Cabinet clears policy to fix minimum and maximum prices of agricultural goods
The Cabinet on Monday cleared the draft of the National Agricultural Marketing Policy, 2023 in order to modernise the marketing system and ensure the highest benefits for the farmers through different measures including fixation of minimum and maximum rational prices for the agricultural goods. The approval came from the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office. “The policy has been designed incorporating some goals and targets in a bid to modernise the marketing system of agricultural goods,” said cabinet secretary Mahbub Hossain while briefing reporters at Bangladesh Secretariat after the meeting. He said the policy focuses on how the market of agricultural goods can be monitored and the farmers can be given the highest benefits. “Steps will be taken to fix and implement the minimum and maximum rational prices of agricultural goods,” he said. Also Read: Undisbursed portion of agriculture and rural loans will be disbursed to farmers by Bangladesh Bank body Other steps which will be taken as per the policy include enhancing links between the farmers and markets, strengthening information management, improving marketing infrastructures, promoting digital markets, strengthening community-based, group-based and contract-based marketing, promoting e-agricultural marketing system and digital markets, and developing the overall supply chain, he said. During the approval of the policy, the Prime Minister directed to design an agricultural goods-processing policy with a view to modernising the sector, maintaining international standards of products and thus promoting the export of processed goods, said the cabinet secretary. He said the directive came as the markets for Bangladeshi processed agricultural goods have created worldwide as Bangladeshi diaspora communities use the goods and foreign people are also showing interest to the commodities. The PM also directed to consider jute goods as agricultural ones saying that the jute sector should get all sorts of facilities entitled for the agricultural sector. Jute goods have been treated as industrial products. But now the use of jute fiber has enhanced massively and created a huge prospect for the goods locally and internationally. So, now jute goods need to be considered as agricultural ones to unlock this huge prospect, said Mahbub Hossain. The Cabinet also approved in principle the draft of the Sheikh Hasina Agricultural University Act, 2023 to establish the country’s 9th agricultural university in Shariatpur. “It will be an institute like the existing agricultural universities,” said Mahbub Hossain. Besides, the Cabinet cleared the draft of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Act, 2023 in a bid to replace an existing ordinance that paved the way for the government to adjust the prices of gas and electricity without public hearings. On December 1, 2022, the “Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (amendment) Ordinance, 2022” was promulgated amending the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act-2003. The new ordinance was placed in Parliament on January 5. “This ordinance is now being turned into an act. No change was made here. It is the same as the ordinance,” said the top bureaucrat.
Proposal was made to demolish Kamalapur Station for metro rail landing, and I opposed: PM
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (January 09, 2023) said that the government is facing various challenges in regard to development projects in the country. “Challenges arise when we go for any (development) work… We completed all the projects, facing these challenges,” she said. The prime minister said this while delivering her introductory speech at the weekly Cabinet meeting, held at her office (PMO). Talking about the Metro Rail project, she said that initially, in the feasibility study, the MRT route was designed to go through Bijoy Sarani. Read more: PM emphasises signing PTA, FTA with Brazil and three other South American countries. “If we went with that, we would’ve had to close down the Tejgaon airport which has a 9000 ft long runway. I was vehemently against that proposal,” she recalled. In this connection, she said that during the 1998 flood, all the relief arrived at the Tejgaon airport as Dhaka airport in Kurmitola went under water. She also said that the planetarium’s (at Bijoy Sarani) dome was much higher in the original design. “We reduced that height. If the height goes beyond 60-70 ft, it will come under the airport funnel (of the Tejgaon airport),” she said. Read more: Doing whatever is needed to ease pains despite war, pandemic: PM She told the Cabinet meeting that if the old alignment were used, the government would have to demolish 22 buildings. “I proposed the new route, using the Khamar Bari area,” she said. The PM also said that she extended the metro rail route up to Kamalapur from Bangladesh Bank. “At that time, proposal was made to demolish Kamalapur Station for metro rail – for its turning and landing space,” she added. Read more: Stay alert against anarchy ahead of next election: PM Hasina to the Nation The PM said she told the officials concerned that it would not be wise to demolish such a big landmark and construct another. “I asked them, how we could go ahead while keeping that (Kamalapur) station intact. If necessary, metro rail will go over the station or find another site for turning. Now it is done that way,” she said. She also mentioned that the Metro Rail project faced resistance at Dhaka University area from the students, saying that it would destroy the academic atmosphere of the university. “I assured them that there will be no disturbance due to the Metro Rail as it will go through a corner of the university area,” she said. Read More: Dhaka Metro Rail Uttara to Agargaon Route: A Detail Overview The Metro Rail project came to a stop after the Holey Artisan attack, in which seven Japanese nationals involved with the project were killed. “At that time, all Japanese people went back to their homeland. I expressed condolence at once to the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and while visiting Japan, I met the family members of the seven deceased Japanese officials,” she said. Later, she recalled, it was again stopped during the Covid-19 pandemic. “But at that time, the work progressed slowly, using the videoconferencing system,” she added. Sheikh Hasina urged all to use metro rail cautiously and mindfully as it uses the most modern technology. Read More: Fares of metro rail are reasonable: Quader “I will request all to use the (Metro) Rail with utmost care, as this is an asset of the whole country and its people,” she said. She said that the government of Bangladesh is constructing an underpass to go from the airport railway station to the airport – for the convenience of passengers and Hajj pilgrims.
