Making accounts of gains and losses, we have moved forward into another year with renewed pledges and vigour under the visionary leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The year 2019 marks various significant achievements of the present government. On January 7, 2019, the cabinet embarked on with the aspirations and expectations of fulfilling the pledges given in the Awami League election manifesto. No doubt, a competent cabinet helped the premier fulfil the promises given to the people but also it helped her to translate her words into action with greater determination.
Throughout the year, Sheikh Hasina’s administration recklessly endeavoured towards fulfilling its election manifesto and so far, it has been successful to sow the seeds of optimism amidst general people about pushing the country one-step ahead in the global development index. The government formed the cabinet incorporating a number of new and young faces. It needs no emphasizing that such a blend of experienced and young personnel has created a balance of power in her administration. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has almost handpicked the ministers to assist her in the arduous task of nation building. Uplift of the vast number of less-served people of the country was at the top of PM’s priority list, and it is quite satisfying to note that judicious efforts on the part of the government has successfully alleviated mass scale poverty over the last years.
Reportedly, poverty rate in Bangladesh came down to 20.5 per cent in the fiscal 2018-19. It is worth mentioning that the present government has successfully reduced the country’s poverty rate by 50 percent in the last ten years. However, last year, the government of Sheikh Hasina drew world attention by ordering the law enforcing agencies to conduct raids on various sporting clubs where illegal casinos were being operated by people close to the ruling party. As one after another empire started to fall, and names of party people started to surface, the PM ordered for more action to flush out everyone involved in the illegal business. She ordered not to check the identity of the people involved in this business. Sheikh Hasina had earlier announced her policy of ‘Zero Tolerance’ to corruption, and the raids on the dens of the millionaire casino operators was seen by the critics as the translation of her words into action.
The sheer efforts on the part of the Sheikh Hasina’s administration has made Bangladesh a “Role Model of Development,” among the developing countries. Now Bangladesh is ahead in many development indicators compared with many other South East Asian countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina started the New Year - 2020 with fresh vigour putting forth her best performance ever with having no file pending at her office. The fact that the premier has disposed all the pending files is a testament to the sheer efforts she made for the welfare of the people, reinforcement of democracy and development of the country.
Last year also marks the best ever performance of her administration as it achieved various milestones throughout the year dealing with numerous challenging tasks. Giving top priority to the seven mega projects, her government not only embarked on to develop the country to the next level but also it has successfully spurred hope and aspiration amid general people for a better tomorrow.
In the last fiscal, the government has allocated Tk 40,000 crore to implement the mega projects to strengthen the country’s communication network, and to develop the power and energy sector to boost the economy. Under the visionary leadership of Sheikh Hasina, who has been serving as the prime minister for the fourth time, the government has completed almost 84 per cent of work of the countries much hyped Padma Multipurpose Bridge.
The work of constructing Metrorail to solve the traffic congestion problem of Dhaka is also progressing quickly. We are now assessing whether it will be possible to construct underground rail. The elevated expressway from the airport to Kutubkhali is going on in full swing as well. The first ever tunnel in the country is being constructed under the Chattogram Karnaphuli river.
After developing the Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Mymensingh, Dhaka-Chandra highways into four-lanes, we are now working to convert the Chandra-Bangabandhu Setu East station, Bangabandhu Setu West Station-Rangpur and Dhaka-Sylhet highways into four-lanes as well. The rail transportation in our country has entered a new age with the construction of new rail tracks, addition of new coaches and engines, introduction of e-ticketing and new trains. Since 2009, 401 kilometers of rail tracks have been constructed. 122 new trains have been introduced. We are hoping that trains will travel over the Padma Bridge from the day of its inauguration.
The government has successfully integrating the construction work of the country’s first 2400 megawatt-capacity nuclear power plant at Rooppur is another milestone. Also under strict monitoring to meet deadlines, the construction work of the left four megaprojects are going on in full swing. It is envisaged that once these megaprojects are completed, drastic changes will occupy the country communication, transport, and infrastructure and power sector. Apart from the megaprojects, certainly there are numerous achievements to justify the credentials of the government and its efforts.
