Archive for December, 2009

30
Dec
09

Machine-Readable Passport (MRP): Favouring the fallible again..!

The tender evaluation committee has once again recommended that the contract for the machine-readable passport (MRP) projects go to a Malaysia-based company, despite cancelling its offer earlier.

No plausible explanation has been offered for awarding the same contract to an associate of the same concern that had failed in the past to deliver an IT-related project of the central bank.

Asked why the IRIS Corporation Barhad was again given the job despite cancelling it initially, Brigadier General Refayetullah, director of MRP and machine-readable visa (MRV) project, told bdnews24.com that after the evaluation committee made the recommendation after it was was convinced that IRIS Corporation had not been blacklisted in Turkey.

The tender evaluation committee forwarded its latest report on the project on Dec 20 to the home ministry.

The evaluation committee in its first report forwarded on Nov 23 recommended that IRIS and Flora Telecomm with Gemalto (Luxembourg) be awarded the MRP and MRV project contract.

Page of a passport with Machine Readable Zone in the red oval

After a probe into the related documents, bdnews24.com published a report on Dec 4 on the failure of those companies in delivering similar job in the past.

The firms certified by the project evaluation committee as fit to provide required technical and technological support. But bdnews24.com found that IRIS was blacklisted in Turkey and Flora Telecom’s associate ‘Patimass’ was blacklisted with Bangladesh Bank. The Turkish government barred IRIS from bidding for any government work until October 2011 as it failed to complete the nation’s MRP project in time.

It does not have the experience of supplying 2.5 crore passport books and manufacturing 80,00,000 passports a year as mentioned in the bidding requirements. On the other hand, ‘Patimas’ was blacklisted by the Bangladesh Bank for its failure to develop a software to facilitate inter-bank transactions. The evaluation committee in its second report on Dec 8 recommended that Flora Telecom should be exclusively awarded the project contract, excluding IRIS.

General Refayetullah said, “IRIS submitted documents to the committee claiming that they had not been blacklisted in Turkey. On scrutiny of the submitted documents, we were convinced about the authenticity of their claim and included the firm in the third and most recent recommendation forwarded on Dec 20.”

Bangladeshi Passport

bdnews24.com probe found that “IRIS Technology Ltd” blacklisted in Turkey and IRIS Corporation Barhad were in fact the same company with same address. When the competence of the two firms were questioned considering the importance of the emergency, massive project–International Civil Aviation Authority has asks all the countries to introduce MRPs and MRVs by April 2010– the project director did not sound all too convincing.

“The firms lacked in fulfilling certain technical criteria, which are ‘rectifiable’,” he said.

“Our job is done, now it up to the ministry. We should cooperate with whatever firm the government awards the contract to.”

He said in case IRIS and Flora were unwilling to accept the work order, offers of France’s Oberthur Technology and China’s Beijing Jinchen Ciccone Security Printing Co, Ltd could be re-evaluated for getting the job done by the deadline, after which travelling abroad will be barred without the e-passport and visa.

Asked if he was apprehensive about accomplishing the work in time, the General Refayetullah said, “The delay caused by not issuing the work order to the tender winning bidder in early December can be overcome. If necessary, we’ll work overtime.”

Handwritten, untidy and sometimes barely readable passports often cause Bangladeshi travellers to be singled out for interrogation at airports abroad

He claimed that the project activities were progressing following regulations and the work would be completed in time. Md Abdul Mabud, director general, of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) told bdnews24.com on Sunday, “Despite a little delay, we’re expecting that the government would decide the matter as soon as possible to allow the MRP and MRV project to be accomplished within the timeframe.”

An ECNEC meeting on Mar 19 decided to issue 174,00,000 general and 10,00,000 urgent passports under the five-year project at a cost of Tk 283 crore. The project, launched in July, is expected to be complete by June 2014.

The government assigned the army to supervise the project and invited international tender on Sep 16 which closed on Oct 27. Eight companies participated in the bidding. The tender was called for supplying 22,00,000 passports every year. Iris, ‘Beijing Jinchen Ciccone Security Printing Co, Ltd.’ (China), Flora Telecom and Gammeltoe (Luxembourg), ‘Oberthur’ (France), and ‘ST Electronics’ (Singapore) were the leading contenders for this project.

The successful bidders will get the task to operate and maintain the project for two years and DIP will take over the project in phases. DIP officials said no old (manual) passport will be issued after the project starts functioning. But those with old passports with valid expiry dates will not face any problem. There are some 1.2 crore manual passport holders in the country.

Source: bdnews24.com

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30
Dec
09

After economic storm, Asia faces 2010 political risks…

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle

Investors who kept faith in Asia as the world teetered on the brink of financial meltdown a year ago have been richly rewarded — the region’s markets rode out the storm in spectacular style and posted stunning gains.

The economic outlook for 2010 appears far sunnier. But with frothy markets betting on a smooth return to business as usual, the danger of a sudden correction hangs over Asia, unless the region can steer its way past some treacherous political risks.

Development emergency: those in the teeth of this economic storm are women and children

Development emergency: those in the teeth of this economic storm are women and children

The two most important issues for the world economy in the coming year are political — the pivotal relationship between the United States and China, and the timing and coordination of exit strategies from the stimulus measures that kept disaster at bay.

Investors in Asia also need to be wary of political shocks that could suddenly overturn the region’s risk profile.

Upheaval in North Korea, where there are persistent doubts about the health of leader Kim Jong-il and where the economy is going from bad to worse, could cause profound regional instability.

And the risk of a confrontation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, perhaps sparked by another militant atrocity in India, is ticking upwards again.

“A multitude of political, security and operational risks converge in Asia,” said Michael Denison, research director at London-based Control Risks consultancy. “The causes of the global recession are now well understood. The contours of the recovery, by contrast, are far from clear.”

RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS

G2 Relationship

The United States and China are already by far the two most important countries in terms of political clout. And in 2010 China is set to overtake Japan as the second-largest economy. The “G2″ relationship is key to shaping our destiny not just in the coming year or coming decade, but through the 21st century.

Like most relationships, it is not easy.

Pressure on China to allow the yuan to appreciate will become ever more intense in 2010 as economic storm clouds evaporate, and one-year non-deliverable forwards suggest modest gains by the currency by the end of 2010.

But Beijing will not want to jeopardise economic growth by letting the currency rise too quickly, and does not appreciate being told what to do by Washington or anyone else. In the United States, meanwhile, yuan weakness is regarded as a protectionist policy that threatens the U.S. recovery.

Into this volatile mix add the ever-present threat of import restrictions, like the U.S. imposition of tariffs on Chinese tyres in September, sparking a tit-for-tat trade war.

Plus the danger that Beijing’s backing of regimes that Washington finds unpalatable, from Pyongyang to Yangon to Tehran and Khartoum, explodes into a political confrontation.

Most analysts say Washington and Beijing are painfully aware of the risks and would step back from the brink before any dispute threatened the global economy. But the two countries have yet to find a way to communicate comfortably as partners. The risk of a misunderstanding or sudden chill in relations is real.

The second key political risk for Asia — and indeed the world — is dealing with the hangover from the stimulus measures that helped keep the global economy afloat over the past two years.

World Economic Forum

If governments withdraw the stimulus too soon, they jeopardise growth. But keep policy too loose for too long and they risk not just inflation but also catastrophic asset price bubbles.

Given China’s importance to the global recovery, signs of property and equity bubbles there are a particular concern.

Another risk for investors is if countries trying to prevent bubbles and curb inflows of “hot money” tighten capital controls. Analysts say this could be a key issue for India and Indonesia in 2010.

Disagreements could also erupt within countries, between governments focused on safeguarding growth and central banks fearful of inflation and bubbles. That could lead to bad decisions, and make policy hard to forecast. Policy friction is already an issue in Japan. India and South Korea could be next.

KNOWN UNKNOWNS

As in any year, the best-laid plans in 2010 could be derailed by unexpected shocks. We have no idea about some of the lightning bolts that will hit Asia in 2010 — the surprises that author and fund manager Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “black swans” and former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called “unknown unknowns”. But there are plenty of known unknowns to worry about. Mass social unrest due to economic hardship was the dog that failed to bark in 2009. That could change in 2010.

Economy Recovery

“A structural rise in unemployment will represent a key macro, political and security risk in 2010, even in states like China where growth has remained relatively solid,” Denison said.

The decisive victory of the Congress party in India’s 2009 elections was another good-news story for markets that could be threatened if militants based in Pakistan provoke a confrontation again. Investors are already rattled that reforms in India are going slower than expected. The last thing they want is war risk.

Ian Bremmer, 2d from right with, from left, Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian of Armenia, and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki of Iran at the World Economic Forum in Davos

“Another major attack would all but force India’s government to take a much more hostile approach to Pakistan … allowing Pakistan’s military leadership to set aside attacks on local militants and turn their attention to an enemy they feel less reluctant to antagonise,” said Ian Bremmer, president of the U.S.-based Eurasia Group political risk consultancy.

