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Effectiveness of SAARC yet to be exhausted: PM

Special Correspondent
 
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the notion of losing effectiveness of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), saying that the regional grouping is “very much alive”.
“The effectiveness of SAARC is yet to end. The eight-nation regional body is very much alive and I think it has an opportunity to do more work for changing the lot of the people of South Asian region,” she said.
She added: “There is a need for regional cooperation for socioeconomic development of the people of the region.”
The Bangladesh prime minister expressed these views while participating in an interactive session on “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” in the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Congress Centre here on Tuesday evening.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, representatives and civil society members from different SAARC countries joined the interactive session.
Describing again poverty as the main enemy of the region, the prime minister said: “Our main emphasis should be how we could eradicate poverty.”
She said to eradicate poverty, the SAARC countries will have to boost trade and commerce as well as connectivity and the people-to-people contact.
“We have been working on rooting out poverty,” she said, mentioning the initiatives for establishing BBIN, BCIM-EC and BIMSTEC forums.
She said the BCIM-EC forum is being set up to integrate China in the South Asian region in larger scale, while SAFTA is being strengthened for boosting trade and commerce.
The prime minister also said an initiative has been taken to launch SAARC Satellite on the orbit for development of telecommunications in the region.
Replying to a question from a Pakistani civil society member that “elderly people” are being hanged in the name of war crimes trial in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina told the questioner that “the people you have described as elderly were young in 1971 and criminals and they carried out genocide and atrocities.”
“They were involved in heinous crimes like killing, rape and burning and looting houses and the criminals are being tried and getting punishment within the law,” she added.
While talking about the US authority’s threat of withdrawal of their investment after the election of new US government, the prime minister said in the present global context it’s not an easy task to shift investment from one country to another location.
In this connection, she said her government is providing training to the youths to turn the huge manpower into human resources.
On the climate change issue, Sheikh Hasina said her government has constituted Climate Change Trust Fund of 400 million US dollars to combat climate change.
“We have also undertaken 134 action plans for mitigation and adaptation of climate change,” she said.
In this regard, Sheikh Hasina renewed her call to the developed countries responsible for climate change to come forward to the assistance of climate vulnerable nations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the global community to put greater focus on agriculture and food security to minimize the risk of lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, artisans and women.
“As we move to implement the Paris Agreement, there are areas global community, including the businesses, can step in, First, lives and livelihoods of our farmers, fishers, artisans and women are increasingly at risk. They need urgent support. We need greater focus on agriculture and food security,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while speaking at a plenary session titled ‘Leading the Fight against Climate Change’ of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2017, held at Congress Centre, Congress Hall in Davos on Thursday evening.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the global community and businesses to make “smart agriculture” beneficial for small and marginal farmers as well as imparting knowledge on sustainable cropping and farm management in the entire value chain.
Observing that global business and research hold solutions that can save lives, crops and agri resources, she said, “We need innovative ‘not-for-profit’ models or partnerships to roll the solutions to meet our needs,”
The Prime Minister noted that access to renewable and clean energy, energy-efficient technologies, devices, implements are critical for farming, manufacturing and urban services.
“We need support and innovate to go beyond the existing global energy market modalities,” she said
“We’re moving towards ‘green growth’ path. But, we need assured climate finance as the world pledged. Half of that amount has to go to climate-vulnerable countries,” she added
The Prime Minister also pointed out that technology transfer is very critical as the world can no longer sit pretty on the excuse of intellectual rights protection.
“And, now the UN Technology Bank for LDCs is there for all to help the LDCs on technology. What we ask is access to life-saving technologies in agriculture, health, etc. that can bring in huge difference,” she said.
Noting that Bangladesh is ‘a tale of climate ground zero’, Hasina said although Bangladesh contributes least to global greenhouse gas emission, it pays dearly as millions are forced to move silently
She said Bangladesh ratified the Paris Agreement with the hope that the global community will share responsibility for shared prosperity.
“Paris Agreement must deliver towards the low-income, climate vulnerable countries,” the Prime Minister affirmed.
She said in 2009, out of own resources, Bangladesh established a 400 million dollar Climate Change Trust Fund.

