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Bangladesh defence sector is at high risk of corruption, according to a recent study of Berlin-based Transparency International.

The organisation released the 2020 Government Defence Integrity Index (GDI) on Tuesday. It said Bangladesh has weak or non-existent safeguards against defence sector corruption.

New Zealand has been found to be the least risky country, the organisation added. Out of the 86 countries featured in the GDI by Transparency International Defence and Security, 62 per cent of countries face a high to critical risk of corruption in their defence and security sectors. The TIB presented the research results in a media release.

Expressing his concerns about the scores of Bangladesh, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, “This index does not say that the corruption exists in the defence sector of Bangladesh. But it has identified the spheres that could see lack of integrity and high risk of corruption.”

The GDI has been published considering the risk of corruption in the armed forces and overall defence sector of a country, essential safeguards to prevent corruption, how far those safeguards are accountable and its practices.

The GDI 2020 has been prepared after assessing the existence, effectiveness, and enforcement of institutional controls across five key corruption risk areas, and provides data on the performance of governments on a range of corruption issues. The five areas are -- political, financial, personnel, operational and procurement. The scores given in a scale of 0 to 100 have been categorised from ‘A’ to ‘F’. ‘A’ is the least risky country while ‘F’ has been categorised as critically risky to fall prey to corruption.

Results say that New Zealand is least risky country of corruption in defence sector with a score of 85 out of 100 which is followed by the UK and Norway with a joint score of 76. Belgium and Netherlands are jointly in the third place with a score of 73. Sudan, which just last month saw the military seize power in a violent coup, performs the worst, with an overall score of just 5/100. Egypt with a score of 6, Myanmar and Algeria with a score of 8 and Iraq with 9 are countries fared better in the index.

The safeguards to prevent corruption in defence sector are either weak or non-existent in the countries that scored poorly in the index, said the TI. At the same time, those countries are unstable, conflictive or its people are subject to oppression.

The 2020 GDI is composed of 86 country assessments, all published between October 2019 and November 2021.

Bangladesh scores 25​

The defence sector of Bangladesh, with an overall score of 25, is in a very high risk of corruption. Out of the five key corruption risk areas, Bangladesh has scored 52, the highest, in Personnel risk area and scored least (0) in Operation risk. Bangladesh scored 26 in Political risk, 19 in Financial risk and 29 in Procurement risk.

Iftekharuzzaman said, “It is essential to reorganise our defence integrity and through this strengthen the institutional capability to prevent probable corruption by giving due importance to the results of the index. The first and most important step to this end would be composing a defence integrity strategy as a continuance to National Integrity Strategy, 2010 through an inclusive process and practice that. Including civil society and media personalities along with specialists and political leadership in composing the draft will make it more acceptable and create national ownership.”

According to the Government Defence Integrity Index, the custom of running the defence-related institutions secretly mentioning various security risks is not correct at all. Rather, secrecy is not a condition for strength in defence and security; this is a political decision. For example, Norway, New Zealand and the UK scored highly in the GDI. This proves that the more the government of a country runs defence sector in a participatory and transparent way, the more the sector is transparent and risk of corruption is low.

In the same way, the comparison of GDI score with World Justice Project Rule of Law Index says those who scored better in open government index also scored more in transparency in defence sector.

An analysis of GDI reveals that the increase in defence or military budget and weak management of the sector are connected. In this case, one per cent of increase in military budget in comparison with the GDP means decrease of GDI score by five points. This proves that maybe the increase in military budget plays as an important element in cases of weak governance, which creates opportunities or risks of corruption using weak governance.

TI said that this is unfortunate that the annual military budget of the US has reached US$ 2 billion, which has been increasing the magnitude of corruption.

According to GDI, the countries that belong to medium to high corruption risk in defence sector are the countries that are involved with 86 per cent of global arms trading between 2016 and 2020. The top five arms exporting countries are -- the US (scored 55 in GDI), Russia (26), France (50), Germany (70) and China (28). These five countries control 76 per cent of global arms business. At the same time, 49 per cent of the arms imported were by the countries that are ‘Very High’ risky from the ‘High’ risky countries.

 

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The International Organization for Migration yesterday (December 1, 2021) launched its flagship World Migration Report 2022 which reveals a dramatic increase in internal displacement due to disaster, conflict, and violence at a time when global mobility ground to a halt due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The report focuses on developments in migration over the last two-year period, with an emphasis on providing analysis that takes into account historical and contemporary factors. According to the report, there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020. Bangladesh is the 6th largest migrant sending country globally, and the 8th largest remittance receiving country, says a press release quoting the report.

