Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Bangladesh has attained the ability to advance further by competing with other nations.
“We’re implementing 90 percent of our development projects with our own funds… now donors don’t come to give alms. Rather they come to provide assistance, mentioning us as their development partners,” she told a reception at Rome last night.
Awami League's Italy Chapter accorded the reception to the prime minister at Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa.
Referring to the construction of the Padma Bridge with the government’s own funds, PM said: “We’ve proven that we can accomplish any work on our own.”
Sheikh Hasina said the World Bank wanted to put the blame on the government regarding the bridge. “I had taken it as a challenge, saying that we’ll build the bridge with our own fund and now we’re implementing the project by our money,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh earned independence through the Liberation War under the leadership of Bangabandhu. “So I promised that whenever we’ll come to power, we’ll develop the country in such a way that Bangladesh can move with dignity on the world stage,” she said.
“We can now claim that we’ve been able to bring Bangladesh to that position,” she added.
Mentioning that the country is advancing fast economically, the prime minister said the Father of the Nation rebuilt a war-ravaged country.
“Our government has given Bangladesh the status of a developing country from that position and we have to maintain that status till 2024 to transform Bangladesh into a middle income country … We’ve already attained three criteria that are needed to achieve the target,” she said.
The prime minister said those who grabbed power illegally after the assassination of Bangabandhu were busy changing their own lot, and not the fate of the people.
“At that time to the world, Bangladesh was known as a country of cyclones, tidal surges and famines,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has brought down extreme poverty rate to 10 percent and poverty rate to 20.5 percent. “Insha Allah we can cut the rate by two/three percent more by this year and for this we’ve undertaken some special programmes,” she said.
“We don’t want a single person to remain poor,” she said.
“Not a single people will remain homeless in Mujib Borsho,” she said, adding Tk 100 crore has been allocated separately in the budget for rehabilitation of the river erosion-hit people.
Spelling out her government’s steps for the welfare of the expatriate Bangladeshis, Sheikh Hasina said her government has set up Probashi Kalyan Bank so that people intending to go abroad do not need to sell their land or property.
The PM said the government has set up 5,800 digital centres through which the people intending to go abroad can register their names in the expatriates welfare ministry.
“We’ve also taken an initiative so that we can send 1,000 people abroad from every upazila and for this, we’ve made arrangements for smart card for them,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government previously introduced machine readable passport. “Now it’s the era of e-passport and we’ve already started work on giving e-passports,” she said.
She said steps have been taken so that passengers do not become victims of harassment at the airports in Bangladesh. “We’re constructing the third terminal at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to provide better services to the passengers,” she said.
The prime minister said as a political party Awami League has an economic policy and manifesto, adding, “We don’t only give an election manifesto … We frame each budget with the manifesto in mind,” she said.
About the demand of the expatriate Bangladeshis in Italy for launching direct Biman flights, she said the discussion is underway with the Italian government in this regard. “I’ll also raise the issue before the Italian prime minister during our talks,” she said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and President of Italy Chapter Awami League Hazi Mohammad Idris Farazi and General Secretary Hasan Iqbal and on behalf of the expatriate Bangladeshis, Hosne Ara Begum, spoke at the function.
Bangladesh Ambassador to Italy Abdus Sobhan Sikdar and President of UK Chapter Awami League Sultan Mahmud Sharif were also present.
A huge number of leaders and workers of AL and its associate organisations from different European countries also joined the event.
The prime minister arrived in Rome on Tuesday afternoon for a four-day official visit to Italy at the invitation of her Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte.