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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: 014 - (22/02/07)

NOBEL LAUREATE ENTERS POLITICS
Bangladesh's Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus has taken most politicians by surprise by launching his own political party, the Nagarik Shakti (citizens' power) group. With this move, Yunus is all set to enter the foray of politics. His party will contest 300 constituencies in the next parliamentary elections, for which no date has yet been set. Yunus sparked an outpouring of joy and national pride among Bangladeshis from all walks of life last year when he was awarded the Peace Prize for a micro-finance scheme that earned him the nickname "banker to the poor." However, this new political trump card has evoked mixed reactions. Those who are optimistic see Yunus a genuine leader who brings with him the promise of eradicating corruption and uplifting the conditions of the poor. Yet, there are those within political circles with years of experience who seem extremely sceptical of Yunus's decision to join politics. For instance, Sheikh Hasina, chief of the Awami League (therefore a big potential loser from a new party), and a former prime minister herself, has already expressed her displeasure over Yunus joining politics. According to her, "newcomers in politics are dangerous elements and are to be viewed with suspicion and they often do more harm to the nation than good." Sheikh Hasina's remarks mark an extreme position as it displays how closed the democratic process in Bangladesh is. Its political parties are a byword internationally for their corruption and ineptness. Successively the monolithic government and opposition parties have badly misgoverned this nation. But even well educated individuals in Bangladesh are willing to boycott Yunus's programs. While it is true that Yunus does not appear armed with years of political experience, however, given the alternatives facing the public, Yunus would be a good choice and as his record indicates, he seems to have a genuine cause. While Bangladesh may strive to be a democracy, it must begin by allowing individuals freedom to enter politics. 

INDIA-BANGLADESH TRADE RELATIONS
India plans to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers from Bangladeshi goods and import two million pieces of ready-made garments duty free as a friendly gesture to its eastern neighbour. India will also remove restrictions from the import of cosmetics from Bangladesh and make the Sealdah-Joydevpur passenger train service operational to strengthen communications. These agreements were reached as part of India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Dhaka to invite Bangladesh to the 14th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in New Delhi on April 3-4. His Bangladeshi counterpart, Foreign Affairs Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, told the media that India had already declared withdrawal of non-tariff barriers to trade and would issue a notification to this effect. It will be beneficial for all SAARC countries." He said Bangladesh and India had 'agreed to jointly combat terrorism, which today poses the most grave challenge to both the societies and threatens rapid economic development of the nations.' This was the first ministerial visit from India since recent political developments in Bangladesh -- with the ninth general elections cancelled and a national emergency imposed last month. 

ECONOMY
The Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country's central bank, on Monday relaxed single borrower exposure limits allowing 'AAA' rated multilateral development banks (MDBs) to offer guarantees against borrowing. "In cases of credit facilities provided against government guarantee and 'AAA' rated multilateral development banks (MDBs) guarantee, the ... restrictions (single borrower exposure limit) shall not be applicable," Earlier, the government used to be the only guarantor in such cases. The central bank took the measure to improve the quality of credit culture as well as ensuring large loan amounts for real entrepreneurs, the officials add. 

A delegation of industrialists in Bangladesh has asked for a reduction of duties on industrial raw materials to sustain industrial growth. Bangladesh's import regime is characterized by relatively high tariffs which raise the cost of production by increasing the price of imported inputs above world prices. This is why the readymade garment industry had to be kept outside of this import tariff scheme through the system of bonded warehouses that allows them to import all inputs needed for garment exports duty free. But domestic industry which is not geared to the export market has no such advantage and must bear the tariff-inclusive cost of imported inputs. To compensate for this, domestic industry has been shielded from foreign competition by high tariffs on most consumer products that are produced in the country. The sooner domestic producers can thrive without reliance on tariff protection, the better for consumers who happen to be the predominant stakeholder in the marketplace. The same is true for the government. Import taxes distort incentives in the domestic market. With port and customs inefficiency, they distort even more. So, the government should end its reliance for revenue on import taxes and shift more towards reliance on domestic taxes, like income and corporate taxes and VAT which might be more advantageous for the economy as a whole. Over-reliance on import taxes for revenue makes it difficult for government to reduce tariffs faster than they would like in order to promote trade and become more integrated with the global economy. (Source: The Financial Express).

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