Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said Ziaur Rahman, HM Ershad, and Khaleda Zia were not serious about the country’s development as they were not born on Bangladesh soil.
“Only my father and I are from the soil of this land. Others who came to power are from outside Bangladesh,” she said.
The PM was addressing a civic reception accorded to her by the Italy unit of Awami League at Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel and Spa in Rome.
She said Zia was born in Bihar, Ershad in Cooch Behar and Khaleda in Siliguri. “If you look closely, you will find that except Bangabandhu and me, no one was from the soil of this land.”
Hasina said she, being the child of this soil, has some responsibilities towards this land.
“Many came to power but they didn’t know the country properly as they were not born here,” she said, adding that it was essential to know the country properly to develop it.
The premier said Bangladesh has attained the ability to advance further by competing with any other nation in the world and none can take the country backwards any more.
“We are implementing 90 percent of our development projects with our own fund. Donors don’t come to give alms to us anymore. Rather, they come to provide assistance mentioning us as their development partners. Because we don’t seek alms from anybody,” she said.
Referring to the construction of the Padma Bridge with the government’s own fund, Hasina said, “We have proved that we can do any work by ourselves.”
She said the World Bank wanted to put blame on the government over the construction of the bridge. “I took it as a challenge that we will build the bridge with our own fund and now we are implementing the project with our money.”
Mentioning that the country was advancing fast economically, the PM said the Father of the Nation had turned Bangladesh into a least developed country by rebuilding the war-ravaged country.
“Our government has given Bangladesh a status of a developing country from that position and we have to maintain the status till 2024 to turn Bangladesh into a middle income country… we have already met three criteria which is needed to achieve the target.”
The premier said those who had grabbed power illegally after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 had been busy changing their lot.
“At that time Bangladesh was known in the world as a country of cyclone, tidal surge and famine. The world would look down on Bangladesh during that period which was shameful for us.”
Hasina said her government has brought down the extreme poverty rate to 10 percent and the poverty rate to 20.5 percent. She hoped the rates would be cut by another two to three percent by this year.
Talking about steps taken by her government for the welfare of the expatriate Bangladeshis, the PM said the government has set up Probashi Kallyan Bank so that those willing to go abroad do not need to sell their land or property for this purpose.
She said the government has set up 5,800 digital centres through which the people intending to go abroad can register their names with the expatriates’ welfare ministry.
“We have also taken an initiative so that we can send 1,000 people abroad from every upazila. To make it happen, we have made arrangements for smart cards for them.”
Hasina said the Awami League, as a political party, has an economic policy and target. “We don’t only issue an election manifesto… We frame each budget with the manifesto in mind.”
About the demand of the expatriate Bangladeshis living in Italy for introducing Biman flights to Rome, she said a discussion was underway with the Italian government in this regard.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and the president of Italy AL, Mohammad Idris Farazi, spoke at the programme, among others.
CHANCERY BUILDING OPENED
In the morning yesterday, Hasina inaugurated the Chancery Building of the Bangladesh embassy in Rome.
She formally opened the five-storey building, constructed on 23.9 kathas of land by unveiling its plaque in Rome’s Via Dell’Antartide area.
PM’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana and daughter Saima Wazed Hossain were present.
Later, the premier went round different sections of the chancery building. She also signed the visitors’ book there.
Hasina arrived in Rome on Tuesday afternoon on a four-day official visit to Italy at the invitation of her Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte.