The government is dipping into the country's foreign currency reserves once again, to implement a $370 million power transmission project, ignoring warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). State-run Agrani Bank has sent a proposal from a state-owned power generation company to the Bangladesh Bank. Under the proposal, the power company is seeking $313 million of the estimated cost of a second transmission line project from Payra. The financing will be arranged by Agrani Bank.

A Bangladesh-China joint venture would build the 400Kv double circuit transmission line, connecting Payra, Gopalganj and Dhaka's Aminbazar to supply electricity from Payra's thermal power plant and potential future power plants. The plan to use the foreign currency reserves for this comes amid a warning from the IMF against using it for such projects. "The decision to use the FX reserve windfall to finance "crucial" infrastructure projects through the newly created Bangladesh Infrastructure Development Fund (BIDF) raises governance and external sustainability concerns," the international 'lender of last resort' said in a statement.

A dozen international rights bodies have called on the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to ban Bangladeshi law enforcement agency Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from deployment to the peacekeeping missions. The human rights organisations jointly wrote to Under-Secretary General Jean-Pierre Lacroix seeking to ban the elite police unit in light of the US sanctions imposed on it last month, according to an announcement on the website of one of the signatories to the joint action, Human Rights Watch.

In a letter written two months ago but made public only on Thursday, the watchdogs once again voiced concerns over the allegations of torture and enforced disappearances in the country. Louis Charbonneau, the director of the UN program at HRW, said unequivocally: "The UN should send a clear signal to host and troop-contributing countries that abusive units will not be part of the UN." The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is yet to formally respond to the letter.

In a bid to further incentivise the use of formal channels to send money home from abroad for Bangladeshi expat workers, the central bank this week included five other earnings sources, including retirement benefits, as eligible for cash incentive. A circular issued from Shapla Chattor on Thursday said earnings of the overseas employees channelled through legal means would be considered eligible to receive cash incentive at the applicable rate.

The five earning sources are retirement benefits such as pension funds, provident fund, leave salary, bonus and other gratuities paid by employer and retirement benefits. At present, the wage earnings remitters were receiving cash incentive at the rate of 2.5 percent against channelling of their earnings through legal ways to the country. Prior to the upward revision of the incentive amount on New Year's Day, the remitters were receiving cash incentive at the rate of 2 per cent from the beginning of the fiscal year 2020-2021.

News items cannot be aired via IPTV and YouTube channels, Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud claimed on Thursday (Jan. 20) citing the broadcast policy. He also said newspapers cannot publish news or talk shows online or even on YouTube. "News is still being broadcast through IPTVs [internet protocol televisions]. Regular bulletins are being presented and aired through YouTube channels. But this cannot be allowed as per our broadcast policy," Hasan Mahmud said.

The minister was talking to reporters after a session on the third day of the DCs' Conference at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium. After holding a discussion with representatives of the Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO), the minister said they approved newspapers' online portals and that there was a stipulation that only content published in print could be made available online. "There's no way to go beyond that. Adding a YouTube channel, and broadcasting news or talk shows are not to be done," Hasan Mahmud said.

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