Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban – are lying uncultivated. If cashew nut trees are planted on 2 lakh hectares of land, it is possible to earn more than $1 billion (around Tk9,000 crore) a year.

Shahidul Islam, director of the project, told TBS, "Our target is to plant cashew nuts on at least 2 lakh hectares of land. For this, the DoE is working to distribute free saplings, encourage orchard expansion and develop new varieties, so that it becomes possible to increase the yield quickly."'

Status of processing sector

A total of 12 factories have been set up in the country for processing cashew nuts. These factories process about 300 tonnes of cashew nuts every year.

People involved in the sector said the cost of setting up a factory made with manual machinery is low, but it is necessary to invest much more to set up a factory with automated machinery. If one wants to start a manual factory on a small scale, one would need to invest around Tk0.5 crore. On the other hand, one has to invest Tk3.5-4 crore at the initial stage if one wants to set up a factory with automated machinery.

They also said so far only local raw materials are being used in the cashew processing industry as they cannot import raw materials from abroad due to high costs.

Md Ibnul Arifuzzaman, managing director of Jackpot Cashew Nut Industries Limited in Nilphamari, started the factory with an investment of Tk35 lakh. At present, the amount of his investment is more than Tk1 crore. This factory produces seven tonnes of processed cashew nuts every month.

He told TBS, "The size of the native cashew nuts is a bit small. There is demand for it in the local market, but there is very low demand for it in the world market. If we want to capture the world market, we have to import and process raw cashew nuts, but due to high costs of import, we are not able to do it."

However, the agriculture ministry said the import duty on cashew nuts has recently been reduced from 90% to 5% so that industries can easily import it as raw material.

But the entrepreneurs said despite decreasing the import duty to 5%, currently one has to spend 37.5% of the total price on various VAT and taxes to import raw cashew nuts. The cost of importing processed cashew nuts is lower than the cost of importing raw cashew nuts and marketing them after processing.

Arifuzzaman said, "We demand that the government lift all kinds of tariff on the import of raw materials. This is very important for developing the industry."

Sources said exporting cashew nuts from Bangladesh has not started yet. Entrepreneurs are discussing complexities regarding tariff with the Ministry of Agriculture. Only if the government assures them of cooperation will the entrepreneurs start importing raw materials and export the nuts after processing.

Entrepreneurs also said the lack of bank loans is a bigger problem than importing raw materials. Once these problems are resolved, the entrepreneurs will invest here and success in exports will come.

"New entrepreneurs will not be encouraged if the government does not cooperate in removing the complexities in obtaining bank loans," said Arifuzzaman.

Shahidul Islam, director of Research, Development and Expansion of Cashew Nuts and Coffee project, said, "The processing sector is developing at the private level. We are working to make it easier for them to get bank loans and to help ease the complexity of importing raw materials."

World market for cashew nuts

Currently, the global production of cashew nuts is more than 35 lakh tonnes. India alone is producing 7.5 lakh tonnes of cashew nuts, Vietnam is producing 4 lakh tonnes and four to five countries in Africa are producing 12 lakh tonnes of cashew nuts every year.

The global market for cashew nuts is worth $9.8 billion. Vietnam alone is exporting cashew nuts worth $3.5 billion to the global market. The market for cashew nuts is growing at a rate of 4.5% per year worldwide, according to the industry insiders.

The top three cashew nut exporting countries are Vietnam, India and the Netherlands. Germany, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, Belgium and the United States are also exporting significant quantities of cashew nuts.

Challenges faced in Bangladesh

The main challenges in cashew nut cultivation in the hills are: increasing the productivity of existing varieties, ensuring fair prices for farmers, training farmers in modern production techniques, management, and marketing, producing quality cashew nut following good agricultural practices and increasing the number of processing plants.

Agriculture Minister Dr Md Abdur Razzaque told TBS, "In order to make agriculture profitable, it is necessary to cultivate unconventional cash crops, including cashew nuts, coffee and black pepper."

"There is a huge demand for these not only in the country, but also in the international market, and their prices are high too. That is why the cultivation and processing of these crops should be increased," he said.

"There is a huge potential for cultivating these crops in large areas of the hills. We are emphasising increasing cashew production as well as innovating improved varieties and technologies. Doing so will revolutionise the economy of the Chattogram Hill Tracts." He continued, "We are working on the kind of benefits that need to be provided to attract investment in the processing industry, because our latest target is to earn foreign exchange through exports," he added.


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The Tk540 crore steel rice silo being constructed along the River Meghna in Ashuganj upazila of Brahmanbaria was supposed to be completed in April last year, but due to the slow pace of work amid the Covid-19 pandemic, construction has not been completed yet.

At present, construction is being carried out with a small number of workers in a limited range, but the necessary materials are not being imported from abroad. As a result, the contractor is not able to start work in full swing.

However, the project director said the silo could be fully operational from April or May next year after the trial run is completed by December this year.

 
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Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) has discovered a new gas field in Zakiganj upazila of the country's gas-rich Sylhet region.

The 28th national gas field of the country is said to have reserves of about one crore cubic feet of natural gas, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid made the announcement today on the occasion of National Energy Security Day 2021.

Reportedly, gas can be extracted from the newfound field for next 10-12 years.


 

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The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council on Tuesday approved a Tk 2,204.39 crore project to expand Teletalk mobile phone network at village level and also to modernize the existing network to provide 5G services.

The approval came from a meeting of the ECNEC held with its chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The PM joined the meeting from her official Ganobhaban residence while ministers, state ministers, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned joined the meeting from the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, planning minister MA Mannan said that a total of 10 projects were approved today involving an overall estimated cost of Tk 7,985.51 crore.

‘Of the total project cost, Tk 6,660.29 crore will come from the government of Bangladesh, Tk 137.09 crore from the concerned organization’s own fund and the rest Tk 1,188.13 crore as project assistance,’ he added.

State minister for planning M Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned also joined the briefing.

Of the approved 10 projects, nine are new while one is a revised project.

The planning minister said Teletalk Bangladesh Limited under the Post and Telecommunication Division will implement the project on expansion of Teletalk network by November 2023.

He said the main project objectives include improving the qualitative of the existing Teletalk network to provide modern 4G based services to the rural people at an affordable price side by side modernizing the existing core and transmission network of Teletalk suitable for providing 5G technology based services.

The main project operations include creating some 3,000 BTS sites, increasing the retention capacity of the machineries of some 2,000 BTS sites compatible to 3G and 4G, modernization of sites by replacing existing 200 mobile BTS, incorporating 4G BTS in the existing 1,000 mobile BTS sites, installing 5,000 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) devices, installing long haul and short haul microwave link, expanding core IP backbone network, and expansion of charging, billing, value added service and other sub systems.

Commenting on the project, Mannan said a huge investment of Tk 2,204 crore will be made in Teletalk through this project to further expand its network in the rural areas and also to strengthen the necessary infrastructures to cope with the 5G network coverage.

Answering to a question, State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that Teletalk has been running its operations since its inception as a government tool or arms since no other network except Teletalk could hardly reach the CHT and char land areas.

He said Bangladesh is a welfare oriented country for which the government always has to look into the wellbeing of people.

It was also informed in the briefing that the Planning Commission has already received a project to initiate 5G coverage in selected areas of Dhaka city which is under process.

Referring to the approval of replacing existing bailey and other risky bridges at dilapidated, narrow and important points (Rangpur Zone) with a cost Tk 861.39 crore, Mannan said the prime minister asked the authorities concerned to find out such dilapidated bridges across the country and for replacing those.

