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Key Economic Data 
  2004 2003 2002 Ranking(2004)
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: 033 - (31/10/08)

Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Britain's Minister of State for Asia, Africa and the United Nations met with Bangladesh's Foreign Affairs Adviser, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury earlier this month. Brown was expected to call on the chief adviser to the military-backed interim administration responsible for holding a fair election. Chowdhury said that during his meeting with Brown, they discussed the country's political situation and the need to hold peaceful elections. The vote is to choose an elected government for Bangladesh after emergency rule was imposed in January 2007. Brown was also scheduled to call on MA Matin, Home Affairs Adviser; Moeen U Ahmed, Chief of Army Staff; and senior leaders of the major political parties. Brown also met with a range of people including Bangladeshi members of UN peacekeeping forces. Highlighting the significance of elections for democracy, Brown also noted that "when I say the elections should be free and fair and legitimate, I think that as much as possible they should take place not under emergency laws but under the regular constitutional arrangements."

A leading non-government organization in Bangladesh is launching a new political party with a mission to restore democracy and reduce poverty. The NGO by the name of Proshika, which is Bangladesh's biggest NGO, has decided to launch a new party called the United Citizens Movement (UCM). According to Chairman of Proshika, Qazi Faruque Ahmed, the party platform draws upon poor laborers, professionals, women and freedom fighters. Faruque's attempt to use an NGO to launch a political party resembles a similar but failed attempt to do so last year by Nobel laureate Muhammd Yunus, head of the Grameen Bank. 

NGOs in Bangladesh are notorious for exploiting the political scenario and are not entirely free of political overload. Faruque has said that UCM will formally register with the Election Commission as a political party and contest the parliamentary election due on December 18. But it seems like this NGO is not the only organization that seeks to partake in the future elections. 

In a separate move, over 300 Bangladeshis who fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s have formed a political party called the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP). Chief of IDP, Kazi Azizul Haq said his party would maintain the country's secular legal system but promised to introduce an Islamic parallel for those who wanted to adhere to it. This party does not believe in violence but will fight for equal rights for non-Muslims and tribal groups. They intend to implement the Shariat law only for those Muslims who are willing to abide by such laws and develop a separate category of civil laws for others. The party hopes to contest at least a third of the parliamentary seats. The IDP is a splinter group of the banned Harkat-ul Jihad al Islami (HUJI), which was accused of carrying out a 2004 grenade attack that injured former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed and killed 20 others. 

HUJI leader Mufti Abdul Hannan, an Afghan war veteran, was arrested in late 2006. The Bangladeshi Election Commission is yet to decide whether it will enlist IDP as a legal political party. But one thing is for sure. The emergence of new parties signifies how hungry the Bangladeshis are for change. 

Myanmar's Senior Vice-General Maung Aye visited Bangladesh this month and the two neighboring countries have promised to expand political and economic ties for their mutual benefit. General Aye, Vice-Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council of Myanmar, led a 57-member high profile delegation including seven cabinet ministers and business leaders. In series of meetings, delegations from both countries discussed issues from trade and business to construction of direct road links and cooperation in various sectors. During the visit, the two sides agreed on Bangladesh's purchase of 100,000 tons of rice from Myanmar. They also agreed to expedite energy cooperation, construction of a trans-border road, delimitation of the maritime boundary, and import of pharmaceuticals from Bangladesh. There was an agreement chalked out on the construction work of a 25-km road connecting the two neighboring countries. This road covers 23 km inside Myanmar and 2 km in Bangladesh's territory. Bangladesh wants to connect the road with that to Kunming in China to boost trade and tourism among the three countries. As the volume of bilateral trade remains at a very low stage, both countries have expressed their desire to increase it up to 500 million U.S. dollars in the next fiscal year (July 2009-June 2010). An agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation was signed during the visit. Myanmar also expressed interest to advance a proposal which would set up a hydropower plant project. This project would obviously benefit Bangladesh's electricity sector. According to the proposal, Bangladesh will build up the plant in Myanmar at its own cost and get 70 percent of the electricity from the project while Myanmar will get 30 percent as royalty.


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