Stay in JS to ensure people’s rightsBangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka
The prime minister and leader of the house, Sheikh Hasina, has urged all including the opposition parties to extend their sincere support to the government to build Bangladesh as a self- reliant and dignified nation.
Taking part in the general discussion on the thanks giving motion on the president’s speech in the parliament on Tuesday, she also called upon the opposition to work together for upholding rights of the people and resolving all disputes through discussions in the parliament.
In her 50-minute speech, the prime minister extended her thanks to the opposition for returning to the parliament saying ‘Whatever may be the reasons — ‘good sense’ or in the interest of ‘protecting your membership’ — I hope you will stay in the house and actively take part in the proceedings to protect the democratic rights of the people.’
She lamented indecent and vulgar remarks of some opposition members in the parliament and said democracy could not flourish without proper practice and
conducive environment in the house.
Ruling out the allegation of the opposition that they are not allowed to speak in the parliament, she said the leader of the opposition during her seven days presence in the house took floor four days and delivered speech for three hours and 25 minutes.
Criticizing the leader of the opposition for allegedly taking five crore rupees from Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence ahead of 1991 general election, she said, ‘We had led the anti-autocratic movement in the eighties, whereas the BNP swung to power using the ISI money.’
‘The BNP claims itself as a pro-liberation force. If it’s right, how they can take money from the ISI,’ she asked.
The prime minister extended her thanks to the president for clearly depicting the country’s progress in the economic, political and social sectors over the last three years.
Responding to 113 minutes speech of the leader of the opposition in the parliament Tuesday on president’s speech, the prime minister said, ‘the BNP leader spread falsehood and read out an essay written by one of her party men. So I need not reply to her long speech.’
Hasina said her government inherited a regime of high prices of essentials in 2009 where businesses sat idle, all types of local foreign investments were stagnant, price of fertiliser and fuel was out of reach of farmers.
Our main challenge was to restore the confidence of the businessmen and investors, she said adding the price of the essential commodities came down to normal level within two months of the present government.
Prices of fertiliser, diesel and kerosene were reduced helping the farmers yielding bumper crops. Investment, export and employment were increased extensively to help generate people’s earning and alleviate poverty, she said.
Giving a bright picture of country’s economy, the prime minister said the country had received direct foreign investment of around $266 crore in the last three years against the total of $260 crore in five years of BNP-Jamaat regime.
During the tenure of the present government in 2009, the country received the highest $109 crore, she added.
She said country’s manpower export market was expanding gradually with creating new ones abroad. Women are going abroad with jobs in a large number, she said adding that the highest 30,600 females received overseas employment in 2011.
Comparing the growth of different sectors with the previous BNP government, the leader of the house said in the last three years total manpower export was 14.33 lakh against 13.80 lakh in the five years of the BNP regime.
The country fetched $3,370 crore remittance in the last three years while it was $1,932 crore during the five years of the BNP government, she said adding around four lakh youths had received government jobs in the last three years while around 70 lakh people could arrange their employment.
The prime minister said for the last three years, the country had been reeling from the shock of global economic recession. As a result, prices of everything ranging from fuel to other commodities are on the rise affecting all developed and emerging economies and developing countries.
Despite that every index of Bangladesh economy is positive, she said adding the inflation is coming down and prices of rice and other food items are on the wane.
The prime minister said for the last three years the country was witnessing a bumper production in agriculture. It was possible as the government has ensured easy access to fertiliser, seeds and irrigation, she said adding the government is providing subsidy in diesel, power and fertiliser.
The prime minister said the government’s subsidy to agriculture would exceed over Tk 1,000 crore this year. Fisheries and poultry sectors have achieved an extensive growth ensuing people’s food and nutrition security.
She said the government had reduced the price of non-urea fertiliser three times and agriculture commodities assistance cards were given to farmers so that they could easily get the assistance without interference of any middleman. In addition, the farmers are being given soft term agricultural loan and cash incentives for export of agricultural goods.
Highlighting the social safety network programmes of the present government, the prime minister said the number of beneficiaries as well as the amount of their allowance had been increased. Rice is being sold at Tk 24 per kilogram through Open Market Sale, Fair Price Card and ration.
