The PM Hasina expressed her optimism regarding the potential outcomes of the conference aimed at fostering Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism. She emphasized her belief that the BRICS alliance will effectively fulfill its role as an exemplary platform in achieving these objectives.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina conducted a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the results of her recent trip to South Africa, which lasted for five days. The briefing took place at 4pm in her official residence. On the 22nd of August, PM Hasina toured to Johannesburg to participate in the BRICS summit, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
In addition to President Ramaphosa, the host of the summit, the event was graced with the physical presence of other prominent leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Russian President Vladimir Putin contributed to the summit via a video link.
World gets better idea of progress at BRICS summit
During her opening speech, Prime Minister Hasina highlighted how her participation in the recent BRICS summit in Johannesburg provided global leaders with a comprehensive view of Bangladesh’s socio-economic progress achieved under her leadership. She also conveyed that she apprised the international community of her government’s endeavors to shape a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ through the implementation of Vision 2041.
PM Hasina additionally urged countries from the Southern region to reject the imposition of inequality on them under the guise of universal principles. She emphasized that her nation is no longer willing to endure the consequences of arbitrary decisions imposed on Southern countries. Expressing optimism, she anticipated that the conference’s pursuit of Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism will yield positive outcomes. She further expressed confidence in the BRICS alliance’s capability to serve as an exemplary platform in this regard.
We haven’t sought BRICS membership right now: PM
Amidst the ongoing queries about Bangladesh’s potential membership in BRICS, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina clarified that the country is not currently pursuing membership within the platform.
Sheikh Hasina explained, ‘During this period, our focus was on establishing a connection with the New Development Bank, which has been founded by the BRICS member states. Bangladesh has secured a 1% share in the bank.’ She further elaborated, ‘Ever since the inception of BRICS, I have maintained positive relationships with the heads of state of these five nations. We have expressed our interest in the New Development Bank as soon as we learned about its existence.’
The Prime Minister continued, ‘We did not anticipate acquiring BRICS membership immediately upon participating in our first summit. We did not actively pursue such an endeavor, nor did we disclose any intentions of securing BRICS membership.’
Additionally, the Prime Minister shared that the BRICS president conveyed to her that they intend to gradually include more countries as members in distinct phases.
PM seeks more US investment in Bangladesh
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her introductory speech to a visiting executive business delegation from the US-Bangladesh Business Council, emphasized the potential for increased investment from US businesses in Bangladesh’s various productive sectors. She highlighted sectors such as power and energy, ICT, infrastructure, light engineering and electronics, automobile industry, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, and ceramics as promising areas for mutual benefit.
The Prime Minister underscored Bangladesh’s open foreign direct investment policies in South Asia, including measures like liberalized industrial policy, 100% foreign ownership allowance, easy exit policy, 15-year tax exemption, VAT exemption for imported machinery, and streamlined services. She also mentioned the establishment of 100 Special Economic Zones, 109 Hi-Tech and Software Technology Parks, and IT Training and Incubation Centres to facilitate industrialization.
Regarding infrastructure, she pointed out the significance of the Padma Bridge, which established direct road and rail links to 21 southern districts. She also mentioned upcoming megaprojects like Matarbari deep sea port, Dhaka elevated expressway, part of the Metro-rail in Dhaka, and the Bangabandhu Tunnel in Chattogram. These projects are expected to enhance external connectivity and internal trade, stimulating growth.
The Prime Minister emphasized Bangladesh’s central location, with a sizable domestic market of 170 million people and access to a broader market of almost three billion consumers due to its proximity to neighboring countries. She expressed the country’s commitment to connectivity and its emergence as an attractive trade and investment destination in the region and beyond.
Highlighting the strength of Bangladesh’s population, she mentioned the availability of around 55 million skilled youths. She described the partnership between Bangladesh and the USA as mutually beneficial and rooted in trust, with the US being a vital source of foreign direct investment and an important export market for Bangladesh. The Prime Minister expressed hope for continued US support in Bangladesh’s growth trajectory, underscoring the government’s sustainable long-term growth strategy acknowledged by global economists and organizations.
Reject propaganda against Universal Pension
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the citizens of the nation to disregard the unfounded propaganda circulating about the universal pension scheme, labeling most of the misinformation as “absurd.”
Addressing a query related to this matter, she stated, ‘The intention of the Awami League government is to serve the well-being of the people. The citizens should have faith in that.’
She further added, “The party has remained steadfast in its commitment to ethical practices. The Awami League consistently prioritizes the welfare of the people. This is the undeniable reality.”
Highlighting the context, she explained, ‘While government officials were benefiting from pension schemes, the general populace lacked such provisions. Our commitment to establish a universal pension scheme was clearly stated in our election manifesto, and we have now successfully enacted it.’
PM Defends Judicial System on Dr Yunus
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has invited foreign experts and lawyers to assess and scrutinize the documents submitted against Professor Muhammad Yunus whether there were any injustice or inconsistency or wrong prosecution, otherwise law will take its own course.
The premier made this invitation at a media briefing as more than 160 global leaders, including more than 100 Nobel Laureates in an open letter to the prime minister, asking her to suspend the current judicial proceedings against Prof Yunus immediately.
‘I call upon those who have made this statement to send experts, lawyers and examine all the documents submitted against him (Prof Yunus) in the court to see whether there was any injustice or inconsistency. Otherwise, our country has laws, courts, labour laws, labour courts and laws will take its own course,’ she said.
The premier said they (the dignitaries) should send the experts and lawyers to go through all the documents of their client to see if there is any wrongful prosecution.
‘If they send the experts and lawyers, many more things will get revealed, which still remain untouched. Many such things will come out,’ she added.
The premier continued: ‘If the gentleman (Prof Yunus) has self-confidence that he didn’t commit any crime then he wouldn’t beg for a statement at international level.’
PM directs dousing inflation, curbing spendthrift expenditure
The prime minister has issued stringent directives to tackle the escalating issue of high inflation, which is exacerbating consumer hardships due to surging prices, and to curb the misuse of funds resulting from extravagant expenditures. These two directives were conveyed by Sheikh Hasina during Tuesday’s ECNEC meeting, during which 20 development projects were approved with a combined cost exceeding Tk 140 billion.
The Prime Minister underscored the need to further lower the inflation rate through a range of measures and policies. She also stressed the importance of preventing wastage and unnecessary allocation of public funds. Planning Minister MA Mannan quoted the Prime Minister’s remarks during the meeting.
The Prime Minister additionally stated, ‘This demonstrates our increased capability, and we will now be in a position to secure loans from sources where negotiations yield better outcomes.’
Furthermore, the Prime Minister instructed all relevant executing agencies to prioritize the timely completion of projects. She directed all concerned parties, including the Ministry of Health, to ensure the availability of infrastructure, manpower, and medical equipment for the smooth operation of health centers right from the beginning.
In her concluding address, the prime minister remarked, “Let us pledge to elevate the existing friendly relations and cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA to new heights by enhancing the volume of trade and commerce between our two nations.”
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, PM’s Energy Adviser Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowhury, PM’s Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, and PM’s Principal Secretary Md. Tofazzel Hossain Miah were in attendance.
Ambassador (ret.) Atul Keshap, President of the U.S.-Bangladesh Business Council; Steven Kobos, President, Chief Executive Officer, EXCELERATE ENERGY (Board Chair & Mission Lead); and Senior Vice President of South Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shared their thoughts on the occasion.
The event saw the presence of board members from the Business Council, as well as entrepreneurs and business executives representing both Bangladesh and the USA.