Rice yield hits record high
The country’s rice production hit a new record of 36.2 million tonnes in the last fiscal year (FY), 2017-18. According to the official data, the output was 7.1 per cent higher than that of FY ’17. It was 34.7 million tonnes (the then record) in FY ’15 which declined to 34.68 million tonnes in FY ’16 and then to 33.79 million tonnes in FY ’17. Boro production decreased by 5.0 per cent to 18.0 million tonnes in FY ’17 than that of FY ’16. Devastating floods contributed to the massive damage of more than 90 per cent of the staple in haor [wet] area. But bumper harvest was marked by 8.6 per cent growth in FY ’18 from that of FY ’17, the BBS said. However, Boro output in FY ’18 was also 2.09 per cent higher than that of the previous record of 19.1 million tonnes in FY ’15. Farmers cultivated rice on 4.85 million hectares of land in the last Boro season. It was 4.45 million hectares in FY ’17, BBS data showed. Meanwhile, Aman output increased to 13.9 million tonnes during the period, a 2.47 per cent growth from its previous output. Aus output also increased to 2.7 million tonnes, nearly 27 per cent growth over that of FY ’17. The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data showed rice varieties are still 9.0 per cent to 54 per cent higher than that of last year in the city. According to food ministry, rice imports were also an all-time high (4.1 million tonnes) in FY ’18.
Steelmakers flexing muscles
Steelmakers are investing thousands of crores of taka either to expand existing capacity or set up new units as consumption is on the rise. Per capita steel consumption in Bangladesh has grown more than 54 percent to 37kg in the last eight years thanks to the government’s large infrastructure projects and the thriving housing sector. According to market players, per capita steel use was 24kg in 2010. Chinese companies have also shown interest to invest in the steel sector. Bangladesh’s steel sector has made great strides since the country’s independence. In 1972, local millers used to produce a meagre 47,000 tonnes of steel. The figure rose to 55 lakh tonnes in 2017 and is expected to hit 70 lakh tonnes this year. The sector turns over about Tk 30,000 crore a year in sales revenue. The growing use may cheer up manufacturers and retailers, but Bangladesh lags far behind its peer countries and neighbour India when it comes to consumption. The country’s consumption is almost half of India’s 65kg and one-seventh of Asian average of 255kg, according to local companies and India-based information services provider SteelMint. BSRM is the market leader with 25 percent share and produces about 15 lakh tonnes of steel every year. There are some 400 big, medium- and small-sized steel mills in the country with a combined production capacity of 80 lakh tonnes. Of them, the top 10 companies hold more than 50 percent stakes.
Fresh congestion slows Ctg port
Chittagong Port has been facing container congestion for a week, the second this month, mainly because of slow delivery of import containers and transportation of containers to private inland container depots. Import-laden containers lying in the port yards totalled 44,473 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) till yesterday against the port’s storage facility of 37,620 TEUs. (twenty-foot equivalent units) till yesterday against the port’s storage facility of 37,620 TEUs. A good portion of import containers are usually taken from the port to the ICDs from where importers receive the goods. But the movement of the containers to the ICDs has been facing disruption for the last couple of days, after the Road, Transport and Highways Division banned trucks, covered vans and lorries from plying on the roads three days before Eid-ul-Azha. As of yesterday, the number of ICD-bound containers lying at the port yards rose to 5,039 TEUs although the port doesn’t have designated space to store them. Usually 3,000 TEUs to 4,000 TEUs of import-laden containers are delivered on a normal working day whereas only 3,000 TEUs were delivered in the five days to Saturday.
Fortune Recognizes Telenor’s Tonic
Telenor Group has recently been recognized by Fortune magazine for its work to bring affordable healthcare to the mass market through its Tonic mobile service in Bangladesh. Fortune, a globally renowned business magazine, included Telenor in its fourth annual “Change the World” list of companies that are doing well by doing good, said Grameenphone, a part of the Telenor Group, in a press release yesterday. Tonic is a digital healthcare service for Grameenphone customers. Tonic aims to provide healthy living and wellness plans for all. Using mobile communication and information technology Tonic aims to be an easily accessible healthcare service. The companies on this year’s “Change the World” list are from 19 countries. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year due to medical costs and more than 400 million people lack access to basic health services. Tonic Daktar (doctor) provides access to immediate medical advice by phone for a fee of about 6 cents per minute. Tonic also offers discounts on medical services and financial aid for hospitalization.
Bangladesh to invite US to invest in SEZs
Bangladesh would request the United States to invest in the special economic zones in Bangladesh but would not discuss the issue of generalized system of preferences (GSP) at the fourth round of meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement to be held in Washington on September 13. They were setting the agenda for the meeting and the issues including investment opportunities, market access of Bangladeshi products and implementation of trade facilitation agreement would get high priority. They are working on the agenda for TICFA meeting but the GSP issue will not be on the list. We do not want to discuss GSP issue as Bangladesh is going to graduate from the least developed country to a developing one. By producing the progress Bangladesh would demand ensuring ethical buying practice from the US buyers. The much-talked-about TICFA was signed between Bangladesh and the US on November 25, 2013.The first round of TICFA meeting was held in Dhaka in April, 2014, the 2nd round in Washington in November, 2015 and the third round was held in Dhaka in May, 2017.
Mitsubishi Corp to acquire 25pc stake in Summit LNG terminal in Bangladesh
Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp on Friday said it has agreed to acquire 25 per cent of Bangladesh’s Summit Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal and plans to help develop an offshore receiving site in the South Asian country. The other 75 per cent of the Summit LNG terminal will remain with Summit Corp. Summit LNG’s project plans call for a floating storage and regasification unit to be installed off the coast of Moheshkali, where it will receive and regasify LNG procured by Petrobangla, the country’s national oil and gas company. Construction of the terminal has already begun, with commercial operation expected to start in March 2019. The planned LNG import volumes are about 3.5 million tonnes per annum. Bangladesh’s economic growth rose by 7.28 per cent in the financial year through mid-2017, and its population is expected to climb to over 185 million people by 2030, boosting demand for electricity and LNG for power generation. Summit and Mitsubishi have agreed to jointly pursue other LNG projects in Bangladesh, said the Japanese company, from the supply of the super-chilled fuel to power generation. In March this year, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly pursue an integrated LNG-to-power development consisting of an on-shore LNG receiving terminal, associated LNG supply and construction of 2,400-megawatt gas-powered thermal power plant.
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