*Tk 23,000cr subsidy for diesel alone
*Party rebels to face action
*Govt to look into killing of military officers by Zia
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday described the treatment of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia abroad as a legal matter, saying she has done the government’s part through executive power.
“I’ve done my part bestowed upon me through executive power. Now it’s a legal matter,” she said responding to a query about the government’s stance on the BNP chief’s better treatment abroad at a press conference at her official residence Ganabhaban.
Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, was critical of the demand of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to allow its Chairperson Khaleda to go abroad for treatment.
“How can you expect more from me? Isn’t it enough that she (Khaleda) has been taking treatment at home instead of jail? Will you receive that person with garlands if anyone tries to kill you? Answer me,” she said, posing a counter-question.
The premier said she showed a humanitarian gesture to Khaleda despite her inhuman behaviour. “Even then we’ve sent her home suspending the sentences by showing humanity,” she said.
The BNP chief is now undergoing treatment at the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) of a private hospital in the capital.
On March 25, 2020, the government released her for six months suspending her sentences in two cases on the condition that she would receive treatment only at home. Later, her release was extended for three times.
Talking about the repeated attempts to assassinate her, Sheikh Hasina said the August 21 grenade attack was carried out on an Awami League rally on the Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital with an aim to kill her. “What will you do if anyone tries to kill you and reward those killers by posting them at foreign missions without bringing them to book?” she said.
Mentioning Khaleda’s naked politics, the premier said the BNP chief had paved the way for killer Rashid to assume the office of the Leader of Opposition in Parliament through the February 15 general election in 1996.
Replying to a query about the hike in diesel and kerosene prices, she said her government has been providing subsidies to the tune of Tk 53,000 crore for different sectors. “The government has to provide Tk 53,000-crore subsidies for electricity, fertiliser, agriculture and fuel. A Tk 23,000-crore subsidy is given for diesel alone,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government increased the fuel prices in line with the international market. “How much subsidies can the government provide? If the government keeps increasing the subsidies for fuel, there’ll be no fund for development,” she said.
Over bus fare hike, she said bus fares have been set at a reasonable level through discussion.
Highlighting people’s tendency to skip paying taxes and evade taxes, the prime minister said everyone is looking at tax evasion. “How will the government get the money?” she said.
She also said the government has to provide subsidies for importing LNG to resolve the gas crisis. “We’re providing LNG at Tk 9 (per unit) only so that industries can run smoothly though we have to count Tk 60 for the import. We’re giving huge subsidies in the gas sector, too,” she said.
Turning to the ongoing union parishad polls, Sheikh Hasina said the government does not want to see acts of violence centring on the polls. “We don’t want the loss of lives centring on the polls. The government is taking measures in those areas where violence is taking place,” she said.
She said only the chairman candidates are participating in the elections with party symbols. “But there’re member posts too. So, violent incidents are also taking place among the supporters of the member contenders,” she said.
The premier blamed BNP for such violence as many leaders of the party are contesting the polls despite its boycott.
Over the party rebels, the AL president said organisational action will be taken against those leaders who work against the party-nominated candidates. “Action will be taken for participating in the polls defying the party decision, no matter whoever he/she might be.”
Talking about the coronavirus pandemic, she said there was no scarcity of food in Bangladesh despite many developed countries had been facing the crisis. “Many developed countries are suffering from the food crisis. Even, the supermarkets are empty in developed countries. There’re no essential commodities. Look at London. But, there’s no scarcity in our country,” she said.
“Once there was a cry for electricity in the country. But, we’ve been able to ensure the electricity supply to each household,” the premier said.
She said special attention is being attached to ensuring that the people of the country do not suffer for food.
Sheikh Hasina also said her government has taken necessary measures to boost the food production and keep the prices of commodities under a tolerable level.
Talking about the post-1975 killings by the military government, she said the present government will take initiative in this regard for the sake of family members of those officers who were hanged by military ruler Ziaur Rahman. “Ziaur Rahman hanged so many military officers in jail…. We’ll look into those,” she said, adding that those who were killed in the firing squad at that time will also be traced.