BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday said that Bangladesh is going through “a very alarming economic situation” amid the growing inflation rate and devaluation of the taka against the US dollar.
Speaking at a press conference the opposition leader voiced deep concern that Bangladesh may face the same consequences like Sri Lanka in the near future and suggested the government drop what it said expensive and glamorous mega projects.
He mentioned the glamorous projects such as Dhaka-Chittagong-Cox's-Bazar bullet train, the second nuclear power project, 110-storey Bangabandhu multi-storey building complex in Purbachal, Bangabandhu International Airport at Shariatpur, Paturia-Daulatdia Second Padma Bridge, Noakhali Airport, the second Bangabandhu Satellite Launch Project and shifting the capital outside Dhaka.
“These projects should be thrown away from the head (of the govt) without delay. Otherwise, there will be no alternative to facing the same fate of Sri Lanka.”
Fakhrul also questioned the justification of the implementation of some mega projects, including Rooppur nuclear power, construction of railways from Dhaka to Jessore and Payra port via Padma Bridge and railways from Chattogram to Cox's Bazar and Ghumdhum via Dohazari.
He said the country’s prominent economists have already identified these projects as white-elephant ones that will only make the public debt burden heavier.
“The country has been made dependent on foreign loans by siphoning off money through mega projects,” the BNP leader observed.
The press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office was arranged to inform the media about the outcomes of the BNP standing committee’s virtual meeting that was held on Monday.
“Bangladesh’s present economic condition I think is very alarming. It’s also an ominous sign. We fear that Bangladesh may fall in danger like Sri Lanka in the near future. Our apprehension can be said realistic,” Fakhrul said.
He also said the main goal of the current regime is to make money by indulging in wide spared plundering. “The economy will rebound only when a representative government with accountability to people will be established.”
Replying to a question, the BNP leader said their party’s process of forging unity with the opposition parties is now at the final stage. “You’ll know everything, including our movement plan, when we’ll openly come up with the announcement of the unity process.”
Fakhrul said their standing committee meeting discussed elaborately the foreign currency reserves. “The macro-economy of the country has been under the most pressure now in comparison to the last 13-14 years. A kind of instability and uncertainty has been created in the economy of Bangladesh”
Especially, he said the meeting observed that the balance of foreign transactions is facing major problems due to rising import costs, declining exports and remittance income. ”The prices of commodities are becoming unbearable for various reasons, including the rise in the value of the US dollar against taka. It seems that the situation will get worse in the coming days.”
The BNP leader said their party policymakers also think there is no reason to be complacent about reserves as it is rapidly declining. “In the last eight months, the reserves have dropped from USD48 billion to USD42 billion. It will drop by another USD4 billion in the next two months.”
“Thus, if imports continue to increase in comparison to exports and the gap cannot be filled by remittances, then the reserves of Bangladesh Bank will run out very soon.”
“The current situation in Sri Lanka is the worst example of the dire consequences of the depletion of the reserves,” the BNP standing committee warned.
Fakhrul said their meeting observed that it will be possible to meet the import cost of only five months with the existing reserves available in Bangladesh. "Our import expenditure has increased by about 44 percent. The way the import rate has grown, the same way the export rate has not increased. On the other hand, the expatriates' income has also decreased. As a result, a deficit is being created every month. ”
He said BNP standing committee thinks that the current ‘irresponsible’ and ‘illegitimate’ government is responsible for the current horrific economic anarchy and instability.
The BNP leader said there is no alternative to dislodging the Awami League government through a united and fierce street movement to save the country, its people and to protect independence and sovereignty.
Stating that the price of the US dollar has crossed Tk100, Fakhrul said it will have a negative impact on international trade and inflation. “The government is talking about 6.22 percent inflation. But this is not at all consistent with reality. Inflation is higher in villages than in cities. The food inflation is higher than non-food products.”
According to economists, the BNP leader said the current inflation rate is 12 percent while the value of the taka is also declining as the reserves have reached a dangerous level.
“The price of everything is going up, leaving the buyers in a miserable situation. Besides, the prices of essential commodities, especially palm and soybean oil, have already gone up alarmingly due to the foul play of the ruling-party-backed syndicates. The price of rice has also increased in the last three days at this full time of harvesting season.”