Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reiterated her call to the international community to do much more to ensure safe, sustainable and dignified return of over one million forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
"Bangladesh has been hosting 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals. This humanitarian crisis poses a serious security threat," the prime minister said in her recorded speech at the 78th Session of the UNESCAP.
"We expect enhanced focus and active support of the international community for safe, sustainable and dignified return of these displaced people," she told the session meeting under the theme "A common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific."
She said that when the world is struggling to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict came as a huge blow to the global economic and social stability.
"The poor and developing countries are experiencing the brunt of the war. The war must be stopped immediately and joint actions are needed to tackle the situation," she said.
She mentioned the pandemic battered the health systems and economies of most of the countries across the world where the poor and developing countries were the worst sufferers.
"In Bangladesh, while tackling the pandemic, we have tried to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods. Our timely and prudent interventions greatly helped manage the macroeconomic stability," she said.
While many countries in South Asia experienced negative or nominal GDP growth, she said, we maintained a commendable growth during the pandemic.
She mentioned that Bangladesh is expecting over 7% GDP growth in 2021-22.
"We have already brought almost all targeted population under vaccination," she said.
Hasina said that Bangladesh has been recommended to graduate from the LDC status in 2026.
She hailed it as the global recognition of "the planned development journey that we have been following for the last thirteen years."
"Our government has been working with the aim to transform Bangladesh into a knowledge-based developed and prosperous country by 2041."
She mentioned that People are at the centre of the development pursuit.
"So are the SDGs. We have incorporated the framework provided in the SDGs to address the challenges of social inclusion, economic development, environmental protection and integration of ICT as enablers in all of our planning documents," the premier said.
She mentioned that the government has been working diligently to build a hunger and poverty-free Bangladesh which is the main theme of SDG-1 and SDG-2.
She mentioned that as the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum-CVF, Bangladesh has drafted the "Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan," with a vision of achieving energy independence, and setting Bangladesh's trajectory from vulnerability to resilience to prosperity.
She said Bangladesh sees regional cooperation as the most viable option for shared prosperity.
Bangladesh is engaged in different regional initiatives like Saarc, BIMSTEC, BBIN, BCIM-EC and Trilateral Highway, she added.
The premier said that the establishment of the "South-South Network for Public Service Innovation" helps Bangladesh's experts to share their knowledge and experiences on various issues, including the SDGs.
In this regard, she said that Bangladesh is engaged in the Cross-border Paperless Trade, Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, public-private partnership networking, renewable energy and other initiatives of UN-ESCAP.
"We gave support to ESCAP's initiatives for the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway and other approaches."
She placed some proposals for ESCAP which are --
• Take action-oriented steps to
facilitate collaboration in pursuit of knowledge and innovation;
• Request for International Support Measures to the graduating countries in a more pragmatic way;
• Assist member states to get united to pursue sufficient allocation of funds and technology for climate change victim countries.
• Enhance regional financial cooperation to improve regional crisis management capacity; and
• Leveraging ICT for employment generation and growth of IT, and IT-enabled services to cope with the 4th IR.
Bashundhara Group stands by 10,000 cold-hit people in Faridpur
Bashundhara Group, the country’s largest business conglomerate, distributed blankets among 10,000 cold-hit people of Sadar, Nagarkanda, Saltha and Sadarpur upazilas of Faridpur.
The blankets were distributed with the all out support from Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir.
Bashundhara Group's executive director and Faridpur district Awami League’s industries and commerce affairs secretary Advocate Jamal Hossain Miah distributed the blankets at Talma Union Parishad chairman’s residence on Friday morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamal Hossain Miah said, “Bashundhara Group always stands by the people of the country. With the help of Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir, blankets are being distributed among the cold-hit people across the country, including Faridpur. Bashundhara Group will continue effort to serve people in the future.”
After getting blankets, the poor people expressed their gratitude to Bashundhara Group for giving them worm cloth during this bone-chilling cold.
Bashundhara Group general manager Md Yunus Khan, Chief Operating Officer (Banking Sector) Md Razib Samad, Faridpur Press Club general secretary and Bangladesh Pratidin correspondent Kamruzzaman Sohel and Talma Union Parishad Chairman Kamal Hossain Mia were present among others in the event.