Regarding the approval of upgrading Bagerhat-Rampal-Mongla district highway to due standard and width with Tk 467.76 crore, the Planning Minister said it is the decision of the government to widen and strengthen the existing roads in phases as well as building necessary overpasses and underpasses.

Turning to the approval of enhancing capacity of Bangladesh Film Archives and collection, conservation of audio-visuals of the War of Liberation from local and foreign sources with Tk 62.68 crore, the Premier asked the authorities concerned to collect and conserve all the War of Liberation related mementos from various countries especially from Eastern Europe.

About the project for developing important roads under Keraniganj upazila in Dhaka district with Tk 1,090 crore, Mannan said the prime minister has noted that Keraniganj has become a part of the metro Dhaka and thus its facilities should have to be enhanced.

The Planning Minister said the day’s meeting approved another project titled Madarganj 100MW Solar Power Plant at Solar Park, Jamalpur with Tk 1,511.79 crore.

Mannan said the ECNEC had earlier proposed to name this plant after the name of the prime minister since it would be the country’s largest and iconic solar power plant, but the premier opposed to label the plant after her name.

The prime minister also asked the authorities concerned to ensure necessary dredging of the Dudhkumar River while giving approval to the Dudhkumar River management and development in Kurigram District project with Tk 692.68 crore.

Replying to another question, the Planning Minister said the prime minister earlier in a meeting had said that tolls are being realized since the government has to make huge expenses for maintaining the countrywide roads, highways and bridges.

Mannan hinted that tolls would be in place in various points in future.

Replying to another question about the final GDP growth of 3.51 per cent in FY20 down from the provisional estimation of 5.24 percent, Dr Shamsul Alam said that Bangladesh had performed much better in the global context despite the pandemic.

He said that Bangladesh was in top of South Asia considering GDP growth attainment while countries like China and India also witnessed much less growth rate during that time.

Statistics and Informatics Division Secretary Muhammad Yamin Chowdhury said that the provisional growth rate of 5.24 per cent was estimated based on the available data of nine months in the FY20.

He said that the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh was positive during that fiscal although many countries had witnessed negative growth.

The other projects approved in the meeting are Char Development and Settlement Project 4, additional financing, LGED portion with Tk 106.85 crore, Palli Jibikayon Project, 3rd phase with Tk 928.88 crore and Integrated Livestock Development at coastal char areas, 1st revised, with an additional cost of Tk 59.09 crore.

 

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Beacon Pharmaceuticals Limited has received a good manufacturing practice (GMP) certificate from the Syrian Arab Republic for the purpose of registering the company for medicine exports.

Now, the company will be able to register its products for exporting to that country.

Company Secretary Khalilur Rahman said, "Recently, a Syrian technical team has visited our factory in this regard."

Beacon Pharmaceuticals wants to export drugs for Covid, cancer, and general treatment to the Syrian Arab Republic through the private sector, he added.

Khalilur Rahman said, "We expect that they will take medicines worth $10 million yearly. But how many items will be exported to the Syrian Arab Republic has not been finalised yet."

Currently, the company is exporting drugs to 116 countries, he added.

Earlier, he said the sales of the antiviral drug Remdesivir have increased significantly. It has been in high demand since the spread of Covid-19 around the world.

The company introduced two items for Covid-19 patients – Remdesivir and Favipiravir.

Beacon Pharmaceuticals launched the generic drug Remdesivir as "Pandovir 100" in August 2020. The company also launched Favipira the same year, used to treat Covid-19 patients.

Favipiravir is the generic name for Favipira, which is known as Avigan in Japan. Beacon Pharma brought it to Bangladesh in April 2020.

Favipiravir is a patented drug in Japan, but Bangladesh as a least developed country can make and market the medicine till 2033.

In the January-March period of fiscal 2020-21, the company's net profit was Tk46.35 crore.

In the first nine months of fiscal 2020-21, the company's earnings per share (EPS) was Tk3.71.

The company, incorporated on 12 September 2001, is engaged in manufacturing and marketing pharmaceutical finished formulation products and lifesaving intravenous (IV) fluids, active pharmaceuticals ingredients (APLs), bio-tech products, and genetic engineering products, which the company sells locally, as well as in international markets.

The company also provides contract manufacturing and tool manufacturing services.

The company was listed on stock exchanges in 2010 and its current paid-up capital is Tk231 crore.

The last trading share price at the Dhaka Stock Exchange was Tk213.90 on Thursday.

As of 30 April this year, sponsors and directors jointly held 30%, institutions 35.14% and general investors 34.86% shares of the company.


Following Google and Facebook's steps, American multinational tech company Amazon has recently paid Tk52.97 lakh in value added tax (VAT) to Bangladesh for the first time.

"Amazon paid the VAT against its web services worth Tk3.52 crore," said Pramila Sarker, additional commissioner of Dhaka South VAT Commissionerate, on Thursday night.

Earlier on 29 July, social media platform Facebook paid Tk2.44 crore and search engine giant Google, on 5 August, submitted Tk2.29 crore in VAT to Bangladesh.

 

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The rod and steel manufacturing industry may save Tk1.6 lakh crore in raw material import costs if resources from the country's first magnetite (iron ore) field in Dinajpur's Hakimpur upazila can be used.

The industry spends around Tk5,000 crore annually on importing raw material from the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada, and the spending is increasing as fast as the country's infrastructure sector is growing.

The Hakimpur field has a reserve of 62.5 crore tonnes of iron ore, Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy, and mineral resources, told a programme on Wednesday.

Considering a 25% recoverable reserve and the current annual demand for raw material (50 lakh tonnes), the Hakimpur field can supply raw material for 30 years and its economic value will be Tk1.6 lakh crore, said the Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB).


But production at the recently discovered field largely depends on the results of a detailed feasibility study, which would take time to complete.

Nasrul Hamid said the discovery of the field would play a key role in sustainable development.

He called on the GSB to create a field for research on extracting mineral resources in Bangladesh.

In June 2019, the GSB, a national organisation to find out mineral resources, announced the discovery of the field in Hakimpur's Isabpur village.

It found iron ore while digging a well on 50 decimals of land in the village, 11 kilometres from the Hakimpur upazila office, in search of mineral resources.

The primary exploration data shows the reserve was found in different layers under the ground in 5 square-kilometres of area in Hakimpur. But layers under 1,300-1,500 feet were found to contain the most important reserve.

In a report in December last year, the GSB said the field's recoverable reserve is around 15.6 crore (156 million) tonnes considering 25% of the total probable reserve.

It said the economic value of the reserve would be around Tk1.6 lakh crore based on the current import statistics of iron raw materials.

At present, the cost of per tonne iron raw material is around $119, said industry sources.

Dr Mohd Sher Ali, director general (additional charge) at the GSB, said their job is to find out mineral resources in the country's territory.

"We discovered the Hakimpur field while doing our job. Now the Energy Division will take the next course of action to develop it," he said.

He also said a detailed feasibility study was needed to have more accurate data on the reserve and develop the field.

Experts said the primary exploration report has a 50% positive reflection on the reserve, but a detailed feasibility study can yield real data.

Apart from this study, extracting iron ore from such depths is another challenge.

But GSB officials said Sweden's Kiruna iron ore mine is the deepest one in the world at present. In 2008, Sweden extracted iron ore from a depth of 4,478 feet.

Md Anisur Rahman, senior secretary at the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, said they would conduct a study in coordination with Petrobangla to get more accurate information about the reserve, but it would take time due to fund management.

