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Sunday, October 18, 2009


Enam Chy leads delegation to China

Enam Chy leads delegation to China


On an invitation from the Chinese Association of Friendship and International Understanding (CAFIU), a good-will mission from Bangladesh, led by Enam Ahmed Chaudhury, leaves for Beijing today, says a press release.
Though at an unofficial level, the mission's visit is being given a great deal of importance, and it is expected that the visit will significantly contribute to the development of mutual understanding and amity in different areas deserving attention.
It may be noted here that Enam A Chaudhury was the first Bangladeshi government representative to have led a delegation to China in late 1974, before China's formal recognition of Bangladesh. At that time, he concluded 5 agreements with several Chinese governmental agencies for export and import of commercial items. This good-will mission will be received by the Chairman and the Secretary General of CAFIU, and they will have discussion with the leaders of the National Committee of the people's consultative conference and others on issues of mutual interest. They will hold a meeting with Bank of China representatives, and will particularly focus on strengthening unofficial financial, investment and commercial ties. This delegation, sponsored by the Bangladesh-China People's Friendship Association comprises Messrs Ehsanul Huq, Managing Director of Prime Bank, Imtiaz Hussain, former president of Dhaka Stock Exchange, Mustafizur Rahman, businessman and Syed M Rahman, industrialist with significant Chinese connections. Besides performing other responsibilities, Enam Chaudhury is the chief adviser of Dhakabashi organisation, and will explore avenues to strengthen cultural ties and exchanges.
The National Committee of the People's Political Consultative Conference chief Madam Wang Zhizen will host a dinner in honour of the delegation on October 20, at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing.
The delegation will return to Dhaka on October 25.

Girl's body recovered

Girl's body recovered


Oct 17 : Sadar thana police recovered the body of a schoolgirl of class two of BRAC school at Chandoni village in sadar upazila of the district on Tuesday at about 12 am. Police said, the victim was identified as Bina (8), daughter of Bishu Sheikh of the same village.
Family sources said, Bina was abducted on Tuesday last when she was returning home from her school. She was abducted by some local hoodlums at gun point.
Police recovered her decomposed body after getting information from under the earth.
A case was filed with sadar thana police station in this connection.

Police arrest owner of garment factory

Police arrest owner of garment factory

Police on Friday night arrested the owner of a sweater factory at Ashuliya on the outskirts of the city from his Gulshan residence on charge of non-payment of arrear wages to the workers.
Ashuliya police station rounded up Ziaul Amin, owner of Seejon Sweater Factory, on a charge filed against him for not clearing outstanding dues of the factory workers.
Ziaul Amin was produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court in Dhaka yesterday (Saturday) with a prayer for seven days remand.
On October 7, a case was lodged against Ziaul Amin with Ashuliya police station in this connection.
Demanding three months unpaid salaries, hundreds of workers of the Seejon Sweater Factory gheraoed BGMEA (Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association) office at Kawranbazar on October 3 and 7. In the face of demonstration, Ziaul Amin promised to clear arrear salaries by October 11.
The agitated workers of the factory also gheraoed the Gulshan residence of Ziaul Amin on October 12.

