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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: 022 - (29/10/07)

A DOCTRINE OF SEPARATION OF POWERS
The interim government in Bangladesh has planned to separate the judiciary from executive control on November 1 despite mounting opposition from within the bureaucracy. This plan of separation will be executed on November 1, 2007, said adviser of the interim cabinet, Mainul Hosein. Hosein also said that the government would look into the "inconsistencies" in the rules promulgated for the separation. Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed, who is currently touring the United States expressed the fact that despite being a difficult task, the process for separation of the judiciary from the executive had to be started immediately or else it would never achieve fruition. Ahmed alleged that political governments had made commitments in the last 15 years to separate the judiciary from the executive control, but none of them implemented it. Chief Justice, M Ruhul Amin, is likely to observe the historic event of freeing the judiciary from the executive and the end of the latter's control over the subordinate courts, on November 1. If this plan of separating the judiciary from the executive goes through, it will be a major step towards not just an institutional change in government but also a significant move towards greater democratization. One of the major facets of a democracy is separation of powers between the three institutions of government, namely, the legislature, executive and judiciary. An impartial and independent judiciary is considered critical to maintain checks on an over-zealous executive. Therefore, separating the judiciary from the executive in Bangladesh is extremely necessary to main a system of checks and balances on executive governance in the future. 

BANGLADESH'S ARMY CHIEF CONFIRMS GOVERNMENT INTEREST IN HOLDING ELECTIONS
Bangladesh's army chief General Moeen U. Ahmed, who is presently in the United States, has confirmed the government's intentions and faith in holding elections "at the earliest" and to restore democracy "at any cost". Speaking at Harvard University in Cambridge, Moeen pledged to "re-establish democracy and root out corruption." In an anti-corruption drive launched by the army-backed interim government, security forces detained more than 170 political figures. The list includes former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia, and dozens of ex-ministers. At Harvard, Hasina's son Sajib Wazed Joy asked Moeen why his mother was being held in prison in Dhaka. To which Moeen said that he would be the happiest person if she was not found guilty. Joy is Harvard educated and his sister, Saima Wazed Putul lives in the United States, they have vowed to lead an overseas campaign for the freedom of their mother. Some former ministers have already been convicted and sentenced to various prison terms. A Dhaka court issued an arrest warrant on Wednesday against Hasina's sister, Sheikh Rehana, who lives in London, on an extortion charge. Two other co-accused in the case, which involves alleged extortion of 30 million taka ($435,000) from a businessman, are Hasina and her relative, former minister Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, who is also currently in prison awaiting trial. What is not very clear from Moeen's trip to the United States is whether there is any credibility to his statements about the belief in the government holding elections, as he said open-endedly, "at the earliest. So while the general could talk about securing the lives of his fellow citizens, it might be a while until we see actual results. 

INDIA-BANGLADESH BORDER TALKS
Beginning on October 24, 2007, in a week-long meeting between the chiefs of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), border talks will be the dominant theme of discussion. The meeting between BDR director general Major General Shakil Ahmed and BSF director general Ashish Kumar Mitra is scheduled to begin on October 24. The two sides will discuss the handing over of the demarcated Bangladesh land under Indian possession at Naogaon border. Installation of border pillars, demarcation of the remaining un-demarcated areas and intensified vigil against smuggling of illegal weapons, explosives and drugs into Bangladesh, plus the eruption of violence between frontier forces, were also likely to feature during the six-day talks. Ahmed will lead the 22-member Bangladesh team while the BSF chief will head an 18-member Indian delegation in talks, the second of its kind this year. The previous meeting was held in New Delhi in February. A Bangladeshi official said that earlier 1200 bighas of land near Punorbhaba river at the northwestern Naogaon border was handed over to Bangladesh in line with recommendations of a joint commission in 2003. However, BSF set up 12 camps there within one month and the area was still in their possession. In the meeting, the Bangladesh team is also going to raise the incidents of firings on Bangladeshis as well as kidnap and arrest of them by the BSF men and Indian citizens, and exchange and release of the dead, captured and arrested.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS
BB BEGINS RE-FINANCING COMMERCIAL BANKS

The Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country's central bank, has started refinancing the commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) offering low cost home loans to their clients, according to Dhaka officials. The Delta BRAC Housing Finance Limited was the first among the banks and NBFIs to get the refinancing facility of US$79694.32 (BDT 54,75,000) against their disbursements of $106259.09 (BDT 73,00,000). Nine commercial banks and 13 NBFIs) have already signed agreements with the central bank in this connection. The central bank of Bangladesh earlier introduced a refinancing scheme for the housing sector for the first time as a step towards meeting one of the basic needs of the people. Under the scheme, people belonging to the middle class and lower middle class will be able to purchase apartments or construct dwelling houses of maximum 1250 square feet each with loans from financial institutions. An applicant having a monthly income up to US 436.68 (BDT 30,000) will be entitled for the loan of maximum $21834.06 (BDT 1.50 million) for the housing purpose. The repayment tenure is 20 years maximum with a one-year grace period. The rate of interest on the loan will be 10 per cent and will be calculated on a quarterly basis. The central bank formed a $43.68 million (BDT 3.0 billion) fund initially for three years with $14.55 million (BDT 1.0 billion) to be provided every year under the plan. The commercial banks or NBFIs, which will disburse the loan under the scheme, will receive 75 per cent of the amount from the central bank as refinancing facility, and the remaining 25 per cent will have to be met by the individual banks and NBFI 's from their own funds, according to the scheme. 

LIMITS ON FOREIGN WORK PERMITS
Bangladesh's Board of Investment (BOI) has imposed a five-year limit on foreigners working for commercial firms and industries, arguing that the country needs to open up more jobs for locals. This may be a serious development for Bangladesh's economic infrastructure, since "the BOI will not issue permits to any foreign citizen to work in Bangladesh for more than five years." This was declared by Mohammad Mohsin, BOI's executive chairman. However, the restriction will not apply to foreigners working in diplomatic or other non-commercial posts. 

The decision was made after a taskforce recently found that a number of foreign workers in Bangladesh hid their actual income to evade government taxes -- prompting BOI to scrap work permits for 25 foreign nationals. They found that Bangladesh has at least 100,000 foreigners working in industries and commercial sectors but that only 10,000 have legal work permits. Initially, the foreign nationals had work permits for one or three years but had managed to stay longer, sometimes as long as ten years. The BOI will also ban all unskilled foreign labour working in foreign or joint foreign-domestic owned companies, in an attempt make more job opportunities for locals. From now on, no unskilled foreign national whose monthly earnings are less than $500 will be allowed to work in industrial firms with complete foreign ownership, or to set up under joint venture, according to Mohsin. Mohsin also said that Bangladesh's population could not afford to accommodate foreign workers for too long. 

The question this issue then raises is what kinds of strengths have foreign workers brought to Bangladesh's economy? While supporting the growth of local business maybe a good idea, why should it be done at the exclusion of allowing foreign workers to participate? 

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