Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said what BNP and Jamaat are doing today is not politics at all, and they are conspiring to destroy the country and its economy.
“No politician having a sound brain can kill people by burning...,” she said while inaugurating the 19th Dhaka International Trade Fair at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital.
The BNP-Jamaat goons vandalised and torched thousands of vehicles across the country, and felled thousands of trees lining highways and roads in the countryside, she said in her speech.
They set ablaze government offices, power stations, business establishments and small shops on footpaths. They even set fire to cattle that were being carried by a truck.
“They burnt the holy Qurans and torched and vandalised mosques, temples and pagodas,” Hasina said. The BNP-Jamaat activists blocked highways and roads by digging holes, felling trees and setting them on fire.
She urged businessmen to maintain high standards of their products so that the overseas customers cannot complain about their quality. “Earlier, in some cases, Bangladesh had to face problems for lower standards of goods.”
She noted that her government will lend all kinds of support to the businessmen, adding that the new government will take oath under her leadership today.
“I would like to thank the entrepreneurs for their endeavour to keep the production going ignoring the destructive activities of BNP-Jamaat.... They helped keep the economy on a firm footing despite the adversities.”
She went on, “The businessmen should not sit idle under these circumstances. You have to be very vocal against such mindless acts. You have to build resistance. Because, at the end of the day, it is you and the country's people who are the worst sufferers.”
Hasina mentioned the predictions made by various research firms about Bangladesh. City Investment Research and Analysis put Bangladesh on the top of the list of the emerging countries, she said.
Goldman Sachs, The International Monetary Fund, The Wall Street Journal, JO Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley also put Bangladesh on the top of the list.
The prime minister said the government has been trying to adopt newer tactics to face the emerging challenges in global trade and commerce, while the country faces tariff and non-tariff barriers.
Attention should be given to improvement of the quality of products and their branding to make them more attractive. “Attention should also be given to the working environment and security of the workers. We are setting up seven new economic zones.”
She said Bangladesh's exports brought in $27.03 billion in fiscal year 2012-13 despite a barrage of hartals and blockades.
Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed, who was present at the inauguration, said the government has deployed members of Border Guard Bangladesh and different law enforcement agencies to ensure foolproof security at the fair.
The trade fair will remain open from 10:00am to 10:00pm daily. Entry fee has been fixed at Tk 30 for adults and Tk 20 for children.
Ahmed mentioned that the last year's trade fair earned Bangladeshi businesses orders worth Tk 157 crore. "We hope the amount will be bigger this year," he said, adding that around one lakh people are expected to visit the fair daily.
There will be 471 stalls and pavilions this year. Twenty-eight of them have been allotted to the companies from 12 foreign countries, said Shubhashish Bose, vice-chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau.
There were 497 stalls and pavilions last year.
The foreign countries include India, China, Pakistan, Malaysia, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, the USA and Turkey.
The items to be put up for sale at the fair include machinery, carpets, toys, ceramics, bathroom fittings, fabrics, processed foods, furniture, handicrafts, electronic products, cosmetics and beauty products, and jute, leather and sports products.
Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, also spoke on the occasion.