Crisis of trust

A crisis of trust

Public trust in financial institutions, and in the authorities that are supposed to regulate them, was an early casualty of the financial crisis. That is hardly surprising, as previously revered firms revealed that they did not fully understand the very instruments they dealt in or the risks they assumed. It is difficult not to take some private pleasure in this comeuppance for the Masters of the Universe. But, unfortunately, if this loss of trust persists, it could be costly for us all. As Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked, “Our distrust is very expensive.” The Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow made the point in economic terms almost 40 years ago: “It can be plausibly argued that much of the economic backwardness in the world can be explained by the lack of mutual confidence.”
Indeed, much economic research has demonstrated a powerful relationship between the level of trust in a community and its aggregate economic performance. Without mutual trust, economic activity is severely constrained. Even within Europe, there is powerful evidence that countries where mutual trust is higher achieve higher levels of investment, particularly through venture capital investment, and are prepared to use more flexible contracts, which are also beneficial for growth and investment. So if it is true that trust in financial institutions – and in the governments that oversee them – has been damaged by the crisis, we should care a lot, and we should be devising responses which seek to rebuild that trust. In fact, the evidence for a crisis of trust is rather difficult to interpret. In the United Kingdom, recent survey results are ambiguous. Surveys promoted by financial firms tend to show that trust in them has not diminished much, and that people continue to trust them even more than they do the National Health Service or the BBC. Surveys promoted by the BBC tend to show the reverse. Banks quote statistics to show that they are more trusted than supermarkets, whereas supermarkets cite evidence that the opposite is true, and are expanding into financial services in the belief that the public will trust them more than they trust the banks, which have had to be expensively bailed out by the government. The market will prove one side right before too long.
In the United States, there is now a more systematic, independent survey promoted by economists at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Their financial trust index, based on a large-scale survey of financial decision-makers in United States households, did show a sharp fall in trust in late 2008 and early 2009, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. That fall in confidence affected banks, the stock market, and the government and its regulators. Furthermore, the survey showed that declining trust was strongly correlated with financial behaviour. In other words, if your trust in the market and in the way it is regulated fell sharply, you were less likely to deposit money in banks or invest in stocks. So falling trust had real economic consequences.
Fortunately, the latest survey, published in July this year, shows that trust in banks and bankers has begun to recover, and quite sharply. This has been positive for the stock market. There is also a little more confidence in the government’s response and in financial regulation than there was at the end of last year. The latter point, which no doubt reflects the Obama administration’s attempts to reform the dysfunctional system it inherited, is particularly important, as the sharpest declines in investment intentions were among those who had lost confidence in the government’s ability to regulate. It would seem that rebuilding confidence in the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission is economically more important than rebuilding trust in Citibank or AIG. Continuing disputes in Congress about the precise details of reform could, therefore, have an economic cost if a perception that the system will not be overhauled gains ground.
All these data are at an aggregate level and reflect average views among voters and investors. Yet we also know that individual views are remarkably heterogeneous. Some people are very trusting of others, and of the firms and institutions with which they do business. Others are congenitally distrustful. Researchers at the European University Institute in Florence and UCLA recently demonstrated that there is a relationship between trust and individuals’ income. A pan-European opinion survey, which has been carried out for many years, allows us to relate the two. It asks simple but powerful questions about how far individuals are inclined to trust those with whom they deal. The data show, intriguingly, that those who show levels of trust well below the average for the country they live in are likely to have lower incomes. Is that just because low-income people feel that life is unfair and therefore distrust those around them? It would seem not, as it is also true that very trusting people also have lower incomes than the average.
In other words, if you diverge markedly from society’s average level of trust, you are likely to lose out, either because you are so distrustful of others that you miss out on opportunities for investment and mutually beneficial exchange, or because you are so trusting that you leave yourself open to being cheated and abused. When anyone I don’t know says “trust me” – an irritating conversational tic – I usually close my wallet. Perhaps most academics, who are at the lower end of the skill and qualification-adjusted income scale, do the same. Maybe we should trust each other more – but not too much.
(The writer, former Chairman, UK, Financial Services Authority and a former Deputy Governor, Bank of England, is currently Director, London School of Economics.)

Sea Port of Bangladesh

Deep sea port authority soon

The government is going to form a 'Deep Sea Port Authority' soon to implement the much-awaited deep sea port project at Sonadia Island.
An additional secretary is likely to head the body, which would consist of experts from the related field and government officials of the ministry concerned and the Chittagong Port Authority.
The new body would be assigned to monitor the construction of the regional hub port through mobilizing Tk 10,500 crore, which is 70 per cent of the total project cost of Tk 15,000 crore.
According to the sources, the balance amount of Tk 4,500 crore will be provided by the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA).
A high official of the shipping ministry yesterday told The Independent that the ministry has prepared a proposal regarding the formation of the authority and it would be sent to the cabinet committee on economic affairs to be held on October 20.
"The Deep Sea Port Authority would be formed after getting nod from the committee. The authority will mobilise Tk 10,500 crore from the local capital market, bank loan and also from the foreign donor agencies as soft loan," he said.
"We will invite tender soon for preparing a detailed design to construct the proposed deep sea port," he added.
The grand-alliance government is yet to approve the five techno-economic feasibility study reports of Pacific Consultants International (PCI), a consultancy firm of Japan, the official told this reporter.
The PCI submitted the reports to the Shipping Ministry on construction of a deep seaport, on March 7, 2007 and they recommended the 'Sonadia Island' point, out of nine offshore points, as the most suitable site for construction of deep seaport in Bangladesh.
Acting secretary of shipping ministry Md Abdul Mannan Hawlader yesterday said that they would construct the port at any cost.
It will need five years to complete the construction work of the port.
Sources in the shipping ministry said Sonadia Island itself can act as a natural shelter for port basin and protection works against wave is minimal, required water depth of 14-mcd (meter cubic depth) is obtained by only three kilometre (km) long access channel and the 'capital dredging volume' is very high.
The study report proposed construction of the deep seaport as a regional hub to facilitate maritime trade with two provinces of China and seven states known as seven sisters of Eastern India, in addition to Nepal and Bhutan.
With the construction of the deep seaport, all other vessels calling at the Chittagong Port will take berth at the deep seaport jetties and will easily unload the cargo. Presently, the mother vessel cannot take berth at the existing CPA jetties situated on the bank of the river Karnaphuli, 10-km from the Bay of Bengal.
With the construction of the deep seaport, the annual container handling capacity would be nearly 30 lakh TEUs (ten equivalent units) and the cargo handling capacity would be more than 10 crore metric tons.
Similarly, annual revenue income of the Chittagong Port will also increase by more than Taka 2000 crore.

