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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: 008 - (31/08/06)

POLITICS
Prime Minister (PM) Khaleda Zia is expected to collect authentic information about the field level standings of her party's key ally Jamaat and probable partner Jatiya Party (JP-Ershad), from the party's grassroots level leaders during its National Executive Committee meeting. Sources said that she will consider the opinions of the grassroots level leaders while making her mind about expanding the ruling alliance. But internal feuds and the JP issue are likely to be the focal points for the grassroots level leaders as about 40 organizational districts have been left with expired committees. According to party leaders, Khaleda will give directions to a selected few at the grassroots level so that they can face the crucial few days following the handover of power in the last week of October. Khaleda Zia is expected to emphasize continuing party activities after the handover of power according to senior BNP leaders. Also, the party high command decided to take opinions from the grassroots level leaders on the issue of Jatiya Party's probable inclusion in the alliance so that they can be inspired to work together to ensure victory in the election.
BNP sources said. "Party leaders will talk about the next election which will be helpful for us to win it," said BNP Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain. 
The NEC meeting, seen as preparatory to the next general election scheduled to be held in January next year, will focus on preparing an election manifesto, latest political situation and organizational work all over the country. According to the program schedule, Khaleda Zia will sit in a closed door meeting with the grassroots level leaders after the inaugural session, to which the media will not be allowed access. 

In separate news, a Bangladesh court has acquitted former military ruler Hossain Mohammad Ershad of graft charges in an oil and defence deal, easing the way for his return to the political mainstream ahead of elections next year. Ershad who was ousted from power in a popular movement in December 1990 still faces charges of corruption and abuse of power in half a dozen other cases. "He has been discharged from two charges of corruption because they could not be proved for lack of valid grounds," said his spokesman Sunil Shuvo Ray. A court official confirmed the decision which followed an acquittal in another corruption case earlier this month. Ershad, who ruled Bangladesh for nearly nine years after seizing power in a bloodless coup in early 1982, has said that he planned to join the ruling alliance headed by Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. But the coalition has put off a decision on accepting Ershad into its fold after a key Islamist group said it may hurt the alliance in elections due next January. Ershad has already served six years in prison in two cases and is currently out on bail in three other cases. His supporters say the charges lodged against him were a political vendetta (Source: Bangladesh's New Nation)

INDIA AND BANGLADESH
Indian home secretary V K Duggal talked to reporters during his two-day official talks in Dhaka. He said, 'India and Bangladesh are friends and must remain friends always and work for a solid relationship so that future generations should not find fault with us on any issue'. The killings of Bangladesh nationals every alternate day along with frequent skirmishes in the border, have created enough bitterness between the two peoples at least, if not between the two governments for their strategic relationship, for all these tragic incidents. The Indians are fully aware of the causes of all these unfortunate incidents taking place in the border areas as well as their solutions. Bangladeshis are at the receiving end and cannot ensure the solutions despite their desire to resolve them once and for all. Instead of addressing the burning and long outstanding issues that remain unresolved for years and decades, the talks and meeting held at official and political levels either in Dhaka or in Delhi concluded without any tangible outcome. 
The 1974 Indo-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement is a prickly issue between the two countries and came up at the formal discussion. Its non-implementation due to India's non-ratification of the agreement that was signed at the highest level by the two late prime ministers - Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Mrs. Indira Gandhi - by India's Parliament lies at the root of most border problems. Due to an unanticipated delay in implementing the accord, Bangladesh has a 'passage only' right through Tin Bigha for entry to her two enclaves, Dahagram and Angorpota - and not the corridor itself on lease in perpetuity, as envisaged in the 1974 agreement. From what experts argue, it seems that until and unless the Indian Parliament ratifies the land boundary agreement, all the talks and meetings would continue to be a futile exercise as once ratified, it is binding on the part of the Indian government to implement it. More than three decades have elapsed since the agreement was signed but they have not yet ratified the accord. The Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission, better known as JRC, is another glaring example of protracted issues like sharing water of the common rivers which go through endless discussions and talks for months and years, but have resulted in little concrete solutions. 

ECONOMY
Recently, in an article by Dr. Anwar Hossain, Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, the author argued about the need of nuclear power technology to meet Bangladesh's growing power demand. Bangladesh is in shortage of power grids. The current supply of electricity is simply inadequate to meet demand in all major cities. The situation is worse in smaller towns. Many people are, therefore, forced to suffer during the hot summer seasons, let alone the loss of productivity that such chronic shortage of power contributes in the manufacturing sector. Dr. Hossain has pointed out that money is the most serious impediment to achieving a big goal such as building nuclear power plants. "In the 'New World Order ' agenda of Bush-Blair," he said, "the primary design is hostility to any Muslim nation, and to deprive its nation-states from getting cutting-edge technologies like nuclear and laser technology." Hossain claims that the current activities in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to stop Iran from the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purpose are sad reminders that our best intentions may not be sufficient even if hundreds of millions of dollars are spent and there is no guarantee that the intended facility would produce electricity. The problem is even graver for Bangladesh, according to Hossain, for the following reasons. Its economy is weak with low cash flow. Those who can afford to be domestic shareholders in big projects are filthy rich and often corrupt. This leaves out major potential contributors from inside. The loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) may involve high interest rates with too much red tape that may be too high a pressure on a nation that has not learned to manage its wealth right! Also, thanks to a media barrage from India and the pro-Israeli lobby, Bangladesh is increasingly viewed abroad as a nation that sponsors terrorism. India appears to be a hostile neighbour, he alleged, and it is difficult to see how Bangladesh would be able to get into the nuclear field unless the government changes its outlook and promotes mutual trust. Bangladesh requires large sources of energy to make the necessary transition to a developing nation. Hossain further argues that today, nuclear energy is cheap and its technology much safer than what it was back in the early 1980s when he worked on hypothetical LOCA problems (similar to the Three Miles Island disaster in Pennsylvania). Today, there are also alternative means of energy generation, e.g., wind mills and solar energy. They are quite suitable for tropical coastal terrains of Bangladesh. A thorough review of all these potential candidates for energy is needed before opting for the nuclear option. If and when nuclear energy is the best option to choose, an international tender may be called for bidding. 

In a separate study, an editorial by Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Governor, Bangladesh Bank, it has been noted that the primary challenge for Bangladesh's economy today is the financial deepening-which is high on its long-term development agenda. For now, as a part of the pro-poor lending policy, banks should increasingly provide credit to the areas like agriculture, agro based industries, and small enterprises. To encourage extension of credit to small business, Bangladesh Bank has established a Tk. 1000 million refinancing facility. In addition, IDA and ADB have contributed US$10 million and US$30 million respectively. In the short term, the country has to stabilize its inflation rate. The special need for reconstruction and rehabilitation after last year's flood and persuasion of an accommodative monetary policy aimed at acceleration of economic activities has resulted in the rise of money supply. Globally there is a trend of rising interest rate. Seeing that real interest rate has fallen very low as the inflation rate has risen, banks are now compelled to offer higher nominal interest rate, or in other words, positive real rates to attract their deposits, without which credit expansion and rise in investment would not be possible. R. Ahmed hopes that banks would lower the nominal rates as soon as their liquidity positions improve. All these, however, are dependent on the market fundamentals. The American Chamber of Commerce, a vibrant forum for the business interests has been playing a very positive role in development efforts.

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