Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Dhaka stocks suffered a massive plunge on Sunday, prompting a number of retail investors, uncertain about the efficacy of the capital market stimulus package announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission and its implementation, to take to the streets.
The benchmark general index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, or DGEN, nosedived by 5.73 per cent to close the day at 5,065.17 points.
Retail investors staged a demonstration in front of the DSE building in Motijheel demanding immediate implementation of the pledges made by prime minister Sheikh Hasina one week ago.
‘We have been banking on the prime minister’s assurance of stabilising the market and announcing a mechanism of recovering the capital losses incurred by the small-scale investors. But, the SEC has failed to
specify any such measures in the bail-out package,’ said Bangladesh Capital Market Investors Council president Mizanur Rashid Chowdhury.
He said if the announced measures were really going to help the market then the government should implement them immediately to prove their effectiveness.
He also alleged that ‘A vested quarter is deliberately spreading panic by bulk selling shares and the SEC should identify them’.
If the market is not stabilised in the next two days, the retail investors will launch a tough programme, he announced.
At around 2:10pm, investors from different brokerage houses gathered in front of the DSE building and formed a human chain. They chanted slogans against finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman, and DSE president Shakil Rizvi.
The demonstrators also brought out a series of processions at regular intervals that paraded from Shapla Square to Ittefaq crossroads. The demonstration ended at around 4:00pm in front of the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh head office.
The day also saw the turnover of the bourse dropping to Tk 451.43 crore from that of Tk 530.92 crore in the previous trading session.
Market operators said the reduced turnover indicated that the institutional investors were yet to become active in the market.
‘The stimulus package could not fully meet the investors’ expectations and we saw the result today,’ Salahuddin Ahmed Khan, a professor of finance at Dhaka University, told New Age.
He said, ‘The market bail-out package will not change the scenario within a day or two and the investors need to understand that.’
The professor, also a former chief executive officer of the DSE, said the announced measures would offer some relief to the banks but they would not be able to increase their participation in the market ahead of December closing.
The SEC, in line with the prime minister’s instructions, announced on Wednesday a 21-point stimulus package containing short-, mid- and long-term measures aimed at increasing participation of the banks and their financial institutions to stabilise the market.
The short-term measures of the package include easing the banks’ exposure calculation system and extending their single-borrower exposure deadline. The stimuli also include withdrawal of the gain tax imposed on foreign institutional investors and non-resident Bangladeshis.
‘The investors have been expecting an overnight change after the announcement of the stimulus package. But implementation of the announced measures will take some time,’ DSE president Shakil Rizvi told New Age.
He also advised the retail investors not to panic and go for long-term investment and trading plan.
SEC officials refused to make any comment about the market situation on Sunday.
The DGEN gained 947 points in four trading sessions last week following prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention to bring back stability in the market after the index had taken a 560-point plunge in three days since resumption of share trading on the DSE after the Eid vacation.
Of the 254 issued traded on Sunday, only seven advanced, with all the remaining 247 scrip suffering a decline.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Dhaka confce begins
A three-day international anti-imperialist conference began in Dhaka on Sunday with a vow to continue the fight against imperialism and capitalism’s global aggression.
The conference, organised jointly by the International Anti-imperialist and People’s Solidarity Coordination Committee and the Socialist Party of Bangladesh, was opened at 12:00 noon at Mahanagar Natyamancha.
Manik Mukherjee, general secretary of IAPSCC and a central leader of the
Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), said that people across the globe were rising up against imperialism and capitalism and their movements were gaining in momentum.
‘Even the Americans are rising up against capitalism’s corporate greed. The recent Occupy Wall Street campaign at the financial heart of capitalism proved it,’ he said at the opening session of the conference.
He urged the peoples of South Asia to build up a strong resistance against imperialism’s evil designs in the region.
He criticised most of the leftwing political parties in India for not considering India as an ‘imperialist’ country. ‘But we consider India as an imperialist country because of its anti-people role,’ he said.
The conference will discuss ways to fight imperialism’s economic, political, and cultural aggression across the world with special reference to its occupation of and military intervention in the Middle East, Afghanistan and evil designs against Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and progressive countries in Latin America, the organisers said.
