Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said hunger has already been eradicated from the country, and vowed afresh to make Bangladesh poverty-free.
“We’ve been able to make the country free from hunger. So, now we’ll have to make it completely poverty-free,” she said while inaugurating the weeklong PKSF Development Fair 2019 in the city.
Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) arranged the programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Center.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is implementing 125 programmes under the social safety net. An amount of Tk 74,000 crore is being spent from the national budget for the social safety net to alleviate poverty.
“We’ve been implementing these programmes to strengthen social empowerment. Rural and grassroots people are reaping benefits of the programmes,” she said.
The premier said Awami League prepared action plans to fight poverty even when it was in the opposition.
“I always say that our main enemy is poverty. So, we’ll have to fight poverty and make people free from it,” she said.
Hasina said poverty rate declined to 21 percent from 41 percent in 2006. “But our goal is to bring it down to at least 15-16 percent, so that Bangladesh does not remain poor and can stand on its own feet. Insha Allah we’ll be able to do so,” she said.
The prime minister said the country is marching forward and will continue to do so. “No one can take the country backwards any more in the future.”
After coming to power in 1996, her government undertook “One House, One Farm” project to make every family free from poverty, she said, adding that the project has been now renamed “My House My Farm”.
‘MICROCREDIT NURTURES POVERTY’
In an oblique reference to Nobel laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus, Sheikh Hasina said someone tried to get appreciation over microcredit and her party also supported it thinking it would help people come out from the poverty margin.
“But we observed it (microcredit) closely, and found that poverty is not alleviated with microcredit, rather it nurtures poverty,” she said. The Prime Minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started microcredit programme immediately after the independence. “But somebody in the country started pretending to be the pioneer of microcredit, and also earned name and fame in the world.”
Though he earned fame, the people of the country did not benefit much from his microcredit activities, Hasina said.
ROLE OF PKSF
The Prime Minister said PKSF was founded to eradicate poverty through creating jobs. But it turned into a microcredit body. “Currently, we’re using PKSF for overall development, bringing it out of microcredit territory.”
PKSF is also emphasising education and health, skill development and technology alongside creating jobs for the poor, she said.
Currently, PKSF is working for economic development and improving living standards of 14 million poor people and their families, through various income-generating activities, she noted.
Besides, PKSF is specially contributing to the development of economy through technology expansion, processing, marketing, development of value chain of agricultural products and skilled entrepreneurs, Hasina said.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal also spoke at the function, chaired by PKSF Chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad. PKSF Managing Director Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah delivered the welcome speech.
Some 130 organisations, including partner organisations (non-government organisations funded under various programmes) of PKSF, are showcasing their products in 190 stalls at the weeklong exposition.
The fair will remain open for visitors from 10am to 8:30pm every day till November 20.