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News of: Tuesday, 10th of June, 2008

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Economy tuned to social charity

More than a budget document that addresses three key areas for any economy inflation, growth and employment the finance adviser yesterday unveiled a plan that smacks of social charity.

Hasina may hop on plane June 12

Detained former premier also Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina is finally set to leave the country 'for better treatment', after different courts yesterday removed all legal barriers to her departure by accepting her petitions for staying absent at court proceedings in four separate cases against her.

Sure jobs for poor

The caretaker government has increased the allocation for social safety net by 48 percent, introducing the first ever employment guarantee scheme worth Tk 2,000 crore, in the proposed new budget.

Tk 99,962cr budget banks on high borrowing

The government yesterday proposed an expansionary budget of Tk 99,962 crore for the next fiscal year (FY09), which is 26 percent bigger than that of FY08 with big outlays for social safety nets, subsidies, interest payments and block allocation.

Power sector ignored

Without promising any solution for the ever worsening power crisis, the finance adviser yesterday declared in his budget speech that Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex) will be provided with Tk 3,200 crore over the next seven years to strengthen its exploration programme.

Middleclass left in the lurch

For the last few months, Abidur Rahman, breadwinner in a four-member family, was struggling hard to make ends meet as the prices of everything continued skyrocketing.

Irrigation subsidy doubled

The proposed budget for fiscal 2008-09 contains several measures to boost agriculture sector, including raising direct cash subsidy to farmers using diesel-powered irrigation pumps to Tk 540 crore from Tk 250 crore this year, and tax-holiday for agro-processing industries.

Essentials stay costly

The government will provide 30 lakh tonnes of wheat and rice as well as income support to the most vulnerable groups and rely heavily on bumper harvest to protect fixed and low-income groups from the apprehended rise in food prices in FY09.

Short term solutions for deeper malaise

The proposed budget seeks short-term solutions to the economic malaise arising from adverse developments on many fronts, said economist Wahiduddin Mahmud.

Tarique denied bail, overseas treatment

A special court yesterday turned down petitions for bail and overseas treatment of the BNP's detained Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman and asked the authorities to arrange his proper treatment inside the country as per the jail code.

4-month amnesty offered to legalise money

A four-month amnesty would be granted to individuals who wish to legalise their undeclared income in the upcoming fiscal year.

Tk 1,219cr recovered from anti-graft drive

The government has recovered Tk 1,219 crore ill-gotten money from its anti-corruption drive, which has been deposited to the national exchequer, Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam said in his budget speech yesterday.

Political parties reject budget

Most political parties except both factions of BNP criticised the proposed budget, terming it unrealistic and a recipe for further increase of prices of essentials.

What's Up, Down

Some consumer items will become cheaper and some others costlier due to the new duty rates proposed yesterday in the budget for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

20pc DA for govt employees

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam proposed constituting a Pay Commission to review and recommend a revised salary structure for the government employees and the staff of the autonomous bodies at the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Tax honour up for grabs in districts

The government has decided to honour three highest taxpayers and two others who have been paying taxes for the longest period from each district every year.

Tk 300cr fund for climate challenges

The government is going to allocate Tk 300 crore to create for the first time a special fund for enhancing public adaptability to face the challenges of climate change.

Stipends proposed for male students

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday proposed a new stipend programme for poor male students that will be introduced in 121 upazilas in the fiscal year 2008-09.

No new initiative for good governance

The caretaker government has adopted as many as 62 ordinances and polices on legal and institutional reforms in the last one and a half years in a bid to ensure good governance.

Borrowing bothers economists

Economists expressed a mixed reaction to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2008-09. They said borrowing from the banking sector to cover budget deficit is a major risk for the government.

Aziz admits food inflation effects on poor

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam has admitted that food inflation has affected the lives of ordinary people.

More finance sector reforms to ensure accountability

The Finance Adviser yesterday announced a number of finance-sector reforms for the next fiscal year, FY09, including the creation of a Finance Reporting Council (FRC) to strengthen the accountability of autonomous and commercial entities.

Citizen charter to lessen public harassment

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday announced that all the departments of the government and the autonomous bodies have framed and put on display their citizens charter at their respective offices.

Two top army officials promoted

Two senior army officials have been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General yesterday, highly placed sources said.

Microbuses to get cheaper

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam in his budget speech yesterday proposed to reduce duty on the import of non-luxury microbuses, with 1,500cc to 1,800cc engine displacements, to 20 percent from 60 percent.

1,500 Sidr children to be rehabilitated

The government has planned to rehabilitate 1,500 children orphaned in the deadly Cyclone Sidr.