The demand for steel has been rising gradually in the country due to growing government infrastructure development projects and private construction work. But the industry is fully import-dependent for raw materials.

At present, steel rerolling factories import around 50 lakh tonnes of raw material annually, said Shekhar Ranjan Kar, group chief financial officer and company secretary at the BSRM.

He said local sources of raw material would be a big relief for the industry.

He, however, is not sure whether iron ore found in Hakimpur is the one factories need.

He said it would also depend on the cost at which it would be supplied to the industry.


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The government is planning to build circular waterways around Dhaka by increasing the navigability of major rivers and a canal through dredging and digging to reduce road traffic.

An estimated cost of $2.9 billion has been drawn up to restore navigation of the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers surrounding Dhaka, and the Tongi canal, demarcate the shoreline of the rivers, set up treatment plants to improve water quality, and construct a sewage treatment plant.

The government has set a target to complete the work by 2030 under the 100-year Delta Plan, the longest climate compatible development plan in the country's history, approved in 2018.

Since Dhaka city has insufficient road spaces for its rising population, vehicles move at a pace close to the walking speed, according to a research done by the World Bank and the Bangladesh Institute of Engineering and Technology (Buet).


Traffic congestion in the capital costs $3-5 billion a year, according to an estimate by the World Bank and Buet, while the government estimates a loss of $7.05 billion that is equivalent to 2% of the country's Gross Domestic Product.

Experts have been suggesting alternate transport systems around Dhaka to bring down the loss.

The city's economic contribution accounts for nearly 35% of the total GDP. The per capita income in Dhaka is $4,242 whereas the national figure is $2,448. By 2035, Dhaka's population will reach 2.5 crore from 1.8 crore now, and per capita income $8,000.

If the shores and navigability of the rivers can be protected and a river transport network established to lower the cost of business, the economy will see further growth and per capita income of Dhaka residents would climb to $9,200 by 2035, according to the World Bank.

But it fears that the city will not be able to reap the benefits of urbanisation if there is a lack of clear vision, careful planning and implementation.

In the first phase of establishing the river routes, $636 million – equivalent to Tk5,400 crore – will be spent.

The government has already sought $600 million in aid from the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The Economic Relations Division has received primary approval of its aid proposals sent to the two agencies.

The World Bank has prepared a concept paper on funding of the project. It, however, expressed concern over waste management in Dhaka, allocation for the job, water quality of the rivers and the government's limited allocation for water management.

Where to spend $636 million

The project implementation document of the World Bank, updated until April, says the money will be spent in four components of the project. Of the fund, $295 million is set aside for reclaiming rivers and canals.

This part of the project will cover restoring natural drainage function of rivers and canals, demarcation of their boundaries; showcasing a pilot for hazardous waste and plastic management; and land reclamation.

Once water flow is reestablished and rivers and canals are reconnected, water quality and navigation will improve.

Another $330 million will be allocated for wastewater collection and treatment. To improve the water quality of rivers and canals, domestic sewage treatment plants, sewer networks, and other on-site sanitation facilities in informal residential areas will be built.

And $10 million would be allocated for institutional strengthening and project management.

World Bank on water pollution in Dhaka

The only sewage treatment plant in Dhaka purifies only 3-4 crore litres of water a day while 125 crore litres of wastewater from households end up in rivers, the global lender said in the concept paper.

Referring to a 2008 report, it said industries around Dhaka had released 125 crore litres of wastewater into rivers back then. The quantity of wastewater being released into the water bodies must have increased over the years but only 20% of the factories have effluent treatment plants.

Health, social and economic damage done by the release of untreated water into the rivers are costing $150-170 million a year.

A two-decade old initiative

The first initiative to build circular waterways around the capital and launch water bus services was taken in 2000. Two waterbuses were inaugurated on the Ashulia-Sadarghat route in 2004, but the services were suspended within a short time.

The route was reopened with two waterbuses in 2010. The government has tried to revive the route four times but the effort did not succeed.

A 30-kilometre route from Sadarghat to Ashulia was established at Tk40 crore. In the second phase, a 40km Tongi-Rajakhali-Demra-Kanchpur route was built at Tk54 crore.

Experts think if an effective communication network is built around Dhaka city, the transport scenario here will have a turn around.

Architect Iqbal Habib said many such initiatives had been taken, but nothing positive came out of those because of the absence of coordination. Before opening up water routes, a transport system has to be designed that will make the routes commercially viable, he added.

In the past, shipping was introduced on several river routes, but people showed little interest in boating as there was no road or other means of communication from jetties.

If water communication around Dhaka can be aligned with roads, rail, metrorail and elevated expressways, passengers travelling from north to south will not move into the city's centre. Passengers from east to west will also avoid the city's thoroughfares, said Iqbal Habib.

Measures to establish road and rail communication

To connect the circular waterways with the city's roads, the government has taken a move to build inner circular roads of 91km at $2 billion.

As part of the initiative, the Water Development Board will work on 24km roads from Beribadh on the city's eastern side to the road connecting an elevated expressway. The remaining 67km will be constructed by the Roads and Highways Department.

Roads will be constructed from Teromukh of Dhaka to Demra via Dhaur-Gabtali-Sadarghat-Postagola-Chashara. The Water Development Board will build embankments and elevated roads from the River Demra to Teromukh on the city's eastern side.

Construction of 80km circular rail tracks aligned with the roads was approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs in 2018. It will be implemented through public-private partnership. As many as 20 stations will be built by the tracks.

The project cost was estimated at $8.37 billion after a pre-feasibility study. Several companies in Japan are willing to fund the rail project through a government-to-government deal. Bangladesh received funding proposals from Korea as well.

 

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All three terminals of the Bay Terminal project of Chattogram port will start operation by 2024, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said today.

The minister spoke while talking to journalists after visiting the project site at Halishahar coast in the port city this afternoon.

Senior officials of the ministry and Public Private Partnership Authority Bangladesh accompanied the minister during the visit.

The terminal will be constructed on around 2,500 acres of land having a length of 6.15-kilometre area stretching from the backside of Chattogram Export Processing Zone to Rasmonighat on the bank of Bay of Bengal at Halishahar coast.

CPA took the plan around a decade ago.

In August 2016, the CPA appointed a joint venture, comprised of two German firms Sellhorn Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH and HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH and KS Consultants Limited of Bangladesh for feasibility study of Bay Terminal.

In 2017, the firm submitted feasibility report and also submitted a master plan.

In its report submitted in 2017, the firm identified the project as fit economically and technically.


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The construction of the Bay Terminal, a long-awaited project of the Chittagong port, is gaining momentum after slowing down due to the coronavirus pandemic as the government looks to complete it by 2024.

Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, state minister for shipping, said the government had set the time frame to start the operation of the terminal.

He was speaking to reporters after visiting the project site on the Halishahar coast in the port city yesterday. Senior officials of the ministry and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Authority accompanied him.

The terminal is being constructed on around 2,500 acres of land. It will have a length of 6.15 kilometres, stretching from the backside of the Chattogram Export Processing Zone to Rasmonighat at the Halishahar coast of the Bay of Bengal.

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The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) came up with the plan a decade ago.

Talks on the Bay Terminal began in 2011 as the prospect of building a mega container terminal emerged after an 11km natural island surfaced from the seabed near the Halishahar coast, creating a natural channel for vessel movement.

In August 2016, the CPA appointed a joint venture comprised of two German firms -- Sellhorn Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH and HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH -- and a Bangladeshi firm KS Consultants Limited to conduct the feasibility study.

The JV submitted the report and a master plan in 2017, describing the project economically and technically viable. Though the business community has long been demanding for the beginning of the project as part of the much-needed expansion of the country's premier seaport, it got delayed.

Chowdhury said it was initially decided that one single firm would build the whole terminal under the PPP model.

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To speed up the implementation, the project has now been divided into three parts. The CPA will build one part on its own.

The CPA will construct a multi-purpose terminal, while two container terminals will be set up under the PPP model.

Five international port giants, including PSA Singapore, China Merchants Sports Holding Company Ltd, DP World of the UAE, and International Port Development Co-operation of Korea, have expressed interest in funding and constructing the mega project.

Some changes have to be brought to the original plan after the latest decision that the CPA would implement a part of the project, the state minister said.

After completing the official procedures, the CPA would commence the construction work, he said.

The acquisition of 68 acres of privately-owned land has been completed. In addition, the shipping ministry has approved the acquisition of 804 acres of government land.

"Land development activities on the acquired area are going on," Chowdhury said.

He said the project saw slower than expected progress due to a lack of experience in the construction of projects under the PPP model and also for the pandemic.

Many foreign investors earlier visited the project site and expressed interest to set up the terminal. With the resumption of global connectivity, the government has started communicating with the investors again.

"Discussion with the foreign investors is going on," said Sultana Afroz, chief executive officer of the PPP Authority.

CPA Chairman M Shahjahan said it had appointed a consultant to carry out the detailed design of the terminal it would build.

The firm will also update the 2017 feasibility study report and the master plan. After getting the report, the CPA will formulate the development project proposal and start construction accordingly.

CPA Chief Hydrographer M Arifur Rahman said vessel movement to and fro the Chittagong port through the Karnaphuli channel depended on high tides.

"But vessel operation at the proposed Bay Terminal will be possible round the clock."

According to the feasibility study, vessels with a draft up to 12 metres can be berthed. The port now allows vessels with as high as 9.5 metres of the draft to moor.

"The new island will ensure safe vessel movement in the channel," said Rahman.


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City Group, one of the country's leading consumer goods processor and manufacturer, is to going to build a hi-tech park investing Tk 5,000 crore to manufacture technology products such as microprocessors, chips, circuits, mobile phones and laptops.

The 115-acre City Hi-Tech Park, which will be developed at Demra of the capital city of Dhaka, also looks to house global tech giants.

"We aim to establish a world-class high-tech park and we look forward to attracting some foreign investors," said Biswajit Saha, director for corporate and regulatory affairs.

There will be all sorts of facilities for recreation and a dormitory. This will create job opportunities for around 15,000 people, said Saha after City Group signed an agreement with Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Dhaka yesterday.

Md Hasan, the park chairman, and Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, the authority managing director, signed the deal.

The park's investors will get 14 facilities and one-stop service from the authority.

City Group said it began preparing a masterplan, a feasibility study and an environmental survey on receiving permission to set up the park in May.

"This is the biggest private high-tech park in the country. And they will make all sorts of digital devices under our rules and regulations," Ghosh told The Daily Star.

There are three public high-tech parks in Gazipur, Sylhet and Rajshahi and five software technology parks and training centres under the authority, according to Ghosh.

By 2027, there will be 39 high-tech or software technology parks and 64 Sheikh Kamal IT training and incubation centres across the country.

"Some have already been completed, some under construction and some in the planning phase," said Ghosh.

City Group's move comes as part of its attempt to diversity products in line with the 4th industrial revolution, introducing artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things.

The group manufactures and supplies about one third of the total consumer goods of Bangladesh.

"Everything will be changed in future, so we came here as this is the future," said Saha.

It will develop all kinds of off-site and on-site facilities, conduct earth filling, and construct electricity, gas and water supply infrastructure, buildings, roads, lakes and food courts inside the park.

"City Group is a popular name in the country and abroad. Other companies in the country will also be encouraged as big companies like it are coming forward to set up high-tech parks," said NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary to the ICT Division.

"City Group will develop the park as soon as possible to create a vibrant working environment," he said.

Hasan, the park chairman and director of City Group, said, "We will make electronics and technology products that no one could even think of making in Bangladesh."

In 2016, the authority recognised Fair Group's Fair Electronics manufacturing plant in Narsingdi, where Samsung mobile phones and other products are manufactured, as a private high-tech park.

Walton Digi-Tech Industries was announced as a private hi-tech park by the authority on September 9, 2020.

It manufacturers IT products like laptops, computers and accessories, mobile phones and motherboards.

Halima Group, an electronics goods maker, also got such recognition, according to Ghosh of the authority.

He said the recognition enables private high-tech parks to get a 10-year tax holiday, duty free import of capital machinery, tax waiver on foreign expats' salaries and duty free utility bills while foreign investors can withdraw their investments anytime.

Launched in 1972 with "CITY OIL MILLS", City Group now has about 40 sister concerns, each specialising in different products and services.


Ifad Autos Limited signed a land-lease agreement with Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) by which the company will expand its manufacturing facilities on 30 acres of land at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar.

Tanvir Ahmed, managing director of Ifad Autos and Md Ali Ahsan, executive member of Beza signed the deal on behalf of their respective organisations at a Beza headquarters event in the capital on Thursday.

According to a Beza press statement, the company Ifad will invest $51 million to set up a car assembly factory, lubricant blending plant, and light engineering industry, that will create employment for about 880 people.

Commenting on the matter, Ifad Autos Managing Director Tanvir Ahmed said they chose the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar for expanding their manufacturing facilities because Beza has been providing world-class facilities to investors there, a prerequisite for a business to thrive.

The company wil start with motorcycle assembly, lubricant blending, and other light engineering factories within the shortest possible time, he added.


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Anwar Galvanizing Ltd, a sister concern of Anwar Group, has decided to double its production by investing Tk27.37 crore.

The company is planning to increase production to expand its market share of galvanised iron-pipe fittings (GI Fittings) from existing 25% to 52%.

"The demand for the GI fittings has been increasing gradually in the recent years due to the infrastructure development in both public and private sectors," said Tauhidul Islam, company secretary of Anwar Galvanizing Ltd.

"Besides, the import of GI products from China had decreased significantly during the pandemic. As a result, the company is going to make new investments to grab the market," he added.

GI fittings are an important part of the construction and housing sector. The bulk of the local demand for these products is met by imports from China.

But, the novel coronavirus pandemic that led to a halt in export-import activities for several months has paved the way for the local manufacturers of these products to increase sales, said the people involved in this industry.

The investment plan of Anwar Galvanizing

Anwar Galvanizing Limited went into operation in the mid-1980s with the production of galvanised corrugated sheets.

The company was the country's first and leading manufacturer of GI Fittings and brake drums.

To meet the growing GI fittings demand, the company had halted producing brake drums in 2019.

Now the company is going to increase its production capacity by 2,417 metric tonnes per annum, according to the disclosure published on both stock exchanges on Tuesday.

After the implementation of the new plan, its total production capacity will be 4,725 metric tonnes per annum.

The additional 2,417 metric tonnes of GI fittings shall directly replace the products that are currently being imported to the country, said the company.

"After doubling the production, the company's market share will increase, which will impact its financials and revenue," said Tauhidul Islam.

The new expansion project shall be financed from a mix of own resources and borrowed finance.

The new investment plan is expected to be in operation by the fourth quarter of 2022.

The company said they have received a sanction letter on 23 May from the Dhaka Electric Supply Company Ltd (Desco) for an additional power supply of 1 MW that will support the expansion.