League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader
pays a courtesy visit to Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman of country’s leading
industrial conglomerate Bashundhara Group.
Obaidul Quader was greeted with flowers by the Bashundhara family during the meeting at the Bashundhara Group chairman's residence in the capital on Monday.
Bashundhara Group Managing Director, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited Chairman and Bangladesh Jeweller’s Association President Sayem Sobhan Anvir, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz M Rafiqul Islam, Awami League Office Secretary Biplab Barua, Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam and Badda thana Awami League General Secretary AM Jahangir Alam were also present during the meeting.
Leaders of Narayanganj district and Rupganj upazila units of Awami League held a view-exchange meeting with Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan on the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Rupganj.
MP from Narayanganj-4 constituency AKM Shamim Osman, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz Rafiqul Islam, Rupganj upazila AL General Secretary Alhaz Shahjahan Bhuiyan, Vice-President Barrister Khan Mohammad Shamim Aziz, Bashundhara Group Director Liakat Hossain, Kanchan municipality Mayor Alhaz Rafiqul Islam Rafiq, former upazila AL Vice-President Khandaker Abul Bashar Tuku, Daudpur Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Nurul Islam Jahangir, Rupganj Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Saladuddin Bhuiyan, upazila AL Information and Research Secretary Kamal Hossain Kamal, Health and Population Secretary Dr Faisal Ahmed and Kanchan municipality AL leader Tariqul Islam Mughal were present at the meeting held at the Bashundhara Group Chairman’s residence in Bashundhara Residential Area in the capital on Monday.
The Awami League retains a “significant level of support” and there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh to point to as a success story amid current challenges, says Michael Kugelman, director of the newly created South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“We have to keep in mind that the ruling party Awami League has been in power since 2009 and it retains a significant level of support,” he said, noting that the party has been able to bring success stories on the economic front and in countering terrorism.
Kugelman said that even if someone talks about all the bad things happening in Bangladesh, the bottom line is that there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh which helps it sustain a significant level of success and there are people who see reasons to support it.
Mark Goldberg recently sat down with Kugelman to discuss the recent protests in Bangladesh. The Foreign Policy magazine published the podcast recently.
Responding to a question, Kugelman said Bangladesh has been a regional success story for its economic growth. “It's a global success story.”
He described what had happened over the last few months, including consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, high level of inflation, rising fuel cost and responses from the government like rationing electricity amid power shortages.
Kugelman said disruption in electricity supply was a major strain on the economy and sudden fall in economic productivity was an opportunity for the opposition to take to the street.
Corruption, one of the realities in Bangladesh, scandals in the financial sector could be another trigger for the opposition, he said, adding that economic problems and corruption gave the opposition opportunity to draw more attention.
Kugelman, however, said the protests launched by the opposition parties “was not a mass protest” but a partisan protest.
The foreign affairs expert said the government had the opportunity to explain the “temporary consequences” of external factors.
Kugelman said Bangladesh has demonstrated success in the area of counterterrorism and noted that there was a period when it was a significant problem in the country which had experienced series of deadly attacks.
He said the Awami League government took initiatives to crackdown really hard on the militants, and terrorism has not been a problem in Bangladesh over the last few years. “That’s another success story.”
Bangladesh has become a much bigger player on the global stage, including its role in peacekeeping operations and with its non-aligned and balanced foreign policy, he observed.
Responding to a question on “democratic backsliding” he said it is important to look back at the broader history of Bangladesh.
In the past, he said, BNP (when it was in power) was resorting to similar types of tactics and there were crackdowns as well as reports of enforced disappearances.
Kugelman said many things that are happening today were also happening when BNP was in power.
He said “undemocratic tactics” happen in many countries, including Bangladesh and elsewhere in South Asia, and described them as “hybrid democracy”.
Responding to another question, he said he does not think that there will be a Sri Lanka-like situation in Bangladesh as there are safety measures in the latter.
Kugelman said Bangladesh's economy is much more resilient than Sri Lanka’s has been.
He also responded to questions on Bangladesh’s next national election which he hoped will be held as per the constitution.