Govt sets 6.5pc GDP growth target

The government has set a target of achieving 6.5 percent GDP growth in the next fiscal year if no major natural disaster hits the country.

Health sector gets 9pc higher allocation

The government has proposed allocating Tk 5,862 crore for the health sector for the next fiscal year (FY), which is 8.9 percent of the total allocation of the national budget.

36 killed in fresh Lankan clashes

At least 28 Tamil Tigers and eight soldiers were killed and over 60 injured in fierce clashes in Sri Lanka's northern Wanni region, the defence ministry said on Monday.


Hasina's treatment abroad

We express our satisfaction over the government's initiative and court's ruling that will enable former prime minister Sheikh Hasina to go abroad for medical treatment, as recommended by her doctors.

Corruption in BTTB

It is welcome news that BTTB authorities with the assistance of a taskforce, under the National Coordination Committee on Corruption and Serious Crimes, have launched a thorough investigation into the irregularities and corruption of many dimensions besides the major allegation of uncollected phone bills besetting the organisation. There are reports of wrong-doing, such as, keeping more vehicles than what is in the record book, unaccounted for overseas training trips, loopholes in paying salaries, and lack of transparency in the accounts division.

Hoping for a hands-on budget

FINANCE Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam presented the national budget for 2008-09 (FY09). The Hon'ble adviser seems to be a lucky as well as an unlucky person. Lucky because he had the privilege of presenting two national budgets, which an adviser of a caretaker government is not supposed to have. But equally, perhaps, he is unlucky because he had to sail through very rough weather. It is true not only for him but also for all finance ministers worldwide.

The old song, the new song

THE time to listen to songs has come. Our fate seems to depend on how good we are as listeners in this country where people even wail in tune. Oh, we had plenty to wail about. Now, once again we are hearing some old songs as well as some new songs, sung by our anointed leaders, who are amazingly good at it. They have been good at it because their business depended on how good they were at singing songs -- lullabies to be precise -- to keep the people in deep slumber.

To cope with oil shock, emulate Japan

WITH the price of oil rocketing to the unprecedented level of $130 a barrel, there is a talk of another oil shock. Unfortunately, unlike past instances, this one is unlikely to subside, and may indeed keep intensifying. The only way out is for Western nations, the gluttonous users of petroleum, to cut their consumption and emulate Japan in its consistent drive for energy efficiency and alternate sources.


Dhoni can't avoid frenzy

Dashing Indian opener Virender Sehwag did not attend yesterday's training session ahead of their clash against traditional rivals Pakistan in the second match of the Kitply Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today.

No decision on Asif yet

Mohammad Asif continues to languish in detention with the Dubai Attorney General and Public Prosecutor's office yesterday not taking any decision on whether to trial the Pakistani pacer for alleged possession of contraband drugs or deport him.

Romania hold France

Lacklustre France failed to score in their opening Euro 2008 game against Romania which could leave them with an uphill task to qualify from Group C.

Austria take positives

Co-hosts Austria put aside the disappointment of losing their debut in the Euro 2008 finals against Croatia and took heart from a bright second-half display which could yet bode well for their next must-win games.

Indian style statements

Last month during the Indian Premier League, Robin Uthappa's haircut was a cross between Apache Indian and Aamir Khan's new look. When he arrived at the Zia International Airport on Sunday, the right-handed batsman added a new leaf to his style catalogue.

A Pole sinks the Poles

Polish-born forward Lukas Podolski ended Germany's 12-year wait for a European Championship win on Sunday with two goals as his side's Euro 2008 campaign began with a 2-0 win over Poland.

Spain fired up for opener

International football's perennial underachievers Spain are in defiant mood ahead of their Euro 2008 Group D opener against Russia in Innsbruck on Tuesday.

Champs look for a pick-up

Greece were the unlikeliest of Euro winners four years ago and to many people they would be an even unlikelier victor this time round as they set out on their bid to retain the title with an opening Group D match against Sweden.

Euro 2008 Briefs

Donadoni has an albatross round his neck

Loew plays down win

Germany coach Joachim Loew enjoyed Sunday's 2-0 win against Poland as much as anyone but the coach was quick to point out the team's faults in a bid to dampen any early Euro 2008 euphoria.

Eto'o takes Cameroon on top

Cameroon eased to a second successive World Cup win by beating Mauritius 3-0 on Sunday to go top of African qualifying zone Group One.

USA hold Argentina

Goalkeeper Tim Howard produced a string of first-half saves to help United States hold Argentina to a goalless draw in a full-bloodied friendly on Sunday.

Kubica makes Poland smile

Robert Kubica's breakthrough victory at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday is consoling Poles after their football team lost 0-2 to Germany in their opening Euro 2008 match in Austria.

