Dhaka, Nov 19 (UNB) – An Awami League sub-committee on its election manifesto, headed by its Presidium member Abdur Razzaque, will finalise its draft manifesto by Thursday, encompassing issues relating to economic growth and human resource development as its plans to return to power for the third consecutive time.
"The draft is ready, we’ll finalise it on Thursday," Awami League Deputy Office Secretary Biplob Barua told UNB over phone on Sunday.
Once finalised, he said, the draft election manifesto will be given to party chief Sheikh Hasina any day after Thursday.
Responding to a query, the AL deputy office secretary said the election manifesto will be announced by the party chief.
Other members of the committee include Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman, PM’s Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, Premier University Vice Chancellor (VC) and Awami League Adviser Dr Anupam Sen, former Dhaka University VC AAMS Arefin Siddique and Awami League Organising Secretary Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel.
According to sources at the sub-committee, Awami League will unveil a pro-youth election manifesto ahead of the 11th national election which is scheduled to be held on December 30.
The ruling party believes that young voters will be the determining factor in the coming election which the AL chief termed very crucial for the country and its development.
In the draft manifesto, the AL sub-committee is highlighting the major development projects the government has implemented since 2009.
"There’ll be a guideline on the projects that remained unimplemented during its last two tenures," a member of the sub-committee said.
According to him, the manifesto will also focus on the shortcomings in various sectors to make Bangladesh a developed and prosperous country by 2041. "We’ve identified the sectors that should have been prioritised to make the country a developed one by 2041," he said.
Replying to a question, the committee member said the election manifesto will give priority to balanced development of the country, quality education and appropriate employment opportunities for the youth.
He said the money coming from the revenue sector should not be utilised in only urban areas as rural areas should get the equal importance when it comes to development.
He said that the AL chief always put emphasis on making the rural areas as developed as the urban ones through providing civic amenities, including planned housing, gas, power, water supply, sanitation system and waste management.
About education, the committee member mentioned that there has been marked expansion of education in the country and now the ruling party wants to put emphasis on maintaining the quality of it as the students coming from various educational institutions can compete in the world arena efficiently and comfortably.
He also mentioned that the government will focus on creating employment opportunities for the youths and vocational training for them in addition to encouraging female entrepreneurship.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will get special attention in the manifesto and a number of issues of SDGs will get preference as well as the blue economy.
The development of the information technology and mineral sectors will be prioritised, said the sources.
Dhaka, Nov 16 (UNB) - The Income Tax Fair wore a festive look on Friday as hundreds of taxpayers rushed to its venue here to avail themselves of various tax-related services under one roof without any hassle on the first day of the weekly holiday.
Today was the fourth day of the week-long fair as it kicked off on November 13 with Finance Minister AMA Muhith formally inaugurating it.
The enthusiastic taxpayers started gathering on the Officer's Club premises well before 9am where the fair is taking place.
Taxpayers were seen standing in a long queue from 8:30m in front of the fair entrance.
When asked, Abul Kalam Miah, a freedom fighter, said he feels comfortable to submit his tax return during the fair as there is a dedicated booth for freedom fighters. "I’ve been taking this opportunity for the last eight years and this is a very good gesture of the NBR (National Board of Revenue) towards us," he said.
Yasmin Farida Bhuiyan, in her mid-60s, said as the fair has a separate booth for the female taxpayers and the senior citizens of the country it is better for anyone to submit their income tax return or anything related to the tax to finish here.
Syed Hasan Nasir, who lives in Mohammadpur area of the city, said he avails of the opportunity to submit his tax return at the fair as he always finds solution to any problem under the single roof. "This is the best place to submit your tax return or find any tax-related problem solved," he said.
Although the number of taxpayers in the early hours of the working time at the fair venue was thin, it started jumping after 10:30am.
Abu Delowar Hossain, who came from Agargaon, emphasised the importance of bringing back the fair to its own building at Agargaon. "It’s a matter of pride as the NBR holds the fair in its own building."
The volunteers were seen proactive in maintaining the queue as some taxpayers were reluctant about maintaining discipline. "Everybody hurries to have their works done once they enter the venue, but all need to maintain the queue," a worried volunteer said.
Talking to this correspondent, some officials said they feel encouraged when they saw the heavenly smile on the faces of the taxpayers as they get their desired tax-related services done. "These smiling faces are blessings for us," an assistant commissioner of tax told UNB.
