Have faith in me: Sheikh Hasina

Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

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Sheikh Hasina has called upon the people to face her new challenges as she promised to move forward drawing on past experiences with her third consecutive government completing its first year.

In a televised address to the nation to mark the occasion on Tuesday (Jan.7), the Prime Minister recalled the lifelong struggle and sacrifices of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to ensure the people’s welfare.

“As Bangabandhu’s daughter, it is the only goal of my life as well to make people smile. Please keep faith in me. I want to remain as one of you,” she remarked.

The government “tried its best to ensure maximum service” to the people in past one year, the prime minister said.

“I won’t claim that we have fully succeeded at all times, but I can confidently say that there was no lack of sincerity in our efforts,” Hasina said.

She reaffirmed her vow to continue the fight against corruption in order to ensure maximum outcome of her government’s development work.

She formed the current government on Jan 7 last year to become Prime Minister for an unprecedented fourth term after the Awami League won absolute majority in the Dec 30, 2018 parliamentary elections.

The third straight tenure as Prime Minister has made her Bangladesh’s longest serving head of government as well.

“We haven’t made empty promises. We have the capability to fulfill them,” Hasina said.

The Awami League had announced “Vision 2021” prior to the 2008 elections with an aim to make Bangladesh a middle-income country by 2021, she said.

The World Bank had acknowledged Bangladesh as a lower-middle income country in 2015 as per capita income crossed $1,200, Hasina noted.

Bangladesh has developed a “strong economy” over the time and it cannot be stopped by putting obstacles, said the prime minister. The Annual Development Plan has reached Taka 2.02 trillion and 90 percent of the budget is implemented with the country’s own resources, according to her.

Bangladesh has been placed among the top five countries in the world based on the economic progress index, Hasina said.

The International Monetary Fund has ranked Bangladesh 30th on an index based on purchasing power parity or PPP while PricewaterhouseCoopers says the country has the potential to become the 23rd largest economy in the world by 2050, the prime minister said. “The economic growth of Bangladesh will overtake India and other Asian countries in 2020,” she added, referring to the World Economic Forum.

Bangladesh posted 8.15 percent growth in GDP last fiscal year and was able to keep inflation below 6 percent, she told the nation.

“Prices of commodities for regular consumption were normal except for the increased price of onion, which basically depends on imports,” said Hasina.

She highlighted the progress Bangladesh made over the past decade as the people’s standards of living and purchasing power have increased. Her speech also focused on infrastructural development, especially the Padma Bridge, which she called “a dream coming true”.

“Padma Bridge is now a reality. We are constructing it with our own funds.”

Hasina also mentioned the ongoing Dhaka Metro Rail project, the feasibility study on underground rail in the capital, and construction of elevated expressway from the airport to Kutubkhali to ease traffic congestion.

The first ever underwater tunnel in the country is also being constructed under the Karnaphuli River, she said.

As part of her government’s development work, urban facilities have been ensured in the rural areas, said Hasina. Almost 95 percent of people have got power connection in their home while 97 percent have proper sanitation system, she said.

“A few unwanted incidents took place in some educational institutions last year”, the prime minister said. “We have not patronized those involved in the incidents and took administrative and legal steps against them. With the help of the people, we have fought those who spread rumors and created unrest,” she said.

Dengue, the mosquito-borne disease, was a menace last year that even caused deaths despite preventive measures by the authorities, Hasina said. She extended sympathies to the families who lost their loved ones due to the disease. She recalled her instructions to prevent Aides mosquito that carries dengue virus from spreading further.

The new year is an important one for the nation as it is celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, with the yearlong programs scheduled to start on Mar 17, Hasina said.

The government has declared 2020-2021 as Mujib Borsho while Bangladesh will also celebrate the golden jubilee of independence in 2021. ‘These won’t be mere formalities; rather they will instill a new spirit into the nation to carry it forward for making true the dream of the Father of the Nation. ‘