Autonomous, legislative and local govt bodies must have prior clearance for expenditures, Cabinet decides
The autonomous, legislative and local government bodies will need clearance from the Finance Division over financial expenditures as the Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of Public Service (Amendment) Act, 2022, incorporating such provisions. The approval came from the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office. “In the existing Public Service Act, 2018, now the Finance Division has authority over the financial matters of the government entities, officials and employees, but it was not clear what would be involvement of the Finance Division regarding the autonomous, legislative and local government bodies,” said Cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters at the Bangladesh secretariat. Read: Cabinet directs to verify news, information being shared about banking sector Explaining the provision, he said that the public universities, the Election Commission, or local bodies like city corporations and union parishads will have to take opinions of the Finance Division over their financial expenditures. “So, the Finance Division will have a say” he added. The Cabinet Secretary, however, said it had been mandatory too for the autonomous, legislative and local government bodies to take clearance from the Finance Division before, but the enactment of the existing law in 2018 made it unclear. The meeting also approved the proposal to sign an agreement between Bangladesh and Iran to avoid the double taxation and prevent dodges of revenue. The meeting approved the proposal to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty adopted in 2013 in Japan to protect humans and the environment from harmful effects of mercury pollution. The treaty came into full force in 2017 with 137 countries participating in the convention. The treaty banned the opening of new mercury mines. It also required existing mines to be phased out and the use of mercury in products to be restricted. The total mercury release in Bangladesh is approximately 32,660kg per year, which polluted the environment, said Anwarul Islam. Read: Cabinet approves amendment to let govt decide energy price without BERC The Cabinet also cleared another proposal to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The protocol, which is also known as the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), was adopted in 2010 as a supplementary agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Some voice reservations over govt's move to amend BERC Law
The government has initiated a move to amend the existing Bangladesh Energy Commission (BERC) Act 2003, creating the scope for it to arbitrarily fix the prices of power and energy bypassing the regulatory body. According to official sources, the Energy and Mineral Resources Division recently moved a proposal titled: “BERC Act (Amendment) -2022” to the Cabinet Division to bring this amendment to the existing law. Against that background, the Cabinet today (Monday) approved an amendment to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Ordinance 2022 to empower the government to set fuel tariff on its own under special circumstances without waiting for the commission’s public hearing and decision. It received the nod from the Prime Minister as she is in-charge of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, said the sources. Before the approval was announced, an official of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division told UNB: “If the Cabinet approves the amendment proposal, then it will be placed as an amendment bill in the parliament.” Read more: Cabinet approves amendment to let govt decide energy price without BERC If and when the bill is passed by the parliament, it will turn into law with the president's signature. As per the existing BERC Act, if the government wants to adjust the power tariff or price of natural gas, the relevant state-owned body has to place a proposal to the regulator and then the BERC holds a public hearing to listen to the opinions of the stakeholders on the issue. After a public hearing, the BERC announces its decision within 90 days on the price adjustment proposal. But if the proposed amendment is passed by the parliament, the government can at any time fix the tariff of electricity and other energy prices like gas or petroleum products, said the official requesting anonymity as the issue is sensitive. He said that under the current law, it takes at least 90 days to bring any change in power tariff or gas prices for which the government takes the new move to reset the price anytime it is required. “Side by side, the current procedure of BERC will remain in place”, he said. Officials said the current nagging crisis in the energy and power sector has prompted the government to initiate such a move from time to time to adjust the energy and power tariff according to its needs. Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) vice chairman Prof ASM Shamsul Alam termed the government’s move as “destructive to the existing semi-judicial process of the BERC in fixing power and energy prices.“ Read more: BERC to announce decision on review appeal on bulk power tariff Monday He said the BERC was established with a good intention to bring accountability and ensure transparency in the corporate sector in the energy sector as certain procedures have to be followed in any decision making process while fixing the prices. “But now, the proposed amendment will be detrimental for the energy sector in this regard,” he added.
