BISMILLAH-AR- RAHMAN-AR- RAHIM
I express my gratitude to the most merciful Allah for granting me the opportunity to discharge this constitutional responsibility of addressing the first session of 2021 of the Eleventh Jatiya Sangsad. On this occasion, I extend my good wishes and warm felicitations of the English New Year to you and through you to the honourable members of parliament and my beloved countrymen.
2. I am reading out this abridged version of my speech in order to save time. The full speech has been placed on the table. I am requesting you, Mr. Speaker, to include my full speech in the proceedings of parliament by deeming it to have been delivered.
3. I recall with deep respect and gratitude the great architect of independent Bangladesh, the greatest Bangali of all times, and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. I recall with reverence all valiant freedom fighters and immortal martyrs, whose infinite courage and sacrifices enabled us to achieve a sovereign country and independent nationhood, a sacred constitution and a red-green flag. I recall with gratitude the four national leaders – Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, M Monsur Ali and A H M Quamaruzzaman – who provided leadership to the war-time government on behalf of Bangabandhu during the liberation war.
4. I also recall with respect the three great icons in the struggle for realising the democratic rights of the Bangalis–Sher-e-Bangla A K Fazlul Haque, pioneer of democracy Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and the leader of the toiling masses Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani – whose contributions advanced the struggle for realizing our rights.
5. The brutal killings of 15 August 1975 were the most scandalous chapter in the nation’s history. Those who embraced martyrdom on that day alongside the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were his worthy wife Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatun Nesa Mujib, the three sons Sheikh Kamal, Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Russel, daughters-in-law Sultana Kamal and Parvin Jamal Rosy, younger brother Sheikh Abu Naser, brother-in-law and minister Abdur Rab Serniabat and his family members, the founder of Awami Jubo League Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni and the military secretary Brigadier Jamil Uddin Ahmed. I remember them all with a grief-stricken heart and pray to the most merciful Allah for the salvation of their departed souls.
6. I recall with deep sorrow the dedicated leaders and workers of Awami League including the women’s leader Ivy Rahman, who embraced martyrdom during the grenade attack on the meeting of people’s leader Sheikh Hasina on 21 August 2004. I pray to the Almighty Allah for the salvation of their departed souls.
7. I also recall here with deep reverence the distinguished personalities from different areas of our national life whom we lost last year. They included the former ministers and presidium members of Awami League Mohammad Nasim and Begum Sahara Khatun, former deputy speaker Shawkat Ali, state minister for religious affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, as well as many politicians including a number of MPs. Besides, we lost numerous personalities from our educational, cultural, sporting, political and social arenas including illustrious freedom fighters. I pray for the salvation and peace of their departed souls.
8. The Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formed the government for the fourth time after obtaining absolute majority in the Eleventh Jatiya Sangsad Election through a free, fair and neutral polls held on 30 December 2018 with the participation of all political parties. The government adopted the ‘Vision 2021’ and ‘Vision 2041’ with a resolve to build a ‘Sonar Bangla (Golden Bangla)’ as dreamt by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu. The government achieved the millennium development goals declared by the United Nation ahead of targeted time through successful implementation of the 6 th and 7th Five Year Plans. Bangladesh is now a role model of development in the international arena. The government has now framed the Second Perspective Plan 2021-2041 as a strategy paper for ‘Vision 2041’ following implementation of ‘Vision 2021’. The ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’ as well as the ‘8th Five Year Plan’ have also been formulated. Embodying the development philosophy of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for building a developed and prosperous Bangladesh, the main objectives of the ‘Vision 2041’ are eradication of extreme poverty within 2031, transition to the status of a high middle-income country, and ascent to the ranks of high-income countries by eliminating poverty within 2041. I have firm conviction that the government led by Honourable Prime Minister shall be able to fully realise these objectives.
9. All-out efforts have been continued by the government to uphold the rule of law in the country. Good governance has been established through swift delivery of verdicts in various sensational cases including the Bangabandhu murder case, the trials of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Along with strengthening the Anti Corruption Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and the Information Commission have been established. The ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy of the government against corruption, drugs, militancy, terrorism, extremism and communalism has achieved sweeping successes, which has brought relief to public life and is being lauded globally.
