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Chittagong water-logging: High Court asks authorities to explain action in two weeks

The High Court on Sunday issued a rule asking officials concerned to explain in two weeks as to why it will not direct them to take coordinated action to solve water-logging problem of Chittagong city.
A High Court division bench comprising justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order after holding hearing on a writ filed in public interest.
The court asked LGRD secretary, public works secretary, mayor of Chittagong City Corporation and its chief executive officer, chairman of Chittagong Development Authority and chairman of Chittagong WASA to comply with the order. 
The court also ordered the respondents to explain why the master plan made by Chittagong City Corporation in 1995 has not been implemented yet.
Lawyer Mohiuddin Md Hanif filed the writ on August 1. 
(Source: New Age)

Dhaka, Hanoi agree to enhance trade, reduce gap

Bangladesh and Vietnam on Sunday agreed to work closely to achieve the target of enhancing bilateral trade volume to $1 billion and reduce trade gap.
The decision was made at the first-ever foreign office consultations, between the foreign ministries of the two countries in Dhaka on Sunday. 
Foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh delegation while Vietnam vice-minister Dang Dinh Quy led his country. 
Bangladesh stressed the need for finding ways to address the existing trade gap in favour of Vietnam and requested Vietnam to relax the registration process and accept the bio-equivalence and traceability tests done in other ASEAN countries, according to a foreign ministry release. 
Both sides agreed that the trade volume was far less than the existing potentials.
Vietnam expressed interest to enhance bilateral trade volume and to facilitate investment in both the countries. 
Vietnam also agreed to find scopes of reducing trade gap, officials said. 
Bangladesh also sought deeper cooperation in the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors, particularly in agricultural research to develop stress tolerant and high yielding varieties of rice and tropical fruits, exchange of germplasm and developing sustainable pearl culture technology. 
Bangladesh also sought Vietnam’s cooperation in shipbuilding and ship breaking sectors. 
Vietnam expressed willingness to boost up bilateral cooperation in the education and tourism sectors.
The two sides also stressed the need for regular exchange of visits at political and functional levels to steer bilateral cooperation. 
Bangladesh also sought Vietnam’s support for Bangladesh’s initiative to become a ‘Sectoral Dialogue Partner’ of ASEAN and also to join the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation initiative. Vietnam agreed to facilitate Bangladesh’s initiatives.
Vietnam’s vice-minister called on state minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam Sunday morning. 
Bilateral trade gap with Vietnam was over $5 million in financial year 2009-10 and it rose to $322 million in 2015-16.
Export to Vietnam was $65 million and import from the country was over $322 million in FY 2016.
Import from Vietnam, in the first 11 months of the current fiscal, was over $320 million and export was about $61 million.
Dang Dinh Quy would leave Dhaka today. 
(Source: New Age)

Charges pressed against poet Shahabuddin Nagari over Nurul killing

Police on Sunday pressed charges against poet Shahabuddin Nagari and his ‘girlfriend’ Nurani Akhter Sumi in the businessman Nurul Islam murder case.
Rabiul Islam, inspector of the Detective Branch of Police and the investigation officer of the case, submitted a charge-sheet before the court of dhaka metropolitan magistrate Sazzadur Rahman.
The IO also prayed for acquitting another accused, driver Selim, as the allegation against him could not be proved.
Nagari has been on bail while Sumi, victim’s wife, is now behind the bars.
Nurul Islam, a businessman, was found dead at his Elephant Road residence on April 13 last.
Later, the victim’s sister filed a case with New Market police station accusing Sumi, Nagari and some other unnamed people on April 14.
Police arrested the poet in the city’s Nikunja area on April 17. 
(Source: New Age)

Driver, helper ‘confess’ to raping girl in running truck

A truck driver and his helper reportedly confessed before separate courts in Narayanganj on Sunday that they raped a teenage girl in their running vehicle.
Senior judicial magistrate Akhtaruzzaman recorded the statement of driver Mehedi Hasan while senior judicial magistrate Aftabuzzaman recorded the statement of helper Sohan alias Tuhin under section 164.
Later, they were sent to jail, said court police inspector Sohel Alam.
Earlier, on Thursday, a court placed the duo on a four-day remand in a case with Siddhirganj Police Station over the rape of the girl in the running truck.
Police said Mehedi and Sohan picked up the 15-year-old girl, who left her house following a brawl with her mother, from Chourasta in Gazipur city at about 8:00pm while she was standing there alone promising that they would took her to her home.
However, the duo raped the girl in the running truck throughout the night.
As the truck stopped in front of the main gate of ACI Pharmaceuticals at Panirkall at Siddhirganj upazila on Wednesday morning, the victim started screaming.
Later, local people rushed in and rescued her. However, the driver and helper managed to escape the scene.
Later, police arrested Mehedi in front of Adamjee Sonamia Market in Siddhirganj on Wednesday while Sohan at Godanail on Thursday morning.
(Source: New Age)

