Fiscal Transparency: Bangladesh made significant progress, still didn’t meet requirements

Bangladesh?government made significant progress towards meeting international requirements in fiscal transparency, but it still fell short of the minimum standard, says a new report released by the US.

The 2022 Fiscal Transparency Report says that fiscal transparency informs citizens how government and tax revenues are spent and is a critical element of effective public financial management.

The report was released yesterday (September 9, 2022).

Fiscal transparency provides citizens a window into government budgets and those citizens, in turn, hold governments accountable. It underpins market confidence and sustainability.

Also read: Fiscal policy support needed for economy to tackle inflation: CPD

The government of Bangladesh did not meet the minimum requirements but made significant progress in fiscal transparency, the report said.

Since 2008, in consultation with other relevant US agencies, the Department of State has conducted fiscal transparency assessments of governments that receive US foreign assistance.

The Fiscal Transparency Report reviews efforts by 141 governments (and the Palestinian Authority) to meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency; assesses those governments that did not meet the minimum requirements; and indicates whether governments that did not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency made significant progress toward meeting the requirements.

Read How to safely send remittance to Bangladesh?

How to improve the fiscal transparency of Bangladesh?

The US report says Bangladesh’s fiscal transparency can be improved by:

— Preparing budget documents according to internationally accepted principles.

— Ensuring that the supreme audit institution meets international standards of independence and has sufficient resources.

— Publishing timely audit reports that contain substantive findings, recommendations, and narratives.

— Making basic information about natural resource extraction awards public and consistently available.

Read Hope amidst forex crisis: Bangladesh received $2.03bn remittance in Aug

During the review period, the government made significant progress by publishing its end-of-year report within a reasonable period.

It also made its executive budget proposal and enacted budget widely and easily accessible to the public, including online.

Information on debt obligations was publicly available.

Budget documents provided a reasonably complete picture of the government’s planned expenditures and revenue streams, including natural resource revenues.

Financial allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises were included in publicly available budget documents.

Also read: Universal Pension Scheme from new fiscal year

Information in the budget was considered generally reliable, although budget documents were not prepared according to internationally accepted principles.

The government’s supreme audit institution reviewed the government accounts, but its reports did not contain substantive findings and were not made publicly available within a reasonable period.

The supreme audit institution did not meet international standards of independence.

The government specified in law or regulation and appeared to follow in practice the criteria and procedures for awarding natural resource extraction contracts and licenses.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

What’s next for currencies featuring Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted on British banknotes and coins for decades. Her portrait also has been featured on currencies in dozens of other places around the world, in a reminder of the British empire’s colonial reach.

So what happens next after her death this week? It will take time for the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries to swap out the monarchs on their money.

But that doesn’t mean the bills don’t work — they do.

Here’s a look at what is next for the paper cash featuring the late queen:

SWITCHING MONARCHS

The queen’s portrait on British notes and coins is expected to replaced by a likeness of the new King Charles III, but it won’t be immediate.

Also read: ‘The Crown’ pauses production because of queen’s death

“Current banknotes featuring the image of Her Majesty The Queen will continue to be legal tender,” the Bank of England said. An announcement on existing paper money issued by the U.K.’s central bank will be made after the official 10-day mourning period has ended, it said.

The Royal Mint, which is the official maker of British coins, said all coins with her portrait “remain legal tender and in circulation,” with more information to come later.

“As we respect this period of respectful mourning, we continue to strike coins as usual,” the Royal Mint said on its website.

With 4.7 billion U.K. banknotes worth 82 billion pounds ($95 billion) in circulation and about 29 billion coins, British money bearing the queen’s image will likely be in circulation for years.

“Rather than all of the current coins and notes being handed in, the process will be a gradual one and many of the coins featuring portraits of Queen Elizabeth II will remain in circulation for many years to come,” according to Coin Expert, a British coin research website.

After Charles takes the crown at his coronation, a new portrait will need to be taken to use on redesigned notes and coins, the website said.

Coins featuring him will show him facing to the left, replacing the queen’s rightward gaze in line with tradition dating to the 17th century. It dictates monarchs be shown in profile and in opposite direction to their predecessors.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES?

Other nations’ currencies that feature the queen — from Australian, Canadian and Belizean dollars — also will be updated with the new monarch, but the process could take longer, because “it is much easier to enforce a new design in the country where it originates, rather than in other countries where different jurisdiction may take place,” the Coin Expert website said.