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled out the notion of losing effectiveness of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), saying that the regional grouping is “very much alive”.
“The effectiveness of SAARC is yet to end. The eight-nation regional body is very much alive and I think it has an opportunity to do more work for changing the lot of the people of South Asian region,” she said.
She added: “There is a need for regional cooperation for socioeconomic development of the people of the region.”
The Bangladesh prime minister expressed these views while participating in an interactive session on “Harnessing Regional Cooperation in South Asia” in the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Congress Centre here on Tuesday evening.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Indian Minister of Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, representatives and civil society members from different SAARC countries joined the interactive session.
Describing again poverty as the main enemy of the region, the prime minister said: “Our main emphasis should be how we could eradicate poverty.”
She said to eradicate poverty, the SAARC countries will have to boost trade and commerce as well as connectivity and the people-to-people contact.
“We have been working on rooting out poverty,” she said, mentioning the initiatives for establishing BBIN, BCIM-EC and BIMSTEC forums.
She said the BCIM-EC forum is being set up to integrate China in the South Asian region in larger scale, while SAFTA is being strengthened for boosting trade and commerce.
The prime minister also said an initiative has been taken to launch SAARC Satellite on the orbit for development of telecommunications in the region.
Replying to a question from a Pakistani civil society member that “elderly people” are being hanged in the name of war crimes trial in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina told the questioner that “the people you have described as elderly were young in 1971 and criminals and they carried out genocide and atrocities.”
“They were involved in heinous crimes like killing, rape and burning and looting houses and the criminals are being tried and getting punishment within the law,” she added.
While talking about the US authority’s threat of withdrawal of their investment after the election of new US government, the prime minister said in the present global context it’s not an easy task to shift investment from one country to another location.
In this connection, she said her government is providing training to the youths to turn the huge manpower into human resources.
On the climate change issue, Sheikh Hasina said her government has constituted Climate Change Trust Fund of 400 million US dollars to combat climate change.
“We have also undertaken 134 action plans for mitigation and adaptation of climate change,” she said.
In this regard, Sheikh Hasina renewed her call to the developed countries responsible for climate change to come forward to the assistance of climate vulnerable nations.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the global community to put greater focus on agriculture and food security to minimize the risk of lives and livelihoods of farmers, fishers, artisans and women.
“As we move to implement the Paris Agreement, there are areas global community, including the businesses, can step in, First, lives and livelihoods of our farmers, fishers, artisans and women are increasingly at risk. They need urgent support. We need greater focus on agriculture and food security,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while speaking at a plenary session titled ‘Leading the Fight against Climate Change’ of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2017, held at Congress Centre, Congress Hall in Davos on Thursday evening.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the global community and businesses to make “smart agriculture” beneficial for small and marginal farmers as well as imparting knowledge on sustainable cropping and farm management in the entire value chain.
Observing that global business and research hold solutions that can save lives, crops and agri resources, she said, “We need innovative ‘not-for-profit’ models or partnerships to roll the solutions to meet our needs,”
The Prime Minister noted that access to renewable and clean energy, energy-efficient technologies, devices, implements are critical for farming, manufacturing and urban services.
“We need support and innovate to go beyond the existing global energy market modalities,” she said
“We’re moving towards ‘green growth’ path. But, we need assured climate finance as the world pledged. Half of that amount has to go to climate-vulnerable countries,” she added
The Prime Minister also pointed out that technology transfer is very critical as the world can no longer sit pretty on the excuse of intellectual rights protection.
“And, now the UN Technology Bank for LDCs is there for all to help the LDCs on technology. What we ask is access to life-saving technologies in agriculture, health, etc. that can bring in huge difference,” she said.
Noting that Bangladesh is ‘a tale of climate ground zero’, Hasina said although Bangladesh contributes least to global greenhouse gas emission, it pays dearly as millions are forced to move silently
She said Bangladesh ratified the Paris Agreement with the hope that the global community will share responsibility for shared prosperity.
“Paris Agreement must deliver towards the low-income, climate vulnerable countries,” the Prime Minister affirmed.
She said in 2009, out of own resources, Bangladesh established a 400 million dollar Climate Change Trust Fund.

