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Business & Finance News
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Compiled by SDNP
Staff Reporter, The New Nation
Following a 'fruitful agreement with the government,' the Bangladesh Petroleum Dealers, Distributors, Agents & Petrol Pump Owners Association withdrew their indefinite strike on Wednesday night.
The association sources informed that they sit with State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources AKM Mosharraf Hossain on Wednesday night and later announced to withdraw their indefinite strike after the government agreed to resolve their demand of providing commission on evaporation and operation losses and tolerance fee within a month.
The chief spokesman of the association Nazmul Hoque told The New Nation yesterday that they signed an agreement with the ministry after a long discussion starting from the evening and ending at midnight at the ministry's conference room at Bangladesh Secretariat.
Nazmul Hoque told the government agreed to form a 8-member committee comprising the representatives of the government, oil companies, Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) and the petrol pump owners association to ascertain extent of evaporation and operation losses.
The ministry source said the 8-member committee would be formed including 3 representatives from the association, 3 representatives from the state owned oil companies-Padma, Meghna and Jamuna, one from the ministry of energy and mineral resources and one from the BSTI.
The spokesman said, hopefully the committee will start their work from Sunday and will prepare a report, which must be submitted within a month to the government.
"The committee will examine the international and neighboring country's position on this issue and submit the proposal report to the government.
Earlier, the government introduced "The Essential Commodities Act, 1957" for six months to ensure normal supply and sale of the petroleum products. According to the Act, if anybody violates the law, he may be arrested and put under rigorous imprisonment up to three years.
Meanwhile, police personnel were seen at some petrol pumps in the city yesterday.
On the deployment of police force, Nazmul Hoque told that they did not know anything about the deployment of police at the fuel stations of the city. "I think it may have been done to ensure our security by the government", he said.
Replying to a question, he said they demanded 3 per cent commission on evaporation and operation losses at the meeting.
Nazmul Hoque told this correspondent, their association was going to arrange a conference in Dhaka on Thursday next. "We will take the further strategy at this conference to realise our demand from the government," he said.
Earlier, another talks was also held on the same day ended without any result.
The sources said, the petrol pump owners wanted immediate announcement on compensation of the evaporation and operation losses. The government side proposed to form a committee comprising the representative of the government, oil companies, Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institutions (BSTI) and the petrol pump owners association to ascertain extent of evaporation and operation losses which will submit the report within one and half month. The association leader did not agree with this proposal blaming the government took long time to resolve the problem and leaved the meeting at 2:00pm.
Sources said, the association leaders sit again at evening when the state minister requesting them which ended at 01:00am (night) with a successful agreement.
BSS, Dhaka, The New Nation
The Board of Investment (BOI) on Thursday approved a mid-term strategic plan to raise the volume of foreign direct investment (FDI) to one billion US dollar in the country by the year 2006.
The volume of the FDI till December 2002 was 300 million US dollars.
The mid-term strategic promotion plan 2003-2006 was approved at the 16th BOI board meeting with Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia in the chair at her office. The Prime Minister is the chairperson of the BOI.
The meeting also approved an organogram for the BOI for the first time after 14 years of its inception.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, BOI Executive Chairman Mahmudur Rahman said the permanent organogram would facilitate the promotion of 30 officials.
Besides reviewing FDI situation in the calendar year 2002, the third BOI meeting during the tenure of the present government took a number of important decisions to accelerate activities of the BIO and attract more FDI. Last meeting of the BOI was held on July 17, 2002.
The decisions include opening of four investment centres aboard, steps to make the BOI officials computer literate and publication of a quarterly investment magazine.
The meeting identified five challenges for the FDI and finalised some measures to overcome those. The challenges are image-building of the country, strengthening of information system, improvement of infrastructure facilities, implementation process and efficiency.
The Prime Minister directed ministries and departments concerned to be more active and to work closely along with the BOI to overcome the challenges.
She also underscored the need for coordinated measures with the private sector to attract more FDI.
Begum Zia called upon all concerned to boost local investment along with the FDI.