She said the scope of social safety net had been broadened and Ashrayan programme, one house-one homestead, community health service, rural employment progarmmes were undertaken for welfare of the ultra poor. Climate fund has been created to address the adverse impacts of climate change.
The economic measures taken by the government helped increasing income of every man and reducing overall poverty by 10 per cent, she said. Country’s growth rate is around 6.7 per cent and we hope the rate would be 7 per cent this year.
About the law and order, the prime minister said excepting some stray incidents the present law and order was better than any time before. Inquiries into the stray incidents are going on, she said adding surveillance to contain crimes has been strengthened.
Making the BNP responsible for militancy and terrorism in the country, she said the party was also the mastermind of the operation clean heart and crossfire. He said the people of the country didn’t forget their intimidation of political opponents and minorities, killing of our renowned leaders.
There is no instance of exploding bombs at 500 places in 63 districts at a time, emergence of Bangla Bhai, smuggling of 10-truck arms and ammunition and grenade attack on an Awami League rally on August 21, 2004, she said.
The prime minister listed her government’s steps taken for freedom of the press and said the Right to Information Act had been enacted to ensure free flow of information. A separate channel of Bangladesh television has been opened up to broadcast the proceedings of the parliament for the people apart from giving licence to 14 private television channels.
Around 1,400 journalists were subject to harassment during the BNP regime when 14 journalists were killed, she said.
Pointing out Bangladesh’s victory over Myanmar in the International Tribunal for the Law on the Sea, she said it was a great achievement.
‘The tribunal has given such an epoch-making judgment for the first time in its history and it is the victory of the people who have given us the opportunity for protecting the rights of the country,’ she said.
She said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman initiated the process for establishing Bangladesh’s rights in the sea by framing the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1974.
The prime minister said her previous government had updated the process by ratifying the international convention on sea.
In its continuation, the present government submitted its claim to the continental shelf on February 25 in 2011, much ahead of the deadline of July 11 in the same year. ‘We have gone to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea side by side with our efforts to resolve the issue bilaterally,’ she said.
The prime minister said the verdict on the maritime dispute with India would be pronounced in 2014. ‘We could bring good news for the country if we get the scope of formation of the government again,’ she said.
She said: ‘Our foreign policy is very clear as we want to stand in the world stage by keeping our head high.’
Referring to massive development in the power sector, the prime minister said about 3,000 megawatt electricity had been added to the national grid in the last three years.
She said the construction of 27 power plants was going on from which 3,539MW would come, while the tender for 30 power plants having capacity of 5,644MW was under process.
‘We have undertaken five coal-based projects with a total production capacity of 2,657MW as part of the long-term plan, while the process for construction of two nuclear power plants having 2,000MW is going on,’ she said.
Hasina said the government had signed an agreement to import 250MW power from India, while initiatives had been undertaken to import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan.
She said the government had increased gas production by 400 million cubic feet, while the production has started from Sundalpur gas field. Production will soon begin from Samutang, Salda River and Fenchuganj gas fields, she added.
About the development of roads and bridges, the prime minister said her government had constructed 11 large bridges including Shaheed Abdur Rab Serniabat Bridge in Barisal, Shah Amanat Bridge in Chittagong and the Brahmmaputra Bridge in Jamalpur.
‘The work on upgrading Dhaka-Chittagong Highway to four-lane and the construction of 26-km elevated express way, Mirpur-Airport Flyover, Gulistan-Jatrabari Flyover and Kuril Multipurpose Flyover have started,’ she said.
Hasina said the Roads and Highways Department had constructed 837-km new road, while 22-km railway line was built in the last three years.
On the development of education sector, the prime minister said the literacy rate and the standard of education had increased to a great extent. ‘We are providing scholarship and stipends side by side with free books and other materials to the students,’ she said.
She said the government had framed an epoch-making Education Policy and constituted the Education Assistance Trust Fund for the poor and meritorious students side by side with taking special steps for expansion of higher education.
The prime minister said her government had resumed the operation of about 11,000 community clinics and recruited 5,000 physicians.
She said 136 union health and family welfare centres were constructed, while the number of beds, physicians and the quality of service had increased.
Hasina said her government had taken tough stance against corruption and was not making any interference in the judiciary.
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