Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

Investment arbitration will increase FDI, say experts

Posted in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Investment, Legal by Sherpa Hossainy on February 4, 2012

Published in The Independent on 27 January 2012

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Foreign direct investments into Bangladesh can be boosted by formulating an internationally recognised arbitration law, legal experts said at a dialogue on Thursday.

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) tool which allows two parties settle legal issues outside court, avoiding lengthy judicial proceedings and huge costs.

The experts were speaking at a dialogue on investment arbitration, organised by Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) at Hotel Ruposhi Bangla. Shafique Ahmed, minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs, Dr Kamal Hossain, eminent lawyer, and Gavan Griffith, Queen’s counsel at the Australian Bar, were  present.

Griffith, a chartered and international commercial arbitrator, in his keynote speech, said  different states have different laws but local judgement is not acceptable internationally.
“Commercial entities want to know if there will be finality in case of a dispute resolution. In absence of an internationally recognised dispute settlement tool foreign companies get reluctant to invest as they feel unprotected,” he said.

Griffith said some commercial entities prefer some states over others for businesses because there is enough protection and justice for them. Some states are making arbitration laws allowing foreign investors, if treated unfairly, to claim damage against the state, he added.

“Bangladesh has a standard arbitration law, which is similar to that of the UK, but without an international treaty this will not be recognised globally. You have to create a level playing field,” Griffith said. He said investment arbitration is a tool to make the world a better place for trade and Bangladesh should adopt the internationally recognised New York International Treaty for Arbitration, to protect foreign investments.

The Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said Government is willing to cut down the lengthy court procedures and amending the age-old civil procedural law formed in 1908. “Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the only way to deal with the backlog of cases,” he said.

The minister said proper arbitration and investment protection law will encourage foreign investors and the ministry is going to amend Bangladesh Arbitration Act 2001 upon recommendation from the law commission soon.

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Gold prices hiked again

Posted in Bangladesh, Business, Dhaka, Economy by Sherpa Hossainy on February 4, 2012

Published in The Independent on 25 January 2012

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Gold prices in the local market went up in a bid to counterbalance the devaluating local currency and to keep up with the soaring international price of the item.

The new rates were effective from Tuesday. This was the second hike in gold prices within 10 days.

The price of 22-carat gold was increased by Tk 1,283 per “bhori” (local unit of gold measurement, 1 bhori = 11.664 grams), and the prices of 18-carat, 21-carat and traditional gold were increased by Tk 1,108, Tk 1,283 and Tk 1,050 per “bhori” respectively, Bangladesh Jewellers Samity (BJS) sources said.

Following the rise, the prices of gold stood at: 22-carat Tk 57,736 per “bhori”, 21-carat Tk 55,170, 18-carat Tk 47,297, and traditional gold Tk 36,158 per “bhori”, according to BJS.

Gold prices closed on $1,664 per ounce [1 ounce = 31.1034768 grams] on Tuesday in the global market, while it closed on $1,638 per ounce on 14 January, when the first price rise came to effect in the local market.

“The spiralling prices in the international market forced us to increase the gold prices in less than two weeks,” said Dewan Aminul Islam Shahin, general secretary of Bangladesh Jewellers Samity (BJS).

“Our local currency (taka) is also losing its value against dollar. We are an import-based industry and the devaluation hurts our business,” he added.

Shahin said further price hike could be on the cards if the losing trend of taka doesn’t stop and the rising trend of global gold price doesn’t show any sign of easing.

Japan project to support Bangladesh informal sector workers

Posted in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Economy by Sherpa Hossainy on February 4, 2012

Published in The Independent on 23 January 2012

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Bangladesh can establish a social safety net system for vulnerable groups and boost its economic growth by incorporating its informal sector workers into formal sectors, the labour minister has suggested.

“If we can provide grassroots support for informal sector workers who are suffering from poverty and widening disparities, we can boost economic growth as their contribution to the economy will be recognised,” said Khandker Mosharraf Hossain.

Around 80 per cent laboureres are working in the informal sectors in Bangladesh which includes agriculture, domestic work, tailoring, hawker, barbers, porters and rickshaw pullers, among others.

The minister was speaking at a symposium organised by the Japan International Labour Federation (JILAF) and International Trade Union Confederation, Bangladesh Chapter (ITUC-BC) on Sunday in  Ruposhi Bangla Hotel.

The symposium was organised to launch the Japanese government programme — “Supporting grassroots activities through the International Employers and Workers Network” (SGRA). This programme is run in Asian countries by Japan Government’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and implemented by JILAF.

The support is provided through the international labour management network by organising informal workers and their families who lack public support.

Shiro Sadoshima, ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, Hisashige Danno, deputy executive director of JILAF, Andre Bogui, director of ILO country office Bangladesh, and Masaaki Iuchi, deputy assistant minister for International Policy Planning Minister’s Secretariat, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, were also present. The programme targets vulnerable groups such as low-wage earners, women and people with disabilities. SGRA currently runs in Thailand and Nepal.

“SGRA will improve the socio-economic and livelihood condition of the workers and their families in informal economy and enhance the role of trade unions,” said Kenichi Kumagai, assistant general secretary of JILAF.

JILAF aims for the development of free and democratic labour movements in developing countries and promote their sound social and economic development, Kumagai added.

The minister said the programme will also provide information and vocational training necessary for a better life thus contributing to raising the minimum standard of living.

Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation Act 2006, the only legal instrument of the country which provide definition of informal sector, says in section 2(a): “Informal sector” means types of non government sector where workers’ work or condition of work etc are not recognised or controlled by existing labour law and related policies and where there is very limited scope for employed workers to be organised.

According to definition of International Labour Organisation (ILO), the informal sector consists of small-scale, self-employed activities (with or without hire workers) typically a low level of organisation and technology, with primary objective of generating employment and incomes.

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