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President wrap up dialogue: BNP smells rat
Special Correspondent
 
Bangabhaban on Wednesday wrapped up the month-long talks initiated by President Abdul Hamid as part of his move to take opinion of registered political parties over formation of a new Election Commission (EC).
President Abdul Hamid on Tuesday urged all the political parties to hold talks among themselves for having a credible general election in the country.
There is no alternative to having a neutral election commission for democracy, and all political parties along with the government should come forward and play a strong role in holding a fair general election, the President said during meetings with the delegations of Khelafat Majlish and Jamiat-e-Ulama e Islam Bangladesh at Bangabhaban.
President Hamid initiated formal talks with political parties for constitution of the new EC as the tenure of the current Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led EC expires in February.
“The honourable President would take next steps over formation of Election Commission after reviewing the opinion and proposals of the political parties made during the month-long talks,” President Press Secretary Joynal Abedin told the media.
The President has had meetings with a total of 31 political parties beginning with BNP on December 18, 2016, he said. During the month-long talks, the political parties separately placed a series of proposals and most of them proposed making a law for formation of EC.
Ruling Awami League (AL) led by its President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met President Abdul Hamid on January 11. AL’s proposals included introduction of e-voting in the next general elections and making a law for formation of EC.
During the talks, BNP put forward a set of proposals for the formation of a search committee and the new EC. It also proposed strengthening the EC and amending the Representation of the People Order (RPO).
Jatiya Party (Ershad) gave a five-point proposal over constitution of the next EC and proposed making a law regarding constitution of the new EC. Other major parties that joined the talks were Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Workers Party (WP), Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF), Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), Jatiya Party (Manju), Bangladesh Tarikat Federation (BTF), Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (BSD), National Awami Party (NAP), Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), Gano Forum (GF), Ganotontri Party (GP), Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan (BKA), Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB), Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Ambia), Bangladesh Islami Front (BIF), Zaker Party (ZP) and Bangladesh Muslim League (BML), Khilafat Majlish and Jamiat e Ulama e Islam Bangladesh.
 
BNP smells rat
Meanwhile, BNP that express high hope after their groundbreaking meeting with President , said on Wednesday that the President and the Prime Minister gave different statements over dialogue with political parties, creating doubt whether there developed a cool relationship between the Bangabhaban and the government.
 The President has said political parties should engage in dialogue. We would like to clearly say we want an environment to be created in the country through dialogue among the political parties. Our leader (Khaleda Zia) said it earlier. But unfortunately the Prime Minister has turned down it, said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
He said this at a discussion arranged by BNP at Mohanagar Natyamancha marking the 81st birth anniversary of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman. Fakhrul further said “ We don’t know where the President’s relation with the government has gone sour. We don’t want to say it. Had the President sincerely advocated for dialogue he had spoken the truth as the country’s people wanted current political crisis to be resolved through talks”. 
Fakhrul said when the President invited them to a dialogue they got a little bit surprised as the Awami League had turned down their chairperson’s proposal on EC and a call for dialogue among political parties.
“We don’t know whether there’s any bad game behind the President’s initiative for talks as he did it amid Awami League’s opposition. But, we want to believe that the President took the initiative sincerely. We hope he’ll form a neutral search committee which will constitute an impartial Election Commission,” he said.
The BNP leader also warned that the country’s people will never accept if a spineless and subservient EC is formed again. 

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Bangabhaban on Wednesday wrapped up the month-long talks initiated by President Abdul Hamid as part of his move to take opinion of registered political parties over formation of a new Election Commission (EC).
President Abdul Hamid on Tuesday urged all the political parties to hold talks among themselves for having a credible general election in the country.
There is no alternative to having a neutral election commission for democracy, and all political parties along with the government should come forward and play a strong role in holding a fair general election, the President said during meetings with the delegations of Khelafat Majlish and Jamiat-e-Ulama e Islam Bangladesh at Bangabhaban.
President Hamid initiated formal talks with political parties for constitution of the new EC as the tenure of the current Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led EC expires in February.
“The honourable President would take next steps over formation of Election Commission after reviewing the opinion and proposals of the political parties made during the month-long talks,” President Press Secretary Joynal Abedin told the media.
The President has had meetings with a total of 31 political parties beginning with BNP on December 18, 2016, he said. During the month-long talks, the political parties separately placed a series of proposals and most of them proposed making a law for formation of EC.
Ruling Awami League (AL) led by its President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met President Abdul Hamid on January 11. AL’s proposals included introduction of e-voting in the next general elections and making a law for formation of EC.
During the talks, BNP put forward a set of proposals for the formation of a search committee and the new EC. It also proposed strengthening the EC and amending the Representation of the People Order (RPO).
Jatiya Party (Ershad) gave a five-point proposal over constitution of the next EC and proposed making a law regarding constitution of the new EC. Other major parties that joined the talks were Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Workers Party (WP), Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF), Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), Jatiya Party (Manju), Bangladesh Tarikat Federation (BTF), Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP) Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (BSD), National Awami Party (NAP), Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), Gano Forum (GF), Ganotontri Party (GP), Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan (BKA), Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB), Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Ambia), Bangladesh Islami Front (BIF), Zaker Party (ZP) and Bangladesh Muslim League (BML), Khilafat Majlish and Jamiat e Ulama e Islam Bangladesh.
 