Democracy Bangladesh

Democracy, unity vital to fight poverty, says PM

Khaleda would have come, had it been a rally for loot, Hasina tells anti-poverty rally

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday stressed the need for vibrant democracy and national unity to ensure alleviation of poverty hoping that no vested quarter would hatch conspiracy to impede democratic process in the country.
"Without democracy and national unity, it will not possible to eliminate poverty. I hope no vested quarter would hatch conspiracy in order to impede democracy," the prime minister said while addressing a united anti-poverty rally at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city.
She said her government was always alert to people rights.
"We will have to ensure people's rights as they voted us to power. We are determined to do so," Hasina added.
The prime minister further said eradicating poverty, establishing rule of law, good governance, and ensuring accountability and transparency are a must.
"We are transparent about our success and failure," she added.
Hasina said that her government wanted to make the parliament effective and keeping this in mind they tried to bring the opposition BNP in the parliament in different ways.
"But they didn't respond to our call," she added in a frustrated tone.
Urging the opposition to attend the parliament and speak for the people she said, "I shall be very glad if leader of the opposition in parliament attend the rally to raise her voice against the poverty and say how Bangladesh can be made a poverty-free country".
Referring to the leader of the opposition Khaleda Zia's refusal to turn out in the programme, Prime minister said that since she (Khaleda Zia) did not bother for the betterment of the poor, she didn't attend the rally.
"The opposition leader didn't like to attend the anti-poverty rally but if it was a programme for looting people's asset, she might have turned up to make a fortune," the prime minister said.
She said that while her party was in opposition in the parliament, they had been given only five to six seats.
"We were 62 MPs in 2001 and the treasury bench had given us only five to six seats but we didn't raise any question about the issue," she added.
The prime minister further said the opposition was given double seats in the front row in the parliament, although BNP has only 27 MPs.
"We also had offered BNP the post of deputy speaker but the party didn't submit any application to the parliament for the post," Hasina added.
She said, "We have given seven posts of chairman of the parliamentary standing committee to the BNP. These seven chairmen are doing their work but refraining from attending the parliament session."
But they (opposition lawmakers) are visiting different foreign countries as parliamentary delegation members, she mentioned.
Hasina said when she was the leader of the opposition in the parliament her microphone had been switched off 72 times.
"But our speaker didn't switch off the microphone when leader of the opposition was speaking," she pointed out.
The prime minister warned that corruption and corrupt would not be tolerated any more.
"The corrupts, who looted orphanage's money and trafficked them outside the country, would be brought back in the country," she said.
She added Anticorruption Commission has been given authority to work independently.
"We have limited resources and assets. As a result, when a section of people start looting, other section become poor. But this trend would not be tolerated further as we want to ensure equal distribution of resources and wealth," she added.
She warned that stern action would be take against the persons involved in any crime or corruption whether he would be the member of the ruling party.
Hasina urged the people from all walks of life and all party affiliation to come forward in order to build national unity for eradication poverty from the country.
She said the government had started building the social safety net to ensure food security in the country. "As part of building social safety net, we introduced Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) cards among the poor. Simultaneously, shelter centres for the homeless people, will also be set up," the prime minister said.
Finance minister AMA Muhith, chief whip and chairperson, all party parliamentary group and co-chair of Anti-Poverty Campaign National Committee, vive-principal Abdus Shahid, Bangladesh Economic Association chairman Kazi Kholiquzzaman, Global director , United Nations Millennium Campaign Salil Shetty and secretary general all-party parliamentary group and member secretary, Anti-Poverty Campaign National Committee Shishir Shil also spoke on the occasion.
Abdul Hamid, speaker, Bangladesh parliament and chairperson Anti-Poverty Campaign National Committee presided over the programme.
Apart from them ministers, government high officials, foreign diplomats and the members of civil society also attended the function.
The UNDP has approved a budget of $ 1.28 lakh for the programme which will be spread over three days.