Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said Bangladesh wants a peaceful, sustainable and early solution to the Rohingya crisis as the country is now bearing the entire brunt of the recent exodus of persecuted Myanmar nationals.
“Some 1.1 million Rohingyas are now in Bangladesh. We’ve given them shelter on humanitarian grounds. Many world leaders visited Rohingya camps to see their plight,” she said.
The Prime Minister was delivering her speech in an event titled ‘Bangladesh’s Development Story: Policies, Progresses and Prospects’ at Overseas Development Institute (ODI) here as the keynote speaker.
She said although Bangladesh has achieved successes in various sectors, this does not mean that there is no challenge. “We face the challenge of climate change although we’re the least polluter,” she said adding that the rise in sea level will induce displacement of millions in the country.
“It’s a shared responsibility of the global community to protect our planet, our biodiversity and our climate,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Bangladesh is in the process of developing ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’ to mitigate and manage the climate change impacts.
About terrorism and militancy which of late has turned into a global threat, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh is following a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against the menaces.
She said they charted their roadmap for future Bangladesh – ‘Vision 2021’ in their 2008 election manifesto which foresees, among other things, that by 2021, Bangladesh will become a middle-income country. “Long, medium and short-term policies have been crafted to revitalise the economy.”
Hasina said a special attention was given to the agriculture sector to make the country self-reliant in food production. “We attained autarky in food grain, fish, poultry and vegetables.”
The Prime Minister said the private sector has been opened up to boost investments and thereby create job opportunities. “We’ve undertaken several fast-track projects with foreign investments. One hundred Special Economic Zones are being set up across the country to attract FDI.”
Ten initiatives are being implemented mostly to deal with socio-economic emancipation of rural people, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said today Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an optimistic outlook.
She said the growth rate was 7.28 percent last year and this year, the projected growth is 7.65 percent. “The GDP grew by 2.5 times to US$ 250 billion in 2017 from US$ 100 billion in 2009. Foreign currency reserve grew more than 9 times to over US$ 33 billion, thanks to our Diaspora. Per capita income leaped from US$ 543 in 2006 to US$ 1,752 this year,” she added.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is now the second largest RMG exporter in the world. Initiatives have been taken to make garments factories compliant to safety and security standards, she said. “We’ve now 67 RMG factories with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Top seven environment-friendly garments and textiles factories of the world are in Bangladesh.”
About Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical sector, she said it meets 95 percent of local demand while pharmaceutical products are being exported to over 100 countries.
She said the country’s shipbuilding industry exports ocean-going vessels to Scandinavian countries and Germany.
The Prime Minister said frozen food, leather products, IT services, jute, toys and many others have the potential of claiming greater share in global trade and investment.
Sheikh Hasina said thirteen hi-tech parks are being set up to boost billion-dollar ICT industry. “Bangladesh is also set to launch soon its first satellite ‘Bangabandhu–I’.”
Her government increased the power capacity to 16,600 MW from only around 3,200 MW in 2009 and 90 percent of households have been brought under the electricity coverage, she said. “Work on a 2,400-Mw nuclear power plant along with several other big power plants is going on,” she said, adding that they are planning to build a deep seaport, while country’s third seaport in Payra has commenced operations.
Terming women folks as the change agents, the Prime Minister said, “We’re providing special facilities to women entrepreneurs. They get collateral-free bank loan with only 5 percent service charge. They’re entitled to 10 percent of the SME fund and 10 percent industrial plots.”
“The 350-member Bangladesh Parliament has now 72 women MPs. Thirty percent seats are reserved for women at local government bodies. Over 16,000 elected women are placing their voices at the local government bodies,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said they have drawn up ‘Vision 2041’ to build Bangladesh as a peaceful, prosperous, happy and developed nation by 2041. “I’m confident that we shall fulfill the cherished dream of Bangabandhu’s Golden Bangladesh in good time,” she said.unb