"We are witnessing a paradox not seen before in human history," said IOM's Director General Antonio Vitorino. "While billions of people have been effectively grounded by Covid-19, tens of millions of displacement events have forced many others from their homes."

The number of air passengers globally dropped 60 percent in 2020 to 1.8 billion (down from 4.5 billion in 2019) while at the same time internal displacement due to disaster, conflict and violence rose to 40.5 million (up from 31.5 million in 2019).

The report, the 11th in IOM's World Migration Report series, draws upon the latest data from around the world to explain key migration trends as well as issues that are emerging on the migration policy horizon.

"This report is unlike any other edition of the World Migration Report," said the IOM report editor Dr Marie McAuliffe.

According to the report, the number of international migrants has grown from 84 million globally in 1970 to 281 million in 2020, although when global population growth is factored in, the proportion of international migrants has only inched up from 2.3 percent to 3.6 percent of the world's population. The vast majority of people globally (96.4 percent) reside in the country in which they were born. Due to Covid-19, the number of international migrants in 2020 was lower, by around 2 million, than it otherwise would have been.

The report highlights that in 2020, 7.40 million Bangladeshi migrants lived abroad. Despite living beyond the country's borders, the Bangladeshi diaspora has continued to play a key role in the country's development. The World Bank estimates that the Bangladeshi population abroad sent home over USD 18 billion in 2019, with 73 percent coming from those working in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. These remittances account for over 6 percent of GDP, representing the country's second largest source of foreign income.

The efforts by policymakers to encourage and facilitate the sending of remittances have greatly aided the remittance landscape in Bangladesh. The Central Bank of Bangladesh more than tripled the ceiling on its 2019 cash incentive scheme -- whereby remittance beneficiaries receive a 2 percent bonus on transfers made using formal systems -- up to USD 5,000. Additionally, some commercial banks are providing an additional one percent incentive to increase the attractiveness of sending remittances even more.

"In 2020, despite the impact of Covid-19 which slowed remittance flows globally, Bangladesh benefitted USD 21.76 billion injected into the economy through remittances. Overall, international migration has been a critical part of the development story of Bangladesh, with migrants moving to pursue opportunities for economic and social, and then helping raise the living standards in the home" said Fathima Nusrath Ghazzali, IOM Bangladesh's Officer In Charge.

 

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Four mobile operators in Bangladesh have registered 10 lakh new mobile SIM cards and four lakh internet subscribers in October.

At the end of October, the total number of mobile subscribers reached 18.13 crore, while internet subscribers stood at 12.91 crore, according to data from the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).

In September, the total number of mobile subscribers was 18.02 crore and internet subscribers was 12.87 crore.

The four lakh new internet subscribers have been registered through mobile operators.

Among all the operators, Robi Axiata Limited received the highest of five lakh new subscribers in October, bringing its total to 5.35 crore.

The country's largest mobile operator, Grameenphone, secured the second highest of three lakh new subscribers within the same time, bringing its total subscriber base to 8.41 crore.

Banglalink, the third largest mobile operator, received one lakh new subscribers, taking its total to 3.71 crore.

State-owned operator Teletalk secured 80,000 new subscribers in October, registering 64 lakh users in total.

Subscriber means the biometric verified subscribers/subscriptions who have any activity (voice, data, sms etc) at least once in the preceding 90 days, says BTRC.

 

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Scientists at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) have developed a technology for making high quality, delicious and highly nutritious yoghurt, chocolate, ice cream and cheese with jackfruit pulp.

These technologies have recently been developed through the Post-Harvest Management Processing and Marketing of Jackfruit Project with the support of the Krishi Gobeshona Foundation and will help reduce jackfruit wastage and ensure fair prices of the fruit.

According to Bari, 43-45% of jackfruit produced in the country is rotten due to lack of processing and preservation opportunities each year and farmers do not have any choice but to sell the fruits at one-third the regular prices.

Under the supervision of Dr Md Golam Ferdous Chowdhury, Senior Scientific Officer, Department of Post-Harvest Technology, Bari and Chief Researcher of the project, four students of the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Veterinary and Animal Science, Chattogram assisted him in inventing this technology.

According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, 2,47,000 tonnes of jackfruit was produced in the district from over 9,300 hectares of land last season.

"We have invented the technology of making yoghurt, nutritious ice cream, chocolate and cheese as a continuation of the innovative use of jackfruit. The most important thing is that only jackfruit pulp and milk are needed to make these products. After collecting jackfruit pulp, an entrepreneur can produce these products all year round," said Golam Ferdous.