Gen Moeen assures help to BFF

National Sports Council (NSC) chairman and Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) president Gen Moeen U Ahmed has offered his helping hands to the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF).

England want to improve

England captain Michael Vaughan admitted there was room for improvement from his side ahead of the "ultimate test" against South Africa despite a decisive win over New Zealand here Sunday.

Vettori looks to ODIs

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori believes his side can still salvage something from their tour of England following their Test series defeat if they triumph in the upcoming one-dayers.

Vaughan awaits Flintoff

England captain Michael Vaughan cannot wait to have star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff back for the Test series with South Africa even if it creates a headache over who to drop.

Dhaka Bank new partner of hockey

Dhaka Bank yesterday confirmed its association with development of hockey in the country for one year.

Gibbs thinking of retirement?

Miffed at being ignored for the Test series against England, South African opener Herschelle Gibbs has hinted that he may retire from international cricket.

Akhtar appeal hearing put back a week

A tribunal hearing Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar's appeal against a five-year ban has been put off for a week, an official said Sunday.

Nat'l shooting from today

The 22nd National Shooting Championships gets underway at the BKSP in Savar today with 179 shooters participating in the five-day meet.

Jubo Sangha clinch h'ball title

Jubo Sangha became champions in the men's section of the Cute Handball League at the local stadium yesterday.

Div II cricket

Shahadat Hossain MA Club and SABIS won their respective matches in the Sunlife Insurance Second Division Cricket League at Shahid Miraj-Tapan Stadium in Manikganj yesterday.

England 3rd in Test rankings

England moved up into third place in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test championship standings after completing a 2-0 series win over New Zealand here Sunday.

Pabna zonal champions

Pabna emerged zonal champions defeating Rangpur in the final of the 29th National Table Tennis Championships qualifying zone D yesterday.


Tax reforms welcome, but business fears govt borrowing to eat up credit

Business cautiously welcomed yesterday's proposed budget with its cuts in corporate tax rates and import duties, but there were concerns that increased government borrowing would squeeze out the private sector from the credit market.

Further duty cut on capital machinery

Finance and Planning Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday, in his budget speech for 2008-09 fiscal, proposed further reduction of existing concessionary rate of duty on the import of capital machinery and spare parts from 5 percent to 3 percent.

Corporate tax reduced

Listed companies are to pay 27.5 percent corporate tax instead of existing 30 percent.

Boost for SMEs as tax threshold increased

The minimum threshold of income tax and VAT for SME entrepreneurs has been proposed to be increased in fiscal year 2008-2009.

Measures to cool down steel market

Fixed duties were proposed on the import of meltable and re-rollable scraps, the two raw materials for steel manufacturing, in the wake of abnormal price hike of steel products.

Deadline for e-cash registers installation extended

Finance Adviser ABM Mirza Azizul Islam has extended the time limit for installing Electronic Cash Registers (ECR) in all medium and large enterprises of the country.

4-tier customs duty structure proposed

The caretaker government yesterday proposed transforming the current three-tier customs duty structure into a four-tier one.

3-year tax exemption for software, call centres

Software development, data processing and entry and call centre business will get a three-year tax exemption with effect from July 2008.

5-year tax holiday for new industries to continue

The tax holiday benefits will be continued for another five years with some conditions for the newly set up industries.

Infrastructure projects planned to cut regional wealth disparity

Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday announced that the government will implement a number of infrastructure projects to reduce regional wealth disparity in the country.

PSI to continue under revised policy guideline

The government in its budget yesterday proposed to continue receiving services from the pre-shipment inspection (PSI) agencies for a limited period through fresh appointment of agencies under a revised policy guideline.

Tax exemption on income from housing projects outside urban areas

Finance Adviser, in his budget speech yesterday, proposed for tax exemption on income generated from construction of multi-storied buildings located outside urban areas for the next ten years.

New Dhaka-Ctg rly track to reduce trip time by 2 hours

A new railway track is being laid on Dhaka-Chittagong route to reduce the travel time between the two major cities by two hours.

Taxes waived on electronics for NRBs

Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday proposed nil taxes on ordinary electronic appliances for non-resident Bangladeshis carrying them from abroad.


Liberation War best period of our life: Motia

Liberation War Museum has announced that it would award two journalists for investigative reports on the liberation war from 2009 in memory of journalist and freedom fighter late Bazlur Rahman.

Salman, Sohel, Mahmudur to be chargesheeted

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) will submit a charge sheet against Salman F Rahman, Sohel F Rahman, former energy adviser Mahmudur Rahman and four others in a case for misappropriating over Tk 128 crore.

