Bangladesh signs $2.25B loan deal with World Bank

The World Bank has agreed to provide a loan of $2.25 billion to Bangladesh for its five development and climate-resilient projects.

A loan deal was signed in Washington, D.C. during an event marking the 50 years of partnership between the South Asian nation and the World Bank on Monday.

Speaking at the event, Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina said: “We are here not to pray. We want our right to develop a partnership with the World Bank. We take loans and we pay the money with interest.”

World Bank President David Malpass was also present at the event.

State-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported that the five projects for which the loan will be provided included Resilient Infrastructure Building Project (RIVER), Bangladesh Environmental Sustainability and Transformation (BEST), Accelerating Transport and Trade Connectivity in Eastern South Asia (ACCESS)-Bangladesh Phase-1, First Bangladesh Green and Climate Resilient Development (GCR D), and Sustainable Microenterprise and Resilient Transformation (SMART).

Speaking to the media, Salman Fazlur Rahman, the adviser to Bangladesh’s prime minister on private industry and investment, said it is the “single-largest loan deal” between his country and the World Bank.


Vanessa Hudson: Qantas appoints first female CEO as Alan Joyce steps down

Australia's flagship airline Qantas has announced its Chief Financial Officer Vanessa Hudson will replace current CEO Alan Joyce.

She will become Qantas' first female boss when she takes over in November.

The airline has suffered turbulence in recent times, with record losses during Covid-19 and a series of controversies damaging the brand.

Ms Hudson, who joined Qantas in 1994, identified restoring the airline's reputation as a priority.

In a statement, she said her historic appointment was "an absolute honour".

"I have two young daughters... and I have always been a mother who has wanted to lead by example," she told reporters.

Ms Hudson praised the airline as an "exceptional company", but also promised to work "very hard" to restore it to its former glory.

Last year, Qantas suffered severe criticism over cancelled flights, lost luggage and delays, but bounced back this year with half-year profits of A$1.4bn (£742.6m, $928.7m)

"We are very up front in recognising that the customer experience was not where we wanted it to be [and] we have invested A$200 million dollars to get the performance back where we were pre-Covid," Ms Hudson said.

She said she would also seek to build a "constructive relationship" with aviation unions in a spirit of "mutual trust", after strained relations during Mr Joyce's tenure.

In 2021, Australia's federal court ruled that Qantas had illegally outsourced almost 1,700 ground staff jobs during the pandemic. The airline then began a high court appeal to avoid paying compensation over the move.

Chairman Richard Goyder paid tribute outgoing CEO Mr Joyce, saying he had done a "superb job" in his 15 years at the top despite the challenges he faced, including the 2008 financial crisis, the pandemic and record oil prices.

Mr Joyce often received personal criticism during his tenure, with his A$19m north Sydney mansion pelted with eggs and toilet paper at the height of the recent airport chaos.

He was also famously attacked - struck in the face with a lemon meringue pie - at a 2017 business breakfast in Perth, over his public support of same-sex marriage during a national debate on legalising it.

Mr Joyce described stepping down as a "bittersweet moment", having steered the airline through tough times.

"There's still a lot I want to deliver in the next six months, and at the top of that list is ensuring a smooth handover to Vanessa, who I'm sure will excel in the role," he said.

Source: BBC

RSS is the mouthpiece of the state and the people – Acharya

Govinda Acharya, the press adviser to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', has said that the government was working for the greater good of the working journalists based on an action plan and that everyone's support was necessary towards that end.

At the Annual General Meeting of Press Center Nepal's National News Agency (RSS) Chapter on Tuesday, he said that the government was formulating laws in the interests of the media workers through the participation of relevant actors. Due to lack of legislation related to the media sector since a long time the expected progress has not been achieved.

He described the National News Agency as the mouthpiece of the state and the people. "In addition to conveying the information of the state to the people, it should raise the issue of public concern," he added.

Also former president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Acharya said that the government was in the process of formulating a law to strengthen the full freedom of the press.

On the occasion, Executive Chairperson of RSS, Dharmendra Jha, shared that the news product of the RSS were being changed according to the need of the hour.

"Access to information is inevitable for developing ideas. Hence, the media should be common and independent", Jha said, "RSS thus belongs to all of us. Hence, the development of all of us is possible only in the development of RSS."