Dhaka Mass Transit Company signs contract for buying rolling stocks

Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited on Sunday signed a contract with a Japanese company for purchasing rolling stocks and other equipment for the metro rail project.
The contract was signed to implement the 20.1 kilometre mass rapid transit line – 6, popularly known as metro rail project’s package 8.
DMTCL managing director Md Aftabuddin Talukder and Kawasaki-Mitsubishi Consortium representative Makoto Ogawara signed the Tk 4,257 crore contract at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel. 
Speaking as the chief guest, road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said that after the incident of attack at Holey Artisan the work of metro rail slowed down and was delayed by eight months. 
Currently, the work started at full pace and there was no problem with funding, he said. 
The minister also said that JICA came forward to fund the proposed MRT line – 1. 
Under the package, rolling stocks (compartments), train stimulators and other equipment to operate rolling stocks and maintaining depots will be purchased and training for rolling stock engineers and employees to maintain and operate metro rail will be provided. 
Officials said a total of 24 sets of trains would be run on the track while five sets of trains would be provided within December 2020 and, within 2021, 19 sets of trains would be provided, said officials. 
The stainless steel trains would be operated with overhead wires while each train would provide two wheel chairs, they said. 
Each train will be able to carry 1,738 passengers while the trains will be air-conditioned and passengers will have to use integrated circuit ticket.
By 2021, the metro rail system will be able to carry 22,530 passengers, by 2026 a total of 25,560 passengers and by 2051, 60,979 passengers on both sides every hour. 
The entire metro rail, between Uttara and Motijheel, with 16 stations, will cost Tk 21,985 crore and Japan International Cooperation Agency will fund 75 per cent of the cost while the rest will be funded by the government of Bangladesh.
The metro rail’s Uttara third phase to Agargaon portion is scheduled to be opened by 2019 and its full length is scheduled to be opened by 2020. 
The ceremony was attended, among others, by Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh Masato Watanabe, parliamentary standing committee on road transport and bridges ministry chairman Nazmul Haque Prodhan, road transport and highways division secretary MAN Siddique, railways ministry secretary-in-charge Md Mofazzel Hossain, food ministry secretary Md Kaikobad Hossain, JICA chief representative (Bangladesh office) Takatoshi Nishikata and Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority executive director Syed Ahmed.
(Source: New Age)

World Bank inks $47.5m deal for financing Chittagong WASA

The government on Sunday signed an additional $47.50 million financing agreement with the World Bank to continue construction of a new water infrastructure in the port city of Chittagong, said a press release.
The financing for the Chittagong Water Supply Improvement and Sanitation Project totaling $218.50 million will help the Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority to complete constructing the Modunaghat Water Treatment Plant and Patenga Booster Pumping Station, as well as to install 60 km of new water transmission pipeline and rehabilitate another 73 km pipeline from Kalurghat to the Patenga Booster Pumping Station providing access to safe water to around 650,000 inhabitants in the city, the release claimed.
World Bank acting country director for Bangladesh Rajashree Paralkar and additional secretary of economic relations division Mahmuda Begum signed the agreement.
The credits are interest-free and repayable in 38 years from the WB’s concessional lending arm International Development Association.
(Source: New Age)

Bogra court orders Tufan, Rumki to be interrogated at jail gate

A Bogra court on Sunday ordered investigators to interrogate Bogra town unit Awami Shramik League suspended convener Tufan Sarkar and Bogra municipality ward councillor Marzia Hasan Rumki at jail gate over the rape of a college girl and torturing the girl and her mother.
The court also rejected their bail prayer. 
The court of senior judicial magistrate Shyam Sundar Roy passed the order after the investigation officer, Bogra police inspector Abul Kalam Azad, placed the two before the court seeking a fresh five-day remand for each.
Earlier, Tufan was remanded thrice while Rumki was remanded twice over the rape and torture, said Azad.
On July 17, Tufan took the girl to his house at Chaksutrapur in the town promising her admission at a local college and violated her.
When Tufan’s wife Asha and her elder sister Rumki came to know the incident, they along with some associates of Tufan picked up the girl and her mother to Rumki’s house at Badurtala in the town on July 28.
They allegedly tortured the girl and her mother and got their heads shaved by the barber.
(Source: New Age)

Gas supply off for 10 hours in Dhaka's Mirpur

Gas supply will remain suspended Monday for 10 hours in the city's Mirpur and adjoining areas due to relocation of gas pipelines to facilitate construction of Mass Rapid Transit Development under the Dhaka Metro Rail Project.
According to a press release of the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd, the gas supply will be cut off to the east and west sides of Mirpur-12 to Chiriakhana (Zoo) Road from 10:00am to 8:00pm.
The affected localities will include Mirpur - 1, 2, 6, 7, 10, 11 and 12, Eastern Housing, Rupnagar, Arambagh, Alubdi, Mirpur Cantonment and also adjacent areas.
The supply will disrupt all kinds of consumers including household, commercial, industrial and CNG refuelling stations in these areas.
Residents of Mirpur have grown accustomed to such day-long shutdowns over the last one and half years. The pipeline replacement work has been necessitated by the start of construction as part of the Metro Rail Project.
(Source: New Age)