All divisional cities are also holding similar fair for seven days while it will be held for four days in 56 districts, two days in 32 upazila and one day in 70 upazilas.
November 30 is the last day for submitting the income tax returns for individual taxpayers.
For the last two years, the fair was held at NBR's own office in the city's Agargaon area.
To avoid traffic jam due to the ongoing construction of metro rails, the NBR has shifted the fair venue from Agargaon to the Officers' Club, said the NBR.
The new inclusion in the fair is the tax training through audio visual means.
New taxpayers can collect e-TINs (electronic tax identification numbers) at the fair while other taxpayers also can collect e-TIN through re-registration.
Separate booths have been set up at the fair venues for e-payment and freedom fighters, women, people with disabilities and elderly people. The taxpayers will be able to file tax returns and do other tax-related tasks at the fair.
Tax collection on the first four days of the ongoing weeklong tax fair has crossed the Tk 1,200-crore mark amid the increasing turnout of individual taxpayers.
The NBR got a total of Tk 1,267.56 crore from all the divisional cities as of Friday, which was 5.51 percent higher from that of the same period last year.
During the period, some 6.61 lakh tax returns were also submitted, up 59.59 percent year-on-year, according to a statement of the NBR.
As of Friday, 9 lakh people received services from taxmen at the fair. The figure was 5.99 lakh last year, officials said.
The NBR said 19,415 new taxpayers joined the income tax network by signing up for taxpayers’ identification number in the first four days, which is 240.85 percent high on year-on-year.
Faridpur, Oct 30 (UNB) –Quilt makers in the district are now passing busy time as its demand rises with the advent of winter.
People living in the Char areas of Padma and Madhumati rivers and surrounding villagers have already started to feel the bite of chilly weather and thronging to the shops of quilt makers.
Besides, there is a tradition in the rural areas to give pillows, beddings and quilts to daughter’s in-laws’ house in the winter.
Quilt makers are now working restlessly with the increasing demand of quilt whereas some are processing cotton for repairing old quilts as per order.
Some quilt makers of the district town including Malek Miah, Hafiz Matubbor and Rahman Sheikh told the UNB correspondent that they perform various chores throughout the six months of a year but as the winter season sets in they become eventually more and more occupied in quilt making.
They work in different bedding stores of the town for 600-700 taka per day while some take 200-300 taka for making each quilt and bedding, they said.
Jakir Hossain, one of the beddings store owner in town’s Janata Bank Mor area, said though winter has not opened its grasp fully yet there is an increasing demand of quilts and beddings already which is even higher than yesteryear.
Mentioning the surge in sales in the few months of winter season, he also said about quality readymade products he is selling to customers to their satisfaction.
Kabir Molla, who came from Alipur for making quilts in Faridpur town, said he is making a quilt beforehand despite the absence of winter in weather.
Jannatul Ferdous, a housewife from Chalkbazar area, said she is ordering for quilts and beddings for her newly married daughter.
Seasonal quilt makers are a common sight in both town and rural areas of the district now who sell quilts and beddings on a van which they buy from the lenders and sell for commission too.
Visiting different markets the correspondent found that Carpus cotton is being sold at 120-140 per kg, Boma cotton Tk 100-110 per kg, sheet cotton Tk 80-90 per kg while garments cotton Tk 25 per kg.
Bagerhat, Nov 15 (UNB) – Solar energy, generated at a Shrimp Research Institute (SRI) in Bagerhat, is being added to the national grid for the first time in the country’s history.
Five solar panels with a capacity of 25 KW were set up on the roof and pond complex of the institute in 2017 to produce energy, SRI chief scientist Dr Khan Kamal Uddin told UNB.
After successful installation of the panels, those started producing energy from October 16 this year, he said adding, “The solar energy generated here is not only meeting the demand of the institute but also being supplied to the national grid.”
Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided the financial assistance at the beginning to set up the solar panels. Later, the energy is being supplied to the national grid with assistance from Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) and German donor agencies GIZ through net metering system, said Dr Khan.
Everyday some 100 to 110 MW of solar power is generated from the panels, he said.
“The shrimp enclosures in other parts of the country may follow this technique of power generation as this system doesn’t affect the production. It rather helps save money,” the scientist added.
There are shrimp enclosures on 2.75 lakh hectares of land in various parts of the country and energy can be produced by setting up solar panels in 45 percent areas of the enclosures.
