Yao Ruyan paced frantically outside the fever clinic of a county hospital in China’s industrial Hebei province, 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Beijing. Her mother-in-law had COVID-19 and needed urgent medical care, but all hospitals nearby were full. “They say there’s no beds here,” she barked into her phone. As China grapples with its first-ever national COVID-19 wave, emergency wards in small cities and towns southwest of Beijing are overwhelmed. Emergency rooms are turning away ambulances, relatives of sick people are searching for open beds, and patients are slumped on benches in hospital corridors and lying on floors for a lack of beds. Yao’s elderly mother-in-law had fallen ill a week ago with the coronavirus. They went first to a local hospital, where lung scans showed signs of pneumonia. But the hospital couldn’t handle serious COVID-19 cases, Yao was told. She was told to go to larger hospitals in adjacent counties. As Yao and her husband drove from hospital to hospital, they found all the wards were full. Zhuozhou Hospital, an hour’s drive from Yao’s hometown, was the latest disappointment. Yao charged toward the check-in counter, past wheelchairs frantically moving elderly patients. Yet again, she was told the hospital was full, and that she would have to wait. “I’m furious,” Yao said, tearing up, as she clutched the lung scans from the local hospital. “I don’t have much hope. We’ve been out for a long time and I’m terrified because she’s having difficulty breathing.” Over two days, Associated Press journalists visited five hospitals and two crematoriums in towns and small cities in Baoding and Langfang prefectures, in central Hebei province. The area was the epicenter of one of China’s first outbreaks after the state loosened COVID-19 controls in November and December. For weeks, the region went quiet, as people fell ill and stayed home. Read: Reports of severe COVID in China are "extremely concerning", WHO Many have now recovered. Today, markets are bustling, diners pack restaurants and cars are honking in snarling traffic, even as the virus is spreading in other parts of China. In recent days, headlines in state media said the area is “ starting to resume normal life.” But life in central Hebei’s emergency wards and crematoriums is anything but normal. Even as the young go back to work and lines at fever clinics shrink, many of Hebei’s elderly are falling into critical condition. As they overrun intensive care units and funeral homes, it could be a harbinger of what’s to come for the rest of China. The Chinese government has reported only seven COVID-19 deaths since restrictions were loosened dramatically on Dec. 7, bringing the country’s total toll to 5,241. On Tuesday, a Chinese health official said that China only counts deaths from pneumonia or respiratory failure in its official COVID-19 death toll, a narrow definition that excludes many deaths that would be attributed to COVID-19 in other places. Experts have forecast between a million and 2 million deaths in China through the end of next year, and a top World Health Organization official warned that Beijing’s way of counting would “underestimate the true death toll.” At Baoding No. 2 Hospital in Zhuozhou on Wednesday, patients thronged the hallway of the emergency ward. The sick were breathing with the help of respirators. One woman wailed after doctors told her that a loved one had died. The ER was so crowded, ambulances were turned away. A medical worker shouted at relatives wheeling in a patient from an arriving ambulance. “There’s no oxygen or electricity in this corridor!” the worker exclaimed. “If you can’t even give him oxygen, how can you save him?” “If you don’t want any delays, turn around and get out quickly!” she said. The relatives left, hoisting the patient back into the ambulance. It took off, lights flashing. Read: China reduces COVID-19 case number reporting as virus surges In two days of driving in the region, AP journalists passed around thirty ambulances. On one highway toward Beijing, two ambulances followed each other, lights flashing, as a third passed by heading in the opposite direction. Dispatchers are overwhelmed, with Beijing city officials reporting a sixfold surge in emergency calls earlier this month. Some ambulances are heading to funeral homes. At the Zhuozhou crematorium, furnaces are burning overtime as workers struggle to cope with a spike in deaths in the past week, according to one employee. A funeral shop worker estimated it is burning 20 to 30 bodies a day, up from three to four before COVID-19 measures were loosened. “There’s been so many people dying,” said Zhao Yongsheng, a worker at a funeral goods shop near a local hospital. “They work day and night, but they can’t burn them all.” At a crematorium in Gaobeidian, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Zhuozhou, the body of one 82-year-old woman was brought from Beijing, a two-hour drive, because funeral homes in China’s capital were packed, according to the woman’s grandson, Liang. “They said we’d have to wait for 10 days,” Liang said, giving only his surname because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Along the U.S. southern border, two cities — El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico — prepared Sunday for a surge of as many as 5,000 new migrants a day as pandemic-era immigration restrictions expire this week, setting in motion plans for emergency housing, food and other essentials. On the Mexican side of the international border, only heaps of discarded clothes, shoes and backpacks remained Sunday morning on the banks of the Rio Grande River, where until a couple of days ago hundreds of people were lining up to turn themselves in to U.S. officials. One young man from Ecuador stood uncertain on the Mexican side; he asked two journalists if they knew anything about what would happen if he turned himself in without having a sponsor in the U.S., and then gingerly removed sneakers and socks and hopped across the low water. On the American side, by a small fence guarded by several Border Patrol vehicles, he joined a line of a dozen people who stood waiting with no U.S. officials in sight. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told The Associated Press on Sunday that the region, home to one of the busiest border crossings in the country, was coordinating housing and relocation efforts with groups and other cities, as well as calling on the state and federal government for humanitarian help. The area is preparing for an onslaught of new arrivals that could double their daily numbers once public health rule Title 42 ends on Wednesday. The rule has been used to deter more than 2.5 million migrants from crossing since March 2020. At a migrant shelter not far from the river in a poor Ciudad Juárez neighborhood, Carmen Aros, 31, knew little about U.S. policies. In fact, she said she’d heard the border might close on Dec. 21. She fled the cartel violence in the Mexican state of Zacatecas a month ago, right after her fifth daughter was born and her husband went missing. The Methodist pastor who runs the Buen Samaritano shelter put her on a list to be paroled into the United States and she waits every week to be called. “They told me there was asylum in Juarez, but in truth, I didn’t know much,” she said on the bunk bed she shared with the girls. “We got here … and now let’s see if the government of the United States can resolve our case.” At a vast shelter run by the Mexican government in a former Ciudad Juárez factory, dozens of migrants watched the World Cup final Sunday on two TVs while a visiting team of doctors from El Paso treated many who had come down with respiratory illness in the cold weather. Read: ‘Over 51,000 migrants die, thousands go missing in 8 years’ Constantly changing policies make it hard to plan, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a Catholic organization helping migrants in both El Paso and Juarez. The group started the clinic two months ago. “You have a lot of pent-up pain,” Corbett said. “I’m afraid of what’s going to happen.” With government policies in disarray, “the majority of the work falls to faith communities to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences.” Just a couple blocks across the border, sleet fell in El Paso as about 80 huddled migrants ate tacos that volunteers grilled up. Temperatures in the region were set to drop below freezing this week. “We’re going to keep giving them as much as we have,” said Veronica Castorena, who came out with her husband with tortillas and ground beef as well as blankets for those who will likely sleep on the streets. Jeff Petion, the owner of a trucking school in town, said this was his second time coming with employees to help migrants in the streets. “They’re out here, they’re cold, they’re hungry, so we wanted to let them know they’re not alone. But across the street from Petion, Kathy Countiss, a retiree, said she worries the new arrivals will get out of control in El Paso, draining resources and directing enforcement away from criminals to those claiming asylum. On Saturday, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser issued an emergency declaration to access additional local and state resources for building shelters and other urgently needed aid. Samaniego, the county judge, said the order came one day after El Paso officials sent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a letter requesting humanitarian assistance for the region, adding that the request was for resources to help tend to and relocate the newly arriving migrants, not additional security forces. Samaniego said he has received no response to the request and plans to issue a similar county-wide emergency declaration specifying the kind of help the area needs if the city does not get state aid soon. He urged the state and federal governments to provide the additional money, adding they had a strategy in place but were short in financial, essential and volunteer resources. El Paso officials have been coordinating with organizations to provide temporary housing for migrants while they are processed and given sponsors and relocate them to bigger cities where they can be flown or bused to their final destinations, Samaniego said. As of Wednesday, they will all join forces at a one-stop emergency command center, Samaniego said, similarly to their approach to the COVID-19 emergency. Abbott, El Paso city officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday. Read: Swift return of irregular migrants to help promote legal migration: European Commissioner Abbott has committed billions of dollars to “Operation Lone Star,” an unprecedented border security effort that has included busing migrants to so-called sanctuary cities like New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., as well as a massive presence of state troopers and National Guard along the Texas-Mexico border. Additionally, the Republican Texas governor has pushed continued efforts to build former President Donald Trump’s wall using mostly private land along the border and crowdsourcing funds to help pay for it. El Paso was the fifth-busiest of the Border Patrol’s nine sectors along the Mexico border as recently as March and suddenly became the most popular by far in October, jumping ahead of Del Rio, Texas, which itself had replaced Texas’ Rio Grande Valley as the busiest corridor at lightning-speed late last year. It is unclear why El Paso has become such a powerful magnet in recent