The BOI meeting decided to implement the mid-term strategic plan under the four annual work plans.
The target for annual FDI volume has been fixed with a 35.4 per cent growth. The target for the FDI volume is 400 million US dollars in 2003, 600 million dollars in 2004, 800 million dollars in 2005 and 1 billion (1,000 million) dollars in 1006.
To attract more FDI, the meeting decided to set up four investment centres in Dubai, Frankfurt, New York and Singapore. These BOI offices will be included in the organogram.
For making available information about the investment scenario here and the facilities offered by the government for foreign investors, the meeting decided to publish a quarterly investment magazine from April this year.
It also decided that all class one officials and class three employees would be imparted training to make them computer literate to enhance their efficiency.
It was decided that the meeting of the BOI would be held regularly after every three months.
The meeting expressed satisfaction that 43 per cent, the largest ever, of the total FDI in 2002 came to the manufacturing sector that would increase production and help generate employment in the country. Earlier, the FDI was more in the energy sector.
The FDI was also 23 per cent in the intelecom sector, 25 per cent in energy and 7 per cent in the service sectors.
Of the 300 million dollar FDI from January to December 2002, 47 percent was equity, 38 per cent reinvestment and 15 per cent intra-company borrowing.
The leading source countries of the FDI are Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, India and China.
Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman, Textile Minister Abdul Matin Chowdhury, Industries Minister MK Anwar, Science and ICT Minister Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Commerce Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, Post and Telecommunications Minister Barrister Aminul Haq, BOI Executive Chairman Mahmudur Rahman, Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment State Minister Maj (retd) Quamrul Islam, State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources Mosharraf Hossain, State Minister for Power Iqbal Hasan Mahmud, Prime Miunister's Political Secretaries - Haris Chowdhury and Mosaddek Ali, Governor of Bangladesh Bank and secretaries of the ministries concerned were present at the meeting.
Staff Reporter,The New Nation
With a view to projecting the latest developments in the country's leather sector, the 5th Dhaka International Leather Fair (DILF) 2003 begins in the city from Monday.
Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters' Association (BFLLFEA) and Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) are jointly organising the three-day extravaganza of finished leather, leather goods and accessories and footwear at Sonargaon Hotel.
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is expected to formally inaugurate the fair as the chief guest at 11am.
Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman, Industries Minister MK Anwar, Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and State Minister for Commerce Barkat Ullah Bhulu will be present as special guests.
This was disclosed by Mishal Karim, Chief Executive Officer of JetsetPR (JPR), an event management company that has been appointed the official event manager for the fair.
Mishal said the DILF 2003 would host some attractive events ever seen in Bangladesh. The events comprise a 45-minute fashion show and an impressive dance show by Navi, the world's No.1 Michael Jackson impersonator, at the poolside of Sonargaon Hotel. "For the fashion show, we will be having top female super models from India and Bangladesh along with four top male models from Bangladesh," he said.
The models include Adity Govitrikar, Aanchal Kumar, Koena Mitra and Gauhar Khan.
The JPR CEO said the local designers involved with the show are all top names in the industry.
The press conference was also attended, among others, by Director of Apex Tannery Group and Mutual Trust Bank Ltd Md Hedayetullah Ron.
For example, Nasrine Karim of DIA House of Fashion will be participating. Kuhu, the leading fashion artist will be displaying her work on the ramp. Sohana Rouf Chowdhury of Karma will also be participating. Sarah Ahmed, a designer will be displaying her exciting Western range alongside with Azra, one of young designers of Bangladesh.
The show will be choreographed by Sameer Bhayani who has worked with designers like Versace, D&G, Fendi, Tarun Tahiliani, Suneet Verma, Rocky S and many other names in fashion world.
He said the FTV would also be airing the footage from the show.
According to Alhaj Rezaul Karim Ansari, Chairman of BFLLFEA, the fair is expected to expand the export market of finished leather and leather goods produced in Bangladesh and help to enhance the reputation of Bangladesh in the international market. "So, DILF 2003 carries great significance to create new export markets, introduction of Bangladeshi leather goods to international market and strengthen the interest of the country's leather sector," he said.
