Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

You can hear the sound of a clock ticking

Posted in Bangladesh, Climate change, Dhaka, Environment, Interviews, Renewable energy by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

My interview with UK govt Climate Envoy John Ashton

Published in The Independent (Op-ed page) on 29 July 2011

Read the article on The Independent website

Digital print version

The voice of urgency on climate change, despite being a globally burning issue, is yet to be widely heard in Bangladesh. The correlation of climate change with global economy, food and international security and human existence are appearing to be far more complex and steadily demanding action from a politically motivated force.

Unfortunately, few countries are so directly exposed than Bangladesh to some of the stresses that eventually everyone will be feeling as a result of climate change, if a successful response can’t be summoned. However, building a coalition of highly ambitious forces and putting political momentum into the issue is posing to be a great challenge for climate change diplomacy.

In a mission to build the much needed political response for a stronger cooperation, John Ashton, international climate politics expert and British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change, came to Bangladesh recently.

“My goal is to work with like-minded people around the world to push up the level of ambition in the global response to climate change,” John Ashton told The Independent in an exclusive interview. Ashton lamented that in nearly 15 years of his involvement in this issue he can’t remember of a time when the available political momentum globally had been lower than it is now.

“You could even say that we have hardly begun to respond to this challenge at the scale we need to. It’s human nature to focus on the important at the expense of the urgent, and there are so many distractions that people regard as important,” he said.

John Ashton, William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change

Describing climate change as a “multiplier of stresses”, Ashton said that it’s a widely made mistake to regard climate change as a separate set of issues that are not intimately connected with other stresses society is dealing with.

Ashton said it would be interesting to see if the two main political parties in Bangladesh can transcend the deep and bitter political rivalry between them and focus on the mission.

“I think I’m fortunate to come from a country where there is a cross party consensus,” said Ashton, referring to his appointment by a Conservative Foreign Minister even after representing two previous Labour Party Foreign Secretaries in the UK. Although it is a very political role, it’s a non-party political role, he said.

Ashton said it’s imperative to pull a finely resilient carbon neutral global economy through effective politics based on a legally binding framework.

“When governments or politicians make voluntary promises it does not fill people with confidence that they will try to the limits to carry out that promise even if there are distractions. We need them to make promises that people can have faith in. That’s why this battle between legally binding and voluntary is so important,” the diplomat said.

Following the watershed at the climate talks in Copenhagen 2009, Ashton remained unconvinced about a fully fledged legally binding framework as an outcome of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, in December this year.

“This is an extremely difficult political subject that would take years to construct. I hope we can come out with a higher degree of confidence that would lead to a legally binding project,” he said.

Responding to a question whether Bangladesh would be able sustain its growth in a low carbon economy Ashton said there is no contradiction between simultaneously wanting to have high growth and a carbon resilient growth.

“Both could be mutually reinforcing if we do it the right way. It is better to use the efficient form of energy which is low carbon rather than the inefficient energy,” he said.

Ashton cited example of the new Chinese five-year plan, which focused more on the quality of growth rather than the quantity after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao termed the country’s economic model as “uncoordinated, unbalanced and unsustainable”.

“There’s a growing realisation that if you don’t pay attention to the quality of growth you may find that the price of having very rapid growth in a very short term is that your growth then collapses, because it contains the seeds of its own destruction,” he said.

John Ashton, UK Govt climate envoy

Voicing optimism about the prospect of renewable energy in Bangladesh, Ashton said that an enormous amount can be done with the available opportunities as they don’t require a huge capital, or technologies that are not yet invented.

“I’m a bit puzzled why there are no solar water heaters in Bangladesh. In China and South America nearly every house has them. They are extremely cheap and in warm countries they can provide all the hot waters needed.” Ashton said.

Advising on Bangladesh’s 2.5 billion tonnes of high quality coal resource in its northern districts, Ashton said it would be wrong to exclude coal although it sits right at the heart of the problem.

Coal is still a very important part of the power generation worldwide. In Germany 50 per cent of all electricity comes from coal, in UK it is about 30 per cent, in America and China it’s 50 and 83 per cent respectively.

Ashton pointed out power crisis as a “particular bottleneck” for Bangladesh and said there are two things to do about coal: one is to move away from coal to lower carbon gas or other renewable; and another is to use it but increasingly apply carbon capture storage (CCS) technology that will make coal carbon-neutral.

“If you have suitable geological conditions for CCS, you can ask the donors and international financial institutions to fund for coal-fired power stations with CCS to become a part of the first-wave of CCS in the world,” Ashton advised, asking to seek help from the climate financing fund of World Bank and Department for International Development (DFID).