10. All sectors of our economy including education, health, trade and commerce, employment, small and cottage industries have been negatively affected by the impact of novel coronavirus pandemic. Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued multi-dimensional directives through virtual conferences that included a 31-point guideline on how to combat the situation. She announced 21 incentive packages involving an outlay of Taka 1213.53 billion for social protection and economic recovery. The jobs of about 5 million workers and employees have been protected through continuation of payment of their salaries and allowances in export-oriented industrial establishments.
The large, medium and small industries could return to production swiftly due to the facility of granting working capital at low interest rates. As a result, exports have increased and the normal supply of commodities in the domestic market could be sustained. Not a single person in the country was kept unfed during the corona-infected times because of free distribution of food, sale of rice at Taka 10 per kilogram and distribution of cash money. The government has made important contributions through generation and protection of jobs, creation of domestic demand and by keeping the wheel of economic activities moving through implementation of timely and lucrative incentive package. Bangladesh has been tackling the corona situation successfully due to the well-timed and courageous decisions taken by the Honourable Prime Minister. The World Health Organization has profusely praised different steps taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for confronting the Covid-19 crisis. As a continuation of this trend, the renowned ‘Forbes’ magazine published an article titled ‘8 (More) Leaders Facing the Coronavirus Crisis’ where Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been included in the list of successful female leaders.
Bangladesh received top ranking in South Asia and 20th position in the world in the ‘Covid-19 Resilience Ranking’ devised by the US news agency Bloomberg for successfully tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, reviving the economy and maintaining the quality of people’s lives. It has brightened the image of Bangladesh in the outside world. This success has been possible due to the resolute, pragmatic and farsighted leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I extend my sincere thanks and warm felicitations to her for that.
11. The government has been able to maintain economic stability through efficient and improved macro-economic management as well as by pursuing a pragmatic revenue strategy cum supportive monetary policy. The GDP growth in Bangladesh rose to 8.15 percent during 2018-19 fiscal year after achieving an average 6.6 percent growth during the previous decade, and over 7 percent growth in three consecutive years. This sustained growth in Bangladesh has been commended worldwide. The GDP growth decreased a bit to 5.24 percent during 2019-20 fiscal year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But at the same time, the per capita national income stood at USD 2,064 through an increase of 8.12 percent. Alongside sustaining the GDP growth, it has been possible to keep the inflation rate at a tolerable level. According to an IMF report, Bangladesh has been ranked third among the countries achieving highest GDP growths during 2020.
12. Alongside meeting the immediate requirements of the country’s health sector for tackling Covid-19, priorities have been attached to agriculture, social safety net, employment generation and rural development sectors in the economic recovery programme of the 2020-21 budget.
Compared to previous year, the size of the budget has been increased by 13.24 percent to Taka 5,680 billion. The target for revenue collection has been set at Taka 3,780 billion, which is 8.6 percent higher than the previous financial year.
Due to reform measures implemented for bringing about dynamism and improved efficiency in revenue management, revenue generation has risen four-fold over the previous decade.
13. A total of 180 projects with financial outlay of around Taka 2,870.07 billion have been approved through 28 ECNEC meetings chaired by its chairperson the Honourable Prime Minister during 2020. Forty-two projects having an outlay of about Taka 18.50 billion have also been approved by the Honourable Minister for Planning. Allocations for the Annual Development Programme have been enhanced to Taka 2051.45 billion.
14. The government has procured 34.36 percent of the resources needed for implementation of the Annual Development Programme from foreign sources during 2020-21, which is four percent higher than the previous fiscal year. Budgetary support worth USD 1 billion and project assistance worth about USD 1.2 billion have been received for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
15. The government has been working hard to maintain stability in the country’s financial sector, protect the money deposited by the public, create opportunities for short and long-term investments and facilitate financial transactions.
Funds worth Taka 20 billion have been provided to the Karma-sangsthan Bank, Probashi Kalyan Bank, Palli Sanchay Bank and Palli Karma-sahayak Foundation for extending credit facilities for self-employment of unemployed youths as well as for overseas returnees. The ‘Bangabandhu Juba-rin’ credit programme is being implemented by the Karma-sangsthan Bank for 200 thousand trained but unemployed youths on the occasion of ‘Mujib-Year’. The interest rate of bank-loans has been brought down to 9 percent for creating an industry cum business-friendly environment.
16. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority has been striving for setting up 100 economic zones within 2030 with the objective of employment generation for about 10 million people, production and export of additional commodities and services worth USD 40 billion in order to transform the country into a developed one. The industrial establishments set up in EPZs under the purview of Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority have exported commodities worth USD 6.48 billion during 2019-20 financial year, which accounted for 19.27 percent of national exports. The exports from EPZs till now are worth USD 83.68 billion. The PPP Authority has been implementing 77 projects until now as a strategy for transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country.
17. The government has undertaken massive programmes for enhancing the contributions of SME sector in GDP with the goal of transforming Bangladesh into an industrially developed country. These include framing of various laws and policies including the industrial policy, construction of 47 buffer-godowns for storage and distribution of fertilizer, and distribution of Taka 48.22 billion among adversely affected entrepreneurs under an incentive package. The ‘Shah Jalal Fertilizer Factory Limited’ has been set up in Sylhet district. The ‘Ghorashal-Palash Urea Fertilizer’ project in Narsingdi district and the establishment of ‘Urea Formaldehyde-85 Plant’ at Fenchuganj, Sylhet are now ongoing. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, the export earnings of Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation were 13 percent of total national exports.
18. The government has been striving tirelessly for enhancing the market competitiveness of the textiles and jute sector, expansion of market and generation of employment. Bangladesh earned about USD 27.95 billion by exporting readymade garments, and USD 752.46 million by exporting 790 thousand metric tons of jute goods during 2019-20 financial year.
19. Although the country’s export earnings recorded negative growth during the previous fiscal year due to trade war between the USA and China, fall in prices of fuel oil and the global pandemic, exports have returned to the mainstream growth trend from the start of current financial year. Different types of cash incentives including an additional 1 percent incentive have been continued during the current fiscal year. The size of the Export Development Fund has been enhanced to USD 500 million from USD 350 million by keeping the interest rate fixed at 1.75 percent. The pre-shipment credit refinance scheme has also been launched. The export markets of garments geared to traditions and cultures of destination countries, halal food,
ICT and agricultural commodities have been expanded and diversified. The prices of essential commodities have been kept under tolerable limit and their supply has been normalised. The registration process of companies has been simplified under the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ initiative.
Initiatives have been taken for concluding bilateral and regional free trade agreements. Preferential Bilateral Trade Agreement was signed by Bangladesh and Bhutan on 6 December 2020 in virtual presence of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Royal Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering.
20. Notable growth has been achieved in overseas remittance earnings due to 2 percent cash incentives for remittances sent through legal channels and simplification of procedures for sending remittances. Remittance earnings stood at USD 18.21 billion during 2019-20 fiscal year by marking a rise of 10.87 percent compared to the previous financial year. The foreign exchange reserve shot up noticeably and crossed USD 43 billion, which is the highest ever till today. Although there remained the possibility of a decrease in remittance earnings due to Covid-19 outbreak, the rate of growth in these earnings stood at 38 percent during the first six months of the current fiscal year, which is very encouraging. Multi-directional steps and diplomatic efforts of the government have been continued for expansion of the overseas labour market, improvements in labour skills and safe migration. The adversely affected migrant workers and their family members are also being extended credit on easy terms.
21. The government has allocated USD 1 billion for
labourers out of USD 14.28 billion meant for reducing the impact of Covid-19. The minimum wages of garment workers have been raised to Taka 8,000 from Taka 1,662, while those for the workers employed in state-owned enterprises have been enhanced to Taka 8,300 from Taka 4,150.
22. This farmer-friendly government has adopted policies for motivating farmers to undertake cultivation of appropriate crops, offered incentives during disasters, extended agricultural input supports including for fertilizer, provided subsidies for mechanisation of agriculture, innovated adversity-resilient crop varieties, and tried to bring every inch of land under crop cultivation. As a consequence, foodgrain production has now risen to 45.34 million metric tons. By maintaining the trend of crop production even during the Covid-19 crisis, Bangladesh has been now ranked 3 rd in the world in paddy output and vegetable production, 7 th in mango output, 8 th in potato production and in guava output. Bangladesh is today self-sufficient in fish, meat and egg production. The production and marketing programmes for fish and livestock-based commodities have been sustained. The output of Hilsa fish is constantly on the rise due to implementation of programmes for its conservation.
