Nation this week
Moody's, one of the Big 3 global ratings agencies, downgraded its outlook for Bangladesh's banking system from stable to negative. Bangladesh along with Australia, Korea, New Zealand and Pakistan will face a worsening of conditions in the banking sector, Moody's stated in its latest Investors Services report. The downgrade could make credit in foreign currency costlier to businesses and banks operating in Bangladesh.
The report said that the outlook changed to negative as asset risks increased and liquidity situation tightened in the country. Earlier in December, Moody's downgraded the rating of the Social Islami Bank of Bangladesh and put up the ratings of seven other banks under review for downgrades. That had already led some financial sector experts to anticipate the downgrade for the entire sector. Economist Zahid Hussain, who is the former lead economist at the World Bank's Dhaka office, pointed out that it is the first time Bangladesh has been downgraded by Moody's.
Test transmission of electricity from Adani Power's 1,600MW coal-fired power station in the Indian state of Jharkhand to Bangladesh commenced on Thursday evening (March 9). According to a Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) statement, the electricity transmission was successfully synchronised with Bangladesh's national grid on a test basis. Some 50 MW of electricity from the Adani plant entered Bangladesh at 9pm and got added to the national grid through new, purpose-built transmission lines and substations.
Sources at BPDB have clearly expressed what can only be described as buyer's remorse over the contract (known as Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA) signed with Adani Power in 2017. A team from the Adani Group came to Bangladesh on February 23 and discussed tariff-related issues with high officials of BPDB and the government. It followed BPDB's request for revising the power tariff through "adjusting/changing the coal pricing mechanism of the PPA".
The state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh started selling five daily essentials at subsidised rates ahead of Ramadan. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi inaugurated the sale of the five items- edible oil, sugar, dates, chickpeas and lentils- formally at an event held in Tejgaon in the capital. The items will be sold in two phases among 1 crore low-income families across the country to ease the pressure on them during the month of fasting.
Munshi said the government under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina has been working sincerely to alleviate the sufferings of the low-income segments. Oil, pulse, and sugar were already being sold at subsidised rates to one crore families of the country. In anticipation of Ramadan, dates and chickpeas have been added to the list. The five products are priced: sugar at Tk 60 per kg, lentils at Tk 70 per kg, soybean oil at Tk 110 per kg, chickpeas at Tk 50 per kg and dates at Tk 100 per kg (the two new items are currently available in only Dhaka).
Nine individuals and one institution have been chosen as recipients for this year's Swadhinata Padak (Independence Medal), Bangladesh's highest civilian award, for their contributions to the country in various fields. Freedom fighter Colonel Shamsul Alam (retired), Lieutenant AG Mohammad Khurshid (posthumous), martyred Khwaja Nizamuddin Bhuiyan, and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya have been named for their contributions to Bangladesh's independence and the Liberation War.
Bangla Academy Award winner Begum Nadira Jahan (Surma Zahid) and ICDDR,B Acting Senior Director Dr Firdausi Qadri will receive the award for their contributions to research and training, the Cabinet Division said in a notification Thursday. The late playwright Selim Al Deen will get the award for his contribution to literature. Pabitra Mohan Dey and ASM Raqibul Hasan will receive the honour for their contribution to culture and sports, respectively. The Department of Fire Service and Civil Defence has been picked for the award in the public service category.
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