months, drawing especially high numbers of migrants since September. Recent illegal crossings in El Paso – at first largely dominated by Venezuelans and more recently by Nicaraguans – are reminiscent of a short period in 2019, when the westernmost reaches of Texas and eastern end of New Mexico were quickly overwhelmed with new arrivals from Cuba and Central America. El Paso had been a relatively sleepy area for illegal crossings for years. Meanwhile, a group of about 300 migrants began walking northward Saturday night from an area near the Mexico-Guatemala border before being stopped by Mexican authorities. Some wanted to arrive on Dec. 21, under the mistaken belief that the end of the measure would men they could no longer request asylum. Misinformation about U.S. immigration rules is often rife among migrants. The group was largely made up of Central Americans and Venezuelans who had crossed the southern border into Mexico and had waited in vain for transit or exit visas, migratory forms that might have allowed them to make it across Mexico to the U.S. border. “We want to get to the United States as soon as possible, before they close the border, that’s what we’re worried about,” said Venezuelan migrant Erick Martínez.
Recent fall in inward remittances, earnings from exports, and a looming global recession are all signalling that the external account crisis will be prolonged further, they say. They projected that around $20 to $25 billion worth of foreign currency has been consumed in different forms by informal transactions, which are not recorded at any official level. Because of this, the depth of the foreign exchange crisis is remaining less understood and unaddressed. they say. Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, a macro-economist and a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told UNB that to understand the magnitude of the problem it is important to see how it works or does not work in a complex market of foreign currency. “We should take note of it that a big volume of the foreign currency, I mean, US dollar is used for financing consumption of goods and services overseas as well as third-party cross-border payment for smuggled items such as gold and cattle,” he said. “Moreover, illicit financial flow is also taking place from over-invoicing in the private sector transactions and public sector projects,” he said. In line with these unrecorded and informal, and often illicit foreign exchange transactions, the monetary policy in general and foreign exchange regulation, in particular, have limited institutional effectiveness with regard to external balance management, he pointed out. Debapriya said Bangladesh is now a $500 billion economy, and managing such an emerging macro-economy with a fast-changing global scenario demands institutional reforms to swiftly oversee the forex market. As the government negotiates balance of payment support from the International Monetary Fund (MF) such reforms addressing the informal transactions of foreign currency will become a major concern to deal with, he said. Read: Market-based foreign exchange rate may be introduced soon: Finance Minister This will also need complementary trade and investment policy reforms, he added. Though the economy is expanding, the institutional reforms and capacity is not being enhanced accordingly, he said. He said that the World Bank has rightly predicted that unless massive reforms are done Bangladesh’s economic growth would slip in the face of impact of global trade competition. Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, an economist and specialist in applied international trade, told UNB that falling remittances by 25 percent and export falling by over 6 percent is “a warning for Bangladesh’s forex market.” He said Bangladesh will get an advantage slightly from the falling prices of fuel, edible oil and other commodities in the global market due to a recession. The use of forex for import payments will be decreased at the same time, affecting Bangladesh’s export income, and the trade deficit will also widen then, he said. In the first two months (July-August) of the current fiscal year 2022-23, the trade deficit stood at $4.55billion. As the export income is less than the import spending, this large trade deficit appeared at the beginning of the fiscal year. At the same time, the deficit in the current account balance of foreign transactions also exceeded by $1.5 billion. Also read: Foreign exchange rate stable after Bangladesh Bank tightens spending According to Bangladesh Bank, in the first two months (July-August) of the current fiscal year, goods worth $12.69 billion have been imported against exports worth $8.13 billion. This has created a trade deficit of $4.55 billion. The deficit volume will widen more as the export in last month (September) fell by 6 percent. Bangladesh Bank is selling US dollars from the reserves in continuation of the last fiscal year to bring 'stability' to the forex market. The central bank sold $2.57 billion from reserves in two months (July-August) and of the current FY 2022-23. The central bank sold $7.67 billion from reserves in the FY 2021-22 to stabilize the forex market. Bangladesh had never sold so many dollars from the reserve in a single fiscal year earlier. However, in the previous financial year (2020-21), Bangladesh Bank bought a record $8 billion to keep the forex market stable during the falling trend of imports during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Russian forces fired missiles and artillery on Ukrainian-held areas across the river from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, authorities said Saturday as concern persisted about safety at the Russian-controlled plant after it was temporarily knocked