Since the recent hostilities in Ukraine and Russia, economic situations throughout the globe have deteriorated. Many countries' economies are experiencing the consequences of the post-war global economic slowdown. With trade restrictions imposed by Europe and the United States on Russia after the commencement of the war, the country has restricted and, in some instances, shut off its oil and gas exports to the outside world. Thus, the worldwide market price of fuel has soared, which has substantially influenced the production of electricity production.
Europe's electricity supply is suffering due to increased fuel prices and shortfalls in gas supplies. If we look at France, the government decided to turn out all streetlights at midnight. People have also been urged not to use hot water in their own homes as a precaution. In fact, this is not simply an issue in France right now. This is a widespread problem throughout Europe. Power outages and unusually high oil prices have been reported in nations all around the world, including the United States.
As a consequence, people all around the world are experiencing a hellish experience. Though the fuel oil prices increased globally during the early days of the war, the price did not rise in Bangladesh. Subsidies were used as long as feasible by the government to maintain the market price of the fuel. At some time, the war was expected to be short-lived by many people. Amid the war that no one knows when it will stop, no government can afford to keep oil prices down by subsidising them months after months.
Therefore, the Bangladeshi government adjusted the fuel price on August 5 in light of this concern. Fuel oil prices have risen by 40 to 51% since prices were adjusted in line with worldwide market pricing, causing a sense of discontent among the public.
People's distress would have been lessened if the government had not raised oil prices all at once. It is also true that the government initially sought to keep the price of oil affordable by subsidising it. The oil price has been raised when the issue goes beyond the government's control. However, if oil prices rise, so will the cost of essential commodities. We know that the transportation of all sorts of commodities relies heavily on fuel oil usage. Oil is critical to transport anything from veggies to other goods. Therefore, the market is already showing signs of volatility. This is nothing new for us. With the rise in oil prices, a gang of dishonest traders attempts to stoke a market panic. Governments must keep an eye on the market to ensure that rising oil costs don't negatively impact ordinary people's lives.
In 2023, there will be elections for the National Parliament. Attempts are being made to create political unrest throughout the country centering on the election. Propaganda against the government is being circulated by political oppositions that have been inactive for the last decade.
Various lies and half-truths are being spread to mislead the general people. To damage the government's reputation, foreign lobbyists are being hired.
This means that every decision made by the government must be made with extreme care since these decisions will be interpreted adversely by these groups. Despite being out of politics for thirteen and a half years, they have undergone some transformation in the last few months.
They are attempting to communicate to the public that they will take over the state power by removing the current government as soon as possible. They are trying to mislead the public by pretending to gain power and execute various political reforms in the country.
Thus, the Awami League must strengthen its ties with the general public and ventilate the government's achievements. For the past 13 and a half years, Bangladesh has seen extraordinary growth under the leadership of Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina. The nation has executed massive projects like the Padma Bridge. It is almost time for the Dhaka Metrorail to open. Under the Karnaphuli river, the government has constructed an impressive tunnel, demonstrating its capabilities. People's purchasing power has risen in the same period. People's living standard has significantly improved due to the recent rise in per capita income. The government has earned an international reputation by attaining MDG goals. Meanwhile, it is on course to meet the SDG's 2030 deadline.
Awami League should have a better organisational foundation in this circumstance. The party should organise its efforts to show the public what the government has accomplished. New leadership has been formed with infiltrators within the party at different levels, which is very regrettable.
These leaders are drowning out the party's interests to fulfill their interests. People may get confused if the party is not shielded from such leadership in the coming days. Information on many of the Awami League's accomplishments has not been disseminated widely. The grassroots' internal strife may be alleviated, in part, by strengthening organisations. Similarly, the voters are required to be motivated to keep their trust in the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina.
As a result of the increase in the price of fuel oil in the international market, the government has decided to reduce the production and supply of electricity.
Not just Bangladesh, but other countries have used a similar technique. The majority of nations throughout the world, as previously said, have taken this decision into practice.
However, the opposition parties have been pushing people to join the anti-government movement by painting the government's plan to hike oil prices and impose austerity measures on electricity production and supply as adverse decisions. In the previous 13 and a half years, they have not been able to show the public any hope of such a shift. Because the people didn't trust them, they failed to mobilise them by calling for many movements.
The Awami League and government must be aware of the anti-government demonstrations that have erupted owing to conspiracy over the country's impending elections.
I believe Bangabandhu, during his lifetime, sacrificed his life trying to put a smile on the face of the people of Bangladesh. Therefore, he always took the appropriate decisions when they needed to be taken. In the same way, honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been able to take Bangladesh to this state today after going through many ups and downs.
Due to her prudent and visionary leadership, Bangladesh has become a role model for development from a bottomless basket. Due to the Honorable Prime Minister's foresight, Bangladesh's health sector and economy were in good condition even though the economy and health of major countries of the world were greatly affected due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for more than two years. Bangladesh has become the world's role model in providing corona vaccination. More than 75 per cent of the people in the country have received the necessary vaccinations for Corona, so the infection rate has remained under control in the country.
To maintain the continuity of development in all these fields, the Awami League under Shaikh Hasina must come to power in the next
However, to come to power, just as the government has to take strategic decisions, the same way, Awami League has to forget all differences and organise itself and inspire the people to trust them. A leadership crisis within the party and disunity in the party may dampen Awami League's achievements in the days to come. I believe Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina observes all matters holistically and will decide when it needs to be determined.
The writer is a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.