Bangladesh Coast Guard gets new DG

Rear Admiral Ashraful Hoq Chowdhury has been appointed as the 13th Bangladesh Coast Guard DG according to a notification of the Deputation-1 under Ministry of Public Administration.

Lt. Commander Amirul Haque, media officer at the Bangladesh Coast Guard headquarters, briefed the reporters in this regard on Tuesday afternoon.

Ashraful Hoq Chowdhury was commissioned on 1 January 1988 in the Executive Branch of the Bangladesh Navy. Later, he gathered vast experience while working at the sea and through various trainings held at home and abroad.

Besides, Ashraful Hoq Chowdhury has successfully served in various important agencies of the Inter-Services.

He was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral on 8 February 2021 and before his appointment as the DG he was in-charge of the Khulna Naval Area.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

BNP says AL has no Liberation War spirit

BNP on Wednesday alleged that Awami League has obliterated democracy by establishing a one-party rule in disguise as the party does not believe in the spirit of the Liberation War.

“Awami League only talks about Liberation War spirit, but it never believed in it in practice. They consider themselves the sole bearers of the Liberation War, but they’ve destroyed the spirit of the Liberation War,” said BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

He said the ruling party annihilated democracy, for which people had liberated the country through a long struggle, by dashing the nation’s all hopes and aspirations.

“They (AL) have now established a one-party system of government in disguise by tearing down the constitution drafted in 1972. This party had also established a one-party rule in 1975,” the BNP leader observed.

Fakhrul came up with the remarks while talking to reporters after placing wreaths at BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s grave along with the leaders and activists of Jatiyatabadi Muktijoddha Dal, marking its 29th founding anniversary.

Huge cops were deployed at the entrance of Zia’s grave centring the Muktijoddha Dal’s programme. Police allowed only some leaders of Muktijoddha Dal, including its president and general secretary to go to the grave premises.

He alleged that many freedom fighters lost their lives in the hands of the Awami League after 1972. “They’re now spreading a false propaganda against a real freedom fighter like Ziaur Rahman Bir Uttam and also against Begum Khaleda Zia.”

The BNP leader urged the government to quit paving the way for ‘restoring’ a truly democratic governing system through a credible election under a neutral administration and the Election Commission by upholding the spirit of the Liberation War.

He condemned the police obstruction to Muktijoddha Dal leaders and activists from going to Zia’s grave to pay homage to the BNP founder.

“Muktijoddha Dal consists of the freedom fighters of the battlefield. Unfortunately, the very well-known freedom fighters who came here have been barred from coming to the grave premises,” Fakhrul lamented.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Journalists deserve immense gratitude: BGMEA President

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan has said journalists are genuine heroes who have been working with great courage and sincerity despite health risks amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They are playing a very important role in informing public about the impact of the virus and dispelling misinformation. They deserve our immense gratitude,” he said.

The BGMEA chief made remarks while handing over 25000 masks for journalists to President of Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) Mursalin Nomani on Wednesday.

BGMEA Vice President Md. Nasir Uddin, Director Md. Mohiuddin Rubel, General Secretary of DRU Mosiur Rahaman Khan and Organizing Secretary of DRU Mynul Hasan Sohel were also present at the ceremony held at BGMEA office.

Faruque Hassan said following health safety guidelines, especially wearing masks is a must to minimize the risks Covid-19 infection and spread while there is no alternative to mass vaccination to combat the pandemic.

DRU President Mursalin Nomani expressed his thanks to BGMEA for recognizing the importance of health safety of journalists and giving the masks to them.

Going beyond business promotion, BGMEA also believes in responsibility towards society and is actively engaged in activities for the greater good of the society, said the apex body of the apparel industry.

Considering the unprecedented crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh, BGMEA has come forward with its limited resources to extend its support to frontliners and the poor people who were hit hard.

In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic the trade association has donated more than 1o lakh pieces of face masks to frontliners including doctors, nurses, hospital workers, law enforcement agencies, journalists and many other emergency service providers.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Remembering Nazrul, a poet par excellence!

Friday marked the 45th death anniversary of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, widely revered for his limitless contribution to Bengali literature.

To commemorate the life and works of the rebel poet, different organisations and institutions organised multiple programmes throughout the day.

In the morning, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs paid its tribute to the poet by placing floral wreaths on his grave beside the Dhaka University Central Mosque.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Monsur, Bangla Academy Director General Nurul Huda, Bangla Academy Secretary AHM Lokman, Kabi Nazrul Institute Executive Director Mohammad Zakir Hossain all paid tributes to the rebel poet.

Around 10am, a webinar was organised by Kabi Nazrul Institute, followed by a cultural programme. The online programmes — streamed live on the institute’s Facebook page — was joined by Khalid as the chief guest while Secretary Mansur and Kazi Nazrul’s granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi were virtually present as special guests.

Kabi Nazrul Institute’s trustee board member Sayeda Motahara Banu and Cultural Affairs Additional Secretary Manirul Alam also participated in the discussions at the virtual programme, presided over by the institute’s Executive Director Mohammad Zakir Hossain.

Dhaka University also organised a virtual event at 10.30 in the morning. Presided over by Vice-Chancellor Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman, the programme was joined by National Professor Dr Rafiqul Islam.

Bangla Academy is also slated to hold a virtual event on its Facebook page at 4pm, which will be joined by Khalid as the chief guest. The event will be chaired by Bangla Academy Chairman, National Professor Dr Rafiqul Islam, while Director General Nurul Huda will deliver the welcome speech.

Professor Syed Azizul Huq will read an essay at the event, while Professor Khaled Hossain will participate in the discussion.

The country’s leading cultural institution, Chhayanaut will also stream an online programme, ‘Milone Birohe Nazrul’, on its Facebook group and YouTube channel at 9pm.

Besides, several television channels, radio stations and online platforms will broadcast special programmes commemorating the life and works of Kazi Nazrul.

Known and regarded as the ‘rebel poet’ for his iconoclastic and majestic literary creations, Kazi Nazrul was born in Churulia village of Burdwan in the Indian state of West Bengal in 1899.

According to the Nazrul Institute, Kazi Nazrul wrote 2,600 songs, 600 poetry, three novels, and 43 articles in a career spanning 21 years before losing his speech.

After the death of his father, Kazi Nazrul obtained a job as a caregiver and also worked as a muezzin at a mosque to support his family. At the age of nine, he had to drop out of school to join a Churulia-based professional ‘leto’ company.

He was introduced to Bangali and Sanskrit literature while working for the group. He returned to school a year later and enrolled at Matharun English School, but dropped out again in Class VI due to poverty.

After a while, police officer Kazi Rafizullah took him in at his home in Trishal, Mymensingh, and enrolled him in Class VII at Darirampur School.

Serving the British Army in 1917 as a soldier, Kazi Nazrul started his literary career within a few years. His cult-classic poem ‘Bidrohi’ (The Rebel) was published in 1921. A year later, he started a fortnightly magazine named ‘Dhumketu’ (The Comet).

His nationalist participation in the Indian Independence Movement landed him in the hands of colonial British authorities on several occasions.

While in prison, Kazi Nazrul authored the ‘Rajbandir Jabanbandi’ (Deposition of a Political Prisoner), and his creations later encouraged Bangladesh Liberation War.

Freedom, humanity, love and revolution are the constant themes in Kazi Nazrul’s majestic literary creations. He was against all sorts of religious, caste-based, and gender-based discrimination and extremism.

He wrote short stories, novels and essays, but his songs and poems are his most critically acclaimed literary creations. He popularised Bengali ghazal melodies, and is noted for his liberal usage of Arabic and Persian terms in his writings.

Kazi Nazrul created a new genre in music called ‘Nazrul Geeti’, a collection of 4,000 songs that he wrote and created the music for, many of which were recorded on HMV.

In 1942, Kazi Nazrul began to lose his voice and memory due to an unexplained ailment. Later, a medical team in Vienna identified his illness as Pick’s disease, a rare and incurable neurodegenerative disease.

His family travelled to Bangladesh at the invitation of then Bangladeshi government and settled down in Dhaka in 1972. For his iconic contribution to Bangla literature and culture, Dhaka University awarded him an honorary post-doctoral degree in 1974. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 1976.

Kazi Nazrul breathed his last in Dhaka on August 29, 1976.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Grameenphone, UNDP join hands to make Bangladesh’s youth future-ready

To equip the country’s youth with skills for the jobs of the future, Grameenphone and UNDP are all set to launch a unique virtual learning series.

Titled ‘Get Future Ready: Need for Skills’, the virtual learning MasterClass series is part of their commitment made on World Youth Skills Day. The sessions will be held from August 28 to September 25.

A pool of prominent industry leaders and experts will guide the participants with the aim to enable economic opportunities for all, especially in the post-pandemic era.

Sudipto Mukerjee (Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh), Rubana Huq (Past President, BGMEA), Ridwan Kabir (Vice President, AT&T), Zaved Akhtar (CEO, Unilever), and Yasir Azman (CEO, Grameenphone) will interact with participants on Zoom.

The speakers will discuss various aspects of inclusion, entrepreneurship, global professional scenario, innovation, leadership, and other business and career highlights.

Selective university students currently doing the Communication Skills, Digital Marketing & Entrepreneurship course under GP Explorers – a skills-led digital academy by Grameenphone – will join the sessions.

“We have the crucial advantage of a demographic dividend, which we need to utilise to the fullest,” said a Grameenphone representative.

“Through sessions like masterclass, our youth will get the opportunity to connect and learn directly from a handful of distinguished professionals. They can ask questions to satiate all their queries, from which other young audiences watching the live sessions can also benefit. Hopefully, this is going to be an immensely fruitful initiative for all of us,” he said.

UNDP’s Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee said, “This series of MasterClass, will orient young people to the kinds of soft skills and values which are increasingly considered essential in any workplace and in turn equipping them to become good professionals.

“UNDP is working with all development actors including the private sector to co-create platforms to help youth to not only access more dignified economic opportunities but through that becoming better able to contribute a modern and prosperous Bangladesh for all”.

The first session of the series shall be conducted by Mukerjee on August 28 from 7.30pm.

All sessions of the MasterClass series will be broadcast live on Grameenphone, UNDP, and Prothom Alo’s Facebook platforms.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

ADB okays $1.78 billion for Dhaka-Sylhet trade corridor

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday approved a $1.78 billion multi-tranche financing facility 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.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Dhaka Metro Rail goes on trial run

Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd on Friday put a train of six metro rail coaches on a trial run on Diya Bari-Mirpur route.

MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, told UNB that they put six couches on a trial run from Diya Bari to Mirpur in the morning to check the track from Uttara to Agargaon.

He said the company will put the same set of coaches again on the track on August 29 for reassessing their performances.

Bangladesh’s long wait for its first-ever metro rail is going to be over by December 2022 as work on the project has gained momentum despite disruptions by the coronavirus pandemic.

Four sets of trains — each comprising six air-conditioned coaches — have already reached Bangladesh from Japan and five more sets are scheduled to arrive by September next.

There will be a total of 144 coaches for the 24 train sets that will run on a 21km-route from Uttara to Kamalapur Railway Station via Agargaon, Farmgate, Dhaka University campus and Motijheel. There will be a total of 17 stations, according to project documents.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Covid cases, fatalities continue to fall in Bangladesh

The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 and dying from the virus has continued to fall in Bangladesh, the latest daily figures show.

Bangladesh added 117 new fatalities to its national tally Friday – down from 145 logged a week earlier on August 20.

The average number of Covid-related fatalities confirmed each day has dropped by more than 110 over the last three weeks, 46% of the previous peak.

The country reported below 100, 77 fatalities, on June 26, the highest fatality number – 264 – on August 5 and 10, and 16,230 infections on July 28.

Bangladesh is now seeing a sustained drop in the daily case numbers, reporting 5,059 new cases on average each day – 35% of the peak. The highest daily average was reported on August 3.

