Govt doesn’t waste a single paisa from reserve: PM

Published: ১২/১১/২২

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday refuted BNP leaders’ propaganda on the foreign currency reserve, saying the Awami League government never wastes a single paisa from it, rather using the money for the country and its people’s interest. “The Awami League government doesn’t waste a single paisa of the country. It spends every penny for the interest and welfare of the people,” she said.

The premier said this while inaugurating the construction of the 24-kilometer-long Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway involving TK 17,553.4 crore. She virtually joined the inaugural function held at the Construction Yard adjoining Ashulia Bazar in Savar, from her official Ganabhaban residence.

The prime minister said the BNP leaders are always raising questions about the expense of the reserve money and trying to mislead the nation by giving false information. “No paisa from the reserve money is misappropriated. They (BNP leaders) are always talking about this as their leader Tarique Zia was awarded seven years imprisonment and TK 20 core penalty in a money laundering case and he is now a fugitive accused,” she said.

The prime minister said her government is using the reserve money to meet import expenses including purchasing food, fuel, edible oil, wheat, capital machinery, medicine for cancer and Covid-19 vaccines despite the prices of goods, fuel and transportation costs are skyrocketing for global high inflation and economic meltdown stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions and counter-sanctions.

Sheikh Hasina said they have to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines in cash and are giving the vaccines to the masses alongside conducting the Coronavirus tests free of cost using the reserve money. The prime minister said that Bangladesh later got donations of the Covid-19 vaccines from various countries. “No developed country even administered the Covid-19 vaccines to their citizens free of cost,” she said. The government has purchased planes for the Bangladesh Biman and is dredging the rivers using the reserve money, she said.

“We are investing some reserve money to keep our money within the country. Otherwise, we have to take loans from foreign banks and repay the debt by dollars with interest,” she said. The prime minister said they have given some money to Sri Lanka from the reserve after it has fallen into crisis. Bangladesh is a self-reliant country in food production, she said, adding that despite the fact, it has to import rice using the reserve money as the paddy fields were badly damaged during the recent flood and cyclone.

The prime minister said they would do nothing harmful for the country as her government has liabilities to the people. “We are Awami League and we have liabilities to the people as Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dedicated his entire life to give the masses an improved and beautiful life,” she said. The reserve was only 2.9 billion US dollars when BNP was in power while it increased to five US dollars during 2001-08, she said, adding that the present government has been able to raise it to 48 billion US dollars.

She said the 48 billion dollar reserve was possible as communication, transportation and import was almost halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Referring to the apprehension of global famine, the prime minister reiterated her call to the countrymen to grow more food using every inch of land so no famine can hit Bangladesh. About the 24-kilometer Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway from Shahjalal International Airport to EPZ through Asulia, she said the project is taken mainly to make free Savar, Nabinagar, Ashilua, and North Bengal from traffic snarl and create uninterrupted communication. The premier said her government had built the Dhaka-Ashulia Highway after coming to power in 1996.

She added that the expressway will make uninterrupted communication on the 44-kilometre highway up to Kutubkhali under Jatrabari Police via EPZ, Ashulia, Abdullahpur, Shahjalal International Airport, Kawla, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamlapur, Sayedabad and Jatrabari after connecting the Dhaka Elevated Express Highway. The prime minister said the communication of the Ashulia-Savar industrial area with the rest of the country would be easier and the expressway will contribute immensely to the national economy.

“Once completed, the expressway will boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.21 percent,” she hoped. People from 30 districts will be highly benefited from the expressway as it will make transportation of people and goods easier and quicker as it would help cut traffic congestion, she said. The prime minister thanked the Chinese President for his support of Bangladesh’s development including the construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia expressway.

Briefly describing the government’s measures for the overall development of the communication system, she said, “We have made tremendous development in all the road, river, rail and airways for which the people are now getting benefits of those.” The prime minister said her government is working to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous one by 2041.

Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming spoke at the function moderated by PM’s Principal Secretary Dr. Ahmad Kaikaus. State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr. Md. Enamur Rahman and people from all strata of life and local public representatives were present at the Ashulia site. Bridges Division Secretary Md Monjur Hossain made a PowerPoint presentation on the expressway. A video documentary on the elevated expressway was also screened on the occasion.

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