Sep 27, 2011 at 14:37 o\clock

Khaleda declares 3 road marches

by: bangladesh   Keywords: BNP, Khaleda, Zia

Khaleda declares 3 road marches
September 27, 2011: Paltan, adjacent areas turn into human sea

BNP Meeting DHAKA, September 27, 2011: BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia Tuesday afternoon declared three road marches to press home their demand for restoring the caretaker government system.

In her address at a Naya Paltan rally, the opposition leader said they will conduct a road march towards Sylhet from Dhaka on October 10, another towards Rajshahi on October 18 and the other towards Chittagong on October 25.

She accused the Awami League-led grand alliance government of torturing opposition leaders and activists.

“They (AL) want to stay in power through intimidation,” she said. “But you do not know that you cannot stay in power through installing fear and torture.”

Saying the government is using police as ruling party activists, she asked the policemen to stop torturing people and reminded them of their duty as the protectors of the people.

The former prime minister accused the government of exacerbating public sufferings by raising fuel prices repeatedly. She said the law and order of the country has deteriorated seriously.

The opposition leader alleged that the government is turning the country into a poor one by looting money. She started delivering her address shortly after 5:00pm. She is set to declare a series of agitation programmes Tuesday afternoon demanding restoration of the caretaker government system.

The former prime minister arrived at the meeting venue in front of BNP’s Naya Paltan central office around 3:40pm amid cheers from tens of thousands of party leaders and activists.

Once on the podium, she waved to the ralliers who also chanted slogans in favour of Khaleda and carried sheaf of paddy, the election symbol of the main opposition party.

Our correspondent covering the event reports that Naya Paltan and its adjacent areas including Arambagh, Fakirerpool, Bijoynagar and Kakrail turned into a human sea as the supporters are pouring into the capital for the highly-orchestrated rally.

The leaders, activists and supporters were seen carrying colourful banners, festoons, placards and portraits of BNP founder late president Ziaur Rahman, Khaleda and BNP Senior Vice-president Tarique Rahman.

Hundreds of buses and trucks carried the supporters from adjacent districts and areas of the capital including Manikganj, Tangail, Sirajganj and Dhamrai to the venue.

Huge contingents of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and police personnel have been deployed in and around the area to maintain law and order during the rally.

In a press briefing on Monday, BNP city chief Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said they were preparing to make the rally the biggest political showdown in recent times.

Khaleda had declared that her party would not accept general elections without the supervision of a non-partisan caretaker government. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, on Sunday at a programme in New York reiterated that the next election will be held under the political government.

The caretaker government system was scrapped through the fifteenth amendment of the constitution. Opposition leaders earlier said that besides agitation programme like road march and demonstration, Khaleda in her address may declare a time limit for the government to fulfil their demands.

MK Anwar, a member of the party's standing committee, said earlier that they will call hartal if the government tries to foil their day’s programme.

Eight like-minded parties and a few other political parties, which want restoration of the caretaker system, are expected to join the rally. [source: The Daily Star]

Sep 24, 2011 at 23:03 o\clock

PM offers peace model

by: bangladesh   Keywords: PM, Hasina, New, York

PM offers peace model
Tells world leaders at UN about 6 things to do

PM in New York New York Sept. 25, 2011 (UNB) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday unveiled a six-point multi-dimensional peace model for championing democracy and people's empowerment, coinciding with the UNGA theme “Mediation in the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes”.

The six multipliers of her proposed model include eradication of poverty and hunger, reduction of inequality, mitigation of deprivation, inclusion of excluded people, acceleration of human development and elimination of terrorism.

“In fact, my life-time experiences have inspired me to come up with a new peace model. I call it the 'People's empowerment and a peace-centric development model' that reaffirms all people should be treated equally and emphasises the scope of human capabilities which can be realised through peace,” Hasina said in her address at the 66th UN General Assembly.

Many Heads of state and government were present in the august house as she delivered her speech in Bangla during the UNGA general debate at the United Nations headquarters.

The prime minister said prosperity is achievable with the removal of injustices in an environment of peace. "This is possible by individual nations through sincere implementation of what is right, or sometimes under the guidance of the UN.”