Cabinet approves amendment to let govt decide energy price without BERC
The Cabinet on Monday approved an amendment to Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Ordinance 2022 to empower the government to set fuel tariff on its own under special circumstances without waiting for the commission’s public hearing and decision. The approval came at the Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at the PMO, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing the media at the Secretariat. Read: Block militants' access to shelter, finance: PM to secretaries He said the BERC can wait for up to 90 days to review and take a decision on fixing tariff rates and this is a long time. The amendment is being done so government can set the fuel price on an urgent basis in a situation like what prevails now. The possibility of importing fuel and energy under private arrangement was discussed at the meeting and the relevant authorities were given direction in this regard, he said.
Govt okays fertilizer import, procurement of container scanner systems
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) has approved a number of proposals including import of a total of 140,000 metric tons (MT) of fertilizer and procurement of 6 complete container scanner systems for custom houses. The committee in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair, gave the nod to the proposals. As per a proposal placed by the Internal Resources Division of the Finance Ministry, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) will procure the six complete sets of container scanner systems for different custom houses from Nuctech Company Ltd. at a cost of Tk 327.01 crore. It also approved a proposal of the Ministry of Agriculture’s to import 50,000 MT of Muriate of Potash (MOP) from Canadian Commercial Corporation under a state-level contract at a cost of Tk 414.13 crore. The Ministry of Industries’ three separate proposals received the nod of the committee for the import of 90,000 MT of urea fertilizer by the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC). Read: Control room opens for monitoring fertilizer situation Of these, BCIC will import 30,000 MT of bulk granular urea from Fertiglobe Distribution Limited, the UAE, at a cost of Tk 188.93 crore while the same quantity of bulk granular urea will be imported from Muntajat, Qatar at the same cost. The BCIC will procure another 30,000 MT of bagged granular urea from Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company Limited (Kafco) at a cost of Tk 185.12 crore.
Proposals to import sugar, fertilizer get cabinet body nod
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) on Thursday approved some 13 procurement proposals including import of sugar and fertilizer. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the virtual meeting while other members of the committee attended it. As per the proposal placed by the Commerce Ministry, its subordinate body Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) will import 12,500 metric tons of sugar from Brazil. Local company JMI Export-Import will supply the sugar from Brazil at a total value of Tk 65.98 crore with per metric ton costing at $524. State marketing agency Trading Corporation of Bangladesh(TCB) moved to import the bulk sugar amid the growing price of such essential commodity. As per the proposal of the Agriculture Ministry, its subordinate body Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) will import 100,000 MT of MOP fertilizer from a Polish company at a contract value of 906.69 crore. The Ministry of Industries placed a proposal to procure 30,000 MT of bagged granular urea fertilizer from local company Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company Ltd (Kafco) at contract value of Tk 191.03 crore. Read more: Bangladesh to buy fertiliser at lower cost, thanks to declining global price Another similar proposal of the BCIC for the import of 30,000 MT of bulk granular urea from Muntajat of Qatar at a cost of Tk 201.78 crore under state contract also received the approval of the CCGP. The Primary and Mass Education Ministry’s proposal to award Tk 25.89 crore contract of the National Curriculum and Textbooks Board (NCTB) to different contractors for printing, binding and supplying 75.93 lakh of Bangla and English version of textbooks for 3d, 4th and 5th grades of students also received the nod of the CCGP. The committee approved two separate proposals of the Shipping Ministry to award contracts for dredging of different rivers under different lots. Three proposals of the Roads and Highways Department were placed by the Roads Transport and Highways Division for the meeting which received approval of the committee. Of these, the Roads and Highways Department will award a Tk 269.87 crore contract to Joint Venture of 1. ICT; 2. IRD; and 3. SHELADIA to appoint a consultant for the Dhaka Dhaka-Sylhet Corridor Development project under South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (Sasec). Read more: TCB to procure 1.65 cr litres of edible oil from local suppliers again It will award Tk 896.81 crore contract to Joint Venture of 1. Enez, Turkey and 2. TCCL, Bangladesh for civil construction works under Lot No-DS-11 of WP-06 package of the Sasec. A contract of Tk 576.05 crore will be awarded by the Roads and Highways Department to Sinohydro Engineering Bureau 8 Corporation Ltd., China for lot No-DSA of the package-6 of the Sasec project.
