Nation this week
Awami League candidate Mohammad A Arafat won the Dhaka-17 by-election marred by low turnout and an attack on rival candidate Hero Alom by AL activists on polling day. He got 28,816 votes, while his closest rival Hero Alom got 5,609 votes. Voter turnout was 11.51 percent. The Election Commission said the election was held in a free and fair manner. Arafat condemned the attack on his rival candidate and urged the Election Commission to conduct a proper investigation into the incident and take legal action against the perpetrators.
A number of foreign embassies also condemned the attack on Alom. In a joint statement, they said "Violence has no place in the democratic process. We call for a full investigation and accountability for the perpetrators. Everyone involved in the upcoming elections should ensure that they are free, fair, and peaceful." The statement drew an angry response from the government.
July was on course to become the deadliest month ever for dengue in Bangladesh. That's after 32 deaths were reported in just two days -13 on Tuesday (July 18) and 19 on Wednesday, the highest and second-highest deaths in a single day this year, by the Directorate General of Health Services. It meant that of the 146 deaths reported in 2023, 99 had occurred in July (34 in June and 13 in the first 5 months).
Only once before, since dengue became endemic in Bangladesh in 2000, has the death toll in a single month crossed 100, in November 2022, when there were 113 deaths. The way it is going, this is going to be easily surpassed. The fatality rate (the proportion of people catching the disease who end up dying) is comfortably the highest ever, at 0.56 (146/25,792).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 72km Akhaura-Laksam section, where dual-gauge double rail lines were installed under a Tk 6,504.54 crore project. She inaugurated the section of the Dhaka-Chattogram rail link virtually from the Gono Bhaban at 11:10am. With the opening of this section, rail communications between Dhaka and Chattogram will get a significant boost as the rail corridor becomes the first in the country to be fully double-lined.
The rest of the 321km track between the capital and the Port City has already been converted into a double line. According to Bangladesh Railway officials, the travel time between the two cities will become an hour shorter once the section is opened. Train journeys on this route took longer when the Akhaura-Laksam section was the only one in the entire corridor to not be double lined.
Deposits through agent banking outlets increased to Tk 32,406 crore in May compared with that of Tk 31,531 crore in April. According to Bangladesh Bank data, the number of deposit accounts through agent banking increased to 1.96 crore as of May from 1.92 crore in April. Total numbers of male, female and other deposit accounts are 96.07 lakh, 96.70 lakh and 2.91 lakh respectively.
The highest number of accounts and the highest amount of balance were in the form of savings. Remittance collection through agents also increased in the reporting month. Total number of loan accounts through agent banking as of May was 1,91,689. The total amount of loan disbursed is Tk 834.3 crore for the month. The loan recovery amount during this month was Tk 464.18 crore. Microcredit loan disbursement through agent banking outlets is preferred to that through the traditional banking system.
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