It will also review the progress of the movement in Bangladesh to save its natural resources, including oil, gas and coal, they said.
About 150 delegates from leftwing political parties of 25 countries, including the United States, France, Italy, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Venezuela and Ghana, are attending the conference, they said.
At the beginning of the conference, the delegates paid tributes to the people who laid down their lives in anti-imperialist movements across the world.
The organisers also brought out a procession that paraded different city streets before returning to the conference venue. More than 10,000 activists of SPB joined the procession.
IAPSCC president Ramsay Clerk, also former attorney general of US, and United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman Puspakamal Dahal Prachanda, who were scheduled to attend the conference, did not come to Dhaka due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’, the organisers said, adding that they sent messages wishing the event a success.
SPB general secretary Khalequzzaman, who chaired the opening session, said that they were fighting to protect the country’s mineral resources from being handed over to western corporations.
Terming America ‘an enemy of humanity, peace and civilization’, the US delegate Sara Flounders said that they were also fighting against their government’s imperialist aggression.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Manzurul Ahsan Khan, SPB central leader Mobinul Hayder Chowdhury, Subhrangshu Chakrabarty, Zahidul Haque Milu, Bazlur Rashid Firoz and Razequzzaman Ratan, among others, attended the opening session.
Two sessions of delegates will be held at the Mahanagar Natyamancha auditorium today.
The conference will conclude on November 29 with the adoption of ‘Dhaka declaration’.
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Cleaners in Dhaka complain that many of the NGOs working in their slums are simply ‘doing business’ and are not working to improve their living conditions.
They said that many of the NGOs provide them microcredit simply to make profit and not to help improve their living conditions.
The cleaners, as the sweepers are now officially called, said that some of the small NGOs which run microcredit programmes, with local or foreign funding, charge interests at exorbitant rates, sometimes as high as 40 per cent.
Some of these NGOs also run education, health, and
safe water projects in the slums where Kanpuri and Madrassi cleaners live, they added
The Kanpupris and the Madrassis have been cleaners for generations, unlike the Bangalis, who took to the profession only recently.
‘A foreign NGO that does not operate in Bangladesh anymore had opened a collective savings account for our women at Ganoktuli, but the account holders never received the money they had deposited when this NGO stopped its activities,’ Bangladesh Harijan Oikkya Parisad general secretary Nirmal Chandra Das told New Age.
‘Health and education programmes run by these NGOs don’t help us much, because they are often wound up abruptly without any notice,’ he said.
‘In fact, most of the NGOs, except the big ones, approach us for their own benefits,’ said Harijan Oikya Parishad president Krisna Lal.
He favoured the bigger NGOs who ‘provide us technical support in our negotiations with the government,’ he said.
‘We want the NGOs to provide us vocational training, not loans,’ said Krishna Lal.
He said that the NGOs running programmes for the cleaners are either affiliated with the NGO Affairs Bureau or with the government’s Department of Social Welfare.
The NGO Affairs Bureau does not, said its information officer, keep sector wise information on health and education projects run by NGOs for the cleaners.
‘As each project is multi dimensional, it’s not possible for us to provide specific statistics on funds spent on a specific sector for a particular community’, NGO Affairs Bureau deputy director AKM Moazzem Hossain told New Age.
‘And we don’t have any information about the locally funded NGOs affiliated with the Department of Social Welfare which run such programmes,’ he said.
The Department of Social Welfare also could not give any information on funds spent by NGOS on education, health, sanitation and safe water projects for the cleaners.
Welfare Minister Enamul Hoque Mostafa Shaheed told New Age that the government was keen to work more closely with the NGOs to make their programmes more effective in improving the living conditions of the cleaners.
‘We are holding discussions with the NGOs to find out a better plan for the welfare of the cleaners and other marginal communities,’ he said.
Manusher Jonno Foundation executive director Shaheen Anam told New Age that the foundation provides technical support to the Harijan cleaners in their negotiations with the government for their rights.
She admitted that the NGOs running programmes for the cleaners had some limitations as they were dependent on donor funding for the projects.
‘They cannot continue projects if the donors stop the funding support,’ she said.