“World Bank can pay for the additional costs so that building such a power station is no more costly than a conventional one. It is clearly not reasonable to expect Bangladesh to pay the additional costs of CCS,” he said.

Ashton rebutted the claim of CCS technology being unproven, terming it as “nonsense” and said, “This is not some over-the-horizon technology; this is something that has been on use for a long time in an industrial scale.”

Although Ashton said that he holds no ideological standpoint on whether grants or loans should be given to the vulnerable countries to deal with climate change, rather he opted to go for the suitable financing mechanism available.

“You need a mixture of grants and loans, and you need to make sure that you are using the balance which is suitable for particular circumstances,” he said.  The climate envoy said: “The development community in the industrialised countries needs to take this much more seriously that there is a significant component of adaptation funding that has to be grant based.”

The UK is trying to help in this regard from a moral imperative and climate change is about responding to a deep inequity, he added.

“Those countries which will suffer the most, the soonest, and have the least capacity to deal with the consequences tend to be the countries which have contributed the least to the problem. Unless it’s reflected in the responses we would not be able to gain trust in the international system,” Ashton said.

But he stressed on maintaining a very high degree of transparency so that people can see whether they can be sure to put the money in, and the money don’t get diverted elsewhere.

He said there are some more areas where there is far more sensible to use loan – because it’s easier to bring business-based approach, and private sector players who will give you more efficiency in the interventions.

Urging everyone to build a century of cooperation Ashton said: “We have to learn to define ourselves and our various national identities on the basis of what we all have in common, rather than on the basis what divides us.

Ashton said: “The key is to try and build a willingness to see these problems through each others eyes. If we try to do this just on the basis of a negotiation, where we send negotiators in a big resort in Bali, or in a conference centre in Durban, we don’t learn very much about the realities.”

Putting the onus of a carbon resilient economy on the developed nations, Ashton said, “It is incumbent upon the high carbon and particularly industrialised economies to take the lead in mapping the path for a low-carbon growth model.

John Ashton, William Hague’s Special Representative for Climate Change, in an interview with The Independent

“Everybody’s life is going to be touched very significantly by climate change. The only legitimate conversation to have is one in which everyone has a voice — a global conversation.”

Describing the global spike in grain prices in 2008, following a drought in large part of Australia, one of the world’s leading grain producers, as “a prequel of what to come”, Ashton said the existing double-digit food price inflation in Bangladesh could take a grave shape if the climatic extremes are not dealt urgently. Last year in Russia, heat wave and drought led the Russian government to ban the exports of wheat that saw an immediate surge in international prices of wheat.

On the flipside of the climate change issue, there is an “anti climate change” sect who claim that the issue is a “fairy tale” and the earth will take care of itself. Blasting those critiques, Ashton said: “There are people who still say that the earth is flat. For some there is more cynical motivation because they want to prevent certain actions being taken.

“If you just dismissively say I don’t care about it, it seems to me a deeply immoral position and unacceptable according to the political morality of every society that shares this.”

SAP to help Bangladesh enterprises run better

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Computer, Corporate, Dhaka, IT, Software by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

Published in The Independent on 28 July 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

Leading German enterprise application software company SAP AG on Wednesday announced the launch of its “run better solutions road show” in Bangladesh in a bid to deliver proficient and effective business outcomes for its customers here.

“The show aims to provide a platform for businesses to meet, learn, understand and interact with industry and solutions experts and other successful SAP customers,” said Deb Deep Sengupta, vice president, enterprise sales of SAP.

Enterprises across industries in Bangladesh are relying on SAP software and services to automate and gain better customer insights as well as enhance their global competitiveness, he added.

SAP felicitated nine Bangladeshi enterprises for their successful adoption of SAP enterprise solutions at the event held in Hotel Westin organised by Concito PR.

Leading customers in Bangladesh who use SAP platform include: Berger Paints Bangladesh Ltd, Viyellatex Ltd, Robi Axiata Ltd, Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Rahimafrooz Bangladesh Ltd, Gemcon Foods and Agricultural Products Ltd, Otobi Ltd, MGH Holdings Ltd, and Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company Ltd.

Peter Gartenberg, managing director of SAP, said, “We will focus on Bangladesh to deliver world class business solutions to enable enterprises of all sizes run better and achieve business excellence.”

SAP empowers people and organisations to work together efficiently and use business insight to stay ahead of the competition by extending the availability of software across on-premise installations, on-demand deployments, and mobile devices, he added.