And finally, two key Asian heads of state are ailing, with the question of who and what will come after them far from settled. Thailand’s 82-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been in hospital since September, another complication in the long-running political crisis that has riven the country.

Many analysts expect instability to get even worse after his reign ends — giving Thai markets another rough ride. But most say there is little risk of contagion in other markets.

By contrast, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-il dies, the tremors will be felt in South Korea, Japan and beyond.

World Economic Storm

Many analysts say Kim’s death would herald the collapse of the regime in Pyongyang, leading possibly to prolonged civil war in North Korea, aggressive moves against the South, or the sudden reunification of the Korean peninsula. In all of these cases, the likely market reaction would be the same — panic.

30
Dec
09

Bangladesh eyes 2010 rebound in manpower export…

Manpower export policy update overdue

Dhaka, Dec 30 (bdnews24.com)-Bangladesh policymakers hope that the country’s manpower exports will grow substantially in 2010, despite a huge fall this past year.

“Several countries have emerged from the impacts of the global recession. New labour markets are being created and we’re being asked to send workers,” overseas employment minister Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told bdnews24.com.

“I hope the next year will be a good one for us,” the upbeat minister added.

Statistics of the overseas employment ministry show Bangladesh sent only 428,444 workers abroad from January 1 to November 18 this year, the figure being almost half the number sent in either of the previous two years.

Data from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) showed labour export in 2007 totalled 832,609 while in 2008 the number was 875,055. In 2006, the figure was 381,516.

About the downturn, the minister said: “This year’s manpower export should not be compared with 2007 and 2008 as many new workers went to Malaysia in those two years. Rather, 2006 is a comparable year.”

“We sent around five lakh workers abroad in 2009 even in a time of global recession.”

Hossain said, “The next year will be very buoyant for us. With the ease of the global recession, the Middle Eastern countries have started resuming their shut down projects.” Moreover, he pointed out, demand for huge manpower has also been created in war-ravaged Iraq and in Libya.

Manpower export in bangladesh

This year, most Bangladeshi labourers went to Dubai, while new working sectors created in several other Middle East countries are expected to attract more workers.

Meanwhile, manpower export to war-torn Iraq resumed this year after almost six years. Besides, new job sectors also opened up in Australia, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Libya, Somalia and South Africa, ministry officials say.

To further boost manpower exports, the government has also opened labour wings at its diplomatic missions at Ryad and Madina in Saudi Arabia and at Penang in Malaysia.

Initiatives have also been taken to open such wings at the country’s missions in Italy, Japan, Jordan, Sudan and Iraq, officials said. Meanwhile, the Maldives government has recently legitimated around 16,000 illegal workers on the archipelago nation, while the Greek government has legalised some 15,000 undocumented Bangladeshis working there.

T-shirts drive

Mauritius has withdrawn their previous order to send back some 6,000 Bangladeshi workers. Sadly though, Malaysia has had no change of heart on its rejection of 55,000 visas for Bangladeshi workers due to the global financial downturn.

Manpower ExportThe country, which had become a big destination for Bangladeshi workers in recent years, hosts around 686,334 Bangladeshi workers.

Of these, 404,963 went there during 2007 and 2008 alone.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh was still among the top 10 global recipients of migrant remittances in 2008, according to an UNCTAD report this year, with a total inflow of almost $ 9 billion.

And it looks to set a new record this year above $10 billion, according to the most optimistic estimates. Remittances surged to a new monthly record of over $ 1 billion in November 2009.

The total number of Bangladeshis working abroad has jumped from 600,000 in 1982 to more than 6.5 million in 2009, according to foreign ministry figures.

29
Dec
09

Sadia Jahan Prova’s profile..!!

Sadia Jahan Prova

মেরিলের সেই এ্যাডটির কথা তো নিশ্চই মনে আছে? একটি মিষ্টি মেয়ে গ্রীষ্মের প্রচন্ড দাবদাহে পানিতে গোসল করছে। আসলে এ্যাডটি সকলের মনেই দাগ কেটেছিল। আরো নিশ্চই মনে আছে, সেই এ্যাডটি, যেখানে এক মধ্যবয়স্ক পুরুষ, এক তরুণীকে বলছে, “আপনাকে খুব চেনা চেনা মনে হচ্ছে?”।

আর মেয়েটি বলছে, “আগে চেনা মানুষও চিনতো না, আর এখন অচেনারাও চেনে”। হ্যাঁ, প্রিয় পাঠক, আপনি হয়তো ধরতে পেরেছেন, মেয়েটি হচ্ছে আমাদের সবার প্রিয়, সাদিয়া জাহান প্রভা। Sadia Jahan Prova এর মিডিয়ায় আসা হঠাৎ করেই। অর্থাৎ তেমন কোন পারিকল্পনা ছিল না এই মিষ্টি মেয়েটির।

