Calling upon all to forge national unity on the basic issues, President Abdul Hamid yesterday said peace and prosperity could not be given a permanent shape without it.
Addressing the 11th parliament on the opening day of its maiden session, he urged all lawmakers to play an appropriate and effective role in fulfilling people's expectations.
“I call for making united efforts to create unity among all irrespective of political affiliations, classes and professions on the basic issues, including continuation of democracy, the rule of law and socioeconomic development.”
Hamid said Jatiya Sangsad is the centrepiece of people's hope and aspirations. Alongside the ruling party, the opposition parties would have to play a constructive role in strengthening transparency, accountability, tolerance, human rights and the rule of law, he added.
The president highlighted the government's achievements in different sectors, including economy, trade and commerce, agriculture, power, foreign relations, tourism, education, health, women and children development, rural development, expatriates welfare, science and technology, ICT and public administration.
Hamid said Bangladesh would celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the National Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman next year and the golden jubilee of its independence in 2021 as a middle-income country. The nation expects Bangladesh will emerge as a developed country by 2041, he added.
Referring to the December 30 national election, the president said it was held in a free, fair, peaceful and neutral manner with participation of all political parties under the supervision of the Election Commission.
“The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was formed for the fourth time. The people's verdict is the reflection of an unwavering support to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's popular election manifesto --Samriddhir Agrajatrai Bangladesh [Bangladesh in pursuit of prosperity]. The government is determined to implement the pledges made in the election manifesto. Everyone will have to work together to face the challenges in the implementation of these commitments,” he said.
The government's all-out efforts continued to strengthen and uphold the rule of law, Hamid told parliament.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission has been strengthened to establish good governance while the National Human Rights Commission and the Information Commission have been set up. The rule of law has been established by abolishing the infamous indemnity law. Verdicts in the Bangabandhu murder and war crimes cases have been executed.”
He said the government has been able to maintain a sustainable growth in all economic indexes. “A GDP growth rate of above 7 percent has been achieved since the 2015-16 fiscal year. According to the final estimate, the GDP rate in 2017-18 fiscal year was 7.78 percent. Bangladesh's economy is the 33rd in the world in terms of purchasing power parity while 41st on the basis of GDP size.”
Hamid said the per capita income now stood at $1,751; foreign reserve crossed $32 billion mark and the inflation rate dropped to 5.4 percent.
He also mentioned that the size of the national budget and revenue collection has increased manifold over the years. “We are successfully implementing many large projects, including construction of the Padma Bridge and flyovers, with our own fund by increasing revenue collection.”
Employment opportunities have been created at home and abroad over the last 10 years. During this period, some 1.34 crore people were employed in the country while around 80 lakh abroad, said the president.
He said 34.82 lakh Bangladeshis went aboard with jobs in last five years.
The government has been implementing a five-year health, population and nutrition development programme at a cost of Tk 115,486 crore to ensure healthcare, said Hamid.
The government's “zero tolerance” policy against drug abuse, militancy and extremism has been praised worldwide, he mentioned.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present during the president's speech at the House, with newly-reelected Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
Though Leader of the Opposition HM Ershad was absent as he was undergoing treatment abroad, Opposition Deputy Leader GM Quader was present.