23. The transportation, receipt and distribution of foodgrains were not obstructed at the start of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Bangladesh in accordance with the directives issued by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in order to ensure food security. Food-friendly programmes for the hardcore poor were kept in motion including for an additional month in the rural areas. Special OMS programme was launched for the low-income jobless people in urban areas. As a result, foodgrain distribution increased by 19 percent and 24 percent respectively in the rural and urban areas compared to previous financial year.
Besides, various legal measures for ensuring food safety have been continued.
24. About 6.50 million hectares of land out of a total 11 million hectares in the country have been brought under flood control, irrigation and drainage facilities for developing the water resources. As a result, an additional 11.10 million metric tons of foodgrain are being produced, which is playing an important role in achieving self-sufficiency in foodgrain production. Bangladesh has identified investments in 80 programmes as priority areas under the Delta Plan-2100. Of these, 23 programmes are being implemented as ADP projects under the Ministry of Water Resources.
25. Various laws, rules, policies and guidelines have been formulated for environmental conservation. Regular enforcement measures are being taken and mobile courts are being conducted for tackling climate change, conserving bio-diversity and managing wastes. Sheikh Kamal Wildlife Centre has been established in Gazipur district for proper management of forests, wild animals and biodiversity. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s illustrious daughter, internationally acclaimed autism expert and member of the expert panel on mental health of the World Health Organization Ms. Saima Hossain Wazed has been nominated as a ‘thematic ambassador’ by the Climate Vulnerable Forum. As a result, the position and image of Bangladesh in the international arena have been glorified, consolidated and brightened.
26. The government is working tirelessly to implement the directive of Honourable Prime Minister that asserts: ‘Not a single human being in Bangladesh shall remain shelterless during the Mujib-Year’. Under the Ashrayan-2 project, a total of 385,473 landless and homeless families have been rehabilitated, and specially designed houses have been built for 600 families belonging to ethnic minorities.
As a result of special humanitarian consideration of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the ‘Ashrayan-3’ project is being implemented by Bangladesh Navy at Bhasanchar of Noakhali district for the housing of 1.1 million uprooted Rohingya refugees. Till now, 3,476 Rohingyas have been voluntarily shifted to Bhasanchar.
27. Work on construction of 533 residential flats for the floating and uprooted people in Dhaka is going on. Flats have been built for honourable ministers, honourable judges and officials holding the rank of secretary or equivalent. Besides, 9,734 flats are being built at Dhaka, Chattogram and Noakhali for solving the accommodation problem of government officers and employees.
28. Alongside economic growth, Bangladesh has also achieved notable progress in the social sectors as well. The average life expectancy has risen to 72.6 years, and the literacy rate has reached 74.7 percent. The under-5 child mortality and maternal mortality rates have been reduced to 28 and 1.65 per thousand respectively in 2019 from 41 and 1.97 per thousand in 2013. The poverty and hardcore poverty rates were respectively 31.5 percent and 17.6 percent in 2010. These rates came down to 20.5 percent and 10.5 percent respectively in 2019.
29. Under the cover of social safety net programme, 4.90 million people are benefitting from allowances for the aged; the number of widows and deserted women getting allowances number 2.05 million; 1.80 million insolvent persons with disabilities are also getting allowances; the number of beneficiaries under disability education stipend programme has been raised to 100 thousand. One-time financial assistance worth Taka 50 thousand per head is being awarded to 30 thousand poor and insolvent patients every year.
30. A total of 20,99,243 women have benefitted from ten social safety net programmes worth Taka 27.60 billion meant for distressed, backward and poor womenfolk. Grants worth Taka 5.56 million have been distributed among 1,361 persons during Covid-19 period from the ‘Oppressed-distressed Women and Children’s Welfare Fund’. The ‘Women and Child Abuse Suppression Act, 2000’ has been amended by incorporating the highest punishment of death penalty for rapes in order to strictly curtail repression of women and children.