Covid cases, fatalities continue to fall in Bangladesh

It recorded 3,525 new cases Friday after testing 27,578 samples, down from 5,993 logged a week earlier on August 20.

The country has been experiencing a surge of Covid-related caseloads and deaths since June 2021.

Between May and June this year, there was a 273% rise in monthly caseloads and 162% in fatalities. In July there was a 150% increase in caseloads and a 170% rise in deaths compared to the previous month, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since the start of the Covid pandemic, Bangladesh has recorded 14,86,153 infections and 25,846 deaths, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

In 24 hours till Friday morning, the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive stood at 12.78%, down from August 20’s 17.18%, while the WHO recommends a 5% or below rate.

Covid cases, fatalities continue to fall in Bangladesh

Meanwhile, the recovery rate rose to 94.50%, and the case fatality to 1.74% compared to the same period.

Dhaka division reported the highest 40 deaths, Chattogram 37, Khulna 11, Sylhet 10, Barishal six, Rangpur five, and Mymensingh and Rajshahi four each.

The government has administered at least 25,258,519 doses of Covid vaccines – enough to have vaccinated around 7.4% of the country’s population, assuming every person needs two doses.

The Covid vaccines cannot offer 100% protection but when more people are jabbed there is less opportunity for the virus to infect and spread.

Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalisations, and death; and with the Delta variant; this is more urgent than ever, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

184 industrial establishments get BIDA registration in 3 months

A total of 184 industrial establishments got registered with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in three months, from April to June this year.

The total amount of the proposed investments of the establishments is some Tk14,128 crore, which is much higher than the investment proposal of Tk5,684 crore in the same period of 2020.

Only 46 industrial establishments got registered with the BIDA during April-June 2020 due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Press Information Department.

The BIDA, the principal private investment promotion agency, provides diversified promotional and facilitating services to accelerate the country’s industrial development.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Bangladesh, Germany hold first-ever Strategic Dialogue

Bangladesh and Germany held the first-ever Strategic Dialogue in Berlin on Friday.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany Miguel Berger led their respective sides at the dialogue.

Both sides agreed to work together for upholding multilateralism, addressing the challenges of climate change, and for closer collaboration in areas of trade, investment, skill development, renewable energy, countering terrorism, and safe and regular migration.

Bangladesh and Germany will celebrate the 50 years of bilateral relations next year.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Daraz celebrates 7th anniversary

Online marketplace Daraz is gearing up to celebrate its seventh anniversary with a campaign designed to express gratitude to its customers and well-wishers.

Daraz Bangladesh, a concern of Alibaba Group, has completed its seven years of operation in Bangladesh.

The online marketplace will run an online festival for its customers during September 2-8 as a gesture of saying thank you to all of its customers, patrons, and well-wishers.

The online marketplace officially announced the “Daraz 7th Anniversary Campaign” through a digital press conference from their Facebook page yesterday.

Customers will be able to enjoy different offers and deals during the campaign. Mystery box, shake shake voucher, mega deals with up to Tk7,000 discount, prepayment discount, I love voucher, and flash sale are part of this campaign.

“I am thankful to all those people who have accompanied us through thick and thin. As a token of love, we have come up with amazing offers and deals as part of the anniversary campaign for our customers,” Syed Mostahidal Hoq, managing director of Daraz Bangladesh, said.

The campaign has been co-sponsored by Apex, Dabur Herb’l, Dettol, realme, Studio-X, and Savlon.

The brand partners of the campaign are Bruno Moretti, Dekko, Fabrilife, Focallure, Lafz, Logitech, Noah, Puma, Ribana, Rongon Herbal, TPlink, Motion View, Trendz, Emami, and Parachute Naturale Shampoo.

The global brand partners of this campaign are CKEYIN, UGREEN, Xiaomi, SKMEI Store, and Wiresto. The event partners are Binge, Ghoori Learning, Hansa Hotel, Cream & Fudge, Amari Hotel, Sky City Hotel, Burger King, 138 East and Dhaka Metro.

