Nation this week
Banks will not be allowed to go for forward sale of foreign exchange for over three months, Bangladesh Bank said, after the Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers' Association and the Association of Bankers' Bangladesh set new dollar rates for remittances and export proceeds at Tk 110 and for import settlements at Tk 110.50 respectively. The central bank issued a circular in this regard. In a forward transaction, two people or entities engage in an agreement to perform a trade in the future.
Authorised dealers are allowed to apply a forward premium that should not exceed the SMART rate plus 5 percent per annum. Currently, the six-month moving average rate of 180-day treasury bills (SMART) is 7.14 percent. Many banks and investors understood that they will be allowed to go for forward exchange rate contracts for a year instead of three months. Under three months' contract, if customers collect US dollars through forward purchases, they will have to pay Tk 113.85.
The government's move towards electronic procurement, rolled out more than a decade ago to ensure competition and cut the scope of irregularities including corruption, has failed miserably in the case of the former as public agencies awarded contracts worth Tk 60,069 crore based on single bids, according to a new study found by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB). A single-bidding scenario occurs when a contract is given out through a tender process with the participation of only one bidder in a competitive market.
One out of five contracts (20 percent), representing around 15 percent of the total value of e-contracts, were given out in such a manner. There are 92 procuring entities where 75 percent of tenders resulted in a single bidding and 416 contractors had a single-bidding ratio of at least 75 percent in the last 11 years. It can limit competition and hinder transparency and fairness in procurement, underscoring the importance of fostering a competitive environment to mitigate corruption risks, TIB said.
The CIVICUS Monitor has added Bangladesh to its Watchlist of countries experiencing rapid declines in civic freedoms following the imprisonment and targeting of government critics. CIVICUS is an international alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world. The alliance said there has been an escalating crackdown on the opposition, activists and dissenting voices in Bangladesh ahead of national elections - scheduled for January 2024.
The report of the alliance published this month said with elections scheduled for January, the government appears willing to do whatever it takes to crush dissent, including targeting supporters of the opposition BNP and attempting to silence activists and journalists through legal and other means. "We have seen the authorities ramp up its repression of the opposition, activists and critics with impunity. To ensure credible elections in January, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina must respect fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest and speak freely," said Josef Benedict, Asia Pacific researcher for CIVICUS.
A dengue vaccine, of which a clinical trial has been conducted in Bangladesh, is showing promising results in fighting against the viral disease. Researchers from icddr,b, and the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont (UVM), USA are the first to study the promising dengue vaccine in Bangladesh. Their work -- evaluation of the single-dose tetravalent dengue vaccine candidate TV005 -- demonstrated safety and immune responsiveness in children and adults.
The result of the clinical trial along with the study was published in the journal -- The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Currently, fluid management and symptom control are the only available treatments for dengue. Investigators at icddr,b and UVM's Vaccine Testing Centre (VTC) had begun their trial titled "Dengue in Dhaka Initiative (DIDI)" in 2015. The clinical trials and laboratory assay infrastructure as well as a preliminary dengue prevalence study were established and performed at icddr,b in 2015.
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