General Manager of RSS Siddharaj Rai said the RSS management has been working to address problems facing the agency through dialogue and consultation.

President of Press Centre Nepal RSS Chapter Ratna Krishna Shrestha shared about the establishment of Press Center Nepal and its activities to date.

Likewise, President of Press Center Nepal Pratisthan Committee, Birendra Oli, President of Federation of Nepali Journalists RSS Chapter Pabitra Guragain, President of RSS Employees Union, Kalika Khadka, Vice President of Nepal Press Union RSS Chapter, Purna Prasad Mishra and other speakers shed light on ways their respective organisation were working to ensure the rights of journalists.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

PM Dahal for self-regulation to make media sector accountable

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has called for development of a self-regulation system to make the media sector dignified, responsible and accountable.

Extending greetings on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day here today, he mentioned the Constitution of Nepal secures full press freedom and the government has emphasized on restructuring, policy and legal reforms for the protection, promotion and development of the media sector to thereby realize the constitutional provision. "Press freedom is not concerning the press only but an integral issue of the overall society and a democratic system. The government is well aware of the importance of a free press for the strengthening of democracy."

In the message, Prime Minister Dahal has said restructuring of the Nepali media sector in accordance with fundamentals of the Constitution including the purpose of the federal democratic republic is the major need of the hour.

In this regard, initiatives such as establishment the Mass Media Authority for the regulation of the media, the restructuring of the Press Council, the recognition of the media as a communications service industry, proportional distribution of public advertisements, accident and health insurance for journalists, the provision of living allowances for senior journalists and journalists with disabilities and the establishment of an integrated mass media development fund are being undertaken.

Prime Minister Dahal also expressed the commitment to formulate necessary laws and structures to ensure freedom of press and expression.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Govt to introduce ordinance to address issues of loan sharking victims

The government is all set to ensure legal provisions through an ordinance to address and resolve the issues faced by the loan sharking victims.

A meeting of the Council of Ministers held on Tuesday decided to amend the laws by bringing an ordinance to troubleshoot the problems of the loan sharking victims.

Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma said, "A decision has been made to recommend an ordinance to the President to ensure legal provisions to resolve the issues in regard to the victims of the usury."

The ordinance will be sent to the President by today itself, Minister Sharma added.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

FNJ records 55 incidents of press freedom violation in a year

The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has shared that it recorded a total of 55 incidents of press freedom violation during a year- since May 3, 2022 to April 26, 2023.

The previous year had seen 75 incidents of press freedom violation. The media monitoring unit of FNJ shared that 93 journalists and eight media houses were affected from 55 incidents of violation.

Categorically, there were two incidents of detention, seven of reporting obstruction, 24 of threat and misbehaviour, and 11 of attack. Similarly, two case were gender based discrimination, one displacement and 55 of professional insecurity.

Counting number of threats issued via digital spheres could rise this data, according to FNJ General Secretary Roshan Puri.

Hundreds of complaints were filed at FNJ over professional insecurity, Puri added.

The FNJ has further worried over cyber insecurity which is prosing threat to press freedom. It underscores the need for strict implementation of Working Journalists' Act, 2051.

FNJ Chairperson Bipul Pokharel said, "Although it has been eight years since the new system-federalism is in practice with the enforcement of new constitution- absence of necessary laws on Nepali media, journalism is worrying."

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Stakeholders call for constant vigilance against tendency to muzzle free press

Various stakeholders have called for constant vigilance against the efforts to muzzle free press and freedom of expression, including among others by framing anti-constitutional laws or flaring up attacks, harassments and intimidation.

At a dialogue entitled 'Press Freedom in Nepal: Status and Challenges' organized by Freedom Forum in the capital on Tuesday on the occasion of the 30th World Press Freedom Day, the speakers said there was no situation of full assurance for the freedom of press despite its guarantee in the Constitution, especially in view of framing news laws governing media and expression.

Speaking on the occasion, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Chairperson Bipul Pokharel cautioned the media fraternity to keep vigil on the attempts to introduce laws not compatible with the constitutional provisions and work towards improving their own performance to gain public trust.

He highlighted growing mass attacks on media, professional insecurity, impunity, non-implementation of Working Journalist Act, media credibility and capacity gap among journalists to utilize digital dividends and tackle threats as key challenges to free press in Nepal. "A separate law was indispensable to deal with digital threats and impunity so as to keep media free and safe as a public good to protect the fundamental freedoms of the citizens, including right to freedom of expression and information".