Shaheen Anam, however, said that the NGOs should take comprehensive projects instead of sector wise projects.
She also said that the cleaners have to fight for themselves to bring about better living conditions and rights ‘We can only help them go ahead.’
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The Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, said that the Dhaka City Corporation into two parts divided has been decided in order to ensure better services for their citizens.
The Prime Minister has this taking of the oath-taking ceremony of the Mayor and city councillors of Narayanganj City Corporation in her Office on Sunday.
Hasina, said that divide a Bill Dhaka City Corporation in the current session of Parliament had been brought, such as the city now to Narayanganj in the Southeast and Tongi in the North converted to by been.
She said, was the number of city dwellers increasing day by day and it was impossible to expand services for people from one point.
'Number of the population, the Government has informed management the police in eight zones, appropriate services,' she added.
The Prime Minister said her Government wanted to strengthen the local government offices to the decentralization of power. "We are tirelessly working for the welfare of the people," she said.
She said her Government believed also in empowerment of people and it had been shown in the NCC elections.
"I had surveys in the open, fair and peaceful atmosphere at all costs to keep under the direction of the authorities, the NCC and the people had exercised their voting rights, as their choice," she said.
The Prime Minister asked the newly elected Mayor and city councillors of Narayanganj City Corporation meet the hopes and ambitions of the townspeople mandate the Corporation has carried out.
In this context, Hasina, announced that her Government full cooperation the lost honour of the port city of Narayanganj restore would extend.
In addition, she said, would special attention to the development of the NCC be given as to the Mayor of the city is a woman, because the believe in empowering women.
Prime Minister of the country, Deputy Chairman of the House and the leader of the opposition are women and the Government has empowerment of women through elections directly for women representatives in the local body polls to ensure.
Earlier, the Prime Minister manages the oath of Office newly elected Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy, while Foreign Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam administered the oath of the members of the Council LGRD and cooperatives.
Ministers, consultants, members of Parliament and defined persons from Narayanganj were carried Khan in the function of LGRD and cooperatives Secretary Abu Alam Shahid.
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Monday, November 28, 2011
Khadimul Islam and Saifur Rahman . Khulna
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, on Sunday said that national elections would not be accepted without a caretaker government and without deployment of army troops.
‘We will not accept any
vote under the Awami League government. National elections without a caretaker government and without deployment of army troops will not be allowed in the country,’ she told a huge rally at Khulna.
Khaleda, also leader of the opposition in parliament, said that the country’s sovereignty was at stake and urged the Awami League-led government to step down if it was unable to take bold steps over the issue of the Tipaimukh dam.
She reassured the government that her party would extend support if it takes a tough stance against the Tipaimukh dam. ‘If the government cannot drive a hard bargain, nobody would give the country anything,’ she said.
She vowed not to allow any move to construct the controversial dam on the River Barak until a joint survey and technical assessment was conducted by Bangladesh and India at Tipaimukh.
Khaleda wrapped up her third road march by holding a public rally on the Khulna Circuit House premises. She termed the large attendance at her rallies and wayside meetings ‘a sign of mass awakening’. ‘The mass awakening will turn into a popular uprising against the government,’ she hoped.
The former prime minister urged the locals to build resistance against a joint-venture project with India for setting up of a coal-based power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat. ‘We [BNP and allies] and environmentalists will stand by you to stop the move for building the power plant which will threaten the biodiversity in Sundarban,’ she added..
‘The government should be ousted to save the country and democracy,’ she said, calling on the people to join the anti-government movement.
Khaleda, addressing another rally in Jessore Eidgah Maidan, urged the people to decide whether they would oust the Awami League-led government or lose the country’s sovereignty.
‘The county will lose its independence and sovereignty if the Awami League government remains in power. The government is doing everything to turn Bangladesh into a province of India,’ she alleged.
‘The government is taking loan at high interests from the neighbouring country for construction of roads for transport of Indian transit goods, but no roads are being made for the people of the country,’ she said.
Khaleda said that the people were not ready to pay the interest on loans taken for the interest of another country. She urged the government to construct roads for development of the country by the money taken as loan from India.