বরং, পড়শোনা আর নাচের প্রতিই সমস্ত মনযোগ ছিল। কিন্তু তার পরও মিডিয়ায় আসা হয়েছে, এবং সবচেয়ে উল্লেখযোগ্য ব্যাপার হচ্ছে, প্রভাকে দর্শকদের মাঝে গ্রহনযোগ্যতা পেতে অপেক্ষা করতে হয়নি।

খুব কম শিল্পীই এই সৌভাগ্য অর্জন করেছেন। বর্তমানে প্রভা বিজ্ঞাপন ছাড়াও নাটক নিয়ে ব্যস্ত সময় পার করছেন।

পাশাপাশি আছে পড়াশুনা। এসব কিছু্র সাথে তাল মিলিয়ে প্রভা ছুটে চলেছেন দুর্বার গতিতে।

Full Name: Sadia Jahan Prova
Height: 5.4(162 cm)
Age: 20 years
Location: Dhaka
Eye Color: Black
Hair Color: Black
Hair Lenght: Long
Shoe Size: 6
Skin Color: Fair
Status: Full Professional
Weight: 30 KG
Hip Size 18
Bust: 26
Experiences:
Interested In: Watching Movie,Traveling etc
29
Dec
09

Secrets of honey..!

Beehive

Honeybees are the main collector of honey. The most accurate architecture of Nature can be seen in a beehive. The wax in hives is produced by the glands on the underside of a bee’s body. They use the hive as their abode and most of the compartments are stocked with honey. In each hive there is only one queen-bee and she can lay as many as thousand eggs in one day.

There are several drones or male bees in each hive. Their only function is to serve as mates for queens. The drones usually die soon after mating. The female worker bees keep the hive clean, nurse the newly hatched eggs and collect nectar and pollen from flowers. The interesting thing is that the bees have two stomachs, one is for collecting honey and the other is for digestion. After collecting the nectar the worker-bee passes the nectar from its honey-stomach to another worker’s honey-stomach. This act is repeated several times. It helps to the change of nectar into honey. Nectar is a sweet juice of flower that bees change into honey. The honey so produced is then placed in the compartments of the beehive.

Honey is collected by rural people (locally known as Bawaly) from the Sundarbans forest area. But freshly collected honey remains contaminated with various filthy matters like dirt, wax and excess of water content, which dilute the quality of honey. Scientists of the ‘Carbohydrate Section’ of the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) laboratories have developed a process to store and preserve the honey collected from the Sundarbans for at least one year and a half without affecting its quality.

Beehive

Honey is a highly nutritive and energetic substance. It is considered to be the precious gift of nature. Different kinds of sugar such as glucose and fructose as well as a small amount of sucrose constitute the main nutrients of honey. Scientists observed that in addition to these nutrients various types of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids are also present in the honey. Scientists also observed that storing honey for a longtime might lead to the formation of some toxic materials such as Hydroxy methyl furfural (H.M.F.) etc., which may be fatal for health.

29
Dec
09

Myanmar to repatriate 9,000 Rohingyas..!!

A family is engaged with bringing mud full of bucket from the nearest mountain area to build their shelter at Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar

Myanmar has agreed to repatriate 9,000 out of 28,000 registered Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh “as soon as possible”, foreign secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said on Tuesday. He also said a Myanmar delegation would arrive in Dhaka to hold talks on maritime boundary demarcation on Jan 8 and 9.

Quayes was speaking at the end of the first day of foreign-secretary level talks. Quayes’ counterpart, Myanmar’s deputy foreign minister Maung Myint, arrived in Dhaka Monday to lead his side in the two-day bilateral talks. The two sides also discussed import of gas and electricity from Myanmar, but no specific commitment came on the issues, Quayes said. Myanmar did agree to offer one year’s multiple entry visa for Bangladeshi businessmen, the secretary said. Quayes said Bangladesh stressed at the first day’s consultation that it would not register as refugees illegal Myanmar nationals who intruded for “economic causes”.

He told reporters at the foreign ministry: “We have put pressure on Myanmar for the repatriation of the registered refugees in Bangladesh and they have assured us that they will start as soon as possible.”

“Out of the 28,000 registered refugees, Myanmar has identified 9,000 through verification as their citizens.

“Their repatriation will start within the shortest possible times,” said the foreign secretary.