"The demand of our products increased gradually before the pandemic. After the pandemic started, the demand has grown significantly. We have been in a monopoly position in the in GI fittings products market for quite some time. In the recent times some companies came into the business but they were significant," said Tauhidul Islam.

Significant growth in revenue and profit amid pandemic

As product demand increased amid the pandemic, its revenue and profit rose significantly.

In July 2020 to March 2021, its sales rose by 11% and profit by 49% compared to the same time of the previous year.

In this period, its sales reached Tk43.77 crore and profit Tk3.24 crore, which was Tk39.43 crore and Tk2.17 crore respectively.

Earlier, in FY20 its sales grew by 23% to Tk53.42 crore and its profit jumped by 35% to Tk2.95 crore.

Its sales amounted to Tk43.34 crore and profit Tk2.19 crore in FY19.

Based on its financials, the company had paid a 10% cash and 5% stock dividends for its shareholders for FY20.

Anwar Galvanizing got listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in 1996. Its paid-up capital is Tk14.52 crore. Of the company's total shares, sponsors and directors hold 35.32%, institutional investors hold 23.51% and general investors hold 41.17%.

Its share price rose by Tk9.8 or 2.94% on Tuesday, closed at Tk343 each on the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).


All economic zones in Bangladesh will have central effluent treatment plants (CETPs) as the government is concerned about environmental pollution, a top public official said.

Shaikh Yusuf Harun, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza), said, "The CETP project for Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar in Chattogram has already been approved. The government is also installing other ETPs [effluent treatment plants] as waste treatment measures in economic zones to curb industrial pollution."

At a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing programme with HSBC Bank Bangladesh at the Beza office in Dhaka in Thursday, Yusuf Harun said projects to the tune of Tk4,000 crore, including a water supply network and a CETP have been taken up for Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar.

"The World Bank is investing in the "Bangladesh Private Investment & Digital Entrepreneurship" project. The tender will be floated soon," he added.

Apart from the central waste treatment plant, the Beza executive chairman said factories in Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar will have to have their own ETPs as well.

Bangabandhu Shilpa Nagar – the largest economic zone of Bangladesh – is going up in Chattogram's Mirsharai, Sitakunda, and Feni's Sonagazi. As many as 120 industries have already signed deals with Beza to set up production units there. Of them, 13 industries are expected to begin commercial production by the end of this year or in mid-2022.

Under the MoU, HSBC Bank Bangladesh will plant 40,000 mangrove trees and maintain them in the industrial city as part of the bank's corporate social responsibility efforts.

Mohammad Hassan Arif, general manager of Beza, and Md Mahabubur Rahman, chief executive officer of HSBC Bank Ltd, signed the MoU.

Md Mahabubur Rahman said ecological balance is being considered seriously all over the world and HSBC Bank is proud to take part in the tree plantation programme.

Beza Executive Member Mohammad Irfan Sharif, Abdul Azim Chowdhury, Ali Ahsan, and HSBC Bangladesh Country Head of wholesale banking, Kevin Green, were also present at the programme.

 

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The government has taken up an ambitious project to extend the runway at Cox’s Bazar airport by reclaiming land from the sea.

Once completed, the new 10,700-foot runway will allow much larger aircraft to take off and land at the airport, paving the way for it to operate international flights.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to virtually inaugurate the construction work of the project on August 29.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) inked the deal for the project with the Chinese joint venture of Changjiang Yichang Waterway Engineering Bureau (CYWEB) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on February 9, 2021. The estimated cost of the project is Tk1,568.86 crore.

According to the project documents, the deadline to finish construction is May 10, 2024. However, a spokesperson for the contractor said they would be given additional commission if they could finish construction before November 14, 2023.

Under the agreement, the contractor will extend the existing 9,000ft runway by 1,700ft towards the Maheshkhali Channel through coastal land reclamation.

Representatives of the contractor said CYWEB-CCECC JV had mobilized personnel at the site immediately after the signing of the contract with CAAB. The detailed design and construction of temporary facilities, including a site office, road networks, jetty, and concrete batching plant had been substantially completed.

CAAB officials said the main construction work would begin after the prime minister laid the foundation stone of the project.

“The latest technology will be used to build a spectacular runway by reclaiming coastal land. It will include the installation of an airfield ground lighting system, installation of instrument landing systems, construction of safety walls and a bridge over the Bakkhali river,” officials said.

The project was approved by the government on November 4, 2018.

Md Mahbub Ali, minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, said various development projects were underway to turn Cox's Bazar into an international tourist destination. The runway extension project is one of the most crucial of these projects.

“The dream is to transform Cox’s Bazar Airport into an airline hub. People can directly visit Cox’s Bazar as a tourism destination once the extension is completed,” he told Dhaka Tribune.


 

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The government today signed an agreement for two packages under South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec-2) for the development of road connectivity in the country’s northern region.

Roads and Highways Department Chief Engineer Md Abdus Sabur and Farhana Momen of package-5’s construction company Abdul Momen Limited and Zhou Libo, authorized representative of package-13’s construction company, China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Limited, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective institutions.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister and Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader joined the agreement signing ceremony at Roads and Highways Department here through videoconferencing.

Under package-5, around 13.5 kilometres highway from Elenga in Tangail to east part of Bangabandhu Bridge will be upgraded to four-lane.

A flyover, eight bridges and two underpasses and 10 culverts will be constructed under the package at a cost of Tk601 crore.

Under package-13, an international standard separate-grade modified cloverleaf interchange will be constructed.

Besides, a highway service area will be built for taking rest for drivers and passengers of long-route vehicles. The works will be done at a cost of Tk743 crore.

The two construction companies will bear defect liability for one-year and provide maintenance facilities for six years after completion of construction works by three years.

Under SASEC-2, around 190 kilometres of highway is being upgraded to four-lane from Elenga to Modern intersection in Rangpur. The cost of the project is around Tk16,662 crore.

Once the project is implemented, strong road connectivity will be built between Dhaka and northern region of the country.


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The economy of Bangladesh is seeing continuous growth because of the entrepreneurial spirit of its people and the ever-increasing investment from the industrial sectors to expand into new business frontiers, said Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the prime minister.

While addressing the foundation stone laying ceremony of DBL Industrial Park – to be constructed at Shreehatta Economic Zone in Moulvibazar – on Sunday, he also said the government has taken up a comprehensive development plan under the direct supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for advancing towards more export-oriented economy to boost the growth.

Under the plan, the Beza economic zones will play a pivotal role in building successful manufacturing hubs, he expected.

The industrial park – to be established on 167.6 acres of land – is expected to create employment for 5,630 people and generate $500 million yearly turnover.

A total of 10 manufacturing units will be set up in the industrial park featuring state-of-the-art technology. These are textile, spinning, recycled polyester, ceramic tiles, sanitary ware, ceramic frit, floral glass, glass processing, dry mortar and faucet units.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the launching ceremony of the industrial park was held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital, instead of the original venue located in Moulvibazar. The industrial park will be constructed by DBL Group, one of the leading business conglomerates of the country.

Besides creating a good number of employment opportunities, this industrial park will manufacture raw materials and finished products for domestic and export markets, the company stated.

Dr Ahmad Kaikaus attended the foundation laying ceremony as the chief guest while Shaikh Yusuf Harun, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, was the special guest.

DBL Group Chairman Abdul Wahed, Managing Director MA Jabbar, Vice Chairman MA Rahim, Deputy Managing Director MA Quader, and Senior Secretary to Youth and Sports Ministry Akther Hossain, among others, also attended the event.

