Friday, 20 May, 2022

PM rules out economic crisis in country

► Padma Bridge to open to traffic at year end ► Govt intervention has tamed prices of essentials

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of a Sri Lanka-like crisis in Bangladesh, saying that the country’s economy is very strong, reports UNB.

“The base of Bangladesh's economy is very strong. We’re very careful about it,” she said in her valedictory speech in the 17th session of 11th Parliament.

The prime minister said this, referring to the remarks of Deputy Opposition Leader Ghulam Muhammed Quader who suggested that Bangladesh needs to be cautious after the Sri Lankan economic crisis.

Hasina, also the Leader of the House, said Bangladesh still remains as the 31st largest economy in the world.

She dismissed the fear of Bangladesh falling in any debt trap, saying that the country has always been repaying loans in time after Awami League formed the government.

“Bangladesh is a country which has never become a defaulter in loan repayment and will not become so in future as well,” she said.

Talking about the essentials’ price-hike, the Prime Minister said the inflation rate has gone above 7.50 per cent in the entire Europe due to the fallout of Covid-19 pandemic and Ukraine war. “But the inflation is still less than 6 percent in Bangladesh,” she said.

She said the prices of essentials increased with the rise of per capita income in the country. The price of every commodity rose in the world due to the Covid-19.

“The prices of essentials have gone up in all the countries, not only in our country,” said Hasina, mentioning that ship fare also enhanced along with the price-hike in the international market due to the blow of both Covid and war.

Citing Wednesday's prices of different essentials in the local market, the PM said the government is taking measures to control the prices of goods.  

Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Bangladesh Awami League, defended the Article-70 of the Constitution, which doesn’t allow an MP to vote against his or her party in Parliament.

“There is a stability in politics as the Article-70 is there,” she said.

As per the Article 70, if an MP resigns from his or her party or votes against that party, the person would lose the membership of Parliament.

The prime minister also said the Padma Bridge, a dream project of her government, will open to traffic by the end this year.

She said this while responding to a tabled question from ruling party MP (Naogaon-2) Shahiduzzaman Sarker during PM's question-answer session.

Hasina said the Padma Bridge has been the most challenging project in the history of a developing country like Bangladesh.

The construction of the 6.15 km-long bridge connecting the central Bangladesh with the south has been a brave move by her government that overcame many obstacles.

She said that the 100 per cent work on the approach road and service area at both ends of the project has been completed.

She mentioned the completion of the physical work of the main bridge at 96.50 per cent.

The PM said that currently work of carpeting, viaduct carpeting, waterproof membrane, movement joint of main bridge and viaduct, lamppost, aluminum railing, gas pipeline, 400 KVA electricity and railway line is in progress.

She told the House that the revised budget of the Padma Bridge project stands Tk 30,193.39 crore.

Replying to another question from ruling party MP Kazim Uddin Ahmed, the premier said that the prices of essential commodities have come down significantly due to the ongoing fair-price sale of these products by the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.

She said that prices of the essentials soared significantly all around the world due to the economic slowdown caused by coronavirus pandemic.

 She also mentioned that Russia-Ukraine war pushed up the fuel price too.

 “As a result, prices of essentials have increased in the world market,” she said.

She, however, said that her pro-people government has taken immediate steps to control the situation and keep the prices under control and at a tolerable level.

“Due to various steps of the government prices of the essentials are now at  logical level,” she said.

She also hoped that prices of the essential items will remain at tolerable and affordable level during the holy month of Ramadan.

The prime minister said that one-litre bottle of soybean oil, selling at Tk 170 on March 1, was available at Tk 161.50 on April 5.

She said during this time the price of loose soybean oil came down to Tk 155 per litre from Tk 175, while the price of palm oil came down to Tk 142 per litre from Tk 158.

But the TCB during this time sold bottled soybean at Tk 110 per litre, she said.

The Leader of the House mentioned that lentil price came down to Tk 112.50 on April 5 from Tk 120 while TCB was selling at Tk 65 per kilogram.

Loose sugar was Tk 85 per kilogram on March 1 while it was Tk 78 on April 5. TCB is selling at the price Tk 55 per kilogram, she added.

 Hasina said that the price of chickpeas was selling at Tk 72.50 on April 5 while it was Tk 77 on March 1. TCB is selling this item at Tk 50 per kilogram.

Regarding onion price, she said, on March 1 it was selling at Tk 60 per kilogram, while on April 5 the price fell to Tk 31.50. The TCB is selling it at Tk 20 per kilogram.