Last year the government has taken a massive initiative to construct 3,54,000 kilometres of new roads in 482 upazilas of 64 districts. Bangladesh has achieved remarkable success in gender parity in school enrolment with more girls in school than boys. The present government has successfully reduced the country’s poverty rate by 50 percent in the last ten years. According to global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), Bangladesh is among 10 countries with a combined population of 2 billion to have made statistically significant progress towards achieving SDG 1.
The visionary leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned Bangladesh into a lucrative destination for foreign investors over the last years. The government is providing continued support for increasing FDI inflow and has already completed standard operation measures for providing smooth services to attract more foreign investors. Considering the country’s prevailing investment-friendly atmosphere and overall development, foreign companies have continued showing their zeal to invest here.
As a part of ‘Vision 2021’ the government is working to provide power to every corner of the country. The country’s power sector has recently achieved a milestone by providing electricity to Sandwip through submarine cable. Where the grid power is not reachable, the electricity is being provided through the solar mini grid. The Power Division hopes every person of the country will be covered under the power facilities within the next couple of years.
Over the past years, the government has been working relentlessly to reach broadband internet in every corner of the country. Already, the government has successfully connected 2400 unions with high-speed internet connectivity through optical fiber. Earlier in last year, providing internet services to remote Moheshkhali, the government declared the island as the country’s first digital island. It is indeed a path-breaking example of the ways in which Bangladesh is bringing 21st-century services and dreams to its citizens.
Under the incumbent government, remittance inflow to the country is touching new heights every passing year notwithstanding multifarious limitations and challenges. As reported by this daily on Monday the country’s remittance inflow has made a new record standing at $18.34 billion at the end of 2019, which is 27 percent higher than that of the previous year.
With the integration of ‘Community Clinic Health Assistance Trust Act’, millions of people are now getting services from the community clinics whereas just a decade ago healthcare facilities in the rural areas were very poor. In April last year, World Health Organisation placed Bangladesh as the top primary healthcare provider among South and South East Asian (SEA) nations, and the country’s community clinics are responsible for this success.
Besides, works of another electoral pledge ‘Amar Gram Amar Sahor’ are also going on to reach urban amenities to the rural areas. Efforts are underway to reach the outcome of development in road and railway connectivity, power and energy, information and communication technology (ICT) in remote areas.
Bangladesh is now globally regarded as a ‘Role Model’ in curbing terrorism and extremism. Ideal investment-friendly environment has been created. After the tragic incident at Holey Artisan two years back, foreigners including Japanese were afraid to come to Bangladesh. But, seeing the way we crushed militants and terrorism in the following months they started to come and do business with us.
In last year, Hasina’s administration took tougher actions against all corrupt elements irrespective of political identity. However, while much progress has been made over the last years to address corruption, we still have a lot to learn from the past to fight corruption effectively. Political corruption has long been a serious impediment to Bangladesh’s development. To ensure a more fair and trustworthy government, our politicians must act more ethically. The one thing that needs to be ensured is proper, impartial, and unbiased use of various anti-social regulations to take strong, deterrent, and timely legal action against the offenders, irrespective of their political influences or money power.
The nation last year was traumatized on a number of occasions as road and train accidents took many lives. The reckless driving by bus and truck drivers and carelessness of train drivers were behind the accidents. And despite some cases of homicide, law and order remained fairly under control of the law enforcers. In almost all the cases of major crimes, law enforcers could successfully apprehend the perpetrators. Then again, outbreak of dengue fever largely throughout the capital city and resulting deaths of over 100 people became a cause of concern for the government..
It is felt by political observers that more discipline is required to control violence on the campuses of public universities. The tragic death of a student from beating by fellow students inside a BUET dormitory came as a big shock to the countrymen. However, because of prompt action taken by the law enforcing members, it was possible to arrest all the perpetrators and put them in the jail.
Considering all above, it can be said that despite facing various challenges, the government has been successful to translate its words into action. With vicissitudes and with renewed hopes and aspirations, we now look forward to even a better year under the leadership of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.