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BANGLADESH


  
  



Key Economic Data 
 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
GDP
Millions of US $ 56,844 51,900 45,500 54
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 440 400 390 175
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Bangladesh


Update No: 013 - (25/01/07)

ELECTIONS POSTPONED 
Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed has cancelled the 22 January polls and the interim government has arrested at least 12,000 people, including senior leaders of the two major alliances, in a nationwide crackdown on "criminals" since the imposition of emergency. 
A state of emergency has been declared and Ahmed said that it was not possible to hold elections as per schedule. Security forces arrested a number of senior leaders of both Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the southeastern port city of Chittagong. 
Over a dozen leaders of the student wings of Awami League and BNP have also been arrested in the past two days. Paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles and the coast guard have been put on high-alert to prevent criminals from fleeing the country. According to experts, the cancellation of polls is valid only because of fears that 19 people, mostly belonging to Khaleda Zia's BNP-led four-party alliance, would be elected unopposed in the polls, boycotted by Sheikh Hasina's AL-led combine. What is problematic now is that the next parliamentary elections may get delayed up to a period of six months as the interim government will require this time to prepare a correct voter list. The government is considering introducing either national identity cards or voters' identity cards before going for the polls and such tasks need minimum six months to complete. The Bangladesh government will also form a committee to prepare guidelines to select from either national identity cards or voter identity cards. The primary objective of the interim government, however, seems to aim at the maintenance of law and order, which of course is critical from the standpoint of democratic rule. The anarchy and chaos surrounding these elections in the last several months has compelled the President to take such action as deemed fit. 

SEPARATION OF POWERS
In another major bid for democracy, Bangladesh's caretaker government of Fakruddin Ahmed arrived at a landmark decision to separate the judiciary from the executive that had been ordained by an apex court directive in 1999 but had been overlooked by successive governments. The government published the gazette notifications of four rules that will bring the magistrates, who work presently under the executive branch of the government, directly under the authority of the judiciary. The implementation of the new rules now requires only an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) as per the 12-point directives of the Supreme Court (SC) in 1999. According to Legal Secretary Mohammad Alauddin Sardar, the documents were taken for publication in the gazette after the president had signed it. "We are preparing to amend the CrPC also as per the Supreme Court's directive," he said, adding that the task of preparing a draft amendment had already started and that the next parliament will have to adopt the amendments made in the notification. Successive governments of the Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party had failed to implement the directive of the apex court in the past. 

BANKING AND BUSINESS

CENTRAL BANK TO MONITOR INSTITUTIONAL & PRIVATE ACCOUNTS
The Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country's central bank, is going to introduce a 'corporate memory' by keeping information relating to violation of its prudential norms and regulations by banks, financial institutions and individuals. The central bank is taking this measure to improve its monitoring and supervisory capacity. The corporate memory will ensure the availability of information with regard to the track record of institutions and individuals against whom the BB has issued any directive or warning or taken corrective actions for violating prudential norms and regulations. The BB has planned to develop a central database by compiling all such individual databases of different banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs), maintained by concerned department of the central bank.

FARM WORKERS TO MALAYSIA
In separate news, Malaysia is going to start importing Bangladeshi farm workers from this week. The Bangladesh Workers Welfare Centre (BWWC), assigned for this manpower export, claimed that prospects for local agricultural labour forces being employed in the Malaysian plantation sector is hopeful, since Indian and Indonesian farm workers have taken work in this sector in recent times. Golam Ahad, the BWWC chairman, at a press conference at the Reporters Unity auditorium, said that "this week we are sending a team of 40 persons to Malaysia charging an amount of only 60,000 taka as service fee and by the next week another team of 50 persons would leave Dhaka.We know that it is tough for the average farmer's family to pay a huge sum of money, so we made arrangements that the employers in Malaysia pay for the tickets of intending migrants in which case, the primary charge to go to Malaysia would be reduced to 25-30 thousand taka." This organization seeks to ensure the welfare of Bangladeshi expatriates in Malaysia. Ahad, a Bangladesh-born Malaysian citizen who has been living there since 1977, was also critical of the Bangladeshi recruitment agencies and their association, Baira (Bangladesh Association of International Recruitment Agencies), saying that this trade body has long been charging much higher rates than what is required to export manpower there. The intention here is to export only the surplus of agricultural laborers to the plantation sector in Malaysia so that they do not face any trouble to work there.

A BOOM IN THE TELECOM SECTOR (Source: Reuters)
The number of mobile phone users in Bangladesh rose 135 percent in 2006 to 21.76 million and is likely to double again this year as competition in the sector heats up. Five mobile phone providers in Bangladesh have added a record 12 million customers last year, with some 2.6 million new subscribers signed up in December alone, said officials at the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission. The number of mobile users in Bangladesh will grow to 50 million by 2009. Grameenphone, majority owned by Norway's Telenor, has doubled its subscriber base to 10.76 million from 5.5 million in December 2005. But its market share has declined to 50 percent from 60 percent in 2005. Aktel, majority owned by Telekom Malaysia International, maintained its second place position, with the number of subscribers rising to 6 million from 2.07 million. Egyptian Orascom Telecom's Banglalink saw its client base grow by 2.61 million to 3.64 million customers. The only CDMA carrier CityCell, a joint venture between Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited and Singapore Telecommunications, grew to nearly 1 million users from 440,000 in 2005. Mehboob Chowdhury, Asia Pacific chairman of the GSM Association, said he expected there would be 20 million new subscribers by end of 2007, taking the total to more than 40 million. Nearly half of Bangladeshis still live on less than a dollar a day. But the country has been one of Asia's fastest growing cellular markets, with a mobile phone penetration rate of around 12 percent. Mobile phone services have emerged as an important contributor to the cash-strapped nation's economy. The mobile sector added $650 million (330 million pounds) to Bangladesh's gross domestic product in 2005, telecom officials said. The country has only 1 million fixed-line phones, mostly provided by state-own Bangladesh Telephone and Telegraph Board.

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