Over the years, SAP has been involved with many projects across industry segments including telecom, banking and financial services, pharmaceuticals, textiles, ready-made garments, retail, real-estate and several diversified conglomerates.

SAP has invested in creating an ecosystem of partners including Optimal Solutions and Aamra Management Solutions Ltd to expand its footprint. SAP leads the enterprise applications market with its portfolio of flexible, cutting-edge solutions and continued innovation, Gartenberg said.

Sengupta said SAP’s power of people, products, and partners unleash growth and create significant new value for customers, and ultimately entire industries and the economy at large.

“The technology platform will allow customers and partners to gain insights for improved performance, efficiency for optimised operations and the flexibility to adjust to new business requirements,” he said.

SAP is headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, providing enterprise software applications and support to businesses of all sizes globally. SAP is the largest enterprise software company in the world, as of 2009 and best known for its SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP ERP) and SAP Business Objects software.

Founded in 1972, SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing) has more than 109,000 customers worldwide and operating revenue of over €12.4 billion (2010). SAP employs more than 53,000 employees in more than 75 countries worldwide.

FDI flow in Bangladesh surges to $913 million

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Finance by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

Published in The Independent on 27 July 2011

Read the article on The Independent website

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Bangladesh received $913 million in foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2010, marking a 30 per cent rise from the previous year, the Board of Investment (BoI) has said.

According to the the World Investment Report 2011, released by the country’s investment promotion agency at its office on Tuesday, much of the foreign investment has gone for acquisition of old assets rather than setting up Greenfield companies.

“It was up to the foreign companies to decide whether to purchase the existing companies or set up new ventures,” said SA Samad, executive chairman of BoI.

He acknowledged that FDI flow in acquisition did not help enlarge the economy.

Telecom sector received $360 million, while manufacturing sector bagged $238 million in FDI. Foreign entrepreneurs invested $145 million in textile industries under the manufacturing sector, while leather sector received $46 million.

Samad said the country should have received $5 to $6 billion in FDI as the country has a huge market and growing economy.

Political instability, military intervention, lack of capacity in the public sector, bureaucracy and natural disaster are some of the major risks of investment in Bangladesh.
However, it is a good sign that the risk factor perception of foreign investors is gradually declining, he said.

Samad said if Bangladessh gets FDI of about 30 per cent of its GDP, up from the existing 24 to 25 per cent, the GDP growth rate would hit about 8 per cent.

“If a country has a sustainable growth rate, the FDI will come automatically,” Samad said, adding that the 65 per cent literacy rate is another factor that attracts FDI.

“If the country has 8 to 10 per cent growth rate for three consecutive years and literacy rate keeps increasing, more FDI would pour in,” he added.

Explaining the high flow of FDI in 2008, Samad said the military-backed government had “friends” from outside also.

“An investment of $300 million came in the telecom sector in 2008 and it accounted for the surge,” he said.

Samad said BoI welcomed global beverage company Coca-Cola’s announcement to invest $50 million to set up a plant in Bangladesh. “We invited them in February to register with BoI to set up the plant,” he said.

“I just came from Moscow and Gazprom also wanted to set up its office in Dhaka,” he added.

The government is negotiating with Gazprom to strike deals to supply gas production-related equipment. It may be a regional office of the Moscow-based multinational company, he said.

The United Nations had set up United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) office to raise the capacity of the government to promote investments in the country, Samad said.

Bangladesh a unique place for investments

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Export and Import by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

Published in The Independent on 26 July 2011

Read the article on The Independent website

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Minister for Industries Dilip Barua on Monday called upon the foreign investors to set up more labour-intensive industries in Bangladesh, terming it as a unique place for investments.

“Bangladesh has the cheapest labour available in the whole world. Investors should move their labour-intensive industries here,” the minister said.

Barua said that the foreign investors can invest without facing any logistical problem, as issues like work permit and environment certificate has been made easy nowadays.

“The foreign investors can easily remit their profit without any problem, or they can invest that back in Bangladesh,” he added.

The minister said that there is no other way but to get industrialised in order to become a mid-income country by 2020.

Barua was speaking in the inauguration ceremony of the 7-day 4th Asian International Trade Expo 2011 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

Conference and Exhibition Management Services Ltd (CEMS) Global in association with CEMS Bangladesh organised the event, which will be open for visitors everyday until 31 July from 11.00am to 9.00pm.