Bangladesh revenue board finds it difficult to determine which dept to probe

The National Board of Revenue is facing legal complexity in determining the investigating authority for the money laundering cases after transferring the power to its Central Intelligence Cell.
In June, the revenue board in an order instructed its field offices of customs, value-added tax and income tax to transfer the money laundering cases to the CIC saying that the cell would investigate the cases as the investigating authority. 
Earlier in October 2016, the revenue board had empowered the CIC for conducting inquiry and investigation into money laundering issues related to taxes as investigating agency.
The complexity arose as the Money Laundering Prevention Act-2015 did not empower any organisation to transfer the investigation authority to someone except those fixed by the law. 
According to the act, customs, value-added tax and income tax wings of the NBR would investigate the money laundering cases having involvement of customs duties, VAT and income tax respectively. 
Till now, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) of the revenue board has been playing the major role in investigation of money laundering cases, mostly trade-based money laundering. 
The customs intelligence has already detected some incidences of money laundering and filed cases against those involved with the offence. 
According to the NBR estimate, more than 80 per cent incidences of money laundering occur in disguise of international trade or export and import. 
Officials said that the CIID had been opposing the decision of withdrawing the power from it and appointing the CIC as investigating agency saying that the decision was not consistent with the money laundering act. 
They said that the revenue board also understood the complexity and decided to review the decision. 
In its last board meeting held on July 24, the revenue board formed a high-powered committee to end the complexity of determination of investigating agency in line with the money laundering act, they said. 
The committee headed by NBR member (board administration) SM Ashfaque Hussain will review the previous decision and relevant issues in line with the law and prepare a proposal for the next board meeting. 
A high official of the NBR said that the committee had already held several meetings and discussed about the problem. 
Hopefully, the complexity will be removed soon as the investigation process of ongoing money laundering cases is delayed due to the problem, he said. 
(Source: New Age)

Corruption key barrier to FDI in Bangladesh: USTR report

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has said corruption, bureaucratic inefficiencies and lack of transparency are the major impediment to attracting foreign direct investment in Bangladesh.
In a recent report titled ‘2017 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers’, the USTR identified extortion of money from businesses by individuals claiming political backing as another barrier to trade and investment in Bangladesh.
‘Bureaucratic inefficiencies often discourage investment in Bangladesh. Overlapping administrative procedures and lack of transparency in regulatory and administrative systems can frustrate investors seeking to undertake projects in the country,’ the report said.
It also said that the timely implementation of strategic reform initiatives and routine duties was being barred due to frequent transfers of top and mid-level officials in various ministries, directorates, and departments.
According to the report, the US and other international companies are concerned over the arbitrarily reopening of decades-old tax cases with particular targeting of cases involving multinational companies.
The report said that the US and other international investors raised concerns over the cumbersome process of outbound transfers from Bangladesh.
It said, ‘Applications to repatriate profits or dividends can be held for additional information gathering or otherwise delayed, if tax disputes arise.’
The USTR report said that there were widespread disputes over land and both the US companies and citizens had filed complaints about fraudulent land sales.
‘For example, sellers fraudulently claiming ownership have transferred land to good faith purchasers while the actual owners were living outside of Bangladesh. In other instances, US-Bangladeshi dual citizens have purchased land from legitimate owners only to have third parties make fraudulent claims of title to extort settlement compensation,’ the report read.
‘Likewise, corruption remains a serious impediment to investment in Bangladesh. While the government has established legislation to combat bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of corruption, enforcement is inconsistent,’ the USTR report said.
Regarding the government procurement, the report said that the government of Bangladesh publicly subscribed to principles of international competitive bidding but charges of corruption were common.
According to the USTR report, despite launching a national electronic government procurement portal the US companies raised concerns about the use of outdated technical specifications, the structuring of specifications to favour preferred bidders, and lack of overall transparency in public tenders.
‘Concerns over the safety of infrastructure and industrial relations practices also have discouraged greater investment and trade,’ the report read.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza building and the death of 1,129 workers in April 2013 highlighted health and safety concerns in the country’s factories and the lack of effective oversight and regulation, the USTR report observed.
It, however, said that the recent initiatives by the government of Bangladesh, international garment buyers, and the International Labour Organisation led to improvements in factory safety standards and transparency over the past three years.
Nabhash Chandra Mandal, executive member of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said that they had taken various initiatives to overcome the impediments to FDI growth.
‘We are going for automation to remove administrative overlapping and bureaucratic complexities for the investors. We are working on ease of doing business and to facilitate foreign investment the government is formulating a law and the draft of the One-Stop Service Act has been sent to the cabinet for approval,’ he said.
Nabhash said that the BIDA was working to ensure transparency and accountability and the body was making progress step by step.
‘We can’t say Bangladesh is 100 per cent corruption-free but work is going on to eradicate the problem and we are making progress,’ he said.
(Source: New Age)