US lauds Hasina’s leadership | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:43 AM, May 22, 2020

US lauds Hasina’s leadership

The United States has appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership and described Bangladesh as a "dynamic entrepreneurial society" whose social indicators have been a real success story.

The US mentioned the prime minister's leadership in lifting women up in particular saying it has been so noteworthy.

"The last three years has also seen significant growth in the US-Bangladesh relationship," said Alice G Wells, US acting assistant secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, in a special briefing via telephone on Wednesday.

Wells said Bangladesh has rightly been commended for the generous response of its government and people to the Rohingya crisis and their cooperation with international humanitarian partners. 

She said the United States is the single largest contributor of assistance to the Rohingya crisis, but Bangladesh is much more than just a host nation for Rohingyas; it is a country that has achieved impressive economic growth over the last decade, accompanied by strides in human development. 

"It plays an important role in the Indian Ocean region, and our security cooperation has grown closer," Wells said encouraging Bangladesh to renew its commitments to democratic institutions and governing structures, which the US thinks will help further growth in bilateral relationship that is based on shared values.

She said the US will be a "reliable partner" in helping countries of the region on the path to economic recovery. 

They have provided over $96 million in Covid-19 related assistance to the region, but this is really on top of what has been $6 billion in public health investments over the last two decades, said the senior US official.

Wells said they see the "devastating impact" of the disease with the cutting off of supply lines.

She mentioned that it is unfortunate but temporary; and noted loss of markets as a result of disruptions in the RMG sector. 

"Now, already we're seeking to address that. We're trying to match-make between Bangladeshi manufacturers and consumers in America for critical medical supplies, as the Bangladeshi factories are retooling and seeking new markets," she said.

Wells said they will continue to look for all opportunities to be able to increase the trade and investment relationship between the two countries.

She mentioned that America remains or has been the largest export market for Bangladesh. "We're very important to Bangladesh's economic health."

Wells said they are all living in challenging times as a result of novel coronavirus, but her three years in this position certainly leaves her confident about the strength of the US partnerships in the region and their ability to confront diplomatic, economic, and security challenges together. 

She said the bureau will now be very capably led by senior bureau official, Tom Vajda.

PM ALLOCATES TK 25CR FOR MUNICIPAL STAFF

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has allocated Tk 25 crore for the country's 328 municipalities to pay the salaries and allowances of their officials and employees amid the coronavirus crisis.

"The money has been allocated from the Prime Minister's Relief and Welfare Fund," said PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim yesterday.

Some 12,519 officials and employees of the 328 municipalities as well as 20,000 cleaning workers recruited through outsourcing will be benefited from the allocation.

The 328 municipalities with their limited resources have relentlessly been working to ensure various services, including uninterrupted water supply, sanitation activities, spraying disinfectants, distribution of face masks, performing funeral of deceased and distribution of relief materials among the needy people facing various adversities and challenges amid the countrywide shutdown started on March 26.

Besides, the local bodies are now working to destroy Aedes mosquito breeding grounds for containing dengue.

Most of the municipalities are unable to pay salaries and allowance of their staff in time as their revenue collection declined sharply in the last two months. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic situation, all the regular revenue collection of the municipalities from different sectors, including holding tax, trade licence, rent of shop and auction (izara) of haats and bazaars remained suspended for the last two months.

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