The Bank of Canada said its current $20 banknote, made of synthetic polymer, is designed “to circulate for years to come.”

“There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the Monarch changes,” the Bank of Canada said.

In general, when a new portrait subject is chosen for Canadian money, the process begins with drawing up a fresh design, and a new note is ready to be issued “a few years later,” the bank said.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said it will issue all of its stock of coins depicting the queen before new ones go out with Charles’ image. The queen also is featured on the $20 bill, which is made “infrequently” and there is no “plan to destroy stock or shorten the life of existing banknotes just because they show the Queen,” the bank said.

“It will be several years before we need to introduce coins featuring King Charles the Third, and longer until stocks of $20 notes are exhausted,” it added.

THE QUEEN’S CURRENCY

She first appeared on money when she was still a princess. That was in 1935, when Canada’s $20 bill featured 8-year-old Princess Elizabeth, whose grandfather King George V was then the monarch, as part of a new series of notes.

Canadian $20 bills were updated with a new portrait of the queen in 1954, a year after her coronation, and her portrait also started appearing on other currencies around the world, mainly British colonies and Commonwealth countries.

British bills didn’t get her image until 1960 — seven years after her coronation. That’s when the Bank of England was granted permission to use her likeness on paper money, starting with the 1-pound note, though the formal and regal image was criticized for being too severe and unrealistic.

She became the first monarch to be depicted on British banknotes. British coins, meanwhile, have featured kings and queens for more than 1,000 years.

CURRENCIES OUTSIDE THE U.K.

At one time, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.

Her image is still featured on money in places where she remains a beloved figure, such as Canada, and continue to incorporate the Union Jack into their flags, like Australia and New Zealand.

She’s also found on notes and coins issued by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the monetary authority for a group of small nations including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Other places have long stopped putting her face on their currency. After Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, its central bank replaced the queen on paper notes with portraits of national heroes such as Marcus Garvey.

Notes in the Seychelles now feature local wildlife instead of the queen. Bermuda did a similar revamp, though the queen retains a minor position on bills. Trinidad and Tobago swapped in a coat of arms after it became a republic.

Hong Kong dollars issued after Britain handed its colony back to Beijing in 1997 feature Chinese dragons and skyscrapers on the Asian financial center’s skyline.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

EU delegation to run ‘Erasmus+ Roadshow’ in Dhaka, Rajshahi

The European Union (EU) Delegation in Bangladesh will run ‘Erasmus+ Roadshow’ campaign from 11 September to 27 September at 13 different public and private universities in Dhaka and Rajshahi to promote Erasmus + programme opportunities.

The Erasmus+ is the European Union’s flagship educational exchange programme for students, teachers and institutions engaged in higher education.

Also read: EU’s Erasmus + scholarship 2021-2022 for 139 Bangladeshis

The programme has a strong international dimension, funding scholarships for students and academics from all over the world to come, study and teach in 33 European countries, according to the EU Embassy in Dhaka.

The programme also finances cooperation projects within higher education institutions in Europe and the rest of the world, promoting partnership plus capacity building among institutions.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Man held with 30 gold bars in Benapole

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on Saturday claimed to have detained a man with 30 gold bars worth over Tk 2.53 crore at Benapole border in Sharsha upazila of Jashore district.

The detainee has been identified as Asiqur Rahman, 36, son of Abdur Razzak of Balunda village in Benapole.

Tipped off, a team of BGB-21 conducted a drive in the Goga area and detained Ashiqur with the gold bars while he was about to sneak into India in the afternoon, said commanding officer of BGB-21, Lieutenant Colonel Tanvir Ahmed.

The market value of the seized gold bars is Tk 2.53 crore. “He has been handed over to Sharsha police,” the commanding officer said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Thailand now offering 10-year visa: Who are eligible?

In addition to other advantages, the 10-year LTR visa holders will receive fast-track service at international airports in Thailand, are exempt from needing a re-entry permit when travelling to and from Thailand, and can secure digital work permits, according to TAT News.

Also read: Malaysia offering premium visa to draw wealthy investors

Who are eligible for the 10-year Long-Term Thai visa?

• Wealthy international residents with US$1 million or more in total assets, US$80,000 or more in personal income over the previous two years, and US$500,000 or more invested in Thailand.