Over 100 exhibitors from 10 countries with exhibit profile like consumer electronics, communication technology, machinery, food and beverage, healthcare products and service, personal care and beauty products, household products, fashion and accessories, arts and crafts.

Barua said exhibitions of this sort are a platform for direct interaction between both the seller and the buyer, which will help in product promotion and business expansion in Asia.

Asia has over 21 per cent contribution to the increase in world GDP, while the sub-continent is the fastest-growing region in the world accounted for over half of the world’s growth since 2001.

Asia Pacific region surged at an annual average rate of 6.3 per cent and South Asia 6.4 per cent, compared with the growth of 3.1 percent in rest of the world.

The minister said despite recent global economic crisis Bangladesh’s consistent growth in GDP, export and remittance depicted substantive and pragmatic economy management.

“There is a favourable investment climate and many local and foreign investment projects are being taken up, which is lauded around the world,” he said.

Bangladesh has been listed in Goldman Sach’s “Next 11” and JP Morgan’s “Frontier Five”. Credit rating agency Standard and Poor (S&P) and Moody’s have also placed Bangladesh ahead of all countries in South Asia, except India.

Aftab ul Islam, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, said this exhibition will create a B2B platform for businesses and interaction between businesspersons of the Asian countries.

The exhibition revolves around within Asian nations and the next editions are scheduled to be held in other Asian countries in coming years, the organisers said. Bringing the Asian countries together under one roof would also increase trade and bilateral relationship within the Asian region, they added.

RMG industries need more technology integration

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Export and Import, RMG and textile, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on July 30, 2011

Published in The Independent on 21 July 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

Bangladesh has to shift to modern tech-based industries for making superior quality ready made garments to sustain its exports growth rate, the commerce minister said on Wednesday.

“We need to rev up our ready made garment (RMG) production, using high-end machinery to achieve exports target,” said Faruk Khan, minister for commerce.

Ready made garment exports target this fiscal year is set at $22 billion, while the sector earned $17 billion in the last fiscal. The total exports earnings target this fiscal is $27 billion, up from $23 billion in the previous one.

To maintain the high growth, RMG industries need to improve their product’s standard and manufacturing technology, he added.

Khan admitted that the nagging power and gas crisis is hampering the industries’ output, but expected that the problems will be over with the upcoming new electricity connections.

The minister was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of 12th Textech Bangladesh 2011 International Expo, organised by Conference and Exhibition Management Services Ltd (CEMS) USA in association with CEMS Bangladesh at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

The Textech expo showcasing latest textile garment technology and machinery will be held till 23 July. Nearly 450 exhibitors from over 16 countries are taking part in the exhibition.

The 9th Dye+Chem Bangladesh 2011 Expo, an international exhibition on dyes and speciality chemicals, and 5th Dhaka International Yarn and Fabric Show, an exhibition of overseas yarn and fabric, are also being held along with Textech.

The exhibition will be open for trade business visitors only everyday from 10:30am to 7:30pm, upon registration at the expo venue.

CEMS Global’s Textech, Dye+Chem and yarn/fabric exhibitions are an international series of exhibitions organised in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

Md Harun Ur Rashid, president of Bangladesh Grey and Finished Fabrics Mills and Exporters Association, said that the exhibition gives industry owners opportunity to get acquainted with state-of-the-art manufacturing machinery.

“I bought $700,000 worth machinery last year and I’m planning to buy machinery worth $1 million this time. I can get machines here at 4 to 10 per cent cheaper rate,” Rashid said.

Faruque Hassan, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that Bangladesh needs to produce high-end garments, fabric and yarn as the global demand for high-end products is rising.

He said the newly relaxed generalised system of preferences (GSP) rule from the European Union, Japan, Norway and Switzerland is a great opportunity for RMG sector to export more.

Prospective markets in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and South Africa will also boost RMG exports in the future, Hassan added.

RMG sector marked a remarkable growth rate of 43 per cent this fiscal year and constitutes nearly 78.15 per cent of the total exports. Bangladesh is also the second largest importer of cotton yarn and fabric in the world.

Meherun N Islam, president and group managing director of CEMS Global USA and Asia Pacific, said, “These exhibitions assemble worldwide technology, machinery and material manufacturers and will help local manufacturers to appraise the latest available technology.”

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Thailand seeks land and logistic support

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Export and Import by Sherpa Hossainy on July 21, 2011

Published in The Independent on 20 July 2011

Read the article in Independent website

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Thailand on Monday sought out land from Bangladesh government to set up new power plant and paper mills and ensure investments flow from Thai entrepreneurs.

