Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says that the entire world is currently experiencing a dollar crisis and its effects aren’t limited to Bangladesh.
“The dollar crisis is worldwide, not just in Bangladesh,” the prime minister said during a press briefing at her official residence, Ganabhaban, on Monday.
“First there was the COVID pandemic, then the Ukraine-Russia war, and then, along with the war came sanctions and counter-sanctions. As a result, inflation has spiked worldwide. Transportation and production costs have gone up. This is why the entire world is suffering from a dollar crisis.”
During the pandemic, imports and exports were hampered and travel abroad was halted, which meant that Bangladesh had low costs and the country was able to build up reserves, the prime minister said.
“When economies reopened, dollars were spent, which is typical. In addition, we are providing power to the people, gas, we are conducting development work, we are investing, production is rising, so the pressure on the dollar is natural."
Bangladesh needs sufficient reserves so it can ensure enough to buy food for at least three months in case of a disaster, she said.
“We shouldn’t worry too much about reserves aside from that,” Hasina said.
The prime minister is holding a press conference on her recent two-week visit to three countries -- Japan, the US and the UK.
The press conference began at her official residence, the Ganabhaban, at 4 pm, her Assistant Press Secretary.
The premier returned to Bangladesh on May 9.
Hasina flew to Tokyo on Apr 25, kicking off her overseas trip. Japan rolled out a red carpet to welcome her when she arrived in Tokyo on a four-day visit at the invitation of her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida.
While in Japan, Hasina witnessed the signing of eight instruments on agriculture, metro rail, industrial upgrade, ship recycling, customs matters, intellectual properties, defence cooperation, ICT and cyber security cooperation.
She met her counterpart Kishida after the signing of the deals and also handed the Friends of Liberation War Honour to four Japanese nationals for their contributions during the Liberation War in 1971.
Hasina also met with Akie Abe, the widow of slain Japanese former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On April 29, the premier arrived in Washington, DC. During her visit to the US, the prime minister attended a programme marking 50 years of Bangladesh-World Bank partnership.
She also attended several events on the sidelines that included a roundtable with US business leaders, meetings with the bank's incoming President, Ajay Banga and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva.
The prime minister then flew to the UK on May 4 to attend the coronation of King Charles III.
‘NO BNP IN ELECTION-TIME GOVT’
Hasina ruled out the BNP being a part of an election-time government, should any be formed, as the opposition party does not have any representation in parliament.
She said the Awami League is willing to exhibit a “high level of generosity” by considering any MP who wishes to join the government during the election.
"Even in 2014, we invited [BNP chairperson] Khaleda Zia, but she did not accept the invitation," said Hasina.
Bangladesh’s constitution does not explicitly define an election-time government. Under the present system, the incumbent government oversees elections, and parliament does not need to be dissolved before the vote.
Nevertheless, parliament's regular activities are suspended during the three-month countdown to the election.
Hasina formed an “all-party government” comprising a small cabinet of leaders from the Awami League's allies before the 10th parliamentary election in 2014. This cabinet was responsible for managing the government's routine affairs.
The BNP boycotted the election as its demand for a caretaker government was not met. Its violent protests against the election turned deadly.
The party contested in the 2018 polls and lost. This time it has raised the demand for a caretaker government again, refusing to participate in any election under Hasina.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader recently said that if the BNP decides to participate in the next election, the government may consider including them in an election-time government.
Hasina said the Awami League was not afraid of fighting against the BNP. “We’ve worked for the people. If they vote for us, we’ll stay. If they don’t we’ll not be there.”