Yusuf Harun said, "Beza is working to establish 100 economic zones across the country. DBL Group, one of the largest business conglomerates of Bangladesh, has joined this journey of economic expansion.

"It will surely fulfill the goals of creating world class quality products and materials which would contribute to the country's national economy. This investment will make foreign investors more confident about investing in our country."

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DBL Group Managing Director MA Jabbar said: "Today, Bangladesh is at the cusp of growth led by innovation and huge investment. We are witnessing an age where technology is being effectively integrated into infrastructure at an increasing rate. Our aim is to fast forward this progress through a revolutionary change in the industrial sector of Bangladesh."

"At DBL Group, we challenge conventional manufacturing methods and move the industry towards an efficient and automated platform. The launch of DBL industrial park is an important step towards achieving our vision of pushing forth the next phase of Bangladesh's growth through world-class infrastructure," he added.

At the park, DBL plans to build a world-class textile mill to produce 43.5 tonnes of fine cotton yarn and rotor yarn per day, to cater for the diverse needs of the textile industry.

The unit will be further expanded by the same capacity in future. The park will have a recycled polyester unit also which will produce 18 tonnes of staple fiber per day as a raw material for the spinning factory.

In the industrial park, DBL aims to produce over 40,000 square meters of ceramic tiles per day in its ceramic factory unit.

In another ceramic facility they will produce 90-99 tonnes of ceramic frit per day, which is a major ingredient of ceramic glaze used widely in the ceramic industry.

The park will also feature float glass manufacturing, glass processing, faucet manufacturing units. The dry mortar facility of the industrial park is expected to generate $8.8m revenue per year.

DBL's biggest initiation at the industrial park is the Jinnat Textile Mills Limited with two spinning factories, which will be a vital part of DBL's vertically integrated textile composite.

These manufacturing units will cater to existing renowned buyers such as H&M, George, Puma, Esprit, G-Star, Decathlon, Tom Tailor, MQ Retail, NEXT, M&S, Bench, Gymboree, LIDL, C&A and Target.

Total investment on the first factory will be $83.35 million with a yearly revenue of $70 million. Jinnat Textile Mills Limited will be expanded in future with 43.5 tonnes per day totaling $140 million revenue per year.

 

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All of the 2,917 roadway slabs of the Padma Bridge have been installed, which means vehicles will be able to travel the bridge’s full length without any interruption after it is paved with asphalt.

The final roadway slab was installed on Monday, said the project’s Executive Engineer Dewan Abdul Kader.

“The final slab between Pier No. 12 and 13 was placed around 10.20am while two others were installed the previous night,” he said.

According to project documents, as of July 2021, the progress of construction work of the main bridge stands at 93.5% while that of river training work stands at 83.5%.

Paving the roadway slabs with asphalt had started this July but due to heavy monsoon rains, the project authorities were forced to postpone the work.

Executive Engineer Kader told Dhaka Tribune last week that they had paved at least 60 metres of the bridge with asphalt last month. “However, due to the monsoon season, we had to stop. We are hopeful of resuming carpeting work from November-December.”

Meanwhile, installation of railings, street lights, and bitumen molding on top of the road slabs is expected to be finished by January-February, 2022, according to officials.

The rest of the work, such as road surface marking and putting up traffic signs, is expected to be completed between March and May 2022, as the government plans to open the Padma Bridge for public use in June, Bangladesh Bridge Authority Chief Engineer Quazi Mohammad Ferdous told Dhaka Tribune last week.

“Once all the slabs are installed, all forms of vehicles will be able to easily travel the whole length of the bridge. Besides, all the railway slabs – in total 2,959 – have already been installed,” Ferdous added.

Some 24,000 vehicles to cross Padma Bridge every day

In 2009, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a study on how many vehicles would cross the Padma Bridge annually.

The findings stated that if the bridge was inaugurated at the start of 2022, then in that year, on average, around 24,000 vehicles would cross the bridge every day.

Of those vehicles, 8,238 are predicted to be buses, 10,244 trucks, and 5,000 microbuses and cars.

As per ADB findings, by 2025, the number of vehicles crossing the bridge will be 27,800 per day.

By 2030 the number will go up to 36,785 and in 2040, the number of vehicles crossing the bridge daily will stand at 51,807.

Around 67,000 vehicles on average could cross the bridge every day of 2050.

The Bridges Division had earlier re-fixed the target for opening the bridge to traffic in December 2021, to mark the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.

But the plans hit a snag following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March last year.

The PMBP has missed deadlines three times – 2014, 2018, and 2019.

The project has involved costs to the tune of Tk301.19 billion.

The Padma Bridge is expected to boost the country's GDP by 1.2% once it is opened to the public.


Meghna Group of Industries (MGI) has entered into the local ceramic sector with its brand Fresh Ceramic.

The MGI has invested nearly Tk 500 crore to set up ceramic manufacturing facilities at Ashariar Char in Narayanganj's Sonargaon area and has created around 1,000 jobs in its factory.

The demand of ceramic tiles has been increasing thanks to the growing urbanisation, which encouraged the group to invest in ceramic sector, the group said in a statement.

The MGI started construction of its ceramic production facility in January 2019 and now it has started commercial production in full swing.

 

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Understanding the economy in a deeper way, it would be relevant to Bangladeshi economy too:


@Isa Khan @rainmaker and others may find it useful read in matter of economic development.
 

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $1.78 billion multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) to improve mobility, road safety, and regional trade along the Dhaka-Sylhet trade corridor in Bangladesh.

The SASEC Dhaka-Sylhet Corridor Road Investment Project will be delivered in four tranches, according to the global lender.

The $400 million first tranche of the MFF will help finance the initial works of the major contracts for the widening of about 210 km of National Highway 2 along the Dhaka-Sylhet corridor from two to four lanes. It will include 60 km of footpath, 26 foot bridges, and 13 overpasses.

Its design will have features responsive to the needs of the elderly, women, children, and the differently abled, as well as disaster and climate risks.

The government will fund $911 million of the total project cost of $2.69 billion. Apart from the MFF, ADB will also provide a $1 million technical assistance grant from its Technical Assistance Special Fund and an additional $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan, to support capacity building of the Roads and Highways Department on road safety and maintenance, climate change, and gender equality and social inclusion.

The Dhaka-Sylhet corridor, once complete, will support a new trade route connecting Chattogram port with India's northeastern states through the three land ports of Akhaura, Sheola, and Tamabil, and from there to Bhutan and Myanmar.

The corridor is also the centerpiece of the Bangladesh government's planned Northeast Bangladesh Economic Corridor, which aims to promote key industries in the area, such as energy generation and production of construction materials, and to better integrate them with the rest of the economy in the country.

ADB Transport Specialist for South Asia Satomi Sakaguchi said that Bangladesh's export-driven economic growth has shown its unique potential of becoming a regional transport and trade hub. To sustain this growth, the country's transport infrastructure needs to be improved.

"The project is the main part of Road Corridor 5 under the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme. Its improvement will reduce logistics costs, increase competitiveness, and help expand regional trade with neighbouring South Asian countries, apart from providing safe accessibility to the community members."

"By doing so, the investment project will contribute to the government's goal of achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development," he said.

Transport and trade facilitation are among the priorities of SASEC members, which since 2001, have invested more than $14.3 billion in projects in the region, including 43 transport projects worth $11.4 billion.



It was a regular day for Pallabi storekeeper Toriqul Islam until he heard the overhead wheezing in the morning. It took a few moments for the stunned man to realise the noise was coming from a train.