“Thai businesspersons are ready to invest here to set up industries, but they are not getting any suitable land,” said Tasanawadee Miancharoen, ambassador of Thailand to Bangladesh.

Logistic support from the government is also a major concern while investing in Bangladesh, she added.

She was speaking at the installation ceremony of the newly formed governing body of Bangladesh Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BTCCI) at Hotel Westin in Dhaka.

The ambassador said that Thailand mainly exports consumer products now, but it would like to invest more in Bangladesh and diversify the bilateral trade, which amounts to almost $1 billion.

“Bangkok Cables would like to come to Bangladesh to set up industry, and there are many power and paper companies in Thailand that would like to invest here,” she added.

Mingpant Chaya, president of Thailand Bangladesh Business Council (TBBC), said, “We could not find any suitable land to set up factories. Lands are very scarce here.”

The TBBC president added that if the government provide the Thai businesspersons with land, which has good infrastructure and transportation facility, they are ready to set up the industries very soon.

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, who was present as the chief guest, acknowledged the issue and said the government would move to acquire some land in the port city for the Thai entrepreneurs to set up their industries.

MA Momen, president of BTCCI, Sajjatuz Jumma, senior vice president, and Mohammed Ali, vice president, were also present in the ceremony.

Acer launches flagship ICONIA tablet PCs

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Computer, Corporate, Dhaka, Internet, IT, Software, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on July 21, 2011

Published in The Independent on 15 July 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

Acer, world’s second largest PC vendor, on Wednesday launched five of its ICONIA series tablet PCs on Google Android Honeycomb platform for the first time in the Bangladesh market.

The new range of tablets — ICONIA Tab A500 and W500, ICONIA dual screen notebook, ICONIA A100 and Smart S300 — will be marketed by Acer’s authorised distributor, Executive Technologies Ltd (ETL). However, A100 and S300 models will be available in the market after four months, ETL officials said.

A model displays an Acer Iconia tablet

The ICONIA Tab A500 will be priced at 45,800, and the 10″ Windows Home Premium, with portable keyboard and Windows 7 operating system, will be priced at Tk 52,800.

The ICONIA Tab A500 and W500 are 13.3mm thick and have 10.1″ touch screen and Aluminum casing. The A500 is equipped with NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual core 1.0 GHz processor with Flash 10.1 support featuring Sky Cross antenna and ZTE LTE wireless module.

ICONIA Dual screen notebook has Intel Core i5 processor with Windows 7 operating system. The 14” notebook has high-definition widescreen LED backlit LCD screen.

The Acer tablets are equipped with a full size USB port, mini USB port, HDMI output, Micro SD card and SIM card support.

S Rajendran, chief marketing officer of Acer India, said, “With a first mover advantage on our Android 3.0 Operating System, we are confident to address the rapidly growing consumer IT segment in Bangladesh.”

The ICONIA A100, a 7” Android tablet, is designed for mobile experience and includes video chat and video recording options. The S300 model, a 4.8” Smartphone on Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system with 8 megapixel camera, is targeted at avid mobile internet users.

The ICONIA series is a concept device featuring an intuitive all-point multi-touch functionality, offering a range of devices such as smartphones, notebooks and tablets.

Acer is the first PC vendor to launch its tablets under both operating systems — Google Android Honeycomb 3.0 and Windows 7, the officials said.

The Acer tablets also feature Clear.fi media sharing system to share content amongst the gadgets. It will be preloaded on the device to access, play and share multimedia across the home network and to instantly publish updates to social media networks.

Salman Ali Khan, deputy general manager of Executive Technologies Ltd, said, “We believe our association with Acer will bring a new dimension and help us deliver through our distribution network.”

As consumers adapt to new technologies ETL is confident to address the growing IT market of Bangladesh, he added.

Acer registered 100 per cent growth for the last two years, and employs about 8,000 people worldwide. In 2010, Acer’s revenues reached $19.9 billion, and it sold 39,926 units worldwide.

Japan urges govt to ease administrative bottlenecks

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Export and Import by Sherpa Hossainy on July 21, 2011

Published in The Independent on 15 July 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

The Bangladesh government should simplify its administrative procedures to attract foreign investments and remove trade gap with Japan, the Japanese ambassador Tamotsu Shinotsuka said on Thursday.

“Bangladesh needs to remove some bottlenecks such as weak infrastructure and transport and power crisis in order to make any headway to attract foreign investments,” Shinotsuka said.

