In dispelling the confusion being spread about the mega projects being implemented in the country Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday reaffirmed that her government remains cautious so the loans don’t become a burden, reports UNB.
“Once these (mega) projects are implemented, the face of our economy will change. We’re taking loans from domestic and foreign sources. However, we’ve a careful eye so that they do not become a burden,” she said in an address to the nation on the eve of Pahela Boishakh, the Bangla New Year’s Day.
The address was telecast live by Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar and also private TV channels.
The nation is set to celebrate the Pahela Boishakh 1429 on Thursday amid traditional cultural festivities.
About the mega projects, Sheikh Hasina said the Padma Bridge is being constructed with own funds as no loan was taken. Other mega projects were undertaken through economic studies by local and foreign experts. And many projects are being implemented on the basis of foreign partnerships.
“Our main goal is to accelerate economic activities, create employment, increase resources and make the lifestyle of people easier through infrastructure development,” she said.
The prime minister said 2022 and 2023 will be milestones for Bangladesh in terms of infrastructure development. The much-desired Padma Bridge will come into operation in just a few months. The bridge is expected to contribute 1.2 per cent to GDP, she said.
She said the Metrorail will be launched on the 14-km Uttara-Agargaon route by the end of this year. It is expected to bring a revolutionary change in the transport system in the capital, she added.
The country’s first underwater tunnel, Karnaphuli River Tunnel in Chattogram, will be opened in October next, said Hasina.
The first unit (with capacity of 1,200-megawatt) of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the largest development project in the country’s history at a cost of Tk 1.13 trillion, is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2023, she said.
Last month, the 1,320-megawatt Payra power plant was inaugurated ahead of the deadline. “The implementation of other mega projects is progressing fast,” she said.
She said Bangladesh’s economy stood on a strong foundation in the last 13 years, which is evident in different macroeconomic indexes. The GDP was only US$102 billion in 2009, which rose to US$416 billion last year. The per capita income was increased to US$2,591 now from only US$702, she said.
She said these achievements have been made possible thanks to far-sighted political thoughts and the implementation of far-sighted economic programmes. “Today, Bangladesh has become a ‘role model’ of development as a result of running the country with participation of the people, upholding the democratic trend,” she said.
On commodity prices the prime minister said her government is trying best to bring relief to the public.
She said the coronavirus pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, and the emerging situation caused by the war have led to instability in commodity prices in the world market.
Fuel prices have risen abnormally. International transport fares have also risen sharply. As a result, the prices of some products have also gone up in Bangladesh. “But we’re not sitting idle. We’re trying our best to bring relief to the general public,” she said.
During the holy month of Ramadan, the government is providing several essential items at affordable prices to some 10 million families through TCB by providing subsidy, she said.
Hasina said there is an arrangement to sell meat, eggs and milk at affordable prices through 15 freezer vans every day by the Livestock Department in the capital. “So, the prices of many essential items have already come down to normal levels.”
Besides, the government has given special allocation of over 1,00,330 metric tonnes of rice against 10,033,054 (over 10 million) VGF cards on the occasion of upcoming Eid, she said.
‘Some media campaign as if famine prevails’
The prime minister said some media outlets are campaigning in such a way as if there is a famine in the country. “I would like to inform you clearly that there is no shortage of any commodity, including rice, in the country,” she said.
“It is normal that people will crowd at TCB’s trucks to buy goods at affordable prices. What could be the reason for highlighting it negatively?” she wondered.
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s GDP grew 6.94 per cent in the fiscal year 2020-2021. The remittance inflow hit a record US$24.77 billion in the last fiscal. The expected trend of remittance inflow continues this year, she said.
Last year, the export income was US$44.2 billion. In the first nine months of this year, export earnings reached US$38.6 billion, some 33 per cent higher than in the same period last year. “If this trend continues, Bangladesh will set a new record in export earnings this year,” she said.
About agriculture, the PM said Bangladesh is now self-sufficient in the production of rice, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs and milk. “If no natural calamity hits, a bumper yield of paddy is expected in the current Boro season,” she said.
The prime minister extended Bangla New Year greetings to all. “Although many (Bengali) traditions have been lost due to various blows, the celebration of New Year on Pahela Boishakh still survives with its own glory,” she said.
On the eve of this auspicious moment of 1429 Bangla year, she urged all to come forward for building Bangladesh as a happy and prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’ where there would be no inequality or disparity among people, and no discord among religions.
“The Pahela Boishakh inspires us to adopt a liberal lifestyle by shunning all narrowness and ignorance. It gives us strength and shows a dream to live with fresh enthusiasm removing all sorts of filthiness and shabbiness from the hearts,” she said adding the celebration of Pahela Boishakh revived the uniqueness (of the Bengali nation) and Bangaliyana (Bengali self).
Hasina urged all to join the Pahela Boishakh celebration programmes and enjoy the joy of the Bangla New Year, maintaining health protocol as the coronavirus has not gone completely yet.