• Foreign retirees who earn at least US$80,000 per year personally.

• Professionals who work from Thailand must have a personal income of at least US$80,000 per year over the previous two years, at least five years of work experience, and be employed by a legally registered firm with at least US$150 million in revenue over the previous three years.

• Professionals with a high level of skill who make at least US$80,000 per year personally, are knowledgeable in the target industry, and have at least five years of work experience.

Spouse and offspring (under 20 years) of an LTR visa holder are also eligible (up to four dependants per visa holder).

Also read: US embassy holds “Super Friday” to help meet huge demand for student visa interviews

The Thai LTR visa has several advantages

• 10-year visa with the option of an extension.

• Reporting to immigration once a year rather than every 90 days.

• Fast track service at Thailand’s international airports.

• Permit for multiple re-entries.

• Thailand work authorization (digital work permit).

• Decrease of the personal income tax rate to 17% for highly qualified individuals.

• Exemption from the ratio of four Thais to one international employee.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

ABB, BAFEDA will meet tomorrow to set uniform dollar rate for banks

Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB) and Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers’ Association (BAFEADA) will meet again tomorrow (September 11, 2022) to determine the uniform exchange rate of US dollar.

They (ABB and BAFEDA) will then formally inform Bangladesh Bank of their decision on the execution of a single rate of the dollar.

On Thursday, Bangladesh Bank had discussions with banks to determine what to do in the dollar market. Central bank’s Deputy Governor Ahmed Jamal chaired this joint meeting with ABB and BAFEDA leaders. At the end of the meeting, Governor Abdur Rouf Talukdar joined. But they could not finalise the decision on a single rate for dollar.

Both organisations sought time to monitor the dollar market and understand the import-export situation before setting the unified rate of the dollar.

There has been volatility in the dollar market for several months. The central bank is struggling to keep the exchange rate of the dollar stable.

ABB Chairman and Managing Director of BRAC Bank Salim R. F. Hussain told UNB that the dollar market will stabilize in the next two months due to decrease in the transaction deficit in foreign trade.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

BRAC Bank to provide loan to MPO-listed teachers to procure laptop

With the help of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), BRAC Bank has made it easy for MPO-listed teachers to purchase laptops through its Digital Personal Loan.

BRAC Bank signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with DSHE at the latter’s office in Dhaka recenly.

According to BRAC Bank, the teachers can apply for the loan digitally through Shadhin platform developed by Shadhin Fintech Solutions Limited.

Their applications will be assessed, and the bank will disburse the loans digitally with this end-to-end solution.

Teachers can avail of up to BDT 80,000 with an instalment facility of 6/9/12/15 months. They will not need to pay any down payment. Walton Digi-tech will provide the laptops at a special discounted price.

An official of the BRAC Bank said the loan will be collateral free and single digit interest rate will be applicable in repayment of the loan.

With this financing facility, the teachers could now create digital content for their students. The initiative is an example of financial inclusion and innovation in banking services which will also contribute to the government’s vision of Digital Bangladesh.

Read: IFC, BRAC Bank to launch Bangladesh’s first ever housing bond

In the first phase, teachers of MPO-listed educational institutions in Savar and Gazipur areas can avail the loan facility.

Professor Nehal Ahmed, Director General, DSHE; and Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO, BRAC Bank, signed the agreement in favour of their respective organizations.

All Directors of DSHE; Liaquat Ali, Deputy Managing Director, Walton Digi-Tech Industries Limited; Mohammed Shadman, Chairperson, Shadhin Fintech Solutions Limited; Md. Mahiul Islam, Head of Retail Banking; Md. Monirul Islam Rony, Head of Retail Lending; S M Ishtiaque, Head of Digital Loan Underwriting; Muntasir Rahman, Head of Application Development and Enterprise Systems, BRAC Bank, were also present.

The unique aspect of this loan is that it will be processed and disbursed digitally, giving convenience to the teachers.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

BGMEA seeks uninterrupted energy supply by special arrangements

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has requested the government to make special arrangements to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to the export-oriented factories in an effort to keep production unhurt.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan made the request recognizing the energy crisis globally and its impact domestically including on the readymade garment industry.

He was speaking at a press conference at the BGMEA Complex which was arranged to brief the media about the “Made in Bangladesh Week.”

