Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
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Think about country, people

PM urges businessmen

Think about country, people
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks at a view-exchange meeting with the importers and exporters of consumer goods at Ganabhaban in the capital on Wednesday. Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, among others, was present on the occasion. – PID PHOTO

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday called upon the businessmen to do business thinking about their country and its people as the world is going through a crisis due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid-19 pandemic, reports BSS.

 “You’re now thinking about profit. Earlier (during the BNP-Jamaat regime), a big portion of the profit had become hollow as a certain percentage of that had to be given to Hawa Bhaban and development wing of the Prime Minister’s Office. ---all have now become free from it. Keep that in mind, (do business) thinking (welfare) of the country and its people,” she said.

 The Prime Minister said this while exchanging views with the country’s importers and exporters of consumer goods at her official Ganabhaban residence.

The Prime Minister called upon the businessmen to sell all the essential commodities, including oil and sugar, at fair prices across the country.

Briefly describing measures taken by the Awami League government since its assumed power in 2009, she said her government has created an atmosphere, which is conducive to the business community irrespective of party affiliation, and they have been doing business with profits for the last 14 years.

"There is no Hawa Bhaban and any development wing at the PMO. So, you (businessmen) don't have to give a portion (of the profit) to Hawa Bhaban and another portion to the development wing or any other place. You must acknowledge that you are no longer enduring the torture. All are free from the pain," she said.

Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, PM's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman, PM's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, PMO Senior Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah, FBCCI President Jasim Uddin and Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, among others, were present.

The Prime Minister said the government has even given stimulus packages to business populace to run their businesses during the peak of the Covid-19.

"We have given special stimulus packages to you (businessmen) during the period of Coronavirus although none from you came to me to claim it . . . we had decided to run the country's economy," she said.

Many developed countries had to stop their industries during the pandemic, she said, adding that her government was able to continue the industries apart from giving the stimulus packages as well as salaries to the workers of readymade garment factories.

Some people started hoping that Hawa Bhaban may open again as the opposition (BNP) has taken to the streets.

The Premier reminded that the business community across the world is now facing a crisis of energy due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Many countries, including the US probably for the first time have to use oil from their reserves while the United Kingdom has raised the prices of electricity by 80 per cent, she said, adding the cold-prone countries, including entire Europe and the United Kingdom, have to prepare winter plans to save energy.

The incumbent government is providing LNG at Tk 9 per litre while the government has to spend Tk 60 per litre, the Prime Minister said, adding that they have to sell electricity at the subsidized price.

"Everyone has to keep in mind that the current crisis is not meant for Bangladesh, rather it is an international crisis," she said.

The purchasing capacity of the people has increased because of the government's efforts, which is immensely benefiting the business community.

She also said her government has been able to limit the inflation rate to a tolerance level while the inflation rate of the UK is 40 per cent.

The Premier said her government has taken initiatives to import Soybean oil and sugar from Brazil to sell those through TCB while the businessmen can also import those essential commodities privately.

About the decrease of the foreign currency reserve, she said the foreign currency reserve was increased to 48 billion US dollars during the Covid-19 period as most of the remittance was sent to the country through banking channels ignoring the illegal process and expense from the reserve was also less during that time.

The remittance has started decreasing with the start of import, she said, adding that Bangladesh has mostly imported capital types of machinery and the machines would certainly provide returns after those start functioning.

Sheikh Hasina said she has forecast that famine may hit the world from her perception gained from long-time experience.

"Many people think, why am I saying (about the impending famine) and on what basis? This is a perception of mine that comes from a long-time experience," she said.

The entire global economy was hit hard after the Russia-Ukraine war started, she said, adding that Bangladesh's economy, particularly the economy of the developed countries has to bear its brunt.

"Then, I have said that a famine-like situation can emerge in future. As I have said earlier. Now all (world leaders) are echoing the same," she said referring to Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's comments about a severe crisis ahead in his maiden speech as the Premier.

She noted that she said to the people whatever she apprehends, saying, "There is nothing to hide (from the people). The people voted me to power and we will not come to power if they do not vote for us."

The Prime Minister said she called upon the countrymen time and again to grow more food on whatever land they have so that the country would never face any food crisis.

She said she boldly raised voices against the war in various international forums, including the United Nation's General Assembly session, calling upon the world community to take effective measures to stop the Russia-Ukraine war which has created the current global crisis.

The Premier said she also urged the global leaders to spend money on giving food and necessary assistance to the people instead of the arms race and imposing sanctions to give a lesson to a country triggering world people's suffering.

She said many people have feared whether she can stay in power of her stance against the war and the sanction.

"I don't care what will happen to me. I am saying what is true," she said.

In this connection, she reminded that Awami League could not come to power in 2001 as she declined to give gas to neighbouring country India despite repeated requests from the USA.

The Prime Minister told the countrymen to think if she assumed power by giving gas what Bangladesh would have to face now.