Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called upon the countrymen to produce more food to tackle any challenge as the world community is apprehending a deep crisis next year.
"Food production has to be increased. It is now inevitable and the issue is of utmost importance to us," she said.
The premier was speaking at the beginning of the meeting of the executive committee of the national economic council (ECNEC) held at the NEC Conference Room in city's Sher-E-Bangla Nagar. She joined the meeting virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Referring to her recent visit to the United Kingdom and the United States, she said that she talked with the world leaders and representatives formally and informally, especially at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.
The premier said she talked with the heads of state, heads of government and head of different organisations as they all apprehended that there might be a grave famine in 2023 while the economic recession will deepen and food crisis will appear. Sheikh Hasina said many countries are discussing the issue in the world. "So, we have to increase food production and make arrangement of preserving food as well as process the food taking it into consideration," she said.
She added the land of Bangladesh is very much fertile and something or other is produced where a seed is sown and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman used to say that.
"Following in the footsteps of the Bangabandhu we have to concentrate on producing food massively and we have to make arrangement to preserve the food," she said.
The prime minister also urged the people to exercise austerity in every sector. "We should not increase any unnecessary expense, rather we should be more economical and aware of using power, energy, water, gas etc."
She requested each family of the country to do savings whatever they can.
"It is also applicable for the government," she said.
The prime minister said the government will not go for any unnecessary use of anything.
"We will just use whatever we need, not more than that. We do not have any scope for that. Because, I saw anxiety among the world leaders and heads of organisation. So, we have to maintain enough cautionary steps," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the country will have to be taken forward facing all odds, and the government will do that as long as people are with them.
"They (people) are the biggest power for us. We do not have any tension as long as people are with us. We have to encourage the people and utilise them as we did while facing the coronavirus pandemic," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the planning commission not to spend their valuable time to discuss every moment regarding the inflation.
"Because, many countries in the world do not discuss this issue. The USA and European countries, which shows pretty much interest regarding inflation, also do not discuss the issue too much," she said.
She also said that these countries do not discuss the impact of inflation very much.
"We also do not need to do extensive discussion regarding the matter, but efforts should be carried out to put prices of essentials within the reach of the common man. We will do whatever needed for that," she added.
In this connection, she said that before taking any project, all must think about the maximum profit of the people of the country and what achievement will come from that project.
Sheikh Hasina said, "There is no need to take a project unnecessarily when the fund is available. We have to take project after scrutinising that very carefully so we could get some return from that project. We will take that type of project."
She said that there is no need of taking a project which will not be beneficial for the country.
"I did not take any project like that. We were always cautious regarding that matter. We have to remain cautious in the future," she said.
She said that the government always has responsibility to the people. "We can feel it and we work for that," she also said.
The prime minister put emphasis on completing the projects as quickly as possible.
She added: "If we complete the projects, we will be able to get benefits from those projects and economy of the country will get positive impact of that. We have to sort out those beneficial projects and implement those quickly."
She also asked all ministries to sort out the projects which can be done little bit slowly.
Sheikh Hasina said that it is not possible to develop any country without continuation of democratic process.
She said: "For 21 years, the power was not in the hands of the people. Power was directly or indirectly inside the cantonment. The country was run by military ordinances neglecting the Constitution.”
She noted that there was farce in the name of democracy and festival of vote rigging in the name of election. "We witnessed those. As a result, Bangladesh could not advance," she added.
She said that coming to power in 2008, the government has been able to make Bangladesh recognized as the developing country.
"We had been able to attain this success due to the unhindered continuation of the democracy in Bangladesh," she added.
She noted that no country can make development without continuous democratic process
Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to strengthen the market monitoring system to control inflation especially the uptrend of price of essentials in the country.
The premier gave the directive while chairing a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
Ministers, state ministers, planning commission members and secretaries concerned attended the meeting from the NEC conference room in the city's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the Prime Minister had directed the authorities concerned to strengthen the market monitoring system to control the price of commodities in the country in the wake of global economic context.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam, Planning Commission members and secretaries concerned were present at the briefing.
"Market can be controlled through executive steps and policy steps while we've also undertaken some steps like withdrawing VAT on some essential items alongside reducing the import duty. The concerned government officials are talking with the businessmen on regular basis. Besides, drives are also being conducted when necessary."
The Planning Minister informed that some one crore families are being provided with food stuffs at less price benefitting some four crore people. Due to such steps, the price of essential items like rice and edible oil has reduced.
Revealing the monthly consumer price index, Mannan informed that the general point to point inflation in August stood at 9.52 percentage point which later came down at 9.10 percentage point in September.
Expressing his high hope of yielding a good harvest of T Aman, he said that the overall trend of inflation is on the declining trend and it would further come down in the coming days.
Explaining the reasons behind the high inflation trend, the Planning Minister said that the global economy especially the global market system has been devastated due to the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
"So, the whole of the world is now suffering from high commodity price which has also affected us. High inflation is a bad thing and it is not possible on our part alone to tackle inflation," he added.
Mannan said when the price of any commodity increases in international market, then obviously the price increases in the local market due to high import cost and freight cost. "We also had to purchase oil and gas at a higher rate. But, despite this, our inflation controlling system and monitoring system is strong enough."
He opined that Bangladesh is still now in a better position compared to other countries of the world in terms of tackling inflation as it is now hovering over 10 percent in the UK while around 10 percent at the United States.
State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that the general point to point food inflation in India was around 10 percent and compared to that Bangladesh was in a better position.
Highlighting some of the directives of the Prime Minister in the ECNEC meeting, the Planning Minister said that the Prime Minister has urged the countrymen to build the mindset of savings apprehending that the global economic situation could be worsened further in the next year.
Besides, the premier also directed the planning commission to remain cautious in case of project selection and scrutiny.
In this regard, the Prime Minister suggested for taking those projects which could yield better outcomes in short period as well as undertaking those projects which would have high necessity and would be beneficial for people.
Mannan informed that the ECNEC congratulated the Prime Minister due to her recent successful tours to the UK and the USA.
He said that the Prime Minister during the recent general assembly of the United Nations raised strong voices in favour of peace and against war which has further brightened the image of the premier in the global arena.
The ECNEC also congratulated the Prime Minister for stepping into 76 years recently.