Dhaka, Dec 19 (UNB) - Bangladesh's strong economic growth will not just continue, but accelerate, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"In the next five years, we expect annual growth to exceed 9 percent and, we hope, get us to 10 percent by 2021," she told the Nikkei Asian Review in an exclusive interview in December.
Nikkei Asian Review published an article on Bangladesh’s booming economy titled ‘The rise and rise of Bangladesh; The economy is booming. Does Sheikh Hasina deserve the credit?’ interviewing Hasina, experts and top officials of RMF, pharmaceuticals and IT sectors.
Nikkei Asian Review is an Asia-focused English-language publication that brings insights about business, finance, economic and political news, comments and analysis for Asia.
"Exiting LDC status gives us some kind of strength and confidence, which is very important, not only for political leaders but also for the people," Hasina said in the interview.
"When you’re in a low category, naturally when you discuss terms of projects and programmes, you must depend on others' mercy. But once you’ve graduated, you don't have to depend on anyone because you’ve your own rights," said Hasina.
"I always shoot for a higher rate," she laughed. "Why should I predict lower?"
Hasina said the government is taking a more proactive role in the financing alongside international partners such as China, Japan and international financial institutions.
"We’ve undertaken [steps] to establish our own sovereign wealth fund, worth $10 billion, to bankroll long-term physical infrastructure development. This is possible because our foreign exchange reserves stand at more than $32 billion now, from $7.5 billion 10 years ago," she told the interviewer.
The article said on many fronts, Bangladesh's economic performance has indeed exceeded even government targets. With a national strategy focused on manufacturing -- dominated by the garment industry -- the country has seen exports soar by an average annual rate of 15-17 percent in recent years to reach a record $36.7 billion in the year through June.
While some may question so much investment from Beijing, Hasina said it is simply a fact that China is set to play a bigger role in the region.
"Our foreign policy is very clear: friendly relations with everyone," she said. "What China and U.S. are doing, it is between them."
Bogura, Dec (UNB) – Claiming that the ‘Boat’ has now turned into a symbol of ‘misrule’ while the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ that of democracy, Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna on Wednesday said people’s fight for ‘restoring’ democracy in the country will continue.
“Bangabandhu’s Awami League and present Awami League is not the same. The ‘Boat’ has now turned into a symbol of ‘misrule. The ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ is the symbol of democracy,” he said while addressing a press conference at Bogura Press Club.
Manna, who is contesting the upcoming general election from Bogura-2 constituency with BNP’s electoral symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ as a Jatiya Oikyafront candidate, alleged that the government is conspiring to snatch the ‘certain victory’ of their symbol.
“They (govt) want to ensure their victory declaring at least 50 candidates of the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ ineligible using the judiciary. They’ve already done this to several parliamentary seats. Through this, they want to ensure their victory in 50 seats before the election,” he said.
The Nagorik Oikya chief, however, said polling centres cannot be captured through intimidation. “We’re in the field and will remain there till December 30,” he said.
Claiming that a mass wave in favour of the ‘Sheaf of Paddy has been created in Shibganj like other parts of the country’, he alleged that the ruling party men are now filing ‘false’ cases against his supporters.
Manna alleged that two of his election offices were vandalised in Bhayerpukur and Mokamtala while a ‘false’ case was filed against his 34 supporters, including chief election agent Mir Shahe Alam. “However, no action was taken even after complaints were lodged in this regard.”
District BNP Joint Secretary MR Islam Swadhin and former Shibganj municipality Mayor Matiar Rahman were, among others, present at the press conference.
Dhaka, Dec 19 (UNB) - US Ambassador Earl R Miller on Wednesday said increased economic engagement with Bangladesh will be one of their top priorities in the coming years and termed Bangladesh a significant market for them having 170 million people.
“I hope to see more American companies engaging in Bangladesh and more Bangladeshi companies engaging in the United States,” he said while sharing his priority areas during his tenure in Bangladesh.