He rushed to the Pallabi metro station to join a crowd that had already been there to witness the test run of the much-anticipated metro rail service.

From the Diabari depot at Uttara, the train with six coaches was put on the main track for the first time around 6am Friday. The speed was kept very low since the train had been running on the line for the first time.

With intervals at the Uttara North, Uttara Centre and Uttara South stations, the train stopped at the fourth station Pallabi.

The trial met with huge crowds on both sides underneath the viaduct though there was no official announcement regarding the trial. People standing at windows in nearby buildings also cheered at the first run of the metro train.

"The official performance test of metro rail is slated for 29 August, while Friday's run was a trial for that," ABM Arifur Rahman, manager (CP-08) of MRT line-6, told The Business Standard.

"The train left the Diabari depot at 6am. The run on a patch with four stations was successful," Arifur Rahman said, adding, "Since the trial covered all the details, it took a long time."

MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited (DMTCL), earlier said the performance test of the much-anticipated project will take place at 10am on 29 August.

He said the set of coaches that arrived in Dhaka in April this year will be put to the official performance test.

The third phase of the metro rail project connecting a 20.10km stretch from Uttara to Motijheel was taken up in 2021 as the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) is funding the Tk22,000 crore mega-project.

The rail construction was later decided to expand to Kamalapur. With the extension, the length of the metro infrastructure will be 21.26km.

Until 31 July, the Uttara-Agargaon phase of the fast-track project logged 88.18% overall progress, while the Agargaon-Motijheel phase registered 66.74% progress. The total progress of the entire project was 68.49%.

Sources at the DMTCL said 24 trains will carry passengers on the Uttara-Motijheel route as four trains have arrived in the country from Japan so far. The fifth set is set to arrive in the second week of September.

A special day for Mirpur dwellers

Dhaka's Mirpur earned a name for notorious traffic as the metro rail project had narrowed the key roads of the area. The project appeared synonymous with traffic gridlock, noise and dust pollution to Mirpur residents.

A report of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) revealed 69% of businesses in Mirpur faced revenue fall as the metro rail work hampered regular activities.

But Mirpur has started to return to its previous look as the project is nearing end. The metro rail performance test on Friday was greeted by the locals.

Take Toriqul who had to shutter his business for a couple of months due to the project. After reopening, the regular business turned dull.

"We embraced the sufferings for the sake of development. After all, we are happy now as the metro rail is about to begin the commercial services," he added.

Pallabi resident Ekhlas Hossain has to commute to Motijheel regularly for his office. "I often had to set off at 6:30am to be in the office at 9am. Diversion, detour and road blockades stretched the one-hour trip to three hours," he recalled.

Ekhlas now feels hopeful as the train route is near his home.


The country's foreign exchange reserves witnessed a new record crossing the $48 billion mark following the $1.45 billion financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In addition to remittances sent by expatriates, the IMF aid mainly contributed to the surge in forex reserves.

Foreign exchange reserves in Bangladesh have reached new heights due to the positive trend of remittances sent by expatriates and the addition of loan assistance from the IMF, said a Bangladesh Bank official.

By international standards, a country has to have reserves equal to three months of import expenditure. With the amount of reserves that Bangladesh has now, it is possible to pay the import cost for more than 8 months at the rate of $6 billion per month.

The reserve crossed the $46 billion-mark on 28 June while $45.01 billion-mark on 3 May and crossed the $44 billion mark on 24 February this year and touched the $40 billion-mark on October 28 last year.

 

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The government is going to develop the Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive by increasing the width of a 32km stretch from 3.7m to 7.3m, an effort to boost the local economy by attracting tourists and agro investments.

Besides, new bridges will be constructed on the road and its various defects will be repaired.


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The inland container depot (ICD) project in Gazipur's Dhirashram area is finally going to be implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) model as the government is considering making Dubai-based terminal operator DP World a partner in the venture.

Officials of the Public Private Partnership Authority Bangladesh said DP World has already agreed to work on the project. Now, discussion is going on to fix the terms and conditions of the final agreement.

 

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines has completed its first C-check (servicing) on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

"Biman saved 6 lakh USD by performing the C-Check on the new generation of aircraft," State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali said on Sunday.

Biman, on the eve of its 50th anniversary and Golden Jubilee celebrations, launched the C-Check operation under its own management on 17 August.

C-Check is a long-term, complex and high-tech check to make the aircraft airworthy after detailed inspection and maintenance.

The C-check of Boeing-787 model Dreamliner needs to be completed every three years.

As part of this process, Biman started the first C-Check of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 'Akashbina' from 17 August.

Very few airlines in the world have the capability to C-check sophisticated aircraft like Boeing-787.

This is a milestone in the capacity building of the Directorate of Aviation Engineering and Materials Management.

So far, the first C-check for any new type of aircraft has been done through a foreign MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Organization).

In the past, it took a huge cost to complete a C-check by a foreign company.

The airline's engineers, after receiving advanced training from abroad, acquiring technical knowledge and skills, started the C-check operation of the aircraft's ultra-modfern Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner 'Akashbina' at the hangar complex.


 

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The government is all set to inaugurate four new power plants and an upgraded one, which will have the capacity to produce 779 megawatts of electricity.

The new plants are: Bibiyana-III 400 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant in Habiganj, Jhulda 100 MW Power Plant Unit-2 in Chattogram, Meghnaghat 104 MW Power Plant in Narayanganj, and Modhumoti 100 MW Power Plant in Bagerhat.

Sylhet 150 MW Power Plant has been upgraded to 225 MW Combined Cycle Power Plant.

All five plants are already connected to the national grid, according to Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the plants through videoconferencing from Gono Bhaban in Dhaka on September 12, Saiful Hasan Chowdhury, director for public relations at BPDB, told The Daily Star.

"The government is working to provide people with an uninterrupted electricity supply," said Habibur Rahman, power secretary.

Bangladesh currently has an electricity generation capacity of 25,235MW, including captive power, Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources told Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, a news agency.

 

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The first consignment of 50,000 tonnes of genetically modified (GM) soyameal from Bangladesh has reached India via the land port of Petrapole in West Bengal.

This is the first time since independence that India has allowed import of GM raw material, which will be used for making poultry feed, reports The Indian Express.

Soyameal refers to the protein-rich solid left after oil is extracted from the seed. It forms the protein component of poultry feed.

An acute shortage and resultant escalation in prices of soyameal had prompted the Indian poultry industry to seek import of the item.

The industry has been given till 31 October for importing 12 lakh tonnes of soyameal.

Majority of the imports would come to India from Vietnam as larger consignments from Brazil, Argentina or USA by sea.

After October, the domestic production will also arrive in Indian local markets, which would lead to softening of prices.

India has reported sowing over 121 lakh hectares as against the 119 lakh hectares of last year. Maharashtra alone has reported sowing over 45 lakh hectares, the highest ever in the state.


The government would save Tk 8.0 billion annually by cutting the carrying cost of petroleum products from outer anchorage to fuel tankers once the SPM (single-point mooring) project is complete.

An estimated 63.53-per cent work on the overall SPM project has already been completed.

"We're expecting to initiate the operation of the SPM project by August 2022," said Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) chairman ABM Azad.

He was talking to the media on the project site at Moheshkhali under Cox's Bazar district recently.

The state corporation is implementing the project at Tk 65.68 billion.

Of the total cost, the government is providing Tk 12.19 billion, the BPC 6.85 billion and the remaining Tk 46.63 billion is being provided as project aid.