Amid clapping from the audience, she told the world body, “Let us all try to test this model of peace which I believe has the potential to transform our world of seven billion people into one where our future generations may prosper and live in happiness."

Reposing her trust in peace as the basis for development, she said, "I believe peace prevails when justice prevails. Therefore, justice at home and abroad is important for ensuring a peaceful mediation and settlement of disputes."

In her about 20-minute statement, Hasina touched upon some vital issues of national importance including settlement of long running border problem with India through discussion, mediated settlement of the BDR mutiny and trial of the perpetrators responsible for 1971 war crimes.

She sought international support to pursue the efforts being made to change the fate of the people and develop socio-economic security.

“The LDCs like Bangladesh need international support. The support must come from granting us market access, removing trade barriers, fulfilment of ODA, combating climate change, as well as giving us equal voice in the Bretton Woods Institutions,” she said.

The commitments made in Istanbul this May on agriculture, energy, infrastructure, water and migration would also strengthen the economic stability of the LDCs, the PM continued.

"Now, it is time for the development partners to implement the commitments made in Monterrey, Paris, and Brussels before the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. Support must continue to enable LDCs to fulfil their MDGs.”

She said that in COP-17 in Durban this year, the nations must have a binding agreement on cuts of greenhouse gas emissions, burden sharing, relocation of climate migrants, free transfer of technologies, and real contribution to the internationally agreed “Climate Fund”.

Hasina reiterated her demand that Bangla be made one of the official languages at the UN. "Bangla is spoken by over 300 million people worldwide. I earnestly appeal to you to back my proposal to declare Bangla as one of the official languages of the United Nations," she told the general assembly.

She also sought UN support for Bangladesh's annual flagship resolution "A Culture of Peace", which she launched in 2000 during her first stint as prime minister.

She said that in the UN Peace Building Commission, as NAM Coordinator, Bangladesh is always advocating peace building, development and preventive diplomacy in post-conflict societies.

"Sadly, we remain woefully underrepresented at planning and strategy levels of the DPKO, an issue calling for a speedy resolution." Hasina welcomed South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations and congratulated the people of the newest state on attaining their freedom and independence.

She said as member of the UN Human Rights Council and the ECOSOC, Bangladesh consciously promote democracy, secularism, justice and rule of law; and equal rights of women, children, minorities and other vulnerable groups.

Moreover, she said, as the executive body member of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO and FAO, Bangladesh is committed to setting global norms and standards in development practices.

On resolving bilateral issues with India, the PM said the government has mediated and signed MoUs with India on the border demarcation, an issue that had been pending for the last 64 years obstructing the everyday life of the Bangladeshi people.

"I am committed to settling all our problems with neighbouring India through discussion," she said. Describing the 2009 BDR mutiny as one of the most dangerous challenges, Hasina said this time also she chose a mediated settlement, avoiding possible further loss of life.

"As a result, we have developed our national capacity for mediation with a pool of retired chief justices and legal experts, including women, who can act as arbitrators and mediators."

About the trial of the war criminals, she said since there can be no peace without justice, the government has established an independent International Crimes Tribunal to try those responsible for war crimes committed during the Liberation War in 1971.

"Their eventual punishment will strengthen our democracy, demonstrating that the state is capable of just retribution," the PM said. As a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, she said, her government believes in the statute's provision of bringing perpetrators to justice. "It is the only way to heal the wrongs of the past, and bring national reconciliation."

Reiterating her administration's “zero tolerance policy against terrorism”, she said the government's aim is to break the nexus between terrorism, extremism and radicalisation, and eliminate them all from Bangladesh, a state party to all UN counterterrorism conventions.

Referring to the winning of the UN award for MDG-4 on reducing child mortality last year, Hasina said Bangladesh is on track on MDG-1 on poverty alleviation, MDG-2 on universal primary education, MDG-3 on gender equality and MDG-5 on reducing maternal mortality.