BSS, Dhaka, The Independent
The country needs food quality testing facilities because big international corporate businesses cannot purchase many Bangladeshi food products in the absence of such facilities.
"One of the major issues that prevents the corporate businesses in the food sector from purchasing from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh is the lack of quality testing facilities," says European Commission (EC) sources.
A financing proposal for South Asia Enterprise Project Facility (SEDF), a joint facility of the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, identified the absence of testing facility as one of the major stumbling blocks in expanding export market, particularly in the Western countries, which follow stringent testing pre-conditions in importing food items.
The proposal pointed out that the SEDF, which would receive largest financial support from the EC, had started and would expand the programmes in quality management, including the introduction of testing facilities for all major food quality tests.
In developing testing facilities under the programme, the proposal said, the SEDF would network with other international and national bodies like the Scottish Enterprise Network or Board.
The sources said that with the establishment of updated testing facilities the export of food items from Bangladesh, particularly to the European countries, would increase manifold.
The EC's financing proposal said that as the SMEs often operate inefficiently due to lack of professional management, the SEDF has developed a comprehensive programme to enhance the competence of the SMEs through various forms of training and system improvement, using local business service providers.
Following the EC guidelines, the proposal said, the facility has planned a strong component in assisting the SMEs to comply with the standard of environmental sustainability. Under the programme, all the SMEs the facility will work with will be assessed as to their compliance with environmental standards in Bangladesh.
Where needed the SEDF will facilitate the various national and international programmes and the EC's regional environmental programme to facilitate the compliance.
The SEDF will also have a pro-active programme, assisting the SMEs with solid waste-management. Advice for these programmes will come from various EC-supported organisations in this field such as CEDRE of France, BMS of Denmark and ENSACO of the Netherlands.
The SEDF has already developed a strong linkage with the Women Entrepreneurs' Association and the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Business and Industry in support of the development of women entrepreneurship.
The SEDF will support the efforts of these organisations with business counselling, training and technical assistance to their members.
No business problem
with terror-risk list
Star Business Report, the Daily star
Ambassador Mary Ann Peters yesterday reiterated Bangladeshi businessmen will not face any problem in doing business with the US following the inclusion of the country in the US terror-risk list.
"I don't believe that Bangladesh's image in the US will be influenced in any way by the decision," the US ambassador to Bangladesh told the inaugural ceremony of the three-day 12th US trade show, co-sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) and the United States Embassy at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.
Commerce Minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury was present as chief guest at the function. AmCham President Aftab ul Islam, AmCham Executive Director A. Gafur and Counsellor for Political and Economic Affairs of US embassy Leonard Hill were also present.
Businesspeople consider Bangladesh as an investment destination on how Bangladesh treats investors and exporters operate here, Peters said defusing the concerns of local business leaders.
The US envoy said a US business firm will invest 30 million US dollars to set up an American cancer hospital in Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh is now on the map of US investors," she said, viewing that the hospital project could be an encouraging example of US investment in Bangladesh when FDI flow dropped 60 per cent last year.
She said the number of participating firms increased by 10 per cent, from 69 last year to 75, at the show and it is a clear indication of the existing bilateral trade relations between the two countries.
The commerce minister said some people may be affected by the decision but businesspersons of the country may not face problems.
He felt that the business people of the two countries can overcome the setback through increased partnerships.
Aftab ul Islam said the trade show will strengthen the existing trade relation between the US and Bangladesh.
He said the trade balance between the two countries is heavily tilted towards Bangladesh. From January to November 2002 the US exported products worth $ 245.80 million to Bangladesh while it imported goods valued at $2024.80 million from Bangladesh, he added.
Various American products on computer and power generation technologies and educational and banking services available in Bangladesh will be put on display at the fair.
Some 75 firms are participating in the show. The American Centre of the US Embassy in Dhaka is showcasing the products and services of its Student Advising Centre at booth no. 57 of the fair. They are also providing information and materials on higher study in the United States.
The show remains open to public from 10:00am to 8:00pm. The entry fee is Tk10 per person.
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