Nation this week
In a letter to the Commerce Ministry, the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington said although the US's recently announced "Presidential Memorandum on Advancing Worker Empowerment, Rights, and High Labour Standards Globally" is a global policy applicable for all countries, there are reasons to believe that Bangladesh may be one of the targets. "Politics is behind what is said about labour rights in the memorandum, and the US would try to use the political purpose in different ways," said the embassy, adding that it contains many reasons to be alarmed.
Labour issues in Bangladesh were specifically quoted by the secretary of state and acting secretary of labour at the launch. In the memorandum, the US set out that they will work to hold accountable those who threaten, intimidate, attack union leaders, labour rights defenders, labour organisations - using tools like sanctions, trade penalties and visa restrictions. Therefore, it should be seen as a signal that the US may take any measure as described in the memorandum on the pretext of labour issues.
Bangladesh Bank withdrew the 4 percent interest rate spread limit as part of its move since July to liberalise interest rates in line with the IMF's recommendations. The central bank lifted the spread limit - used to regulate the difference between the interest rates on lendings and deposits that banks charge - to allow banks to determine interest rates based on SMART (the six-month moving average rate of treasury bills), on which the banks can impose a 3.75 percent margin.
The new interest rate formula has helped keep the interest rates of all kinds of loans at a logical level and maintain a tolerable deposit rate, the central bank said in a notice. SMART has been continuously rising due to the increasing interest rate of treasury bills, and was 7.43 percent in November. Also this week the central bank raised the repo rate, which is the rate at which it lends to commercial banks, by 50 basis points to 7.75 percent as part of its bid to fight inflation.
The University Grants Commission announced that it would not be able to hold the uniform admission test in time for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year "due to unavoidable reasons". UGC acting chairman Prof Muhammed Alamgir said the cluster admission system will continue for now. He also urged the institutions that are outside the cluster system, including Dhaka University and Buet, to participate in the cluster system.
The UGC on October 26 finalised the draft of the Central Admission Test Authority Ordinance for implementing a single admission test system. Currently, there are three cluster admission tests -- the GST (general, science, and technology) consisting of 22 universities; one for agriculture (eight universities), and another one for RUET, CUET and KUET. Under this system, universities are grouped together to admit students based on their choices and merit.
A total of 20,326 BNP leaders and activists have so far been arrested and 73,123 party followers sued in 837 cases filed since October 28 following clashes with law enforcers over a grand rally in Dhaka, according to the Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum, a pro-BNP lawyers' body. Barrister Kaisar Kamal, secretary general of the forum and also law affairs secretary of the BNP, read out a written statement at the press conference. Moreover, 17 people including one journalist were killed across the country over the last one month since October 28, he said.
In the written statement, Kaisar claimed that 8,249 people have been hurt since the "October 28 attacks carried out by the government agencies and Awami League deliberately out of revenge." A total of 636 BNP supporters were sentenced for different periods in 35 cases, what they call 'false cases' over the past three months, he said.
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