Ban on cutting trees in reserved forests extended until 2030
The Cabinet on Monday approved a proposal to extend the ban on cutting trees in the country’s reserved and natural forests until 2030 in a bid to protect the biodiversity. The approval came at the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here. “Trees in the reserved forests can no way be cut until 2030. But trees in social forests can be cut,” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said while briefing reporters at the Bangladesh Secretariat. The Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry placed the proposal at the meeting. As per the previous decision taken by the cabinet in August, 2016, there has been a ban on cutting trees in in the country’s reserved and natural forests till 2022. Read more: Cabinet okays 22 public holidays in 2023 The cabinet also approved the draft of the National Adaptation Plan (2023-2030) in order to cope up with the adversities of the climate change. Besides, the meeting gave the final approval to the draft of the Essential Services Act, 2022 merging the two old laws – the Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1952 and the Essential Services (Second) Ordinance, 1958. “Since the existing laws are old ones. The proposed law was placed (by the Labour and Employment Ministry) aiming to have a modernized and time-befitting law in this regard,” said the Cabinet Secretary. The cabinet approved the draft of the Balumohal (sand quarry) and Soil Management (Amendment) Act, 2022 to stop the indiscriminate sand-lifting by. Read more: Cabinet sends back National Adaptation Plan on climate change for modification “As per the draft, the Balumohal can’t be leased out for more than one year,” said Islam adding that the maximum punishment for grievous offense is two-year imprisonment, Tk 10 lakh as fine or both under the law. He said now the deputy commissioners and the Land Ministry will have to take requisition from either the Water Development Board or the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) for every Balumohal. Then the board or BIWTA will conduct a digital survey to fix where and how much sand can be lifted.
Cabinet purchase body okays import of 90,000 MT fertiliser, other proposals
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase in a virtual meeting on Wednesday approved a number of proposals including the import of 90,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the virtual meeting. The Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) will buy entire fertilisers in three separate lots from three different companies under separate contracts. As per the proposals, some 30,000 MT of bagged granular urea fertiliser will be procured from Karnaphuli Fertiliser Company (Kafco) at a cost of Tk 197.46 crore while another 30,000 MT of bulk granullar urea from Muntajat of Qatar at a cost of Tk 200.55 crore. The remaining 30,000 MT will be imported by the BCIC from SABIC Agri-nutrients Company of Saudia Arabia at the same price. Read: Cabinet committee approves contract extension of 4 rental power plants, 200,000 MT rice import from Myanmar The BCIC will also import 30,000 MT of phosphoric acid at Tk 233.82 crore for its DAP Fertiliser Company Limited. The committee approved a proposal of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division's proposal to appoint the Joint Venture of (1) Dohatec Media Bangladesh; and (2) GSS Infotech Ltd. India as a consultant for its Digitizing Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement project at a contract value of Tk 51.23 crore. A proposal of the Public Works Department under the Housing and Public Works Ministry received a nod for its proposal to award a contract to The Engineers & Architects Ltd., to build a 14-story residential building at Tk 144.36 crore.
Cabinet clears laws to establish 2 universities in Meherpur, Naogaon
The Cabinet on Monday cleared the draft laws for setting up two public varsities --‘Mujibnagar University’ in Meherpur and ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman University’ in Naogaon. The approval came from the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who joined it through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganobhaban. Other cabinet members attended the meeting from the conference room of the Cabinet Division in Bangladesh Secretariat. “The two proposed universities would be prototypes of other public universities,” said Cabinet Secretariat Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters after the meeting. Also read: Go to people to explain fuel price hike, Cabinet asks Energy Division He said the Cabinet gave the final approval to the drafts of ‘Mujibnagar University, Meherpur Act, 2022’ and Bangabandhu University, Naogaon Act, 2022’ on condition for vetting the two draft laws. Besides, the Cabinet approved the draft of Light Engineering Industry Policy-2022 in a bid to flourish the light engineering sector in the country. “Due to the policy, the light engineering industry will be spread, the role of the industrial sector will be enhanced further and the economic development will be accelerated,” said Anwarul Islam. The meeting okayed the draft of ‘Sylhet Development Authority Act, 2022’ with a view to ensuring the planned developments in Sylhet city and its adjacent areas. Also read: Cabinet okays draft law keeping maximum 10-yr jail for drugs anomalies The proposed law was designed to make Sylhet city as a planned one by preventing unplanned constructions in the city and its surrounding areas, said the Cabinet Secretary. The Cabinet retrospectively approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on migration and mobility, which was signed between Bangladesh and Greece in February last. Under the MoU, some 4,000 Bangladeshis will get scope to go to Greece every year and they will initially get five-year permit to work in its agriculture sector, said Anwarul Islam. Besides, 14,000-15,000 Bangladeshis who have already become unauthorized ones in Greece can be legalized under the deal, he added.