The US envoy was talking to reporters after the regular luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at a city hotel. AmCham president Nurul Islam moderated the event.
Ambassador Miller said the US companies and US businesses are doing well in Bangladesh. “We can do so much better. So, I look to work with the people of Bangladesh and the government of Bangladesh to bring in more trade delegations, more trade missions and more CEOs.”
“I’m very encouraged by the first meeting I had with the quality of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh with the quality of the American companies those already here. I want to double this number and triple this number,” Miller said adding two more words – ‘Joy Bangla’.
Earlier, the US envoy said he is proud that the US is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh. The value of two-way trade is more than $7.47 billion in a year and the balance of trade is heavily tilted towards Bangladesh which was more than $6billion last year in favour of Bangladesh.
The trade is projected to be even higher between the two countries in the future as US export to Bangladesh increased 100 percent year-on-year in 2017.
“I intend to make US business one of mission’s top priorities,” the Ambassador said adding that he will work here to remove unnecessary or arbitrary regulations, cumbersome customs procedures and corruption that affect the economic growth of Bangladesh.
The US envoy said Bangladesh has been making a great strive to strengthen the workplace safety with the help of Accord and Alliance, but needs to do more, especially in the area of labour rights.
Dhaka, Dec 19 (UNB) - A delegation of Jatiya Oikyafront, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, shared its worries and observations over the upcoming national election with foreign diplomats on Wednesday.
The diplomats, representing nearly two dozens of foreign missions stationed in Dhaka, including the USA, Australia, Germany, India, China, Japan and Pakistan joined a views-exchange meeting with the Oikyafront leaders in the city.
The national election is scheduled to be held on December 30.
At the meeting, Dr Kamal Hossain, on behalf of Oikyafront, briefed the foreign envoys about the pre-polls violence and their concerns over fair balloting.
BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, its special secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon, executive committee member Tabith Awal, Gano Forum Executive President Subrata Chowdhury and Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury were, among others, present.
Contacted, Subrata Chowdhury said they discussed the overall election atmosphere in the country. “We informed the diplomats about the incidents of attacks on our candidates, their supporters during the electioneering across the country.”
He said they also talked about the arrest of their leaders and activists and some candidates in ‘false’ cases. “We told the diplomats that our leaders and activists are unable to stay in their areas and homes due to harassment and intimidation by police and ruling party men.”
The Gono Forum leader said they also talked about the ‘biased role’ of the police and the Election Commission. ”Police are raiding the houses of our leaders and activists and intimidating voters, but the Election Commission is not taking any step to ensure a congenial election atmosphere and a level-playing field.”
He said they also voiced their apprehension that the country might head towards ‘bloodshed’ on December 30 due to the government and the Election Commission’s ‘insincerity’ to create a peaceful atmosphere in the country.
Tangail, Dec 19 (UNB) – Former Awami League minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui, who fell sick while continuing fast unto death protesting an attack on his motorcade during electioneering, was sent to Dhaka for treatment Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the morning, he was admitted to Tangail General Hospital as he fell sick at one stage of hunger strike.
Supervisor Dr Narayan Chandra Shah of Tangail General Hospital said as his condition deteriorated they suggested to take him to a Dhaka hospital for better treatment.
Latif Siddiqui was sent to Dhaka with police protection, said Sayedur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Tangail Model Police Station.
Demanding the withdrawal of the officer-in-charge of Kalihati Police Station and immediate arrest of those attacked his motorcade, the expelled AL leader, who is contesting the election as an independent candidate from Tangail-4 (Kalihati) constituency, went on hunger strike on December 16.
He fell sick on Tuesday night while continuing his demonstration in front of the office of the Returning Officer and Deputy Commissioner of Tangail Shahidul Islam for the second consecutive day, braving cold and rain.
Lati fSiddiqui came under attack allegedly by the supporters of a local MP-backed union parishad chairman at Soratail in Kalihati upazila that left 20 people injured.