offline. Grad missiles and artillery shells hit the cities of Nikopol and Marhanets, each about 10 kilometers (6 miles) and across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region. Russian forces occupied the nuclear plant complex early in the war in Ukraine, and Ukrainian workers have kept it running. Each side has repeatedly accused the other of shelling the complex, raising fears that the fighting could trigger a catastrophe. Authorities began distributing iodine tablets Friday to residents who live near the plant in case of a radiation leak. The move came a day after the plant was temporarily knocked offline because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line. Recent satellite images from Planet Labs showed fires burning around the complex over the last several days. The U.N.’s atomic energy agency has been trying to send a team in to inspect and help secure the plant. Officials said preparations for the visit were underway, but it remained unclear when it might take place. Ukraine has claimed Russia is using the power plant as a shield by storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it. Moscow, for its part, accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the nuclear complex. Read: Nuclear treaty conference near end with Ukraine in spotlight Elsewhere in Ukraine, one person was killed and another wounded in Russian firing in the Mykolaiv region, local government officials said. Mykolaiv city is an important Black Sea port and shipbuilding center. The governor of the eastern Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said Saturday that two people were killed in Russian firing on the city of Bakhmut, a significant target for Russian and separatist forces seeking to take control of the parts of the region they do not already hold.
ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) has said Bangladesh cannot cover on its own the needs of about 1 million Rohingya refugees. “The sad truth is that, by and large, the international community has failed the Rohingya. It is a crying shame that, so far, the global community has only provided a meagre 13% of the Joint Response Plan adopted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to fund the camps,” said Mercy Barends, APHR Board Member and member of the Indonesian House of Representatives. On the other hand, Barends said, ASEAN member states should stop treating the Rohingya in their countries as ‘illegal immigrants,’ and start providing them with the protection they deserve and need as refugees. She recognized the extraordinary generosity of the Bangladeshi government and people, who have provided refuge for Rohingya people for the past five years. The APHR Board Member made the remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Myanmar military's "clearance operations" against the Rohingya in Northern Rakhine State, known as "Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day.” Read: Hun Sen’s rogue diplomacy a threat to ASEAN, Myanmar: APHR “On this somber occasion, five years since the Myanmar military forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to abandon their homes through a campaign of genocidal violence, we mourn the thousands who died, and stand with all the survivors who continue to live without basic rights and services in camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Barends said. She said it is long past time for ASEAN governments and their partners to take swift and stern action against the perpetrators of the most serious crimes against humanity on the Rohingya people. “Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his close allies should not be in power; they should be in court. They have taken the international failure to act five years ago as a license to illegally grab power from elected officials on 1 February 2021 and commit further atrocities that continue to this very day,” Barends said.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Saturday called upon the leaders, activists and followers to be careful with their speech during the current crisis. Obaidul Quader said these things in a discussion meeting at the central office of Awami League on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital on Saturday in a programme organised by Mahila Sramik League on the occasion of Mourning Day. "I will tell our leaders and workers that everyone should play responsible role in their speech and behavior. At this time, it is not appropriate to speak irresponsibly and show power. You have to stand by people with a cool head. We have to work for people, this is our biggest message today,' he said. Quader, also the Road Transport and Bridges Minister, commented that the cost of living has increased as the government was helpless. "The whole world is in crisis. A negative impact is facing Bangladesh today. We know many people are suffering. As the cost of living has gone up, it is right that people are suffering. But there was no way in front of us," he added. Highlighting the situation of the comparative price increase in different countries of the world, the general secretary of Awami Lespeecht said the river Rhine is drying up today, ships cannot move there. Most of Italy's 15 lakes have dried up. Fires are still burning in southwestern France. Mentioning the sincere trial of Sheikh Hasina to overcome this crisis, Obaidul Quader also said, Price increase in America. Apart from UK, Germany, France, our neighboring country Sri Lanka, Pakistan, nobody is comfortable today. The people of Bangladesh are suffering. The bes efforts were taken to tackle the situation. Claiming that BNP is plotting to overthrow the government without standing by the people, he said that many countries of the world are plagued with problems today. And based