The payment partners are bKash, Brac Bank, City Bank, Islami Bank Bangladesh, PBL, Shahjalal Islami Bank, and Southeast Bank.

During the campaign, consumers paying with bKash can enjoy 15% instant cashback (maximum Tk200).

Meanwhile, PBL, City Bank, Shahjalal Islami Bank, Southeast Bank, Brac Bank and Islami Bank Bangladesh customers can avail of a 10% discount (maximum Tk1500 per transaction twice), according to a press release.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

LNG import: Foreign companies seek long-term deals, but experts want competitive bidding

International suppliers are offering long-term deals with Bangladesh to meet its soaring demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG), while energy experts and consumer right groups want the government to go through a competitive bidding process to ensure transparency.

Currently, the government is importing around five to six LNG cargoes, having the quantity of around 138,000 cubic metres every month. But the forecast is that the import will go up gradually as the country’s focus is now being shifted to LNG from coal as primary fuel for power generation.

According to sources, Bangladesh now imports LNG from two companies—Qatar-based QatarGas and Oman-based Oman Trading International—on long term basis while short-term supply is coming from international spot market where 17 more companies are enlisted.

Four more companies have been given green signal to be enlisted with the state-owned Petrbangla to supply LNG from the spot market.

Official sources said the long-term import is based on unsolicited deal while the short-term imports are taking place through a bidding process.

A senior official at the Energy and Mineral Resources Division said Excelerate Energy of USA, local Summit Group, Dubai’s ENOC, AOT of Switzerland, Vitol Asia are among the foreign companies which have recently expressed their interest to supply LNG on long-term basis besides their short-term supply.

He said all these companies are now involved in supply of LNG from spot market on short-term basis.

Meanwhile, consumer rights groups and energy experts have underlined ensuring transparency and accountability to select new suppliers of expensive LNG as the government has moved to select several long-term LNG suppliers to meet the country’s growing natural gas demand.

The government should select long-term LNG suppliers following an open and competitive mechanism, energy adviser of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) professor M Shamsul Alam said.

If the government selects the suppliers arbitrarily the purchase price of expensive LNG will be even costlier, he said.

The CAB adviser also demanded immediate cancellation of the Speedy Supply of Power and Energy (Special Provision) Act 2010 to ensure transparency and accountability in the country’s power and energy sector.

The law was enacted more than a decade back to manage an emergency crisis in power and energy sector. “But now, that emergency crisis is over and the law has no relativity”, he added.

The government subsidy in energy sector will also mount further as the consequences of any farther unsolicited deals, he warned.

On the issue of ensuring transparency in LNG import, eminent energy expert Professor M Tamim said the government should avoid the path of selecting long term LNG suppliers through unsolicited mechanism for the sake of ensuring its ‘anti-corruption’ image.

“The government can select the suppliers either through competitive open tender process by setting some criteria or through pursuing ‘Swiss Challenge’ mechanism”, he said.

A Swiss challenge is a form of public procurement operated in some jurisdictions, which requires a public authority, which has received an unsolicited bid for a public project or for services to be provided to government, to publish the bid and invite third parties to match or better it.

Official sources said Petrobangla inked LNG sales and purchase agreements (SPAs) with the two companies after G2G negotiation under which it started regular import of LNG from September 9, 2018.

The country’s first-ever sales and purchase agreement with Qatar’s RasGas was signed to buy annually around 2.5 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) of lean LNG over 15 years.

During the initial five years of the deal, QatarGas will supply annually around 1.8 Mtpa of LNG, which will be increased up to 2.5 Mtpa in next 10 years.

The purchase price has been set at around 12.65 per cent of the three-month average price of Brent crude oil plus US$ 0.50 constant per MMBtu (million British thermal unit).

If Petrobangla has more demand during the first five years, it can increase the LNG import volume annually to 2.5 Mtpa, and during the next 10 years Petrobangla has the option to reduce the amount by 10 per cent every year.

On the other hand, the entity signed almost a similar deal with Oman trade International to import the bulk LNG.

Source: United News of Bangladesh