BNP smells rat
Meanwhile, BNP that express high hope after their groundbreaking meeting with President , said on Wednesday that the President and the Prime Minister gave different statements over dialogue with political parties, creating doubt whether there developed a cool relationship between the Bangabhaban and the government.
 The President has said political parties should engage in dialogue. We would like to clearly say we want an environment to be created in the country through dialogue among the political parties. Our leader (Khaleda Zia) said it earlier. But unfortunately the Prime Minister has turned down it, said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
He said this at a discussion arranged by BNP at Mohanagar Natyamancha marking the 81st birth anniversary of BNP founder Ziaur Rahman. Fakhrul further said “ We don’t know where the President’s relation with the government has gone sour. We don’t want to say it. Had the President sincerely advocated for dialogue he had spoken the truth as the country’s people wanted current political crisis to be resolved through talks”. 
Fakhrul said when the President invited them to a dialogue they got a little bit surprised as the Awami League had turned down their chairperson’s proposal on EC and a call for dialogue among political parties.
“We don’t know whether there’s any bad game behind the President’s initiative for talks as he did it amid Awami League’s opposition. But, we want to believe that the President took the initiative sincerely. We hope he’ll form a neutral search committee which will constitute an impartial Election Commission,” he said.
The BNP leader also warned that the country’s people will never accept if a spineless and subservient EC is formed again. 

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Hawkers Plan to march towards PM office on Jan 27
Special Correspondent
 
Dhaka city hawkers have announced programme to march to the Prime Minister’s Office on January 27 demanding a long-term rehabilitation plan for them.
City dwellers and footpath users, however, expressed their satisfaction for reclaiming footpath from illegal possession of the hawkers in busy areas of the metropolitan city. 
meanwhile, leaders of Bangladesh Hawkers Union (BHU) announced this March programme at a press meet at Maitry Bhavan in Paltan on Thursday. They said the government must enact relevant laws for their rehabilitation. They cited an Act passed by the Indian parliament in this regard in 2014.
“Instead of forcibly evicting us, provide us one-fourth space on the pavements to carry out our business for our survival,” a BHU leader said.
Referring their meeting with the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Sayeed Khokan, on Monday, the BHU leaders alleged that they were being forcibly removed and their properties destroyed because of his unjust and adamant attitude. Rejecting the mayor’s contention that the hawkers were being removed to ease traffic congestion in the city, they presented a few observations from a study on traffic management on city streets, which was presented at BRAC Inn Centre on December 24, 2016.
The study had pointed out that indiscriminate parking, occupation of roads by private cars and violation of traffic rules were the three reasons for traffic congestion on city streets. “These findings are based on research and negate the city corporation’s contention,” Kabir said.
The BHU statement said the contribution of hawkers to the economy cannot be denied. 
“A majority of people from lower and middle income groups buy things from pavements on their way back home from work. The eviction of hawkers would not only make them bankrupt, but destabilise the situation in the city as well,” it added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hawkers evicted from the footpaths of Gulistan, Paltan and Motijheel under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have demanded a policy outlining their rehabilitation to run their business.
A coalition of 16 hawkers’ unions under “Hawker Samonnoy Parishad” placed the demand during a protest rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club. Abul Hossain, coordinator of Hawker Samonnoy Parishad, said DNCC mayor Sayeed Khokon had taken ‘arbitrary steps’ on the eviction which has threatened their livelihoods.
The DSCC authorities have evicted street vendors from Gulistan, Baitul Mokarram, Motijheel and Paltan areas. Executive magistrate of DSCC, Khan Mohammad Nazmus Shoeb, conducted the eviction drive for the third day in since Sunday.
“Mr mayor, you have been elected through our votes. If we go without food and work, we won’t let anyone live. We shall not return home until we are allowed to resume our business on the footpaths,” hawkers’ leader Hazrat Ali said.
On Monday, hawkers’ representatives met Khokan and submitted their 10-point demands, which included stopping evictions without resettlement. 
The mayor, however, made it clear that he will not budge from his stand. He said that the Prime Minister had asked him to take measures in keeping with the law to make things better for pedestrians.
Dismissing the DSCC mayor’s claim, hawkers’ leader Abul Hossain said yesterday: “The Prime Minister has never told to evict hawkers.” 
He requested the mayor to take steps in accordance with the ECNEC’s decision.
Describing the eviction drive as “inhuman”, Abul Hossain said: “The mayor alone cannot take the decision. Both the Prime Minister and local lawmaker are abroad now. We’ll meet the Prime Minister after she comes back from Switzerland and submit a memorandum to her to register our protest against the eviction drive.”
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union has threatened to continue their agitation programme. “Our movement cannot be stopped by using force. We won’t leave the streets unless our demand is met,” said Abul Hashem Kabir, convener of the Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union.

