Today’s Bangladesh is different from what it was 8 years ago: PM

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DHAKA : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today expressed her profound gratitude to the nation for giving her government the opportunity to serve the country for the past eight years saying during the long stretch of time she left no stone unturned for country’s development and peoples welfare.

“Today’s Bangladesh is completely a different country from what it was eight years ago. Today’s Bangladesh is self-determined and indomitable Bangladesh,” she said in an address to the nation this evening.

She added: “You have given me and my government the opportunity to serve you for a long time…. you will judge how much we could fulfill your expectation. However, I can candidly say that we have tried to do everything possible for country’s development and welfare of the people.”

The premier’s Sheikh Hasina delivered the address coinciding with the completion of the third year of the second consecutive tenure of her government, which took office for the current term on this day in 2014.

Congratulating the countrymen on the occasion of stepping into ninth year of her government, the premier said her government had to go across a very difficult situation due to mounting problems and internal adverse atmospheres.

She said being a small country with huge population Bangladesh was deprived of true social and economic development for long time while accumulated problems and internal inimical situation obstructed its development efforts time and again.

“Overcoming all obstacles and barriers Bangladesh is now on the highway of development.

Bangladesh is now a universal model of development. Bangladesh is one the fast growing economies and the World Bank is projecting Bangladesh’s success in rapid reduction of poverty,” she said.

In her nearly 30-minute speech the prime minister highlighted country’s progress in socio-economic areas, expressed her firm trust in people, commitment to hold the next general elections to uphold the pace of democracy and constitution.

Pointing out the President’s initiatives for forming the new Election Commission the prime minister expressed her hope that all political parties would keep their confidence on the President and take part in the next election to make democracy sustainable.

Affirming her party’s confidence to democracy the prime minister said, “we do believe in democracy and have full trust in people.”

She said elections would be held on completion of her government’s present tenure as her government has blocked ways to capture power illegally.

Focusing on the looming threat of militancy and terrorism the prime minister said a section of people in the name of Islam is trying to create anarchy when the country is progressing.

“Islam is the religion of peace and the zealots who are killing people in the name of Islam are not friends of Islam,” she said urging Imams, madrasah teachers, guardians, members of law enforcement agencies, village development parties and senior citizens to remain careful about militancy.

The people of Bangladesh, the premier said, are pious but not bigots as for hundreds of years “the people with different religious faiths are living together in peace and harmony and those who want to destroy the harmony, will have no room in Bangladesh”.

She particularly urged the guardians to keep an eye on their children and guide them in a proper way so that they do not step into the wrong way.

The Prime Minister said Awami League did not believe in “word but work” as the party brought most of the nation’s achievements including the independence under the leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“We have liberated the country through war. Father of the Nation has taught us not to bow to any injustice and we will set Bangladesh as a dignified nation amongst world community overcoming all barriers,” she said.

The premier said Bangladesh has been graduated as a lower middle income country under the leadership of Awami League government and only Awami League would be able to make Bangladesh a middle income nation by 2021 and a developed and prosperous one by 2041 as envisaged by the Father of the Nation.

She urged all irrespective of party affiliations to work together for the country’s development and build a developed and prosperous Bangladesh for future generation.

Referring to the devastating political movement of BNP and its allies in 2013, 2014 and 2015 the prime minister said the countrymen have rejected the terror activities and they don’t want repetition of the mayhem.

During the tenure of her government, she said, Bangladesh’s constant economic growth over six percent amazed the world while in 2015-2016 fiscal year the growth was 7.11 percent and targeted to be 7.4 percent in the coming year.

Sheikh Hasina said her government assumed power in 2009 when poverty rate was 41.5 percent which now came down to 22.4 percent resulting in the decline of abject poverty level to 12 percent from 24.23 percent in 2005-2006 fiscal adding that her government aspires to bring it down to 7/8 percent by 2021.

The prime minister said country’s economy is now standing on firm footing with foreign exchange reserve standing at over US$ 32 billion compared to 3.5 billion in 2005-2006.

Over the last eight years, she said, about 1.5 crore people found employment while 7.57 lakh people went abroad with job.

Sheikh Hasina said people’s per capita income has now increased to US$ 1,466 from US$ 543 in 2005-06 while their purchasing capacity increased as inflation remains within the tolerable limit.

“In 2009, inflation rate was at double digit, which has now slashed down to 5.03 percent,” she said. The prime minister said implementation of the 6th five-year plan has already ended with an objective of country’s overall development and the government has launched implementation of the 7th five-year plan.

Focusing on bright future of power sector the prime minister said country’s capacity to generate power was 3,200 megawatts when Awami League government assumed office in 2009. Currently, the country’s generation capacity rose to 15,300 megawatts.

Now 80 percent people of the country have access to electricity, she said adding that the government wants to reach electricity to every household by 2021 and to attain this goal the government has undertaken plan to produce 24,000 megawatts of power.

In this regard the prime minister assured of taking the highest safety measures in building coal-based power plants to protect environment in addition to special importance to tap renewable energy.

Pointing out her government’s electoral pledge to make the country self-sufficient in food production the prime minister said extensive advancements have taken place in agriculture sector in the last eight years with annual food-grain production reaching four crore metric tons.

“Once a country of food shortage, Bangladesh has now turned into a food-surplus nation,” she said adding that Bangladesh also occupies the fourth position in production of fresh water fish and third place in production of vegetables in the world.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has given agriculture assistance worth about Taka 40,300 crore to farmers in the last eight years.

The government has made arrangements of low-interest agriculture loan for sharecroppers without collaterals through the state-run Krishi Bank, she said.

The prime minister said her government is continuing different social safety net programmes, including allowances for elderly people, widows, poor women, freedom fighters and the disabled people since 1996.

One hundred and forty-two programmes are being implemented in the current year the under social safety net programme, she said adding that under this programme, Taka 2,29,165.90 crore has been spent in eight years from 2008-09 to 2015-16 . Taka 33,066.62 crore has been allocated in this sector in the current year.

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