31. Today Bangladesh has become a role model in disaster management. Bangladesh has effectively tackled disasters like the Covid-19 pandemic, 5 consecutive floods and the cyclone ‘Amphan’ through swift responses and delivery of humanitarian aid. Relief materials were sent to the Maldives in response to the humanitarian crisis resulting from Covid-19 outbreak among Bangladeshi expatriate workers staying there. Apart from sending a 10-member medical team, 120 metric tons of food items, healthcare and medical products for combating the pandemic, the stranded Maldivian citizens were also sent back to that country. A 135-member army medical team was also sent to Kuwait alongwith personal protection equipments and necessary clinical instruments.
32. The Local Government Division is taking various services to the doorsteps of the people through development of rural infrastructure, supply of safe drinking water and strengthening of local government institutions.
Till December 2020, the LGED has built 64,172 Km of roads, 379,807 metres of bridges and culverts, 1,693 union council buildings, 954 cyclone shelters and 254 upazila complex buildings at a total cost of Taka 1287.32 billion.
About 556,300 sources of safe drinking water have also been installed. In order to materialise the pledges made in the election manifesto of 2018, initiatives have been taken to formulate and execute action-plans based on the concept of ‘My Village – My Town’ for expanding modern urban facilities in the rural areas.
33. The government is implementing various rural development programmes including grooming of small entrepreneurs and skilled manpower, creation of market-connectivity, multi-purpose programmes for cooperatives, innovation of newer models for small savings through applied research, and programmes for sustainable poverty reduction. Through the ‘My Home My Farm’ project envisioned by Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, 56,81,223 poor families have been organized for alleviating their poverty on a permanent basis. With this objective, the government has established the Palli Sanchay Bank (Rural Savings Bank).
34. The hill tracts region has been connected to the mainstream of national development as a result of the ‘peace treaty’ signed through the initiative of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. As a consequence, cordiality and harmony are prevailing among all people irresepctive of their races, religion or colour. A solar power project with an outlay of Taka 2.17 billion is being implemented there for electrification of remote areas. Trees are being planted, a mural of the Father of the Nation is being installed at the Betbunia Satellite Station, and 6 ‘smart villages’ are being set up there on the occasion of celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation.
35. The government has been adopting and implementing various measures with the objective of improving the ethical standard and socio-economic status of the masses through flourishing of religious culture and the religious spirit. The religious festivals of all communities including the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians are being observed peacefully without any hindrance and with due solemnity amid a festive atmosphere.
36. The government has been running different programmes for making the youths self-reliant throughout the country, extending credit to them and alleviating their poverty with the goal of involving them in national development efforts. Under the National Service Programme, a total of 229,737 youths in 37 districts have been trained and arrangements have been made for the temporary employment of 226,402 persons. This programme is being expanded gradually in all districts of the country.
37. The government is building infrastructure on a large scale, and undertaking free distribution of sports equipment and money among educational institutions, sports clubs and youth clubs for development of sports. The women’s cricket team of Bangladesh emerged as the proud champions by defeating the Indian women’s cricket team at the 4-team T-20 cricket series held in Patna of India. The Bangladesh under-19 cricket team earned the glory of becoming world champions by defeating the Indian cricket team at the ICC under-19 World Cup Cricket held in South Africa.
38. A principal goal of the government is to groom a culture-minded nation. March 7 has been declared as the ‘Historic 7 March Day’ in memory of Bangabandhu’s 7 March speech. The ‘Independence Award 2020’ has been conferred on eight distinguished persons along with an institute in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the nation. A total of 21 illustrious persons have been awarded the ‘Ekushey Padak-2020’ for their achievements to various spheres of culture in national life. About Taka 150 million have been distributed as grants to 3,793 insolvent cultural activists and 1,452 cultural institutions in the backdrop of Covid-19 crisis.
39. The UNESCO has introduced an international award titled ‘UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize for the Creative Economy’ for the first time in recognition of the contributions made by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the extraordinary initiatives taken by the youth community for building a creative economy in the greater cultural sphere.
Launching of an international award in Bangabandhu’s name during his birth centenary is a unique achievement for Bangladesh as it pays special respect to his contributions. This award would play a special role in the branding and image building of Bangladesh across the globe.
40. Laws, rules and policies have been framed for continuing the trend of information flow and creativity.
Alongside publicity activities conducted in other sectors of the government, the Ministry of Information is carrying out awareness-generating publicity programmes on Covid-19. Taka 33.50 million have been distributed as assistance among 3,350 journalists adversely affected by Covid-19 throughout the country. ‘Bangladesh Betar’ is broadcasting its programmes all over the country from its Dhaka and Chattogram centres by using the ‘Bangabandhu Satellite’.