Read: BGMEA for shoring up Bangladesh-India interactions in apparel, textile

BGMEA Vice President Md. Shahidullah Azim, Vice President (Finance) Khandoker Rafiqul Islam and its Directors were present.

“Made in Bangladesh Week” will be organized by the BGMEA in partnership with Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) on November 12-18 to showcase the impressive stories of Bangladesh apparel industry as well as its continuous strive to pursue excellence.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to open the “Made in Bangladesh Week” on November 13.

The BGMEA President said the industry witnessed uninterrupted growth over the last one year – August 2021 to August 2022.

“We are observing with concern that the work orders have gradually been declining,” the BGMEA chief said, adding that the work orders have come down by 20-30 percent for the next season due to inflation and likely recession in Bangladesh’s two major export markets – Europe and the United States.

Faruque Hassan said the retailers have been struggling to adapt with the growing inflation and many brands are witnessing a declining trend of sales which ultimately increased their unsold stocks.

“Considering all these things, our exports might witness a negative trend in the coming months,” said the BGMEA chief.

Read: BGMEA seeks Netherlands’ support for Bangladesh’s smooth LDC graduation

The government imposed 1 percent source tax on export profits for the current fiscal. The BGMEA chief requested the government to keep it like the previous year (0.5 per cent).

The week-long initiative will present physical events comprising summits, expositions, exhibitions, awards, factory tours, cultural shows and networking.

It is a signature event of Bangladesh which is the world’s second largest apparel exporting country. The country exports ‘Made in Bangladesh’ apparel to over 160 countries in the world.

The ‘Made in Bangladesh Week’ aims to bring under one roof all the stakeholders of Bangladesh apparel industry to initiate collaborations as well as discuss prospects and roadmap for the future.

In addition, the event will work towards a collective promise of promoting sustainability and responsible business.

The week, alongside showcasing the strength of the country’s apparel industry, aims to identify future priorities and scopes of collaboration among the stakeholders to ensure Bangladesh remains as a preferred destination for global apparel sourcing, BGMEA said.

Made in Bangladesh Week will be a milestone event for Bangladesh apparel industry, it said.

Recognizing the importance of strengthening Bangladesh’s presence in the global fashion market and to initiate a greater collaboration with the global stakeholders for sustainable manufacturing and sourcing, BGMEA and BKMEA pursued IAF to organize the 37th World Fashion Convention in Bangladesh.

IAF has agreed to that proposition and the 37th World Fashion Convention will be hosted in Bangladesh in collaboration with BGMEA and BKMEA during 12-15 November 2022 at Radisson BLU Dhaka.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Nagad to disburse allowances under govt’s employment generation program

The Postal Department’s mobile financial service Nagad will disburse the daily wages to 1.5 lac workers under the Employment Generation Programme for the Poorest (EGPP) scheme of the Disaster Management and Relief Ministry.

A tripartite agreement has been signed by the Directorate of Disaster Management, the Directorate of Bangladesh Post and Nagad Limited in this regard recently. Md. Atiqul Haque, Director General of Disaster Management Directorate, and Sheikh Aminur Rahman, Chief Business Officer of Nagad, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.

Read: Nagad ED Shafayet Alam lauded by UK economy journal

Tanvir Chowdhury, Deputy General Manager of Nagad, along with other higher officials from both organizations, were present during the signing ceremony, says a Nagad press release.

Under the initiative, the daily wages of almost 1.46 lac workers from 114 Upazilas of 18 districts and three divisions of the country will be deposited into their Nagad wallets. Each worker will receive a remuneration of BDT 400 per day under the program.

In 2022-2023, these otherwise unemployed hands will receive 80 days of salary in two installments into their Nagad accounts. Cash-out fees will be covered with this disbursed amount, allowing the beneficiaries to conveniently withdraw this money from the nearest Nagad ‘Uddokta’ point at no cost.

Read: Nagad recognises winners of ‘Aurjon O Bijoyullash’ campaign

The EGPP is administered by the Directorate of Disaster Management. The program is one of the government’s initiatives to guarantee social security, through which the impoverished and the functional workforces are provided with financial stability. The program additionally contributes to rural infrastructure development, including construction, maintenance, renovations, roads, drainage system, maintaining market cleanliness, etc.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sheikh Aminur Rahman, Chief Business Officer of Nagad Limited said, “Nagad has disbursed several government social safety allowances since its inception. In this sense, we are unwavering in our commitment to maintaining openness. We believe, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief has entrusted us because Nagad has excelled at the disbursement of all types of allowances.”