Comment

Special Correspondent
 
Dhaka city hawkers have announced programme to march to the Prime Minister’s Office on January 27 demanding a long-term rehabilitation plan for them.
City dwellers and footpath users, however, expressed their satisfaction for reclaiming footpath from illegal possession of the hawkers in busy areas of the metropolitan city. 
meanwhile, leaders of Bangladesh Hawkers Union (BHU) announced this March programme at a press meet at Maitry Bhavan in Paltan on Thursday. They said the government must enact relevant laws for their rehabilitation. They cited an Act passed by the Indian parliament in this regard in 2014.
“Instead of forcibly evicting us, provide us one-fourth space on the pavements to carry out our business for our survival,” a BHU leader said.
Referring their meeting with the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Sayeed Khokan, on Monday, the BHU leaders alleged that they were being forcibly removed and their properties destroyed because of his unjust and adamant attitude. Rejecting the mayor’s contention that the hawkers were being removed to ease traffic congestion in the city, they presented a few observations from a study on traffic management on city streets, which was presented at BRAC Inn Centre on December 24, 2016.
The study had pointed out that indiscriminate parking, occupation of roads by private cars and violation of traffic rules were the three reasons for traffic congestion on city streets. “These findings are based on research and negate the city corporation’s contention,” Kabir said.
The BHU statement said the contribution of hawkers to the economy cannot be denied. 
“A majority of people from lower and middle income groups buy things from pavements on their way back home from work. The eviction of hawkers would not only make them bankrupt, but destabilise the situation in the city as well,” it added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hawkers evicted from the footpaths of Gulistan, Paltan and Motijheel under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have demanded a policy outlining their rehabilitation to run their business.
A coalition of 16 hawkers’ unions under “Hawker Samonnoy Parishad” placed the demand during a protest rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club. Abul Hossain, coordinator of Hawker Samonnoy Parishad, said DNCC mayor Sayeed Khokon had taken ‘arbitrary steps’ on the eviction which has threatened their livelihoods.
The DSCC authorities have evicted street vendors from Gulistan, Baitul Mokarram, Motijheel and Paltan areas. Executive magistrate of DSCC, Khan Mohammad Nazmus Shoeb, conducted the eviction drive for the third day in since Sunday.
“Mr mayor, you have been elected through our votes. If we go without food and work, we won’t let anyone live. We shall not return home until we are allowed to resume our business on the footpaths,” hawkers’ leader Hazrat Ali said.
On Monday, hawkers’ representatives met Khokan and submitted their 10-point demands, which included stopping evictions without resettlement. 
The mayor, however, made it clear that he will not budge from his stand. He said that the Prime Minister had asked him to take measures in keeping with the law to make things better for pedestrians.
Dismissing the DSCC mayor’s claim, hawkers’ leader Abul Hossain said yesterday: “The Prime Minister has never told to evict hawkers.” 
He requested the mayor to take steps in accordance with the ECNEC’s decision.
Describing the eviction drive as “inhuman”, Abul Hossain said: “The mayor alone cannot take the decision. Both the Prime Minister and local lawmaker are abroad now. We’ll meet the Prime Minister after she comes back from Switzerland and submit a memorandum to her to register our protest against the eviction drive.”
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union has threatened to continue their agitation programme. “Our movement cannot be stopped by using force. We won’t leave the streets unless our demand is met,” said Abul Hashem Kabir, convener of the Bangladesh Hawkers’ Union.

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