Likewise, media educator Dr Kundan Aryal said non-state actors have increasingly emerged as a threat to media system due to rise in political intolerance. "In a bid to prevent different forms and manifestations of attacks, big media houses are required to come up with ethical commitment and adopt open and visible editorial policy and grievance hearing and redress mechanisms". Against the backdrop of polluted media landscape in Nepal, media and societal relationship should be transparent, he added.

Executive Chief of Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal said Nepali journalists remained prone to threats and intimidation online with rapid shift towards digital space. 'Nepali media faced digital threats on its content management software during democratic exercise such as election which was blatant violation of data privacy, free press, free expression and information', he shared.

Also speaking on the occasion, Chairperson of Nepal Forum of Environment Journalists Roshani Adhikari highlighted challenges faced by women journalists in terms of remuneration, working environment and decision-making roles. 'Women journalists are not in a position to carry on their profession after marriage so it needs to be addressed through favourable policy to keep them in the media landscape'.

Executive Chairperson of Rastriya Samachar Samiti Dharmendra Jha asked stakeholders to also discuss the issues of editorial freedom, news room diversity, human resource and inclusive content which would contribute to enabling environment for development of media as a common platform. 'Realizing the essence of building pluralistic society, it is the state as well as the multiple stakeholders, including media fraternity to take up the roles'.

Similarly, columnist and investigative journalist Namrata Sharma lamented on the rise in psychological fear among journalists. She insisted the need of educating new journalists on the new media system and human rights in the digital age.

Khimananda Basyal from National Human Rights Commission stressed the need to bring into implementation the journalist safety mechanism which was already developed in collaboration between NHRC and CSOs.

Likewise, Executive Chief of GOGO Foundation Kedar Khadka said the state mechanism was trying to control the civic space in the name of CSOs registration, renewal and project approval which may result in gradual extinct of civil society organizations in Nepal. 'The media and CSOs should collaborate to protect their space and fight against attacks and threats'.

Presiding over the dialogue programme, Freedom Forum Chairperson Haribinod Adhikari said self-censorship was continued to be a big challenge in Nepali media which was infringing on journalist's free expression.

The stakeholders also underlined the need of undertaking research on media's cyber resilience, intimidation on media through software and hardware measures, media monopoly, media transparency as well as recognizing youtube journalism.

The Annual Press Freedom Report-2023, prepared by Freedom Forum, recording trends and incidents of media freedom was also launched on the occasion. According to the report, press freedom violations stood 40 where 79 media persons were affected.

Source: National News Agency Nepal

Swami Vivekananda believed in non-communal social system: Taposh

Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh today said the founder of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Swami Vivekananda, believed in non-communal social system.

"Serving the humanity was Swami Vivekananda's only vow....What he envisioned 127 years ago was a non-communal social system, the symbol of the Ramakrishna Mission that he painted with his own hand shows that he believed in non-communal society, nation and world order," he added.

He said this while speaking as the chief guest at a discussion organized on the occasion of the 127th foundation day of Ramakrishna Mission at Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission in the city on Monday, said a press release.

The mayor said, "The sacrifice that Swami Vivekananda has said was fully dedicated for the people."

"Like Swami Vivekanka, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also worked through his entire life with the ideal of service, his daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also has devoted her entire life to the welfare of the country," Taposh said.

Kazi Firoz Rashid, MP, also spoke, among others.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Report in case over stone-pelting at metro rail on June 7

A court here today set June 7 for submitting probe report in a case lodged over throwing of a stone-like object at metro rail , damaging a glass window, in the area between Shewrapara and Kazipara on April 30.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Shanto Islam Mollik passed the order, accepting the first information report in the case.

A stone-like object hit a glass of the running train at around 11 am on April 30. A case was filed with Kafrul Police Station the next day. According to the case documents, a damage of around Taka 10 lakh was caused in the incident.

Nobody has been arrested so far in the case.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Three killed in Jashore road accident

Three persons, including two members of a family, were killed in a road accident on the Jashore-Chuknagar road in Bujtala area under Keshabpur upazila of the district last night.

