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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

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km)
144,000

Population
144,319,628

Capital
Dhaka

Currency
taka (BDT)

President
Iajuddin Ahmed


Update No: 005 - (30/05/06)

POLITICS
Leaders of the Awami League-led 14-party opposition combine have argued that the government in power has done little to remove widespread corruption, politicisation, religious militancy and terrorism during its four and a half years' rule. The opposition party demanded the resignation of the government as it has not been accountable to the people. Many political leaders are of the opinion that unless reforms are introduced, they would do everything to stall the elections. They further demanded cancellation of the new voter list, removal of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and a reduction in the price of essential commodities. If the government failed to meet the demands of the people, street agitation and protest demonstrations would continue in order to ensure a free and fair election to establish people's rights. According to an Awami League member, Motia Chowdhury, an action such as transferring the minister of state for power is not enough. Instead the prime minister should also resign as she also happens to be chief of the power ministry. The Awami League city unit General Secretary Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said there is no alternative but to reform the Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections. 
On December 12, 2005, three opposition leaders and Awami League lawmakers, Abdul Jalil, advocate Rahmat Ali, and Asaduzzaman Noor, filed two writ petitions in the High Court challenging validity of the Chief Election Commission's unitary decision of preparing a fresh voters' list and appointments of enumerators by EC secretariat on political consideration to prepare the voters' roll. Now, the Bangladesh Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission (EC) to prepare the voters' list taking into account the existing electoral roll made in 2000 excluding the names of dead, insane and non-Bangladeshis. The full bench of the Appellate Division comprising Chief Justice Syed JR Mudassir Husain, Justice Mohammad Ruhul Amin, Justice MM Ruhul Amin, Justice Tafazzal Islam and Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury dismissed the appeal filed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice MA Aziz against the High Court judgment over preparation of the electoral roll. Aziz, who is now heading the Election Commission (EC), is also a judge of the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division upheld the High Court verdict with minor changes in the preparation of the voters' list. According to Dr Kamal, the Supreme Court judgment has freed the nation from the uncertainty over making the electoral roll for the next general elections. The Election Commission will now be forced to consider the verdict of the apex court. Barrister Rokauddin Mahmud said the draft electoral roll prepared by the EC is not legal, acceptable and effective and no election can be held on the basis of this list. Barrister M Amir-ul Islam said the EC has committed contempt of court by making and publishing the draft voters' list. 

Bangladesh's relations with Myanmar
Myanmar authorities this month assured the Bangladeshi government that they would never encroach into Bangladesh territorial waters, saying that they are keen to maintain goodwill with their neighbours. Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin visited Yangon where he held first formal Foreign Secretary-level consultations with his Myanmar counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister U Kyaw Thu on May 19. The two sides also agreed on a number of issues of cooperation. Bangladesh earlier had lodged protests to both Myanmar and India against exploring for hydrocarbon within Bangladesh's maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. As a result of the talks, the two sides have agreed that all bilateral issues, including repatriation of Rohingya refugees, border security, road connection and bilateral trade and investment will be taken to the next level of negotiation. Myanmar has agreed to repatriate the remaining 21,172 Rohingyas sheltered in Cox's Bazar. They expressed readiness to take back 8,000 already cleared by Myanmar authorities. After the repatriation of 8,000 through UNHCR, the remaining Rohingyas will be taken back.
The two sides further agreed to strengthen border security by stopping the illegal movement of drug peddlers and gunrunners. They also agreed on holding frequent meetings between the border guards of the two countries -- BDR and NASAKA -- to maintain a secure and peaceful border. With regard to foreign trade, the two sides have decided to increase the volume of trade through border and coastal trade by improving the banking system and shipping line. Two-way trade favours Myanmar as Bangladesh has a major stake in their products. Bangladesh imported US$32.43 million against its export to them of US$4.18 million in 2004-05 fiscal year. The Myanmar government also agreed to ease the visa regime for businessmen by extending visas for at least 15 days. The two sides have also decided to a construct a 25 km road connecting both countries which will later be linked with Kunming of China. The broader objective behind the construction of this road is to establish greater connectivity in the region. The two sides also discussed cooperation in defence in the form of training of military personnel. Finally both countries will exchange cultural delegations from time to time. The Myanmar Prime Minister is expected to visit Dhaka soon. 

Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has assured the Bangladeshi government that it will recruit more Bangladeshi workers, provide development assistance and supply oil at cheaper rates. This agreement was reached during formal talks between Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Al Batin Palace on the first day of the prime minister's two-day tour of the UAE. The talks covered all aspects of bilateral relations. The Bangladeshis are seen as an industrious lot and have contributed immensely to the development of the UAE according to President Nahyan. Currently, 4 lakh (400,000) Bangladeshis work in the UAE. Bangladesh provides cheap labour for construction and other such activities. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia also pointed out an increasing demand for power and energy in Bangladesh to which President Nahyan was more than responsive. Nahyan said he would encourage both public and private sectors of his country to find ways of cooperation and set up power plants in Bangladesh. The UAE president also responded positively to Prime Minister Khaleda's proposal for establishment of an oil refinery in Bangladesh. On cooperation in trade and investment, President Nahyan said that the countries would benefit immensely through increased trade in pharmaceuticals, knitwear and footwear from Bangladesh. During the meeting, planned investment by the Dhabi Group in major ventures was also discussed. Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin said the UAE side was satisfied with the investment opportunities in Bangladesh and encouraged further cooperation in telecommunications, real estate and banking sectors. Both the leaders emphasized continuous contacts at high political levels to strengthen the bilateral relations. They recalled the role of late UAE president Nahyan and late president Ziaur Rahman in cementing the bilateral ties. The Bangladeshi has extended an invitation to President Nahyan to visit Bangladesh who has accepted the invitation. 

BUSINESS/ECONOMY
Bangladesh's mobile telecommunications industry has made a significant contribution to the country's economic development by adding US$650 million to Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) and creating nearly 240,000 jobs. "The mobile phone industry in Bangladesh employs 237,900 people directly and indirectly. As witnessed in other developing countries, mobile phone services are doing exceedingly well in Bangladesh; even more so than land lines run by the state government's Telegraph and Telecomm Board. The number of mobile phone users has risen from 200,000 in 2001 to 11 million in early 2006. The number of mobile phone users in Bangladesh is expected to nearly double to over 20 million by 2007. In a recent economic update prepared by the Asian Development Bank, the report indicates that "despite rapid growth in the subscriber base in the past three years, there is still substantial scope for growth in the mobile industry as some 93 per cent of the population still do not subscribe to a mobile phone service." Bangladesh has also joined the global information superhighway after a submarine cable was laid recently. The cable connects Bangladesh with Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and a number of Middle Eastern countries and France. Bangladesh now has five mobile phone carriers -- GrameenPhone, a subsidiary of Norway's Telenor, Aktel, majority owned by Telekom Malaysia International, Egyptian Orascom Telecom, Banglalink, CityCell, a venture between SingTel and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom and state-run Teletalk. A sixth operator, Warid Telecom International of the United Arab Emirates is set to start its operation soon as the sixth mobile phone company in the country.

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