Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday renewed her vows to fight corruption and urged people to remain vigilant against any impediment to the nation's journey forward.
"There are elements who look for ways to grab people's wealth using different techniques, [but] we have taken strict stance against corruption," she said while addressing the nation marking the second anniversary of the incumbent government.
The state-run Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and private TV and radio channels broadcast her speech live.
Hasina formed the government for the third consecutive term after her party the Awami League's victory in the 2018 national elections.
The PM said the corrupt elements, irrespective of their political or party links and influence, "are not being and will not be" spared. She said the Anti-Corruption Commission was carrying on its mission "independently".
"We are firmly committed to removing all hurdles in the way of development," she said, adding that at the same time, her government would do everything needed to ensure people's civic and democratic rights, upholding the rule of law.
The PM said her government prevented the rise of militancy with an iron hand and kept its cultural and spiritual heritage of being a nation of interfaith harmony.
"The followers of all religions faiths and castes have been living together maintaining mutual respect and they will do so in the future as well."
Hasina said the pandemic left a huge scar throughout the globe. Cyclone Amphan, repeated and prolonged flooding alongside the pandemic exposed Bangladesh economy to a deeper crisis, which "we managed to overcome with firmness".
"The world is yet to overcome the coronavirus crisis, [but] by the grace of Almighty Allah the death and infection rates caused by the pandemic continued to remain much low in Bangladesh," she said.
Hasina said her government put in its all efforts to contain the pandemic and ensure the import of its vaccine as quick as possible.
"Frontline warriors like physicians, health workers, and law enforcement agency members will have priority in getting the inoculation as soon as the vaccines are available in the country."
She reiterated her clarion call upon all to follow health guidelines.
Hasina said Bangladesh kept stabilised its economic performance, defying Covid-19 onslaught and "according to our estimates, this year our GDP growth rate will be 7.4 percent".
She said different international agencies predicted Bangladesh to be on the top of the countries with higher GDP growth in Asia, while the International Monitory Fund (IMF) report said Bangladesh was the third top scorer among the nations across the globe.
The PM pointed out that the GDP of Bangladesh last year grew by 5.24 percent, when the per capita income stood at $2,064.
"March 26 will be the golden jubilee of our independence. We will celebrate it with all festivity InshaAllah if the coronavirus disappears. Simultaneously, the Father of the Nation's birth centenary functions will continue," the PM said.
Hasina outlined her government's policies and strategies to negate the pandemic impact on Bangladesh economy, particularly keeping in mind the issues of the poorer people.
"We have so far announced stimulus packages of Tk 1.21 lakh crore which is equivalent to 4.3 percent of the total GDP. We are still continuing the process considering the situation," she said.
The PM said during the crisis, the social safety net was widened to bring around 2.5 crore people under financial and other assistance programmes.
Hasina said the pandemic forced closure of educational institutions in Bangladesh as elsewhere in the globe, but students continued to attend classes virtually.
She said the schools and other educational institutions would be reopened as soon as the normalcy returned.
The PM said her government continued to make all efforts to peacefully send all 1.1 million Rohingyas back home.
"I call upon the international community to take more effective measures to repatriate Rohingyas to their own country."
Hasina said her government built improved and well-designed infrastructures in Bhasan Char to accommodate one lakh Rohingyas.
But she said only those who voluntarily expressed their desire to be moved to the island were being relocated.
The PM noted that Bangladesh at this moment has secured the number one position in terms of peacekeeper members in the United Nations blue helmet missions.
Hasina said Bangladesh would be the 24th largest economy within 2030 as forecast by the World Economic Forum.
She also highlighted the implementation status of different mega projects such as the Padma bridge (82 percent) after the installation of the last span, first unit of 1,200MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (80 percent) and tunnel under the Karnaphuli river (62 percent).
Hasina said her governments have added 19,000MW power to the national grid from 2009 to 2020 and now the daily generation capacity is 24,421MW.
Mentioning that Bangladesh secured the third spot, climbing from the fourth place, in rice production, she said continuous policy support and stimulation to the agriculture sector have helped achieve this success.
About the road communications, Hasina said the government has developed 63,655km rural roads, while 453km highways were upgraded to four lanes from 2009 to 2020.
Besides, the PM said the government has set up 451km of new rail lines, while it restored 1,181km rail tracks and constructed 428 rail bridges from 2009 to 2020.
Hasina added that 12 brand new Boeing aircraft, including Dreamliners, have been inducted into the fleet of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, while a Dash-8-400 aircraft has been added to it last month and another two Dash-8-400 aircraft were on the way.
The PM said digital technology has emerged as a key medium of communications and trade-business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number of internet users has exceeded 11 crore during the period, she said, adding that internet connections were being provided via fiber-optic cable to 18,434 government organisations and 3,800 unions.
Hasina said the country's own satellite Bangabandhu-I has been providing all local satellite TV channels' feeds and internet to remote islands as well as offering services to private banks and Bangladesh Army.
She mentioned that the government has provided a total of Tk 2,958 crore as stipend from primary to higher education levels in fiscal 2019-20 and Tk 111 crore to 2,10,049 honours or equivalent-level students under education assistance trust of the prime minister in 2020.
The PM said each primary school student will get Tk 1,000 as kit allowance in 2021 on the occasion of Mujib Borsho and the scheme will require Tk 1,400 crore.