The deceased were identified as Jahangir Joardar, 44, resident of Dumuria upazila of Khulna district and his son Mostain Joardar, 14, and Golam Mostafa, 22, son of Abdus Sattar, a resident of Malangi area of the same upazila.

The accident occurred around 7.30pm in the area when a motorbike collided head-on with another one, leaving two bike riders dead on the spot and injured another, Station Officer of Keshabpur Fire Service and Civil Defense Shankar Biswas said.

The injured was taken to Keshabpur Upazila Health Complex where he succumbed to his injuries, he said

Police seized two motorcycles, officer-in-charge (OC) of Keshabpur Police Station Mofizur Rahman said.

A case was filed in this connection, the OC added.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

EC asks DCs, police to enforce electoral code of conduct in city polls

The Election Commission (EC) has directed the metropolitan police commissioners and the district administrations concerned to ensure proper implementation and enforcement of the electoral code of conduct in the upcoming elections to Khulna, Barishal, Rajshahi and Sylhet city corporations.

The respective deputy commissioners (DCs), police commissioners and superintendents of police (SPs) will perform their due responsibilities to ensure proper implementation and enforcement of the electoral code of conduct in the upcoming city corporation elections, said in a press release signed by Assistant Director (Public Relation) of EC Secretariat Mohammad Asadul Haq today.

Noting that the observance of electoral code of conduct is a prerequisite for conducting elections in a free, fair and peaceful manner, the release said the tendency of some candidates to hold rallies, motorcycle processions or show-downs is being noticed during the collection and submission of nomination papers for the city corporation elections which is against electoral code of conduct.

According to polls' code of conduct, no procession or showdown shall be held during the collection and submission of nomination papers or candidates shall not collect and submit nomination papers with more than five supporters.

No procession or any showdown will be held during the pre-election period.

No candidate or any political party or any other person, organization or institution on his or her behalf can bring out a procession or torch procession or showdown or any other kind of procession with truck, bus, motorcycle, boat, train or any other mechanical vehicle.

As per the announced schedule, the Khulna and Barishal City Corporation elections will be held on June 12 While Rajshahi and Sylhet City Corporation elections will take place on June 21.

The last dates for nomination papers submission are May 16 and May 23.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

President seeks India’s ‘more effective’ steps to solve Rohingya crisis

President Mohammed Shahabuddin today urged India to take "more effective" steps to ensure a safe and dignified repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas to their Rakhine state homeland in Myanmar.

He came up with the call as Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Pranay Kumar Verma paid a courtesy call on him at the Bangabhaban here this noon.

Considering the humanitarian ground, he said, Bangladesh has given shelter to the Myanmar citizens but they are not only creating problems in Bangladesh but also in the entire region, President's press secretary Md Joynal Abedin quoted the President as telling the envoy.

The President said Bangladesh considers India as the closest and the most important neighbor and termed the existing bilateral ties as "strong and unique".

He gratefully recalled the important role played by the people and government of India in the Great Liberation War of Bangladesh under the leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the greatest Bengali of all times.

During the meeting, Valiant Freedom Fighter Shahabuddin also highlighted his training during his stay in India in 1971 and participation in the Liberation War.

Referring to the visit of the President and Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh and the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India, the President said, "The visits have opened a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries."

Pointing out that Bangladesh always attaches special importance to bilateral relations with India, President Shahabuddin said Bangladesh has given India access to Chattogram and Mongla ports for transit and trans-shipment of cargo vessels. And the move will significantly cut time and cost needed to transport goods to India's northeastern states and West Bengal.

Dhaka and Delhi signed the ACMP (Chittagong and Mongla Port) agreement in India in 2018 and the agreement would accelerate the socio-economic development of the two countries along with the increase in trade and commerce, he added.

The President hoped that unresolved issues between the two countries, including the water sharing agreement, would be resolved soon through mutual cooperation and discussion.

The high commissioner said India attaches special importance to the development of relations with Bangladesh.

"Connectivity between the two countries has grown tremendously in the last one and a half decades. As a result, the people of both countries are enjoying its benefits," he added.

Appreciating Bangladesh government's "Zero Tolerance Policy" against terrorism and militancy, he said it has resulted in stability in the region which is contributing positively to the economic development of both countries.

Secretaries concerned to the Bangabhaban and Indian Deputy High Commissioner to Bangladesh Dr Binoy George were also present on the occasion.

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Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha