Saying that her government won't tolerate any corruption and irregularities, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday told parliament that action would continue against the corrupt people irrespective of their identities.
While delivering her winding up speech in the shortest ever budget session in the recent history of parliament, she said, "Certainly, we will not tolerate these irregularities. We are taking actions no matter who they are. And our actions will continue."
Hasina, also Leader of the House, made the statement after several opposition lawmakers, including Jatiya Party Chairman and Deputy Leader of the Opposition GM Quader, criticised the government for corruption and irregularities in the health sector.
Describing in details of different charity activities carried out by the ruling Awami League and its associate bodies, Hasina questioned the role of other parties and organisations in helping the people in this tough time.
"There are many political parties, NGOs, and voluntary organisations. Who is doing how much work now?" Hasina asked, adding that it was easy to criticise the government and find flaws in the budget staying at home.
In her around one-hour speech, the PM said the military dictators polluted the society by destroying people's character for a long to stay their power after 1975.
"They taught the people how to resort to corruption, earning black money and defaulting loans, and overall, they made the society polluted to be in power after grasping it illegally."
Hasina said in the past, people used to lead their lives maintaining ideology, but the military dictators destroyed people's character for a long time to make their power unchallenged.
"After coming to power," Hasina said, "The Awami League government has been taking actions against those involved in corruption and irregularities irrespective of their political affiliations. It is not a big matter [for us] who belongs to what party."
The PM said, "We caught the corrupt people and thieves."
The government is being blamed despite catching the corrupt, Hasina said.
"In the past, corruption turned into policy and irregularities turned into rules. But after assuming power, the Awami League government has been making an effort to make these irregularities corrected and this effort will continue," Hasina said amid thumping of desks by the treasury bench lawmakers.
About the national budget for fiscal 2020-21, the PM said, "We know there is a question whether we can implement the budget fully because of this coronavirus …. If the situation turns good soon, we'll be able to implement it. If this situation continues throughout the world, we may not reach our target, but we placed the budget so that our economic activities continue."
She added that the government could place the budget when many developed countries failed amid the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
Pointing to the shutdown of state-run jute mills, Hasina said those mills would be reopened after modernising them to catch the international market of jute as the existing machinery of the mills was old.
"It was not possible to make profits running these old mills set up in 1960s and 1970s. An industry cannot run where the government have to pay salaries of 25,000 permanent workers and other temporary workers for years," she added.
The PM said her government allocated Tk 5,000 crore to pay the dues of the jute mill workers.
"The workers will be given 50 percent of their dues in cash, while the rest will be paid as saving certificate so that they can get a handsome amount of money from the interest [of the certificates] in every three months," she said.
The PM said the interested workers would be given training on the latest technology so that the skilled workers could get jobs when the jute mills would be reopened.
Jute products are an alternative to getting relief from synthetic products to prevent environment pollution, she said.
"We've taken this step [modernising the mills] so that we can catch the international market of jute," added Hasina.
SOCIAL SAFETY NET
Mentioning that many people lost their jobs due to the pandemic, Hasina said her government would increase the humanitarian assistance and expand the coverage of the social safety net programmes.
She added that the government announced 19 stimulus packages so that every people could continue running their economic activities.
The PM urged all to follow the health guidelines properly and do not get panicked.