He also added that increasing number of Myanmar nationals had been sneaking into Bangladesh for “economic” reasons. Quayes said he visited the two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar district last week. The foreign secretary said besides the two camps, there are many makeshift thatched houses.

“The UNHCR has told us that the people living in the makeshift houses are unregistered Myanmar nationals.

“But since they intruded for economic reasons, they don’t fall in the definition of refugees.

“So, we will not sign any deal with the UNHCR for them,” he said.

About 500,000 of the Muslim Rohingyas fled into Bangladesh from the Northern Rakhain state in the 1990s as the military junta launched a crackdown on its minority populations.

Bangladesh with the help of the UNHCR sent most of the registered refugees back to their homeland over the years. But 28,000 Rohingyas refused to return fearing further repression there.

Local administrations in Bangladesh also say most of the previously repatriated refugees have returned since.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, sent a list of the 28,000 to Myanmar for their repatriation. The Myanmar authorities are in the process of verifying their identities—a precondition for taking them back.

It has already identified of 9,000 refugees as their citizens while the identities of rest of the 19,000 refugees are yet to be confirmed.

Some international observers have proposed Bangladesh integrate the Rohingya. But Dhaka has rejected the suggestion, saying such a move would open a floodgate of refugees.

Quayes said Mayanmar had informed Bangladesh that it cannot offer gas at present.

“They will sell us gas if they discover new reserves,” he said.

The foreign secretary said the neighbouring state had agreed to go for a joint hydro electric venture with Bangladesh, to be located over a Myanmar river.

“The energy ministry will work on it,” he said.

29
Dec
09

Bangladesh players threaten first-class boycott..

Leading Bangladesh players are threatening a boycott of the upcoming National Cricket League © AFP

Bangladesh’s domestic season is facing chaos after leading players threatened to pull out of the National Cricket League unless the BCB increased their match fees and reverted back to the previous format of the four-day competition.

The dispute came about after the BCB altered the existing first-class competition. The number of games has been reduced but the match fees have been increased from 10,000 Taka (US$ 144) to 12,000 Taka (US$ 173). Per this modification, the finalists will play nine matches while the two teams who fail to quality for the Super Four stage will play five matches, which is five less than the previous home-and-away format.

The changes have not gone down well with the country’s players, not least the leading internationals such as Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan. The Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) demanded that match fees be fixed at 35,000 Taka (US$ 505) for four-day games, 20,000 Taka (US$ 288) for one-day games, and 10,000 Taka or Twenty20 games. Aside from the issue of remuneration, CWAB also demanded reinstatement of the original format, and the league, which is due to start on January 1, now faces postponement by four days.

“Considering the proposals, cricketers have decided to refrain from playing the upcoming National Cricket League until their demands are met,” CWAB general secretary Debobroto Paul said at a press conference in Dhaka. “To ascertain cricketers’ interest in different matters, we carried out a survey amongst the first-class cricketers last year and we informed the outcomes of the survey to the tournament committee chairman [Gazi Ashraf Hossain] and BCB’s senior vice-president [Mahbub Anam], both of whom expressed their inability to implement our proposals.

“We then requested them to fix match fees considering that of other Test playing nations and our socio-economical condition or to fix match fees in line with the number of matches first-class cricketers played. But the meeting ended without any directive or promise,” said Paul.

Bangladesh Cricket Team

“We also let them know the cricketers’ disapproval of the new format. We believe that when the experts prefer to play more longer-version games in a bid to improve cricket, the introduction of a new format that will reduce the number of first-class matches will hinder the development of cricket. Later we even tried to meet the BCB president and cricket operations chairman but failed to get any response from the board.”

Naimur Rahman, the former Bangladesh captain turned CWAB president, was present at the press conference along with leading national players Shakib, Ashraful, Shahadat Hossain, Mahbubul Alam, Nafees Iqbal, Enamul Haque jnr, Tushar Imran, Alok Kapali, Hannan Sarkar, Rajin Saleh, Javed Omar, Mohammad Sharif, Faisal Hossain, and Tareq Aziz.

According to Naimur, the crop of budding players in Bangladesh could lose interest due to a lack of monetary incentive. “We are not here for any movement, we have come here to request the authority concerned to meet our proposals through you because we had earlier got no promise from the board which it was very disappointing,” he said.

Added Ashraful: “We, who are playing in the national team, will continue with our national duties, but we will stick to our demands regarding the national league and we hope the authority will sit with us before the start of the national league.

“The last season’s national league was very competitive only because of the increment in the match fees and the level of competitiveness in the league will step up as match fee is increased,” said Shakib. “There is no alternative to first-class cricket if we want to improve our cricket.”




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