Charge sheet tomorrow

The long-awaited charge sheet of the sensational 'August 21 grenade attack on Awami League rally case' will be submitted tomorrow.

Verdict in extortion case against Nazmul, Sigma Huda June 12

A Dhaka court yesterday fixed June 12 as the date for pronouncing verdict in an extortion case against detained former communications minister Nazmul Huda and his wife advocate Sigma Huda.

Tk 963 cr for poor women in budget

Finance Adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday said that two new programmes--allowance for poor lactating working mothers and rural employment and road maintenance programme for women-- will be implemented at a cost of Tk 963 crore under the new budget for the fiscal 2008-09.

Dhaka committed to promoting peace, stability in this region

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed yesterday said Bangladesh is deeply committed to promoting peace, stability, poverty alleviation and development in this region and in the world as well.

BDR starts selling rice in open market in Ctg today

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) will start sale of atap rice at open markets here from today with a view to helping low-income families in buying rice at a reasonable price.

Contempt rule on Prothom Alo editor, 2 reporters

The High Court yesterday issued a contempt rule on the Prothom Alo editor and two reporters for publishing two reports on the promotion of judges in the district courts.

Convict executed in Kashimpur jail

A condemned convict was executed in Kashimpur Jail of Gazipur district on Sunday night.

Wives of 3 BNP leaders get anticipatory bail

The High Court (HC) yesterday granted anticipatory bail to the wives of three BNP leaders for three months or till submission of police reports in three separate cases filed for amassing illegal wealth and concealing information.

Court asks ACC to interrogate Tarique, Koko at jail gate

A Dhaka court yesterday gave the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) permission to interrogate detained BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman and his brother Arafat Rahman Koko at jail gate in connection with misappropriating money from the Zia Orphanage Trust.

Taxes down on printing paper, up on printed

The finance adviser yesterday proposed a reduction of duty on printing papers to 12 per cent from 25 per cent.

Expatriates in UK to be enlisted as voters soon

The Election Commission has finally decided to start the process of enlisting Bangladeshi expatriates living in the UK as voters.

Decorator staff murdered

A decorator employee was stabbed and shot dead by the unidentified criminals on the rooftop of his own residence Jurain in the city last night.

Teachers observe strike

Teachers of Little Flowers' Preparatory School at Pallabi in the city yesterday observed a work abstention programme to press home their five-point demand.

Hearing of objections from June 12

Open hearing on the written objections regarding the redrawn boundaries of parliamentary seats will take place from June 12, the Election Commission announced yesterday.

Death anniversary

Today is the first death anniversary of Zahirul Haque, former president of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) and former secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), and former director general of External Publicity Wing of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says a press release.


50,000 people vulnerable to landslide in Khagrachhari

At least 50 thousand people of about 15 thousand families in eight upazilas in Khagrachhari hill district are vulnerable to hill slides as they built their houses, business centres and other structures cutting the natural hills and without any environment-friendly plan.

Tk 1.8cr heroin seized in C'nawabganj

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) recovered heroin worth Tk 1.8 crore from drug traffickers at Poladanga village in Alatuli union in Sadar upazila Sunday night.

Trial of the war criminals a demand of common people

Jatiya Party chief former president HM Ershad yesterday said trial of the war criminals has become a demand of the common people and the caretaker government can at least start the process.

PWs deposition ends, next hearing tomorrow

Satkhira District and Sessions Judge's Court yesterday fixed June 11 for argument in the case for possessing 44 Arges grenades by two Harkatul Jihad al Islam (Huji) operatives after completing recording of the statements of all the 16 prosecution witnesses of the case.

'Ensure enough juvenile courts, safe custody for child offenders'

Speakers at a meeting yesterday urged setting up sufficient number of juvenile courts and safe custody for child offenders to ensure justice and proper environment for their rectification.

Outlaw, drug peddler held

Police arrested a cadre of outlawed Biplobi Communist Party from his house at Paigram village under Phultala upazila in Khulna district early yesterday.

Tangail journos demand jail super Sagir Miah's removal

Journalists here have demanded immediate withdrawal of Tangail district jail superintendent Sagir Miah.

Fertiliser, fake Indian currency seized

The joint forces yesterday seized 540 sacks of fertiliser from a godown at Haluaghat Madhya Bazar, a bordering area of the district and seized fake Indian rupee notes.


Musharraf should be tried for treason, says PPP

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf should be impeached and tried for treason, a spokesman for the leading party in the country's new coalition government said yesterday.

