Nation this week
Amid increasing concern over the impact of continued school closures on children's mental health, the government decided to keep all educational institutions across the country closed till January 30 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In an official notification on Friday, the Education Ministry extended the ongoing shutdown. The government had announced general holidays in March last year when the pandemic unfolded and shut all the educational institutions the same month. Although activities at both government and private offices were gradually restored, educational institutions have not been reopened.
Last month, shutdown on all educational institutions, except Qawmi madrasas, was extended till January 16. However, the University Grants Commission (UGC) last month decided to allow public universities to hold semester exams for final year students. The government decided not to hold the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC), and equivalent examinations, in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Bangladesh, Myanmar and China are set to resume their Tripartite negotiations with a focus on getting the process of Rohingya repatriation off the ground as soon as possible. As such, the three sides will hold their next meeting under the initiative led by Beijing in Dhaka on January 19 (next Tuesday), almost exactly a year on from the last such meeting. "We hope it will be a fruitful meeting," Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen told reporters on Wednesday about the tripartite talks, which will be led by secretaries to each government.
Momen also said Bangladesh has handed over a list of 840,000 names from the camps it is hosting to Myanmar for verification. But Myanmar has been dragging its feet on the issue. They verified only 42,000 people (5 percent). There is serious lack of seriousness," said the Foreign Minister. Ultimately, he said he is always hopeful of repatriation taking place, as history says they took back their nationals in 1978 and 1992.
Uttara Finance and Investment Ltd (UFIL), a non-bank financial institution, has been flouting rules and regulations in disbursing a huge amount of loans. For instance, it gave Tk 336 crore loans to Uttara Motors and other concerns of Uttara Group without any credit proposals, breaching the banking rules. The loans were not shown in the UFIL's annual report and the financial balance sheet to dodge both its stakeholders and Bangladesh Bank, a central bank probe has found.
The BB also detected that the UFIL management created two sections in its electronic ledger -- "short-term loan repayment" and "long-term loan" -- without proper authorisation to disburse the loans to Uttara Group. Irregularities involving Tk 5,100 crore were committed by the board and management of UFIL in disbursement of loans and mobilisation of deposits, the BB found in its probe carried out between October 7 and November 25 last year.
Bangladesh Bank issued an emergency cyber alert for its staff and officials and suspended its internet services for ordinary users. "Internet services have been temporarily withdrawn from the workstations for ordinary users owing to cyber security," said an internal notice issued on January 10. If internet service is required for official purposes, the ICT Infrastructure Maintenance and Management Department is to be informed with the approval of the appropriate authority, as per the notice.
Internet services at the central bank remained shut till January 13, said a number of BB officials seeking anonymity. Malicious software known as spyware and malware were detected on the central bank server when the new antivirus was installed, they said. 'Then, cyber security was strengthened.' Hackers stole $101 million from the Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in February 2016. Experts had detected the presence of malwares in the BB's Swift-RTGS system in the reserve theft case.
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