As part of the project work, approximately 135 kilometre (km) offshore pipeline and 58-km onshore pipeline have already been installed.

Work on the Construction of the pumping station and tank firm are almost completed, and six storage tanks are nearing completion.

Of the six, three tanks will able to store crude oil with 50,000 cubic-metre capacity each and the rest be able to store diesel with 30,000 cubic metres each.

The Netherlands-based Blue Water completed the construction of SPM 'Boya' which is awaiting shipment to the project site.

The China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Co Ltd is currently building the country's maiden SPM system.

The 'Installation of Single Point Mooring (SPM) with Double Pipeline' project is being implemented with Chinese concessional loan of around $554 million.

Of the total loan amount, China is providing $467.84 million as preferential buyers' credit and the remaining $82.5 million as soft loan.

The Exim Bank of China is providing the money to be repaid within 20 years at an interest rate of 2.0 per cent per annum with five years' grace period.

Once the SPM is built, Mr Azad says, the BPC will be able to unload petroleum products from a 100,000-deadweight tonnage tanker within 48 hours, which now takes 11 days.

No lighterage would be required to carry fuel from mother vessel, which is now moored at the outer quay, after implementation of the project, he said.

The BPC currently pays $5.50 per tonne to lighterage or small vessels, owned mainly by the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation, to ferry petroleum to its onshore tanks from larger mother vessels.

The SPM will save the cost of the BPC.

Bangladesh annually imports around 6.0-million tonnes of crude and refined oil-1.3-million tonnes are crude oil and refined petro products the remaining.


The Institute of Marine Technology (IMT) is going to be established for the first time here to develop skilled manpower for shipbuilding industry.

All are set to construct IMT on the bank of Karnafuli River, adjacent to Kalpalok residential area at Bakalia Thana in the city.

Land acquisition has already been completed in this regard, sources said.

The institute will be conducted by the Manpower Employment and Training Bureau under the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment.

The students of the Institute will be able to make a significant contribution to Bangladesh's emerging shipbuilding industry and increasing foreign remittances after completing studies at a very lower cost.

Chattogram District Employment and Manpower Office sources said it will be constructed under a project taken to set up 40 technical training centers in 40 upazilas and one Institute of Marine Technology (IMT) in Chattogram.

The cost for the project has been estimated at Tk 1,667.7 crore.

Chattogram district administration has already acquired 2.5 acres of land in city's Bakalia area and formally handed over to the Chattogram District Employment and Manpower Office on August 25 last.

The Department of Housing and Public Works will start construction work on the acquired land soon.

Sources also said such an institute was set up in the area adjacent to Bandar Thana on the east bank of Shitalakshya River in Narayanganj. Its name is Bangladesh Institute of Marine Technology (BIMT).

BIMT started its journey on 10 acres of land in 1958 with nearly 2250 students currently studying.

It is a government engineering institute, offering a four-year Engineering Diploma in Marine and Shipbuilding Technology.

BIMT also offers four separate courses in the engineering department.

Manpower Employment and Training Bureau of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment conducted and regulated it.

Students will get the opportunity for higher education abroad at lower cost after completing study here.

After studying, they will get job opportunities in the world especially in Singapore, Germany, Japan, England, Qatar, Australia and Dubai.

Apart from this, they will also get job in foreign and domestic ships, shipyards and dockyards, power plants, design sections and cement factories.

Talking to BSS, Mohammad Zahirul Alam Majumder, Deputy Director at District Employment and Manpower Office, Chattogram, said that the main target of construction IMT is to create skilled manpower for ocean-going ship of the country.

He said they formally received the acquired land from district administration.

Ratan Kumar Ghosh, project director, told BSS that the Department of Housing and Public Works will begin construction of the building on the acquired land very soon.

"We hope to complete the project by 2022," he added.

 

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A long-awaited railway project for setting up a direct rail line between Bogura and Sirajganj, ultimately shortening Dhaka-Bogura travel distance by 112 kilometres and time by three hours, has finally seen some progress.

Bangladesh Railway has been able to select consultants for the Tk 5,579.70 crore project. It is set to sign a contract later this month with an Indian joint venture firm for updating the project's feasibility study, detailed design, and preparing tender documents, sources aware of the development confirmed to The Daily Star.

The development comes around three years after the government approved the project for constructing the 86.51km dual gauge rail line from Bogura to Shaheed M Mansur Ali Station in Sirajganj.

The project authorities now hope to begin the project's physical work within the first half of 2023, meaning the current deadline, which is June 2023, will have to be extended by at least two years, said sources.

The existing railway distance from Dhaka to Bogura is 324km and once the proposed rail line is built, the distance will be cut short to 212km, said project officials.

It will also cut the distance and travel time between Dhaka and other northern districts, including Gaibandha, Rangpur, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat, they said.

This is one of the six projects being implemented under the Indian Line of Credit. India would provide Tk 3,146.59 crore or 56.39 percent of the total project cost in soft loans.

Under the project, seven new stations would be built at Kalia Haripur, Krishnadia, Raiganj, Chandaikona, Sherpur, Aria Bazar and Ranihat. Besides, the new line will connect three existing stations -- Shaheed M Mansur Ali, Kahaloo and Bogura.

BR Director General Dhirendra Nath Mazumder said the contract with the Indian joint venture is likely to be signed on September 27. However, it will depend on the arrival of officials from the Indian side, he said.

The rail line will significantly reduce the travel time between Dhaka and northern districts like Lalmonirhat and Rangpur, he also said.

Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami are expected to join the programme, said BR sources.

WHY THE PROJECT?

Construction of a direct line between Bogura and Sirajganj has been in discussion for the last three to four decades as the current route is a lengthy and time-consuming one.

Currently, if anyone wants to go to Bogura from Sirajganj, they have to travel via Iswardi, Santahar and Kahaloo.

The BR did a feasibility study and then a final local survey in the early 1990s to establish the direct link. A follow-up study conducted by CANARAIL in 1996 also recommended the establishment of the direct line, showrailway documents.

Call for the direct line got louder when the rail link between Dhaka and BR's west zone was established with the construction of Bangabandhu Bridge in 1998. However, no project for setting up the direct line was taken until October 2018 over unknown reasons.

Asked about the reasons, railway sources said many believe a strong syndicate of bus owners could be behind the delay. The sources did not go into the details.

Around 20 passenger trains are being operated on the Sirajganj-Iswardi-Santaha-Bogura route, BR sources said.

On October 30, 2018, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the project and the work was supposed to be completed between July 2018 and June 2023.

But the project authorities have so far been able to select consultants following lengthy tender and approval processes involving several authorities from both Bangladesh and India. The Covid-19 pandemic only aggravated the delay.

The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase on July 29 approved a proposal for selecting an Indian joint venture company, led by RITES Ltd, as consultant at a cost of Tk 72 crore.

As per the proposal, the firm will update the feasibility study within six months of signing of the contract and prepare a detailed design within the next seven months, project sources said. The tender process for hiring the contractor will start then.

"So, we hope to start the physical work within 18 months after signing of the contract, meaning within the first half of 2023," a BR official said wishing not to be named.

However, starting the physical work would depend on how quickly they would be able to complete the bidding process, he added.

Once the contraction work starts, the consultant would provide services for two and a half years as construction supervisor, he said, meaning the construction work would take at least two and a half years to complete.

In that case, the project deadline has to be extended. "Yes, the project deadline has to be extended for sure. However, it is not possible to say whether the project cost would go up or not," the official said.

 
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