Nation this week
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in a meeting this week approved a proposal to increase the cost of the under-construction metro rail project for Dhaka city by 52.2 percent and its tenure by one and a half years. The revised cost now stands at Tk 33,471.99 crore from Tk 21,985.07 crore while its new deadline for completion has been set for December 2025 from the current one of June 2024.
Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited under the road transport and highways division sought the revision of the project, officially known as Mass Rapid Transit Line 6, citing several reasons. The reasons include incorporating new components during construction of the rail line between Motijheel and Kamalapur and modification of rolling stocks, increase in costs for extra land acquisition and consultancy services. MRT Line 6 was initially planned between Uttara and Motijheel - in 2019, the government decided to extend the line to Kamalapur.
Bangladesh Bank took further initiatives this week, including raising the interest rate on its Export Development Fund (EDF), to ease the ongoing pressure in the country's foreign exchange market. The central bank has hiked the interest rate on EDF loans to 1.5 percent per annum, up from 1 percent previously, in order to make the borrowing costlier. The EDF is being funded by a portion of the country's precious foreign exchange reserves.
As such, banks will now charge exporters 3 percent interest instead of the previous 2 percent for availing the fund, according to a central bank notice. The volume of the EDF now stands at $7 billion. The central bank also extended the usance period for the imports of industrial raw materials, agricultural machinery and chemical fertilisers under supplier's or buyer's credit. In January, the central bank pushed back the usance period to 270 days from 180 days. Now it has been extended further to 360 days.
The Directorate of National Consumers Rights Protection (DNCRP) fined e-ticketing platform Shohoz Tk 2 lakh for negligence in selling train e-tickets, more than a month after a complaint was filed by Dhaka University student Mohiuddin Howladar Roni. The fine was imposed at a hearing under the Consumer Rights Protection Act-2009 on the complaint filed by Mohiuddin. Shohoz has to pay the fine within the next five working days.
The company has also been directed to submit a report on how they operate the e-ticketing system as DNCRP wants to review the whole e-ticketing process with support from technical experts. Mohiuddin will get 25 percent (Tk 50,000) of the fined amount. A fourth-year student of theatre and performance studies at DU, Roni had been protesting largely alone at Kamalapur station against the irregularities in the railways for nearly two weeks. A lawyer representing Shohoz said they will challenge the verdict, claiming the complainant failed to produce enough evidence in support of his complaint.
Panchagarh and Magura were officially declared as the country's first two districts having no landless or homeless people, in a landmark achievement under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's homes-for-all Ashrayan project. She made the announcement while distributing 26,229 houses among the landless families across the country on Thursday (Jul. 21), joining virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
In northern Panchagarh, the government found 4,850 landless-and-homeless people and constructed homes for all of them, said Md Jahirul Islam, the district's deputy commissioner.
In western Magura district houses have been built for 678 families, official sources said. A total of 52 upazilas of different districts, including all the nine upazilas of Panchagarh and Magura, were declared to have no landless or homeless families, as part of the government's commitment made on the occasion of the Mujib Centenary. Critics however will regard such declarations with a grain of salt.
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