Blame game on GSP
The Jatiya Sangsad yesterday witnessed yet another blame game between top leaders of the opposition and treasury benches over the US' revoking of Bangladesh's generalised system of preferences facilities.
Taking part in the budget discussion in parliament, Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia shrugged off their own responsibilities in retaining the facility and put the onus on each other.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, speaking in the House, appealed to the US to refrain from withdrawing the GSP facilities for Bangladesh. He said the negative impact of the withdrawal might spread to other sectors and “there lie our apprehensions and fears”.
Showing a copy of an article written earlier in the year by Khaleda Zia in a US daily, Hasina said it was the BNP chairperson who had appealed to the US administration through the write-up to cancel GSP facilities for Bangladesh.
Khaleda, however, denied having written the article Hasina was referring to and accused the government of trying to put the blame for the failures of the government on the opposition.
She also called upon US President Barack Obama to withdraw the decision on revoking GSP facilities for Bangladesh. In parliament yesterday, she claimed that the government had launched a propaganda campaign after having failed to retain the GSP facilities.
“It was the murder of Aminul and the Rana Plaza collapse that ushered in the decision of the GSP suspension. I would like to urge the government not to shift the blame for its failures onto others. Stop such propaganda at this critical stage,” Khaleda said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on the other hand, claimed that it was her government that had persistently succeeded in keeping the GSP facilities amidst repeated notices served by the US administration.
Referring to Khaleda's article published in the Washington Times, Hasina said, “You all can get the article available on the internet. There can be nothing more shameful and unfortunate than for someone to write against her own country.”
Hasina recalled that during Khaleda Zia's first government (1991-96), the European Union had revoked trade facilities for Bangladeshi shrimps.
Hasina said it was her government that had later restored the facility.
Claiming that the BNP had not done much for the readymade garments sector, Hasina said it was during her tenure that garment workers' wages were raised by 82 percent.
Finance Minister Muhith said as the BNP government's neglect had cost Bangladesh its GSP facilities at the European Union before 1996, the Awami League government after assuming power took various steps following which the EU restored the facilities.
Citing different steps taken by the government for the welfare of workers, Muhith said Bangladesh was front ranking not only in producing commodities but also in promoting human development and welfare.
He said industries and commerce bodies, consumers and the US government should consider this.
Muhith said the leader of the opposition, the Jamaat-e-Islami and an influential quarter of the country had played an important role in getting the US to suspend GSP facilities for Bangladesh.
He said last year Bangladesh exported $5.3 billion to the US, of which commodities worth $35 million had GSP facilities.
Muhith said the financial loss due to the suspension would not be much, but it was sad that the facilities had been withdrawn for a country with such high prospects.
He said the impact of the suspension might be on the women of Bangladesh, who had made the country proud.