Bangladesh is able to develop when there is political stability, says Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“If we have political stability, we have seen that the country develops,” she said during a press conference to discuss the highlights of her recent visit to Qatar on Monday.
“But we must be patient for it to take effect. Ultimately, the people will resolve any instability.”
Regarding criticism of her government’s handling of Bangladesh’s economic instability, the prime minister said: "We kept promises we made to people."
"We can at least claim that we set some targets for development and met the targets by the deadline. Now is the time to march on."
Bangladesh is not the only country facing economic difficulties due to the Russia-Ukraine war, said Hasina.
“The whole world, not just Bangladesh, is facing the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. Bangladesh is trying to recover from this,” she said after returning from the Fifth United Nations Conference of the Least Developed Countries.
Still, the government will do what it can to ensure that necessities are affordable during the coming month of Ramadan, she said.
“Ramadan is a month for austerity. We're working to control prices during Ramadan by increasing supply through imports."
The prime minister said that there was a concern during the COVID pandemic about whether her government would be able to navigate its challenges, but "we managed to handle it".
Many people are hesitant about Bangladesh’s graduation from the Least Developed Country status, Hasina said, and many don’t take advantage of the benefits available to them.
But the government has succeeded regardless, she said.
"Bangladesh is regarded as a role model for development despite many hurdles, thanks to the continuation of a democratic process."
However, certain quarters are still trying to destabilise the country, she said.
“They are trying to create instability,” Hasina said. “I believe they will not be able to achieve anything. The people will overcome any instability.”
There is a right to freedom of speech in the country, Hasina said.
“Everyone has the right to speak. We hear criticism at home and abroad. We don’t retaliate against it.”
The press conference started at her official residence the Ganabhaban at 4:30pm on Monday.
Besides the opening session of the LDC conference, she attended several events in Doha.
The prime minister travelled to Qatar on Mar 4 on a four-day official trip to join the conference at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
'ASKED FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR ROHINGYA'
Asked about the progress in resolving the Rohingya crisis, Hasina said, “I never despair. We gave shelter to the Rohingya in our country. It is true that the attention on the Rohingya issue has been diverted by the Ukraine war, but we are still giving them shelter.”
“We have a responsibility. We don’t want to get into an argument with Myanmar. But we are dealing with major issues -- housing, food and healthcare for them.”
Hasina says she urged the different UN agencies to take proactive steps, noting that the government had built a larger space for the refugees at Bhasan Char.
“We must remember that many of our people faced a similar situation in 1971,” she said.
'DOING WHAT WE CAN TO SECURE FOOD'
Bangladesh is trying to practise moderation and is stocking up on what it needs, no matter the cost, the prime minister said.
“Cooking oil, fuel, sugar – the price of everything has gone up. Still, we are buying it.”
Many countries have implemented rationing due to skyrocketing inflation, but Bangladesh is not in such a harsh position, she said.
Hasina urged everyone to use whatever land they have for productive purposes.
Bangladesh currently has 2.1 million tonnes of food in stock, she said as she urged people not to hoard during Ramadan.
“We are trying to ensure that people do not suffer during Ramadan. The problem with food is that if we lower the price too much, producers will not get a high enough price and they will face difficulties. But if the price is too high, it causes problems for the middle class," Hasina said.
“If everyone cooperates, Bangladesh will not face any problems."