Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday assured the people that there won’t be any crisis of consumer goods in the country.
“There will be no problem regarding consumer goods. We’ve started importing (goods) from Ukraine and Russia as well,” she said.
The premier was addressing the 5th National Conference of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip), a pro-Awami League professional body of physicians, in the city’s historic Suhrawardy Udyan.
She said though there is a problem over payment with dollars due to sanctions (on Russia), the government is taking steps for an alternative (payment) system.
Hasina said Bangladesh still has enough reserves to meet up the import expenditures for five months.
“Still we’ve the reserves to meet the import expenditures of five months, not three months,” she said.
Coming down heavily on the critics of the government on the reserves issue, she said now all have become experts on the reserve and economy.
She said the reserves increased to some US$ 48 billion during the Covid-19 restrictions, which was only above US$ 5 billion in 2009.
She said it had to spend huge money from the reserves to procure Covid-19 vaccines, testing kits and other related materials to fight the pandemic. Now the government needs to import edible oil, wheat and other consumer goods at high prices following the war and economic sanctions, she added.
The PM said they’ve been taking proper steps to ensure consumer goods and stood beside the people. “The reserves have declined not only in our country but also in many countries of the world,” she said.
Hasina said now a rumour is being spread that there is no money in banks and the clients would not get back their deposits.
She said many people keep money in houses withdrawing it from the banks due to this rumour. “To keep money in the houses creates scope for thieves, doesn’t it?....Now it’s upto the money owners whether they would keep it in the banks or give it to the hands of the thieves,” she added.
The premier reiterated her call to the people not to leave even an inch of land uncultivated to ensure Bangladesh won’t need to import food items at higher price amid the global crisis.
She said all should grow crops and vegetables in whatever lands they have. “We’ll not only fulfill our local demand, we’ll also have to help many countries with food items,” she added.
‘No peaceful transfer of power except 2001’
The PM said the AL government handed over power in a very peaceful manner in 2001, which is the only instance of peaceful change in power in the history of Bangladesh.
She said that illegal takeover of power started in the country after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975. “Then, there was no change in power through peaceful manner in Bangladesh except in 2001,” she said.
Hasina said Khaleda Zia had to step down on March 30, 1996 in face of the movement. “Then AL came into power through the election and we handed over the power peacefully in 2001. There is only one instance of peaceful transfer of power in the history of Bangladesh, which is only when AL was in power, she added.
“We always want political stability and the continuation of democracy,” she said. The PM said AL formed the government, winning the 2008 election. “We’re in power for three consecutive terms. We can at least claim that Bangladesh has turned around and got the dignity of a developing country and it has been socio-economic uplift of the people of our country in the last 14 years,” she said.
Focusing on her government’s success and steps over the country’s health sector, Hasina said her government took huge programmes for the healthcare development.
She said AL government established the first medical university-BSMMU- during its 1996-2001 term. But the pro-BNP physicians obstructed the move at that time.
Noting that her government set up a medical university also in Chattogram, Rajshahi and Sylhet, she said they’re establishing a medical university in every division in phases and medical colleges in every district.
She also highlighted the introduction of digital health services including telemedicine services and health call centre, lactating maternity allowance, setting up community clinics, increasing the beds and manpower of the government hospitals including physicians, nurses and health workers.
She said Bangladesh has attained massive development in terms of nutrition during her government. “Our health policy is a pro-people one. As a result, the maternal and child mortality rates have declined. Our successes in the health sector are now internationally recognised,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government took steps to ensure the healthcare services for the people from all tiers of the society. The PM unveiled the name plaque of the permanent central office of Swachip through a virtual platform.
AL general secretary Obaidul Qauder, Swachip President Dr M Iqbal Arslan and its general secretary MA Aziz also spoke at the function.
The last Swachip national conference was held in November 2015.