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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: 047- (21/12/09)

Climate Change Talks Potentially Dangerous for Bangladesh’s Agricultural Sector
Even as China and the United States are facing problems over the drafting of a climate change bill, the effects of climate change negotiations in Copenhagen may have significant ramifications for Bangladesh’s agricultural sector. According to a Reuters report, Bangladesh claims that without world support, its agriculture sector is vulnerable to climate change decisions which could lead to severe consequences for millions of people who may lose their primary source of livelihood. Sabir Hassan Chowdhary, one of the delegates from Bangladesh to the Copenhagen climate talks, states that without the requisite infrastructure and technology, asking for significant changes could worsen the situation of the people. Delegates from Bangladesh are worried that further deterioration of its food and livelihood security in the face of frequent droughts, erratic rainfall patterns, cyclones and floods could be nothing short of disastrous.

Even while Bangladesh has advanced its pleas for consideration at the climate change talks, one of the most contentious issues at the talks has been the issue of developed countries providing the funds to assist developing nations in dealing with climate change. Chowdhury has stated that the world community must be able to help Bangladesh adapt to the changing climate. Bangladesh has also asked that the funds received from developed countries should take the form of grants and not loans. For its part, Bangladesh has been exploring measures aimed at mitigating global warming through techniques such as using compressed natural gas as fuel in public and private transport and harnessing solar energy. Citing scientific studies, Ziaul Hoque Mukta, another member of the Bangladesh delegation, said in an interview with IPS that sea level will rise by 45 centimetres by 2050 while 10 to 15 percent of the land area of Bangladesh will be lost under water, displacing a large number of the more than 30 million people in the coastal nation.

If this were ever to happen, poor landless people would be severely affected as a majority of the them reside and earn their living in the coastal areas of the country. The coastal regions comprise 32 percent of the total area of Bangladesh and are home to about 35.1 million people. There are estimated that 65 percent of the 250-square kilometre area in the coastal island of Kutubdia, 227 sq km in Bhola and 180 sq km in Swandip in Bangladesh “have already gone under water because of the sea- level rise.” Ainun Nishat, national advisor and senior advisor on climate change to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Bangladesh country office has also said that climate change is going to make the food security and livelihood survival very difficult. The call of the hour is a strong industrial infrastructure that can sustain these changes. Bangladesh must work on building such an infrastructure in years to come and will perhaps require the assistance of world nations in this endeavor.

Bangladesh’s Resilient Resource: Its Migrant Work Force
While certain sectors of Bangladesh’s economy need to be harnessed, there is a resource that could be utilized for the country’s prosperity in the next few years. Around 5.5 million migrants from Bangladesh are currently living abroad in search of fortune. Of these, 33% are qualified, 15% semi-qualified and 48% belong to low unskilled workers. President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have emphasized the significance of an expatriate community for the country’s economy. The President of Bangladesh Zillur Rehman believes that migrant workers are an important resource because of their professional knowledge acquired abroad and the capital that they bring back to the country. Re-investments into the country’s economy by such migrant workers is what sustains the growth rate.

However, the story is not as straight-forward as it seems. There are major challenges to harnessing the income-generating power of Bangladesh’s expatriate work force. The Middle East and South-east Asian nations serve as the primary attractions for Bangladeshi migrants. These workers account for 12% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). From 1976 to 2008 over 6 million people emigrated to 21 different countries - including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Britain, Italy, Egypt - producing total remittances to the state coffers of over 56 billion dollars, a constantly growing trend. While the migrant working population may be contributing to the country’s economy, some of them are doing so at their own peril. Many such workers face abuse at work and some have even died due to the lack of laws that can protect them from such abuse. According to available statistics, as many as 8 thousand deaths have occurred in recent years with the figures standing at: 788 in 2004, 1248 in 2005; 1402 in 2006, 1673 in 2007; 2237 in 2008. Migrant workers have also invested substantial sums of money to move abroad. According to a World Bank report 28% of the expatriates take the money needed to start from savings fund, 21% receive money from relatives and friends, 12% sell all their worldly goods.
Banking Sector Initiative

Bangladesh's second-largest bank plans to raise 145 million dollars in what will be the country's biggest ever public sale of shares. Janata Bank Ltd, a state-owned bank has asked permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell 10 million shares at 1,000 taka (145 dollars) apiece. “Janata will raise 10 billion taka (145 million dollars) through an initial public offering (IPO). The face value of each share is 100 taka with a 900 taka premium,” said SEC executive director A.T.M. Tariquzzaman. “It will be the country’s largest IPO, subject to SEC permission.” Janata has 850 branches across Bangladesh and four in the United Arab Emirates -- to serve the UAE's hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers. It employs about 13,000 people. The fully state-owned and controlled company had net assets of 3.88 billion dollars in December 2008 and paid-up capital of 55 million dollars. The size of Janata’s IPO will dwarf the previous record set by the country’s largest mobile operator Grameenphone in October this year -- which raised 71 million dollars in a key test for the Dhaka stock exchange (DSE). Thousands of people queued at banks for days to submit applications for the Grameenphone IPO when it launched. The company's shares soared over 250 percent on the first day of trading at the DSE in mid-November, propelling the benchmark stock by a record 22.61 percent, or 764.88 points and pushing the market capitalisation past 25 billion dollars.  

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