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Akbar Ali Khan hailed as strong voice for justice, administrative reformer

Economists and civil society expressed shock at the sudden death of Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, hailing him as a person of progressive principles and enlightened intellect.

They also agreed that his first identity was as a freedom fighter. The ideals of the Liberation War were aptly reflected in his professional life, and his passing away is an irrecoverable loss for society, they said.

They also said the spirit of the Liberation War was reflected in his personal and professional life, in how he thought of building a prosperous economy along with creating a society based on justice.

Talking with UNB, Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya said Akbar Ali Khan reflected the philosophy of self-sacrifice in his life rather than being confined by bureaucratic trappings.

“He was behind introducing and creating a consensus in favour of the principles which are now being accepted very naturally in the administration of the state. He never shied away from linking democratic accountability with development. Instead, he was always vocal about it,” said Dr. Debapriya, who is also a distinguished fellow of private think-tank CPD.

Read: Dr. Akbar Ali Khan: A farewell to the Professor of integrity

Finally, he said Akbar Ali Khan was a brilliant representative of civil society and never hesitated in his post-service life to clarify his policy positions.

Hossain Zillur Rahman, former adviser of a caretaker government, said Akbar Ali was a seeker of knowledge at heart, but not isolated from the people of his society.

“From his early book Discovery of Bangladesh to the numerous titles that followed, he was both meticulous in his scholarship and keen to connect to his readership. His unorthodox titles, his communicative language through which he explained complex economic issues in ways that both piqued and engaged a wide variety of readers, is testament to his great success as an author,” Zillur said.

He traversed many careers: teacher, bureaucrat, freedom fighter, policymaker, writer, and public intellectual. But there was one constant thread in this long and eventful life journey: a fierce sense of integrity, dedication to service, and openness to learning, he said.

Read: Prof Yunus condoles death of Akbar Ali Khan

Dr. Selim Raihan, executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM), said Akbar Ali was a bureaucrat in his professional life, but he was not limited to that.

“He also left an impression of excellence in bureaucracy. He also initiated reforms, although we know how difficult it is to reform the country’s bureaucracy. In some cases he succeeded, in many cases, he did not,” Raihan said.

He had the ability to deeply analyze the socio-economic development of the country. And he also studied the political economy of this development. This is also reflected in his writings. As a result, a great vacuum has been created in the intellectual discourse of the country.

“Many questions are now being raised about how inclusive and sustainable development is. Akbar Ali also spoke about these issues. Not that he talked much about these issues, but what he said had depth,” said Raihan, who is also a professor of development studies at the University of Dhaka.

Source: United News of Bangladesh

VR installation begins at Drik Studio reimagining future of libraries

An immersive virtual reality (VR) installation has begun at the Drik Studio in Dhaka’s Panthapath, reimagining the future of libraries as interactive spaces that engage visitors through multisensory forms of storytelling.

Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, in partnership with The Tech Academy, is hosting “The Infinite Library.”

The VR installation takes visitors through a cave with access to small chambers that double as portals, or micro worlds, that allow one to travel in time.

It seeks to embed human stories within a much grander narrative, one which includes the birth of the planet and the evolution of all life forms.

The “Library” part of the installation is conceived as a living organism, a kind of embodiment of knowledge that introduces itself to visitors personally before inviting them to explore its house. This includes a QR code game, holograms, 3D-printed objects, audio-visual works, and the project’s central piece: a vast VR library set in a cave.

VR installation begins at Drik Studio reimagining future of libraries

Source: United News of Bangladesh

Dhaka School of Economics inter-department football competition held

Dhaka School of Economics recently organised an inter-department football competition.

Six teams from different departments locked horns in the competition. And the development studies department lifted the trophy.

Dhaka School of Economics Director and Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation Chair Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad distributed awards among the participants at a prize-giving ceremony.

Read: SAFF Women’s Champs: Bangladesh crush Pakistan 6-0

Professor Mohammad Mahboob Ali, coordinator of the entrepreneurship department, was present as a special guest.

Assistant professors of the entrepreneurship department Rehana Parvin, Sara Tasneem, and lecturer Shamim Ahmed also joined the ceremony.

Source: United News of Bangladesh