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     Volume 7 Issue 14 | April 4, 2008 |

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CHT Gets Cell Phone Coverage
If the CHT Peace Accord of 1997 was one of the biggest milestones in the troubled hill regions, the declaration by the Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed that cell phone networks would finally be allowed to operate in all the three districts of the CHT is a decision that calls for celebrations.
Even 10 years after the signing of the historic accord successive governments made no steps to bring the three districts (Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati) under cell phone coverage, the local authorities alleging that any such coverage would help the "insurgent guerrilla forces". But while the whole country derives personal and business benefits from the use of cell phones the adibashis of the hills had been suffering very badly from its absence. Such a move by the government is most welcomed by not only the Jumma people but also everyone from the rest of the country.

Cell phone network will be primarily available in the municipal areas of the three district headquarters. The Chief Adviser said setting up digital telephone exchanges at upazila level in the hill districts would be considered following availability of resources. He said that the objective of the present government is to ensure socio-economic and cultural progress of the hill peoples, who need to maintain peace and discipline. He noted that irrespective of ethnicity, language and culture and religious beliefs, everybody of the region is a citizen of Bangladesh.

A Mature Investment
Usually a country with an unstable political environment is not the best place to invest; yet Bangladesh seems to have turned that maxim on its head. Since the turn of the year Export Processing Zones (EPZ) across the nation have been boosted with a remarkable increase in foreign investment while investment levels outside the EPZs have dwindled during the same period. There are more than a few lessons to be learned from these statistics, but most importantly it proves that Bangladesh is a desirable location for foreign investment even through its political turmoil. The point to be noted is that the investments continue to roll into EPZs because the long and often corrupt hands of the government do not sway the same power there. The EPZs are tightly governed with an no-nonsense attitude that has seen them take off since their inception in 1980 under an act of parliament. One needs only to look back on that act to see why they continue to be so successful. They were set up to attract foreign capital along with an increased flow of technical know how, all in the effort to boost exports. With that in mind while dubious foreign investment rolled in to the country through many other channels the EPZs stood rather uncorrupted and now a quarter of a century later they are reaping the benefits of a system devoid of real corruption. They should stand as an example of what this country can achieve if the people in the right places stick to their morals. With over USD 300 million of foreign investment in the first quarter of the year, the success of the EPZs should be replicated and highlighted across the country.

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