Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the country's economy will witness a complete overhaul once the mega projects are completed.
"The Padma Bridge is being constructed with our own finance and no loan was taken. We’ve taken the remaining mega projects through conducting economic surveys by local and foreign experts. Many mega projects are being implemented not only on the basis of loan, but also through foreign partnerships," she said, addressing the nation on Wednesday evening on the eve of Pohela Boishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year.
In her about 13-minute address, broadcast by the state-run BTV and Betar as well as other private media outlets, the premier said that her government has taken local and foreign loans to implement the projects.
"But, we keep vigilant eyes so that the loans don't become burden," she said and added that many people spread misleading information about the mega projects.
The Prime Minister said the main target of her government is to bring dynamism in the economic activities, generate employment, scale up assets and make the livelihood of people comfortable through infrastructure development.
Mentioning that the “Years 2022 and 2023” will be milestone years for Bangladesh in terms of infrastructure development, she said the much cherished Padma Bridge is going to be opened in a few months, which is expected to contribute 1.2 percent to GDP.
By the end of this year, Metrorail will be launched in a 14 km section from Uttara to Agargaon, she said, adding that “it is hoped that Metrorail will bring about a revolutionary change in the transport system of the Capital Dhaka”.
She continued that the country's first tunnel under the river Karnaphuli will be opened in Chattogram next October, while the first unit of the 1,200-megawatt Rooppur nuclear power plant, the largest development project in the country's history involving Taka 1.13 lakh crore, is expected to be commissioned by the end of the next year.
She went on saying that last month, a state-of-the-art 1,320-megawatt power plant at Payra was inaugurated ahead of schedule.
"Work on the remaining other mega projects is advancing fast," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh's economy is standing on a solid foundation over the last 13 years which becomes evident when the composite indicators of the economy are considered.
In 2009, the size of GDP was only US$ 102 billion, but it increased to $ 416 billion in 2021, while per capita income rose to $ 2,591 from $ 702, she added.
The premier said these achievements have been possible due to far-reaching political thinking and the adoption and implementation of far-sighted economic programmes.
“Today, Bangladesh has emerged as a ‘role model' of development as a result of governing the country through people's participation upholding the democratic trend,” she noted.
Sheikh Hasina said she thought that it is the responsibility of the government to work for the development of the country. “We are proud to be able to contribute to the realization of the dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to build a happy and prosperous Sonar (Golden) Bangla.”
She reiterated her vow, saying: “As long as I live and Almighty Allah allows me to work, I will continue to work for the people.”
The Prime Minister called upon all, at the advent of the Bangla New Year-1429, to build a happy-prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’ being imbued with the spirit of Bengali nationalism and secularism.
"Let's build Bangladesh as a developed-prosperous Sonar Bangla being inspired by mutual good relation and brotherhood, where there will be no discrimination, no differences between human beings and religions," she said.
The Prime Minister ended her address wishing all good health and urged all to enjoy the Bangla New Year maintaining health safety protocols.
The head of government said due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to organise the programmes of Pohela Boishakh in open places allowing public gatherings in the last two years.
Currently, the outbreak of coronavirus has decreased and that is why, the events will be organized outdoors, she added.
Cautioning that the Covid-19 was not completely eradicated, she said the pandemic can spread to any country any time with new variation and so “I urge everyone to join these events maintaining the health safety protocols”.
The premier said that her government is ready to deal with any situation. “About 90 percent of eligible people have already been vaccinated. The mass inoculation is also running. The booster dose is now being given after the second dose.”
She said this pandemic has affected the economy not only in Bangladesh but also in the whole world which has a negative impact on people's lives.
Mentioning that the government is doing its best to recover from the impact of pandemic, she said so far they’ve announced incentive packages of Taka 187,679 crore through 28 packages, which have benefited about 6.74 crore people alongside the beneficiaries of 1.18 lakh organizations.
Sheikh Hasina said the commodity prices in the world market became unstable due the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, and the aftermath of this war.
Referring to the abnormal price spiral of fuel alongside sharp rise of fares internationally, she said, the prices of some products have also gone up in the country as a result of it.
“But, we are not sitting idle. We are trying our best to bring relief to the lives of the common man,” she said.
In this connection, she mentioned that arrangements were there to provide some essential commodities at affordable prices with subsidy to about 1 crore families through TCB during the current holy month of Ramadan.
Besides, arrangements have also been made to sell meat, eggs and milk at affordable prices in 15 freezer vans every day through the department of livestock in the capital, which has already pulled down the prices of many essential commodities, she said.
In addition, the government has given special allocation of more than 1 lakh 330 metric tonnes of rice against 1,00,33,054 VGF cards on the occasion of upcoming Eid, she added.
But, some media outlets are campaigning as if there is a famine in the country, she observed.
She said, “I strongly want to inform you (countrymen) that there is no shortage of any commodity, including rice in the country.”
She continued: “Its normal - people will flock at TCB's stores to buy affordable products. What could be the reason for highlighting it negatively?”
In fiscal 2020-2021, she said, the country’s GDP growth increased to 6.94 percent while record breaking remittance amounting US$ 24.77 billion was received in the last fiscal, which is expected to continue in this year also.
Referring to the export earnings of $ 44.22 billion in the last fiscal, she said that the amount has already reached $ 38.61 billion with a 33 percent hike in the first nine months compared to the same period of last fiscal.
She hoped, “If this trend continues, export earnings would rise to record breaking new height, InshaAllah.”
Sheikh Hasina said agriculture is the main strength of the economy and the country is now self-sufficient in the production of rice, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs and milk due to the government's agriculture-friendly policy.
“If there is no natural calamity, bumper production is expected in the current Boro season,” she said.