Books on Bangladesh
Update No: 032 - (29/09/08)
Bangladesh Sets Date for Parliamentary Elections
After almost 20 months of rule under a military backed interim government, Bangladesh has gone ahead and set the date for parliamentary elections which is slated for December 18, 2008. This was announced by Chief Advisor (CA) of the interim government. However, the Election Commission (EC) has not declared the formal schedule for the polls. The sub-district elections are also slated to be held in on 24th and 28th December, 2008. The dates for the parliamentary elections have been approved by the major political parties including Bangladesh Awami League (AL) but these parties are not sure about their support for the sub-district elections.
Japan – Bangladesh Relations
Japan is emerging as the biggest donor to Bangladesh by providing the country more than 11 billion US dollars in assistance since its independence in 1971. The United States is holding the second place by providing approximately five billion dollars in assistance to Bangladesh since its independence. Japan has provided aid to Bangladesh in the form of grants in the field of basic human needs like agriculture, health and disaster management. Japanese assistance took the shape of technical cooperation and grants-in-aid in the area of agricultural development, infrastructure and health sectors but since the mid-80s, Japan expanded its assistance to include sectors such as power, transportation, rural development, education, health, disaster management and environment. Some of the major Bangladesh-Japanese collaborative projects include the Jamuna Bridge, Chittagong International Airport, rural infrastructure like roads, bridges, and markets, and some fertilizer factories. Japanese grant assistance also helped to build the Bangabandhu Agricultural University, cyclone shelters, Meghna Bridge and Meghna-Gomuti Bridge. Examples of technical cooperation projects are Solid Waste Management Project in Dhaka City; Science and Mathematics Education Improvement Project; Participatory Rural Development Project; and Maternal and Child Health Project.
More importantly, Japan’s two largest aid agencies--Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)-are going to be merged into a single entity which will ramp up its operations in Bangladesh in the future years. Yasuo Fujita, Chief Representative of JBIC in Dhaka, has said that the “New JICA would provide comprehensive assistance to developing countries by undertaking a broader range of aid instruments, namely, technical cooperation, concessional loans and grant aid in an effective and efficient manner.”
China – Bangladesh to Cooperate on Nuclear Technology
China has agreed to help Bangladesh develop nuclear technology. Beijing has agreed to help the Bangladesh government to develop nuclear technology for peaceful use by building the Rooppur nuclear power plant. China’s attempts to help Bangladesh have been prompted by a huge demand within the country for improving its energy base. Bangladesh's administration has also approached Russia, Japan and South Korea to collaborate in building a nuclear power plant. While this might be a tremendous achievement for Bangladesh in the immediate future, for the long term, this deal could raise serious issues about China’s delivery of nuclear technology to Bangladesh. While the issue poses no serious threat to the subcontinent, it is a topic that deeply troubles the advocates of a non-proliferation regime who have been critical of China’s clandestine support to pariah states in developing nuclear technology. Of course even though Bangladesh intends to use this technology for peaceful purposes, nothing as yet seems to indicate the exact nature of Bangladesh’s peaceful energy program. For the most part, a number of tough questions need to be answered.
A 16 member business delegation from Bhutan recently visited Dhaka to increase Bangladesh’s investment opportunities in the state. Bhutan has been a business partner of Bangladesh for some time but the trade volume between the two countries remains quite small even though there is room to improve the delivery of exports from Bangladesh. More importantly, Bangladesh importers and exporters have been facing serious problems in opening letters of credit in the local banks because local exporters are sometimes unable to send goods through India. The major items Bangladesh imports from Bhutan are vegetable and mineral products, chemicals, prepared foodstuffs, beverages, fruits, vinegar, tobacco, timber, wooden products and textile items - some of which are already popular brands here. With regard to Bangladesh’s exports to Bhutan, things like woven garment, computer accessories, dry food and frozen fish are high on the list.