The BNP chief accused the government of politicising the judiciary, civil, military and police administrations and criticised it for axing a good number civil, military and police officers from jobs out of political vengeance.
She said the BNP-led alliance, if voted to power, would reinstate those ‘illegally terminated’ by the government.
Khaleda alleged that India was planning to transport heavy equipment through Akhaura for gas exploration and construction of the Tipaimukh dam. ‘No such heavy equipment will be allowed to be transported through Akharua at our cost,’ she said.
The BNP-led alliance organised the road mach aiming to mobilise public support for the opposition’s key demands, including restoration of the caretaker government system which was scrapped through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in June this year.
Senior leaders of BNP, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami and Liberal Democratic Party and other components of the alliance also addressed the rallies.
Khaleda began the road march on Saturday from the capital’s Uttara area. BNP and its allies set up hundreds of arches on the route of the march to welcome the leader of the opposition.
The convoy led by Khaleda began its journey on the second day from the Jessore Circuit House around 11:25am after staying there overnight. After the rally, the caravan went to Bagerhat where Khaleda offered fateha at Khan Jahan Ali’s shrine.
She urged the government to take immediate steps for procurement of paddy and rice as the price of aman paddy had fallen drastically during the pick season of harvest.
She pledged to construct two bridges on the River Padma – one at the present site and another connecting Daulatdia and Paturia – if BNP was voted to power in the next polls.
People lined the road at places as the convoy headed for Khulna. They chanted slogans, clapped and showered petals as the caravan passed.
Khaleda led her first road march to Sylhet on October 10 and the second to Chapainawabganj on October 18.
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Parliament is all set to pass today a government bill seeking to split the city of Dhaka.
A parliamentary standing committee at a meeting on Sunday approved the bill with nominal modifications.
The bill seeks to amend the local government law to divide Dhaka into two cities.
The committee approved the bill in record five days since it got it for scrutiny.
The government introduced the Local Government (City Corporation) (Amendment) Bill 2001 in the House on November 23 and on the same day parliament sent it to the standing committee for scrutiny.
The Awami League-led government took the move for the hurried split of the historic city in the face of stiff opposition from the civil society, the opposition party as well as the mayor of Dhaka, who even offered resign and stay away from the next city polls in his appeal to the regime not to divide Dhaka.
The committee on the ministry of local government and rural development is expected to return the bill to parliament today.
Unlike the existing local government law, the bill seeking to amend it is silent about the stipulation that a new mayor of Dhaka has to be elected within 180 days of expiry of the tenure of office of a sitting mayor.
into two city corporations and appoint their administrators awaiting election of new mayors of the two new cities.
The bill also proposes dividing the assets and liabilities, records, documents and other materials of the Dhaka City Corporation between the two new city corporations.
Parliament sources said that the session was likely to be prorogued in a day or two.
Members said that the standing committee only dropped two words relating to the qualification of the administrators of the two new city corporations for Dhaka.
They said that the committee dropped the words ‘first class’ from ‘first class public servant’ the stipulated the qualification of officers, the government would be empowered by the amendment to the local government law to appoint as administrators of the two new cities.
Following amendment the local government law would empower the government to appointment civil servants or any other persons, it thinks competent, as administrators until two mayors are elected for the two new cities.
The standing committee approved the bill in five days said its member Nur-e-Alam Chowdhury.
The meeting over, he said parliament would pass the bill today.
The state minister for LGRD Jahangir Kabir Nanak had introduced the bill in parliament on November 23.
Nur-e-Alam said the committee approved a separate bill to amend upazila parishad law and it would also be passed by parliament today.
He said that the tenure of office of the administrator would be 90 days and a new administrator has to be appointed after 90 days.
The existing local government law does not permit removal of an elected mayor or his or her replacement by an appointed administrator.
The bill omitted armed forces from the definition of law-enforcement agencies ruling out deployment of troops during city elections.
Following the amendment to the local government law, 92 wards of the historic city of Dhaka would be divided between the two new cities.
In justification of dividing the city the bill says it became difficult to provide civic services to one crore people from one centre.
In its objectives for splitting the city, the bill said that the people were not getting the civic amenities.
On October 31, the cabinet approved the bill for splitting the city of Dhaka.
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