Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday categorically said that the government is doing everything necessary to lessen the sufferings of the people in the current economic situation.
“The government will do whatever is needed to lessen the sufferings of the people. The Awami League government is doing that,” she said.
The PM said this while participating in a general discussion on a proposal brought by opposition Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu.
Chunnu placed the proposal titled--"Parliament is of the opinion that short and long term sustainable measures taken by the government to deal with the problems of Covid-19, global unrest, Ukraine-Russia war, climate change, natural disasters, energy crisis, rising commodity prices should be informed to the nation through discussion in parliament.”
The Prime Minister briefly described numerous initiatives of the government to tackle the situation due to the years lost dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, followed by the Russia-Ukraine war, saying that the government is taking every step to make sure the country does not end up facing food scarcity.
She also reiterated her call to utilise every inch of land possible to produce food items.
In this regard she said that due to the high prices of import items, import expenditure was inflated by an additional USD 9 billion in the last fiscal (2021-22).
“The steps we have taken are to face the economic crisis across the globe, we are analysing the situation extensively and regularly,” she said.
In this connection, she mentioned that the government is not relying on the analysis of the researchers. "Rather we are analysing by ourselves and considering the situation of the people, we take steps as per that direction."
Sheikh Hasina said that export incentives will be widened for the export oriented items to increase and diversify exports.
She regretted that a section of people is always there who wish to make extra profits by exploiting even bad times for the general public.
She mentioned that due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the cycle of sanctions and counter-sanctions the whole world has fallen into trouble.
In this regard she mentioned that developed countries have already started austerity measures to reduce their consumption of energy and other related items.
“Welfare of the people is what matters most to us, if people are in pain it gives me pain also,” she said.
She sought cooperation from all and urged all to refrain from confusing people through misinformation.
Earlier, Opposition Jatiya Party and BNP MPs in parliament blasted the government for its utter failure to arrest price hike of essentials, increasing the price of fuel, widespread corruption, and laundering of thousands of crores of taka.
Participating in the discussion, the opposition MPs blamed the government's wrong policies, mismanagement, corruption and inefficiency in every sector behind what they painted as 'the sorry state of the country'.
They said there is no accountability anywhere in the government.
Treasury bench lawmakers, however, said the current situation of the country, including the price hike of essentials, was the consequence by the global crisis.
Read: PM rules out Sri Lanka-like crisis in Bangladesh
MPs belong to the Awami League-led 14-party alliance including Workers Party and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal remained cautious while criticizing the government.
While placing the proposal, Mujibul Huq Chunnu said the prices of diesel, octane and petrol have been increased by 41 to 51 percent at one go. Such increase of fuel price was not seen since independence. Due to this, the prices of all goods have increased. The prices of all products that have nothing to do with oil and Ukraine-Russia war, have been increased due to widespread corruption and syndicate of dishonest businessmen. The government has failed to control them.
Chunnu at the time said, people are really in a very bad condition due to the increase of commodity prices. Middle class, lower middle class and poor people get singed by fire when they go to the market.
Chunnu blasted the government for implementing a wrong policy in power production.
“The government is paying thousands of crores of taka to different captive power plants keeping them idle. Without constructing the transmission lines, the government is producing power wasting huge amounts of public money,” he added.
JP MP Kazi Firoz Rashid said widespread corruption, looting and money laundering of thousands of crores of taka, syndicates of corrupt businessmen are responsible for the present sorry state of the country.
Pointing to the treasury bench MPs, Firoz Rashid said, “When we say that massive corruption, looting money, money laundering and business syndicate, you cannot tolerate those words and react sharply as many of the ruling party men are involved in it.”
Coming down heavily on the government, the JP MP said, demanded to form a parliamentary commission headed by the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to investigate into the reasons behind the present bad situation of the country.
Another JP party MP Shameem Haider Patwari said the government has made many mistakes. Now is the time to admit mistakes. So that this mistake is not repeated in the future.
He said the government will have to pay a huge amount of money as capacity charge in the Rooppur Power plant.
Also the Rampal project has no transmission line but capacity charge has to be paid.
He also said Tk 500 crore was spent on feasibility study of bullet train and subway, Tk 600 crore loan was taken for VAT automation project but it was not implemented. We have launched satellites. But how much money will come from there?
BNP MP Rumeen Farhana said, “The government was saying that the country is moving on the highway of development and going to become a developed nation like Singapore. But suddenly we saw that the country is going to become like Sri Lanka.”
“When a party is in power without the support of the people, they have to create some oligarchs. Policies have to be formulated in their interest. The same has happened in Bangladesh. Banks have been emptied in favor of some oligarchs.
It is becoming clear in the electricity sector that electricity has been purchased from some companies in the past few years by spending huge amounts of money through indemnity. More than 90 thousand crore taka have been handed over to them for capacity charges.”
Rumeen said, government development means some projects at unimaginable cost. The Hindustan Times reports that the Rooppur power plant in Bangladesh costs five times the cost of a similar power plant of the same capacity in Tamil Nadu, India. In all the projects in the country, the same amount has been looted.
JSD President Hasanul Haque Inu apologized on behalf of himself and the government to the countrymen due to people’s suffering due to price hike of essentials.
Strongly criticizing the recent controversial remarks by a number of ministers, Inu said the PM is expressing sympathy for the people’s sufferings. On the other hand, some ministers are mocking people instead of sympathizing with them. He called it 'shocking and unfortunate'.
He blasted the government for the syndicates' power over markets, chaos in the transport sector, mismanagement in the dollar market and lack of coordination in the administration.
Awami League MP Tofail Ahmed said that the reality does not match the words of BNP MPs. Inflation is now at its highest level in 25 years in Europe. Inflation has been as high as 23 percent in some countries. In that situation, Bangladesh's position in South Asia is very strong.
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said they will not deny that the prices of some essentials have increased and some unrest is prevailing in the market.
However, he said that although people are suffering, there is no famine in the country.
Another AL MP, Farooq Khan said that the price of commodities have increased due to increase of fuel in the world market. Inflation is high in many countries.
Around 23 MPs participated in the almost 5-and-half hour long discussion.