on this, the French opposition did not overthrow the government. Opposition parties in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan did not hold protests. He said, "We wanted co-operation. All countries in this world have extended their hands to help in the crisis. And in Bangladesh they (BNP) are plotting to overthrow the government. Warning BNP,Obaidul Quader said that none of us are trying to stop the peaceful movement. "But if you want to come down and deal with fire-terrorism, then I will say...the people's resistance will turn into a tsunami and a befitting reply will be given,' he explained. Read: Not worried over allies’ protesting fuel price hike: Obaidul Quader Regarding Bangabandhu's murder, Obaidul Quader said, 'How did these murderers escape? Who sent to Thailand? General Ziaur Rahman. Ziaur Rahman rewarded the murderers. Later take power." Mahila Sramik League President Suraiya Akhter presided over the programme.
Speakers at a seminar, organised by FBCCI, the country's apex chamber body, blamed the lack of initiative in local gas exploration for the current energy crisis. “Despite huge potentials, why have we failed to explore our local gas? We have to find out the answer”, said Dr. Badrul Imam, eminent energy expert and professor of geology department at Dhaka University, told the event. Bangladesh has the highest success rate like 3:1 in drilling for gas while the Indian average is 10:1, he added. Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Jashim Uddin moderated the seminar titled: “Energy Security for Sustainable Development of the Industrial Sector” held at the organisation’s auditorium in the city. Prime Minister’s Energy Advisor Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, who addressed the function from a virtual platform, said the government is giving highest priority to agriculture and industry in rationing the gas and electricity. “We all have to sacrifice to sustain our agriculture and industry. We have to understand the geopolitics to understand the crisis”, he said. Responding to some speakers' call for local coal extraction, he said this is not feasible as there is a huge aquifer coming from the Himalayas under the coal mine. “If we destroy this aquifer, it will have a major impact on our ecology”, he added. Read: National Committee identifies 9 reasons for current power crisis Ahmad Kaikaus, principal Secretary to the prime minister, said he cannot give any assurance on how soon the existing energy crisis will end. “I don’t have anything to assure you… the current crisis is not locally grown. We can only make an adjustment in order to resolve your problem”, he told the seminar. He criticised the environmentalists for their silence over the move of Germany to re-open their coal-fired power plants. “If we take any move on coal-fired power plants, they become vocal. But in Germany’s case they are mum”, he observed. Eminent energy expert and former professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Dr Ijaz Hossain made a keynote presentation at the seminar while it was addressed, among others, FBCCI Vice president and president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) by Mohammad Ali Khokon, FBCCI standing committee chairman on power and energy Humayun Rashid, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) president Md. Saiful Islam, president, former additional secretary of the Power Division Siddique Zobair and president of Bangladesh Shop Owners Association Helal Uddin. In his presentation Dr Ijaz said that the country’s gas reserve is depleting fast. The industry sector has to pay Tk 28 per cubic meter by 2030 as gas price when the country has to import 50 per cent of the gas to meet the local demand. Read: Countrywide load-shedding increases due to gas shortage in power plants “Currently the industry is paying Tk 12 per cubic meter of gas when local gas share is 80 per cent and import is 20 per cent”, he added. Mohammad Ali Khokon said that about 10 per cent of the country’s total gas, which is equivalent to 300 mmcfd, is being pilfered as system loss. “If such system loss is checked, the country would not need to import gas from abroad”, he added.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Tuesday said the government has taken timely steps to face the fall-out of the ongoing global economic crisis. “The current crisis is a global one. Precautionary measures are being taken so that Bangladesh is not hit hard by this crisis,” he said in a statement. Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, said his party thinks that it would not be difficult to overcome any crisis if the people make a united effort. He urged the people to be responsible, economical and exercise austerity in the use of state resources. Read:Impacts of Russia-Ukraine war also affect Bangladesh: Obaidul Quader Lambasting BNP leaders for raising questions over the country’s reserves of foreign currencies, the AL general secretary said the stock was never above US$ 5 billion during their regime. He said Bangladesh's foreign exchange reserves hit the country’s record highest of more than US$ 48 billion due to the economic development and good governance under the leadership of Bangabandhu's daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The export income of Bangladesh has exceeded US$ 50 billion under the leadership of Hasina as well, said Quader. The foreign exchange reserves of many developed countries have fallen alarmingly due to the energy price hike in the world market, he said.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said the ongoing power cuts in the country will not last long. "We're sorry to our consumers for the current crisis and seek their cooperation to overcome it," he wrote in his verified Facebook page on Friday. Nasrul made similar statements while talking to reporters at his residence earlier in the day. He said the government was forced to implement a schedule-based power cuts across the country to resolve the ongoing crisis. "However, a new plan for load shedding will be undertaken within a week after taking stock of the situation." Read: Bangladesh has no deficit in power generation: Nasrul Hamid "Within the next few months, the second unit of Payra power plant and Rampal power plant will come into operation. Also, 1600MW electricity will be imported from India's Adani power plant soon. All these will add more than 4000MW electricity to the national grid," Nasrul added. "So, we request you to be patient. We need your support at this difficult time."