He was speaking as a special guest at a dialogue on diversification of exports of Bangladesh to Japan, organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

The Japanese ambassador said that nowadays production and labour costs are increasing in China and South-East Asian countries like Cambodia and Vietnam, making the Japanese companies shifting their industries from there.

“Japanese investors are keen on investing in Bangladesh due to its cheap labour and they have already started investing in the apparel sector,” he said.

The ambassador said that the new relaxed generalised system of preferences (GSP) adopted by Japan will strengthen Bangladesh and Japan’s bilateral trade and economic relationship.

In January next year, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) will organise a business delegation meeting in Bangladesh to explore the potential investment opportunities in agricultural and food sector, Shinotsuka said.

Faruk Khan, minister for commerce, identified three new areas — light engineering, IT and pharmaceutical — for expanding business with Japan.

He said although utility and infrastructure problems are major barrier to Dhaka-Tokyo trade, the government is trying its best to resolve the problems.

The minister also urged Bangladeshi entrepreneurs to cash in on Japan’s newly relaxed GSP and rules of origin (RoO) system.

“We want to boost trade with Japan and a delegation of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) would visit Japan in September to explore business opportunities there,” he added.

Creating business-friendly atmosphere is a precondition to attract new businesses, he said stressing the need for simplifying administrative procedures for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Asif Ibrahim, president of DCCI, and Jalal Ahmed, vice chairman of EPB, were also present, while Takashi Suzuki, representative of JETRO, Dhaka, presented the keynote paper on facts and thoughts for Bangladesh export promotion.

Faruk optimistic about leasing lands in Africa

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, Environment, Export and Import by Sherpa Hossainy on July 21, 2011

Published in The Independent on July 11 2011

Read the article in Independent website

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Bangladesh can ensure food security and support the readymade garment industry by leasing farmlands in Africa despite inherent complexities involved, the commerce minister said on Saturday.

“Capital transfer difficulties, non-transparent deals and low price-competitiveness of the produce pose as major problems while growing crops by leasing foreign lands,” Faruk Khan said.

The minister said regardless of political instability in Africa and procedural complication in leasing farmlands, calculated measures can pay off greatly by ensuring food security of the country.

Khan said “cotton security” is as important as food security and Bangladesh can support RMG sector by producing cotton in Africa, as the Nile delta is suitable for quality cotton cultivation.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for the RMG sector to import cotton and staying competitive as prices are soaring globally. We can produce cotton to back up our garment sector,” Khan said.

Bangladesh has a good image in countries like Sierra Leon, Côte d’Ivoire and Congo because of its peace keeping missions and it can cash on the goodwill to seal the deals, the minister said.

Earlier Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on May gave a go-ahead to a proposal that Bangladesh leases land in some African countries to grow crops like rice and cotton for its consumption as well as export.

The government on June formed a taskforce, headed by Dr Mashiur Rahman, adviser to the Prime Minister on finance, to examine the prospects of taking lands on lease in West African countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Guinea.

Science and ICT will generate 40 per cent employment

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy, IT, Technology by Sherpa Hossainy on July 21, 2011

Published in The Independent on 8 July 2011

Read the article on Independent website

Digital print version

The government is eyeing to generate almost 40 per cent of the total employment of Bangladesh through science and ICT sector within a decade, the finance minister AMA Muhith said on Thursday.

The minister was speaking at the award presentation event at the second national digital innovation fair 2011 organised by the Ministry of Science and ICT and D.Net at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre in Dhaka.

“There will be a revolution in science and ICT sector and through materialising the vision of digital Bangladesh we will become a medium-income country by 2021,” Muhith said.

Muhith said that a digital Bangladesh would reduce corruption through free flow of information and save valuable time consumed by cumbersome bureaucratic procedures.

“Digital Bangladesh is the best weapon to fight the corruption and weak administrative system that prevails in the country,” the minister said.

Muhith said the corrupt officials are already dreading the prospect of free flow of information as it will expose their illegal activities.

Eighty government organisations from different ministries and departments and six private organisations took part in the fair, showcasing their digital ICT services.

Thirty-one organisations were given the Digital Innovation Fair Award 2011, in seven different categories for government organisations and 10 categories for the private ones.

Innovations in digital services showcased in the fair included: 3D digital elevation map for agriculture, online agricultural television, SMS-based health care, digital land survey, digital tax holding management system.

There were also new ICT-based services such as online birth and death registration, education GIS map, mobile banking, digital disaster management, automatic biometric information system and electronic voting machine.

Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury was the chairperson of the jury board for the fair.

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