As Bangladesh is set to open three mega structures, including Padma Multipurpose Bridge, in 2022, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said this year will be a milestone in the country’s infrastructure development.
“The year of 2022 will be a milestone in the infrastructure development. Foiling all the conspiracies, we’re going to complete the construction work on the Padma Bridge through internal resources. The bridge will directly connect the capital with south and other regions of the country and is expected to boost the GDP by 1.2 percent,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina formed the government for the third consecutive term on January 7, 2019 after her party Awami League’s landslide victory in the 2018 general election.
She said her government has also outlined a plan to open a 14-km portion of Dhaka Metro Rail from Uttara to Agargaon by the end of this year. “The trial run has already started. It’s expected that the service will bring a revolutionary change to the transport system of Dhaka,” she said.
The prime minister also expressed the hope that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel beneath the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram will also be opened in October this year.
Reiterating her government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on corruption, she said no one will be spared for committing wrongdoings. “We’ve taken a stern stance against corruption. Corrupt elements -- irrespective of their party affiliation and influence -- are not being spared and won’t be spared,” she said.
The premier said the Anti-Corruption Commission has been working independently to curb corruption from the country.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has been marching towards development at an indomitable pace.
But a quarter has been out to mislead the country’s foreign partners through falsehood, said Sheikh Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League. “This pace of development is not tolerated by many. Anti-Bangladesh forces along with the anti-liberation elements are hatching conspiracies at home and aboard to hinder the country’s progress. They’re spreading falsehood and imaginary information through social media platforms to mislead the people and development partners,” she said.
The prime minister said the country has to go through a grave crisis in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and that crisis is yet to be over. “Amid the crisis, a new variant is spreading fast in various countries of the world. We’ve to be careful right now and follow the health guidelines. Those who haven’t yet taken vaccines, I’m requesting them to get vaccinated quickly.”
She said the Covid-19 vaccination is going on in full swing. A mass vaccination drive has been launched to vaccinate 1 crore people per month.
Sheikh Hasina said some 129,580,000 doses have been administered and 75,800,000 people have already received their first doses while 53,582,000 got both doses. “From the last month, the administering of a booster dose started. At present, we’ve more than 9 crore doses in our hand,” she said.
She said the coronavirus pandemic has created a deep wound in the world economy. “The economies in many countries have been devastated. Our economy has also suffered setbacks and it came to a standstill.”
But, the prime minister said, the government with the cooperation of all has managed to overcome that to some extent. “We’re trying to keep the wheel of the economy moving through policy support and various liberal financial stimulus packages.”
“So far, we’ve announced 28 stimulus packages involving Tk 187,679 crore. As of October 2021, some Tk 106,522 crore has been spent, which is 56.76 percent of the total allocation and some 6.74 crore people and 118,000 organisations have benefited with that,” she said.
Referring to her 2018 electoral pledge on ‘March towards Prosperity’, Sheikh Hasina said her key pledges were to develop a skilled, service-oriented and accountable administration to build a non-communal and poverty-free Bangladesh by uprooting militancy.
She said various measures have been taken to turn Bangladesh into a high-income country by 2031 and a developed one by 2041.
Listing her government’s various development activities unleashed in the last 13 years, the premier said country’s first nuclear power plant at a cost of Tk 1.13 lakh crore will start functioning from April next year.
She called upon all to remain alert so that no one can play ducks and drakes with the fate of the country’s people. “The ongoing progress must be maintained. People are the source of power. We do believe in people’s empowerment. That’s’ why our stand is for the people,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the 13-year rule of the Awami League-led government took Bangladesh to a dignified position in the world.
The country marked a significant progress in socio-economic and infrastructure development sectors during the time, she said.
“2021 was a landmark year in our development. We achieved the eligibility of graduating to developing country last year. The achievement during the golden jubilee of independence and Mujib Year is a matter of pride,’ the prime minister said.
She said the country marched forward despite the coronavirus pandemic. “As per the analysis of international organisations, the GDP of Bangladesh was the highest in South Asia while the per capita income has risen to $2,554,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said noted weekly newspaper The Economist has listed Bangladesh as the 9th strongest economy in its report on the financial strength of 66 emerging economies in the wake of the Covid-19 fallout while World Economic Forum hinted that Bangladesh would be the 24th largest economy by 2030.
Bangladesh gets a piece of good news at the beginning of the year as the country has got 17-103 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves in its exclusive economic zone in the bay, she said.
Urging the country’s people to judge the activities of her government, Sheikh Hasina hoped that like in the past, people will stand by her party to make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041.
Full text of PM’s address to nation