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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


Update No: 015 - (28/03/07)

ELECTIONS POSTPONED AMIDST PARTY REFORM
According to a recent statement released by the Election Commission of Bangladesh, parliamentary elections will be postponed until early next year. Election Commissioner, Sakhawat Hossain stated that the commission plans to complete registration of parties seeking to contest the elections by July and then draw up a list of voters. This measure has been taken to ensure that elections are held in a credible fashion. As stated earlier, the army-backed interim administration has also launched a crackdown on corruption, specifying that no election can be held until Bangladeshi politics are cleansed of widespread graft and critical reforms implemented to ensure a free election. The election commission plans to hold the next election without insisting on voter identity cards, to avoid any further delays. However, voters' photographs affixed to their names on the electoral roll will be used to prevent fraud. Most Bangladeshis want the interim government to "eliminate" corruption from politics and governance before setting an election date. Army-led security forces have detained more than 160 senior political figures, mostly from the two major parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), in the anti-sleaze drive including the son of BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia. The reforms proposed by the Election Commission hope to achieve, transparency in the activity of the political parties, promote democratic practices within the parties and prevent anyone but politicians from participating in elections. Moreover, retired civilian government officials or military personnel will not be allowed to participate in polls immediately after retirement. They would need to have engaged in politics for at least three years before they can run for office. Businessmen may also be barred from running for office. These reforms along with a massive anti-corruption campaign under the leadership of interim government head Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed indicate that Bangladesh is learning from its mistakes and heading towards the right democratic path. 

BANGLADESH-UK RELATIONS
British Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon is arriving in Bangladesh to hold talks with the country's caretaker government and political leaders. During his two-day stay in Dhaka, McKinnon is meeting with Chief Advisor, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Foreign Affairs Advisor Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed Choudhury and other members of the non-party caretaker government. Discussions will center on Commonwealth issues as well as an exchange of views on the current political situation. He is also meeting with the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Dr. A. T. M. Shamsul Huda, to discuss preparations for the postponed elections and possible Commonwealth assistance in that regard. After his visit to Bangladesh, McKinnon will travel to India for a visit from March 21 to 23. In New Delhi, he will call on the President, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath, Minister of Finance P. Chidambaram and the Minister of State for External Affairs, Shri E. Ahamed. On March 22, McKinnon will deliver a lecture on the challenges of the 21st century at the Indian Council of World Affairs and will also address the opening session of the Commonwealth Connects International e-Partnership Summit on March 23, an ICT development project, which aims to bridge the digital divide across the Commonwealth. 

ECONOMY
The Bangladesh government is meeting with the association of mobile phone operators to discuss how they could increase revenue shares of the nation as originally intended in the mobile phone agreements signed in 1996. Due to inappropriate political clout exercised during the rule of the four-party alliance and also of the Awami League (AL), the mobile companies ended up giving only 5.5 percent revenue to the government instead of 15 percent as required by the original contract. The government wants to encourage the phone companies to float shares in the local securities market. The first meeting of its kind to be held by the telecom ministry will also ask the mobile phone companies to find modalities through which a larger part of their revenue stays in Bangladesh. The meeting will be attended by high officials of the ministries of finance and commerce, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Telegraph and Telephone Board, Signal Corps Division of Bangladesh Army and two representatives from the mobile phone operators association. Other agenda items for the meeting include increase of job opportunity for local people in the phone companies, further reduction of call rates and overall service improvement. The government has been aware that the mobile companies have been taking advantage of an uneven set of options, which benefited them most. The 2001 caretaker government took note of this irregularity and came up with a report saying that the government was being deprived of hundreds of crores of taka in revenue. This report went to the ministries of law and finance for follow-up action. An amendment of the provisions will enable the government to use mobile companies to serve the national interest better without making undue profit. 

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