41. ‘Digital Bangladesh’ is being materialised under the efficient guidance of the Honourable Adviser to Honourable Prime Minister on Information and Communication Technology Sajeeb Ahmed Wazed. The first ever satellite of Bangladesh ‘Bangabandhu Satellite-1’ has been launched in space. Teledensity in the country is now 99.68 percent, while the internet density is 64.90 percent. A total of 8,500 post offices in the country have been converted into digital ones with the objective of modernising the postal system.
42. A total of 3,800 unions and 18,434 institutions have been connected to internet during the previous 12 years for developing the information and communication technology sector. Sheikh Russel Digital labs have been set up in about 8 thousand educational institutions. Around 1.5 million people have been trained on ICT for generating employment opportunities. The ‘Startup Bangladesh Limited Company’ has been founded for flourishing the innovative talents of youths. Work is underway for construction of 39 hi-tech parks. Initiatives have been taken for setting up Sheikh Kamal IT Training and Incubation Centres in 64 districts. An amount of USD 50 million has been invested and investment proposals worth USD 1,200 million have been submitted after commencement of business activities in 5 under-construction hi-tech and IT parks. About 964 public services have been converted into digital services. Skilled human resources are being groomed in frontier technologies like blockchain, IoT, AI, robotics, big data etc. and 27 specialised labs have been set up for the purpose. Work on establishment of Sheikh Hasina Institute of Frontier Technology within 2025 is progressing fast with the goal of building a knowledge-based Bangladesh by 2041.
43. RS land ownership documents of 49,481 mouzas have been finally published for building a Digital Bangladesh, and these have been opened for public view on the portal of land ministry. E-mutation of lands has been launched in 510 upazila and circle land offices of the country. The government received the prestigious ‘United Nations Public Service Award-2020’ for launching E-mutation of lands, and the land ministry received the ‘Digital Bangladesh Award-2020’ in recognition of its digitisation of land services.
44. Education is the key to overall development and prosperity of a nation. The government has taken epoch-making measures during the past decade for expansion of primary education and improvement of its quality. Notable among these are infrastructure development, proliferation of ICT application in primary education, launching of pre-primary and unified education, award of stipends, free distribution of books, appointment of teachers and development of their skills and preventing dropouts etc.
45. The Honourable Prime Minister inaugurated the textbook distribution programme virtually on 31 December 2020. A total of 34,36,62,412 copies of textbooks have been distributed among 4,16,55,226 students all over the country. The programme titled ‘My school in my house’ has been broadcast everyday since 29 March 2020 by ‘Sangsad Television’ with the objective of keeping the educational activities of students moving during the coronavirus crisis. Online classes were started in 15,676 schools and 700 colleges. Online classes are also being taken by 42 public and 92 private universities. Stipends worth about Taka 13.71 billion have been provided to pupils of all levels during 2019-20 financial year. Fellowships worth Taka 720 million have been sanctioned for higher education and research. Around Taka 470 million from the Honourable Prime Minister’s Special Assistance Fund have been distributed among 105,785 teachers-employees of 8,492 non-MPO schools and colleges.
46. Approvals have been accorded during 2020 to frame laws for 4 public universities of the country and establish 2 private universities in order to widen the path of higher education. Taka 44 billion have been allocated for running the development programmes of educational institutions under the ADP for 2020-21 financial year. As a follow-up to this, renovation work in 3,700 educational institutions has been completed and 734 ramps have been built for students having special needs.
47. The programme for infrastructure development of the existing 64 technical schools and colleges and setting up of one technical school and college each in 100 upazilas for grooming the country’s manpower with technical knowledge and skills is nearing completion. Four Polytechnic Institutes for Women have been set up at the divisional headquarters of Dhaka, Chattogram, Rajshahi and Khulna. Four Engineering Colleges have also been established in Faridpur, Sylhet, Mymensingh and Barisal divisions. Thirty-five model madrasas have been set up for development of madrasa education. Work on construction of new buildings for 1,800 madrasas is ongoing. An additional 503 madrasas have been brought afresh under the MPO scheme during 2020.
