Bangladesh-Bhutan to sign SOP for trade promotion

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In an attempt to strengthen bilateral trade and daily commercial movement of vehicles, Bangladesh is going to sign a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) with Bhutan. Sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that the opinion of multiple ministries and their divisions was taken into consideration before finalizing on the SOP.
As reported by The Independent, a senior official said that the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a draft SOP to its Bangladeshi counterpart for approval. He said, “After receiving the draft SOP, the ministry of foreign affairs sent it to different ministries and divisions for seeking their opinion.”
The official added, “The draft SOP would be signed as per the memorandum of understanding on use of inland waterways for transportation of bilateral trade and transit cargoes between Bangladesh and Bhutan that was signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Thimphu last year.”
The transportation routes mentioned in the draft SOP include three distinctive ones: Mongla-Kawkhali-Barishal-Chandpur-Mawa, Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Daikhawa, and Chattogram-Chandpur-Mawa-Aricha-Sirajganj-Chilmari-Saikhawa. The document also includes a possible use of water, rail and road transport, subject to convenience. In order to divide the route load, sea ports like Narayanganj Port etc., will also be used.
According to the SOP, Bangladesh will decide on the fees and charges associated with the use of river port facilities and coastal ports aligned with domestic and international laws. This comes after the draft SOP’s primary objective of enhancing cross country commerce and trade, ensuring efficiency, credibility, accuracy, and transparency.
Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelegphug, Sarpang, Phuentshoking and Samtse in Bhutan and Monglahat, Noonkhawa, Daikhwa, Nakugaon, Haluaghat, Banglabandha, Burimari, Tamabil, Narayanganj, Gobrakurakoraitoli, Mongla seaport and Chattoagram seaport in Bangladesh will be the respective entry and exit points for cargo vessel’s crew members, as mentioned in the draft SOP.
The draft further emphasized that all the crew members on cargo vessels need to carry certain documents for hassle free entry in the contracting countries. This includes an authority reviewed permit with the individual’s photograph, passport/visa or employment certificate, and identity cards issued by concerned authorities of Bangladesh and Bhutan.

World Bank approves development operation for Bangladesh job sector

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On Thursday, The World Bank approved a $250 million development policy operation in an attempt to help the Bangladeshi government increase the number, quality, and pay scale of jobs. This comes after the disproportionate nature of the country’s economic growth and corresponding employment generation.
Qimiao Fan, Director of World Bank Country for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal said, “Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in accelerating growth and reducing poverty, but the rate of job creation has not kept up with economic growth. Creating more and better jobs is a prerequisite for the country to achieve its vision of upper-middle income status.”
According to The World Bank, the objective of Programmatic Jobs Development Policy Credit is to help Bangladesh establish a stronger policy and institutional structure. This would act instrumental in overcoming the predominant hurdles and consequently, generate better quality jobs for youth and women.
“This will require the economy to create jobs for the 2.2 million youths entering the labor force each year, while attracting more women into the labor market. This program supports reforms to stimulate trade and private sector investment, strengthen social protection for workers and help the vulnerable population access jobs,” added Fan.
The program is expected to target multiple age groups of employment sector in an individual manner. For instance, enhancement of childcare services would promote the essence of participation from mothers while simultaneously encouraging other women. Similarly, skill development and work protection will be the primary targets of the program. The expected ways to achieve this include improvements in labor law, ease of doing business, pensions, and trade facilities.
Thomas Farole, World Bank Lead Economist and Task Team Leader commented, ““This program seeks to increase investments in labor-intensive activities, improve the quality of jobs, strengthen resilience to shocks, and ensure that women, youth, and migrants access job opportunities.”
According to the World Bank, Bangladesh’s IDA program is the largest with $12.2 billion. The credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has to be paid within 30 years, including a half-decade grace.