Terming the countrywide load-shedding an early sign of grave economic crisis, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said the government will now find it very difficult to overcome the crisis and prevent its fall. “The economists are saying problems are being created in every sector. The government will now be at a loss for what to do. People are fuming and they’ll burst with anger, hastening the fall of the government,” he said. Speaking at a press conference at BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office, Fakhrul also said the government has given around $7.5 to the Export Development Fund from the reserves to abet those who are doing business in different countries. “They siphoned off the money abroad and built houses there. So, that money is not coming to the country anymore. This is the beginning of the crisis.” He feared that the country’s economy will be hit hard by the frequent power outages as production in RMG and other sectors will be hampered by it. “The economy of Bangladesh mainly depends on the garment industry. When there is a shortfall in power and energy supply in that sector, problems will arise regarding the production and transportation,” the BNP leader observed. Mentioning that fuel oil and electricity are deeply intertwined with the economy, he said when the rationing system is introduced in power distribution, there will be a considerable possibility of reduction in production. “The economists are saying that this (load-shedding) is a temporary measure. They (govt) have to take steps toward a permanent solution to the problem. But they’re not going in that direction. They are not raising prices (of power) further in fear of facing public wrath as the prices have already been increased. But the economy is suffering tremendously,” the BNP leader viewed. He said the government will have to now pay the power plants that are not generating electricity due to the fuel crisis. “In that case, a large part of the money will be spent and in most cases, these payments are made in dollars. These problems have been created due to rampant corruption and for lack of the government's plans. Their only goal is to indulge in corruption everywhere.” The BNP leader said the government paid about TK78,000 crores to the power plants that did not generate any electricity. “It is being now said that six diesel-run power plants remain closed, but they and other plants will continue to get money. I saw in the newspaper that Tk1760 crores will have to be spent for them annually. It’s now proved that they (govt) did it to create a scope for special companies to make money and thus they themselves benefited from it.” He warned that the government must be accountable to people someday for plundering public money by paying the power plant owners without producing electricity. Apart from the power sector, the BNP leader said the government is cutting money from people's pockets in various ways in the name of mega projects. "The biggest problem now in Bangladesh is the lack of good governance and accountability anywhere. So, corruption is the main cause behind the crisis that has now arisen." Fakhrul said the government should not undertake any plan or project which will be a burden on the country. ”If we buy outsized shoes we cannot wear them. That is what exactly now happening in the country, but people have to pay for it.” Even, he said the experts are warning that a situation like Sri Lanka may arise in seven other countries, including Bangladesh. At the press conference, Fakhrul also came up with the decisions made at a virtual meeting of their party’s standing committee on Monday. He said their meeting strongly condemned the recent attacks on the Hindu community members and on their houses and temples in Narail. It also formed a three-member investigation committee, headed by party vice chairman Advocate Nitai Roy Chowdhury, to look into the incident, the BNP leader said. He said the probe body has been asked to submit the report by July 26. Fakhrul said their standing committee meeting voiced concern over the crash of a cargo plane carrying arms from Serbia for Bangladesh on July 16. He said the meeting expressed wonder at the contradictory statements by the ISPR. “The statement of the Serbian Defense Minister and the statement of the ISPR are not consistent, causing confusion among people.” The BNP policymakers urged the government to make public the real information in this regard. Besides, the meeting denounced the government’s move to increase the prices of WASA’s water and 53 medicines. Referring to different comments of Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal, Fakhrul said,”He (CEC) has now become a laughing stock.” He said it has been proven over the last 10 years that a fair and credible election is not possible under Awami League and any partisan government. “The government must restore the caretaker government system for ensuring an acceptable election and overcoming the crisis.”