"Our Poverty Reduction Strategy is in tandem with the MDGs and intends to raise 12 million people out of poverty by 2015." On women empowerment, she said education for girls is free up to class XII and steps are on for their free tuition till graduation.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad and PM's son Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed and daughter Saima Hossain were present on the occasion.
[source: Daily Star]

Sep 17, 2011 at 12:37 o\clock

Statement at the Conclusion of the 2011 Article IV Consultation Mission to Bangladesh

by: bangladesh   Keywords: IMF

Statement at the Conclusion of the 2011 Article IV Consultation Mission to Bangladesh

Press Release No. 11/334
September 15, 2011

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. David Cowen of the Asia and Pacific Department visited Dhaka and Chittagong during September 5–15 to conduct the 2011 Article IV Consultation discussions. The mission met with Minister of Finance Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister Mashiur Rahman, Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Atiur Rahman, Finance Secretary Mohammad Tareque, National Board of Revenue Chairman (NBR) Nasiruddin Ahmed, BB deputy governors, and other senior officials. It also met representatives from civil society, development partners, and the private sector.

Bangladesh’s economy expanded at a strong pace in FY11 (July 2010–June 2011), supported by rapid export growth and accommodative macroeconomic policies. However, inflation has also been on the rise, pushed up by higher food prices and demand-side pressures. Despite strong export performance, the balance of payments (BOP) recorded a deficit in FY11, mainly because of increased oil, textile, capital goods imports, and weak aid inflows. As a result, gross foreign reserves have come down from record levels reached in late 2010. To relieve these pressures, the taka has been allowed to depreciate moderately.

Looking ahead, real GDP growth for Bangladesh is currently projected by the IMF at 6.3 percent in FY12, driven by still-strong garment exports, a firming up of remittances inflows, and better electricity supply. The headline inflation rate is projected to come down modestly by end-fiscal year, mainly due to more moderate expected increases in global commodity prices. Bangladesh should remain fairly insulated from a global growth slowdown. Still, BOP pressures are likely to intensify over the near to medium term because of rising oil import volumes and import-intensive infrastructure investment.

During the mission, discussions focused on the policy framework and structural reforms needed to ensure overall macroeconomic stability and lay the conditions for higher economic growth. The broad targets set forth in the government’s FY12 budget and BB’s July 2011 Monetary Policy Statement provide solid anchors. However, the mission stressed that achieving these targets in FY12 will require better coordination of fiscal and monetary policies. It noted that the balance of macroeconomic and financial risks could necessitate further policy adjustments in order to contain external as well as fiscal pressures and to avoid crowding out private investment.

On fiscal policy and debt management, the mission welcomed the NBR’s progress on improving tax administration, which is contributing to major revenue increases. It stressed that tax policy reforms, led by timely passage of near-finalized value added tax (VAT) and direct tax laws, provide a critical anchor to tax modernization plans under formulation by the NBR. However, the mission also highlighted the pressing need to contain subsidy costs, as their rapid rise threatens to eat away the fiscal space being created by a larger tax take and needed for social and development spending. It urged the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to move forward on public financial management reform, focusing its priorities on strengthening budget accountability and transparency and cash and debt management. The mission cautioned that increased reliance on domestic budgetary financing, including from BB, threatens to undermine macroeconomic stability and necessitates greater interest rate flexibility to ensure a well-functioning Treasury bill and bond market. On external debt, primary reliance on concessional borrowing is expected, in line with the debt management strategy being prepared by the MoF.

Regarding monetary, exchange rate, and financial sector policies, the mission noted the monetary tightening measures taken by BB, but cautioned that still-high credit expansion might require further policy actions. Greater exchange rate flexibility has helped absorb external pressures and deepen the interbank foreign exchange market. The mission recommended that BB move to a more risk-based supervisory framework for banks. Strengthening banks’ internal governance is seen as a complementary step toward ensuring their financial soundness. In this context, the mission noted the need for state-owned commercial banks to be allowed to operate with minimal outside interference and under BB’s sole jurisdiction, consistent with their earlier corporatization. In view of recent stock market volatility, the mission looked forward to timely enactment of measures aimed at helping banks properly manage market exposure and urged a further strengthening in securities market oversight to protect investor interests.