Ousted Nepal king trying to hang onto crown

Nepal's deposed king is refusing to cooperate with a government committee set up to audit royal property and has still not handed over his crown, an official source told AFP yesterday.

Pak govt scraps peace deal with Taliban

Rattled by a fresh wave of suicide attacks, Pakistan government yesterday scrapped a deal signed last month with the Taliban that had been bitterly opposed by the United States and Afghanistan.

Growing risk of nukes falling into hands of terrorists: Manmohan

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday voiced concern over the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or those driven by extreme ideologies.

No summer break for McCain, Obama

While many people will work on their tans this summer, or on summer reading lists or on not working too hard, two exceptions John McCain and Barack Obama and their underlings will be working.

US military is Iraq's top problem: Iranian leader

Iran's supreme leader told the visiting Iraqi prime minister yesterday that the US military presence is the main cause of Iraq's problems, according to Iranian state television, making clear his opposition to a US-Iraqi security pact.

Fair poll impossible in Zimbabwe: HRW

Increasing levels of political violence have extinguished hopes for a free and fair presidential run-off election in Zimbabwe at the end of the month, Human Rights Watch warned yesterday.

Britain loses 100th soldier in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan were not in vain, after Britain lost its 100th soldier there since 2001.

Arts & Entertainment

"Ab Na Maanat Shyam"

Ustad Syed Zakir Hossain is the only surviving maestro in the genres thumri and dadra in Bangladesh. The 70-plus ustad's latest album Ab Na Maanat Shyam, featuring eight tracks (three thumris and five dadras), was launched at the National Music and Dance Centre Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) on June 8.

Of hunger, torment and need

The recent exhibition of paintings by Ayan Mazamder and Harunur Rashid Tutul took place at the Zainul Gallery, IFA. Both artists feel that they have a responsibility to society, which is more important than having a triumphant sale.

Jogesh Chandra Das: A veteran dancer and director

Ustad Jogesh Chandra Das, a seasoned dancer and dance director, is well known in and outside the district for his contribution in this field for over six decades. The 80-year-old Ustad Jogesh Das still trains dancers. He takes pride in some of his brilliant students, including noted dancer Shamim Ara Nipa.

"Waltz with Bashir": Mideast conflict forces animation to grow up

Everyone has their childhood favourite: whether it is the hand-drawn beauty of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs;" or the modern, computer-generated genius of "Shrek." Cartoons have always been a family staple in the movie industry.

A moving episode of "Channel-i Shera Kontho" tonight

Channel- i will telecast the third episode of Swapnodanay round of Channel-i Shera Kontho'08 tonight at 7:50 pm. Eminent singers Runa Laila and Sabina Yasmin are the judges of this round. Directed by Hassan Abidur Reza Jewel and Ashrafur Rahman, the show is hosted by Farzana Brownia.

"Mayur Bahan" on Channel-1 tonight

TV serial Mayur Bahan will be aired tonight on Channel 1 at 8:15 pm. The cast includes Shampa Reza, Azad Abul Kalam, Tomalika, Intekhab Dinar, Sumaiya Shimu, Shams Sumon, Mir Sabbir, Rahmat Ali, Tushar Khan, Lutfar Rahman George, Khairul Alam Sabuj, Afroza Banu and Golam Farida Chhanda.

"Meghoboti Konya" on ATN Bangla

ATN Bangla will air a single-episode play Meghoboti Konya tonight at 8:45 pm. An adaptation of Badyo Bishwas-er Kritodashi, a short story by Rabeya Khatun, the play is directed and adapted by Mizanur Rahman Labu.


They do not stand for what people do

THE political situation in the country is volatile once again as we are going through the process of transition to democracy. I say transition to democracy and not restoration of democracy because the country had no real democracy as such that we could restore, except for that brief spell of the government under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as prime minister until he himself ended his brief honeymoon with democracy and went for one party rule.

Paint it blue. Obama's trying

HE could've picked Ohio. Or Florida. Or any one of the dozen or so traditional swing states that have decided American presidential elections since the dawn of time (or at least 1992). But for his first official stop on the trail to November, newly minted Democratic nominee Barack Obama visited a place last week that hasn't voted for a dreaded Democrat since the slightly more southern Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas triumphed there in 1964. The special state? Virginia.

Happiness versus unhappiness

THE March 2008 Social Weather Survey, using a standard scale of many countries, found 34% of adult Filipinos Very Happy, 46% Fairly happy, 16% not very happy, and 3.6% not at all happy.

Newspapers are thriving, but don't tell anyone

AS I peruse yet another magazine article celebrating the arrival of the digital age and mourning the loss of the old-fashioned print media, an important thought strikes me: I wonder what's for dinner?

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