Since jackfruit is rich in various nutrients, products made with its pulp will also be highly nutritious and healthier than other products currently available in the market. No extra or artificial colours or flavours are used here, he added.

He added that 3-5% pulp is used for making yoghurt, 5-8% for making ice cream and 50-60% for producing cheese. As a result, these products can be considered to be ideal products to satisfy hunger and meet nutritional needs.

Dr Chowdhury further said no big investment or large machinery is required for producing the products. An entrepreneur just needs a deep freezer, refrigerator and some small homemade appliances. One can produce products worth Tk1,500 from the raw material of Tk800.

He hopes the products will be well received in the local and foreign markets.

Md Hafizul Haque Khan, Chief Scientific Officer, Department of Post-Harvest Technology, Bari, said, "If we can develop trained manpower in this sector, it will create huge commercial potential which will go a long way in ensuring fair price of jackfruit and is expected to play an important role in nutrition security in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."

Hafizul also said scientists from the Department of Post-Harvest Technology had invented technologies for about 20 products, including chips, pickles, cutlets, jams and jellies made from jackfruit, which caused a great deal of excitement and response among young entrepreneurs.

 

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday reiterated her desire to upgrade Faridpur and Cumilla as two new divisions after the names of two major rivers – Padma and Meghna.

The premier made the remarks while virtually chairing the 7th Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) meeting of the current fiscal year (FY22), Planning Minister MA Mannan told the press after Tuesday's meeting.

State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam informed that the prime minister suggested naming the greater Cumilla as Meghna Division and the greater Faridpur as Padma Division.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made the proposal for the first time while opening the newly-constructed office Bhaban for Awami League's Cumilla City unit virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban on 21 October.

She had said, "I've decided to form two new divisions after two rivers – one would be named after Padma and another after Meghna.


 

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The design of the "Mini Secretariat for Chattogram", an office complex to be built on a newly emerged char on the Karnaphuli River, is going to be changed, with expansion of the project area.

As such, the scheduled presentation of the project design has been deferred.

Chattogram Deputy Commissioner Md Mominur Rahman told The Business Standard, "The design of the project will be changed. A high level government delegation is scheduled to visit the project area on 23-24 December before changing the design. For this, the presentation of the design is being delayed."

Rahman said, "Many top government officials including the principal secretary to the prime minister have seen our proposed design and have made some suggestions. The design will be changed as per their suggestions, expanding the project area. The design was supposed to be presented earlier this month, but it was not possible."

"Being a big project, many things have to be considered seriously. We are expecting a good design and the changed design will be presented to the prime minister at the end of this month," he added.

According to the district administration, the project to accommodate 44 government offices at Hamid char on the Karnaphuli, will start within the next three months. The integrated office complex will be like Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia.

The office complex will be built on 110 acres of land on Hamid Char on the Karnaphuli under Chandgaon police station in the port city. The initiative has been taken to reduce pressure on the city and to provide all kinds of services to citizens from one place.

The Chattogram divisional commissioner's office, the deputy commissioner's office, the Circuit House, and various other government offices spread across different parts of the city will be shifted to Hamid char after completion of the project.

Various other facilities including a convention centre, shopping mall, movie theatre, a multi-storeyed car parking lot and transport pool, petrol pump, school, college, and mosque will also be made as part of the office complex.

 

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Bangladesh government has declared about 1,743 square kilometres area of the Bay of Bengal adjacent to Saint Marin Island as ‘Saint Martin Marine Protected Area’ to conserve marine biodiversity.

In addition to the previously declared 590 hectares of ecologically critical area, the new 70 metre-deep marine protected area has been declared to prevent uncontrolled movement of water vessels, overfishing, dumping of waste and chemicals, and destruction of coral reefs and biodiversity, said a press release.

The ministry of environment, forest and climate change declared this area as the ‘Saint Martin Marine Protected Area’ under the Sections 13 (1) and 13 (2) of the Wildlife (Conservation and Protection) Act, 2012.

As a result, the newly declared protected area will help conserve the endangered pink dolphins, sharks, ray fish, sea turtles, seabirds, corals, marine grasses and marine biodiversity and their habitats.

It will also help improve the livelihoods of local people through sustainable extraction of marine resources, enrich the national blue economy, and achieve the international obligations and targets related to the special economic zone of Bangladesh.

The declaration of this marine protected area will facilitate the proper enforcement of the law and proper management of marine resources with the help of law enforcement agencies deployed in and around the island.

At the same time, the possibility of increasing the abundance of marine fish resources and aquatic life outside the protected area will be multiplied.

 
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