Palash Kumar Ghosh, executive engineer at Bagerhat West Zone Power Distribution Company, said the demand for energy in the country can be met up by setting up such panels across the country.
The shrimp research institute is setting up solar panels in the district, involving Tk 22.68 crore.
Dhaka, Nov 13 (UNB) - Bangladesh is taking all the preparations in coordination with Myanmar to begin the first batch of Rohingya repatriation on Thursday though the ultimate success depends on "voluntariness" of their decision to return, says a senior official.
"We’re taking preparations to begin it on Thursday. This will continue until November 30 with 150 individuals each day from November 15," the official who is working on the ground told UNB on Tuesday.
He said the UNHCR will assess the voluntariness of Rohingyas's return to make sure no one is forced to leave camp.
Myanmar has given village-wise list of verified Rohingyas for the first batch return - November 15-30, officials said.
Earlier, Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the first batch of repatriation on November 15 and a list of 2,260 Rohingyas, including 450 Hindus of 485 families, has been handed over to the Myanmar side.
Diplomatic sources said a total of 450 Hindus are willing to go back and 66 of them have valid documents who do not need any further verification.
Bangladesh also has handed over a new list of 22,432 Rohingyas to Myanmar side during the last joint working group meeting between the two countries.
"The list of 22,432 has not yet verified," an official said adding that both sides want to complete the return of 2,260 Rohingyas if they are willing to go back.
In the latest statement, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said his agency supports the voluntary and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees in safety and in dignity to their places of origin or choice, and will work with all the parties towards this goal.
The High Commissioner said before making a choice of whether to return or not, the Rohingyas verified by Myanmar as having the right to return should be allowed to visit their places of origin in Rakhine State, or other places to which they might choose to return, so that they themselves can make an independent assessment of whether they feel they can return there in safety and dignity.
He emphasized that the responsibility to improve those conditions rests with Myanmar.
Although UNHCR does not believe the current conditions in Rakhine State are conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of refugees from Bangladesh, the agency said it remains committed to supporting the government of Myanmar’s efforts to create such conditions, under the terms of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
UNHCR also said it remains deeply grateful to the government of Bangladesh as it continues to generously host Rohingya refugees until they can voluntarily return to Myanmar in safety and dignity.
Officials said the first batch return will be a test case to know how Myanmar treats them after their return to the place of origin as Myanmar assured all of their safety and security with confidence-building measures.
An official involved in the repatriation process said Bangladesh and the international community need to know the “ground reality” and the repatriation needs to be started.
Another diplomatic source said some are trying to give an impression that Bangladesh has taken it as a “business venture” and Bangladesh does not want the repatriation of Rohingyas. “This is absolutely wrong.”
Bangladesh first handed over the list to Myanmar Ambassador in Dhaka U Lwin Oo on October 28 and the UNHCR was also informed on the same day to take preparation.
Earlier, India welcomed the decision taken by Bangladesh and Myanmar to start the repatriation of Rohingyas, who belong to the Rakhine state, in mid-November.
“We welcome the agreement which was reached between the Foreign Secretaries of Bangladesh and Myanmar,” said spokesperson of Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar.
Bangladesh and Myanmar formed the Joint Working Group (JWG) in December 2017 to start the repatriation of around 900,000 Rohingyas who fled a brutal military crackdown in August 2017.
Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Myint Thu told reporters that they have verified about 5,000 Rohingyas.
A UN human rights expert has urged Bangladesh to shelve the plan to start repatriating Rohingya refugees to Rakhine this month, saying the Myanmar government has failed to provide guarantees they would not suffer the same persecution and horrific violence all over again.
“I haven’t seen any evidence of the government of Myanmar taking concrete and visible measures to create an environment where the Rohingya can return to their place of origin and live there safely with their fundamental rights guaranteed,” said Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in Myanmar.
Bangladesh Foreign Ministry and the UN agencies on the matter of Rohingya repatriation saying they are coordinating their activities on the issue closely.
Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque earlier said Rohingyas need to decide on their own if they want to return to Myanmar. “It’s not Bangladesh’s decision. It’s not Myanmar’s decision and it’s not UNHCR’s decision. The return is a decision that must be taken by Rohingyas,” Haque said.
He said Bangladesh has welcomed Rohingyas and is doing what is necessary for them. "They have to go back to their own country," he said requesting all not to make it an issue for Bangladesh.