48. The government has made unprecedented progress in ensuring healthcare services for all. The biggest achievement of the government has been successful control of Covid-19 in recent times. Two thousand physicians and 5,054 nurses were recruited on an emergency basis for confronting the corona situation. Arrangements were made for keeping 10,525 ordinary beds, 666 ICUs, 73 dialysis beds, 554 ventilators, 13,516 oxygen cylinders, 678 high-flow nasal canola and 639 oxygen concentrators in Covid-dedicated hospitals. The process for direct purchase of 30 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of Life Sciences Private Limited of India via Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited for curbing Covid-19 pandemic has been finalised.
As a follow-up to this, USD 60 million has been paid on an urgent basis via CMSD in favour of that Indian institute for vaccine procurement. I am optimistic that the government would soon be able to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the people.
49. Work on establishing medical universities in 4 divisions alongside Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University is progressing with the goal of expansion and qualitative improvement of medical education. ‘Bangladesh Medical Education Accreditation Act, 2020’ is being formulated for raising the quality of medical education to worldclass standard. A total of 10,55,056 samples were tested for Covid-19 in 25 public and 14 private medical colleges till December 2020 for tackling the pandemic.
This programme is being continued. Maternal and child healthcare services are being continued at field level family planning service-centres by taking preventive measures against Covid-19.
50. The programme ‘Sheikh Hasinar Uddyug- Ghore Ghore Biddyut (Electricity for All is Sheikh Hasina’s Initiative)’ is being implemented for ensuring power supply to all during the Mujib-Year. The installed capacity of electricity including captive facilities and renewable energy is 24,421 Megawatt (MW). The proportion of population getting power supply has risen to 99 percent from 47 percent. The production target of 24 thousand MW of electricity by 2021 in accordance with the power sector masterplan has already been achieved. Power production will rise to 40 thousand MW by 2030 and 60 thousand MW by 2041. The construction work of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is progressing satisfactorily even in the midst of coronavirus pandemic.
51. Four new gas fields have been discovered that would further develop the energy sector. Gas supply has been enhanced by about 1,300 MMCFD that include imported LNG. About 1,159 Km of gas transmission lines have been installed. The supply of fuel oil has been raised to 5.5 million metric tons from 4 million tons; the storage capacity has been increased to 1.3 million metric tons from 894 thousand metric tons; and the usage of LPG has risen to 1.1 million metric tons from 45 thousand tons.
52. Twenty-four mega projects are now under implementation for socioeconomic development of the country. About 1,532 kilometres of highways have been reinforced, 1,416 kilometres of highways have been widened, 85 bridges and 752 culverts have been built or rebuilt in the development sector during 2020. Around 2,358 Km of the highway has been repaired, renovated or maintained, and 27 bridges plus 119 culverts have been built or rebuilt. The government has upgraded 453 kilometres of national highway to 4 lanes or above since 2009. At present, work on upgradation to 4 lanes including separate service lanes on both sides for 441 kilometres of national highway is ongoing. Upgradation to 4 lanes without service lane is progressing in 176 Kilometre of national highway.
53. The government has adopted the Action-Plan-2030 for constructing 6 MRT lines under the purview of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Limited with the objective of reducing traffic jams in Dhaka city and surrounding areas.
Overall progress in the construction of 20.10 Kilometre long MRT line-6 from Uttara 3rd phase to Motijheel is about 55 percent. Around 14 kilometres of railway lines have already been placed inside the depot and above the viaduct.
Work on detailed design is going on for construction of 31.41 Kilometre long MRT line-1 by combining underground and overhead metro-rail. Preparation of basic design and survey of 20 metre long MRT line-5 in the northern route is continuing, and work on the 17.40 Kilometres long southern route is ongoing. A project has been initiated for installing electronic toll collection system as well as widening of the scope for rapid pass.
54. The main structure of Padma Multipurpose Bridge being built with own-fund under the robust leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has become visible through the installation of its 41st span that connects its two ends at Mawa and Jajira. The construction of Padma Bridge will be completed by July 2022. As a result, coordinated communication system will be established between the southern region and other areas of the country.
The construction work of the 3.32 kilometres long Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Multi-lane Tunnel below the river Karnaphuli will be completed by December 2022. Construction of the first tube of that tunnel has already been completed and work on building the second tube has started on 12 December 2020. The construction of 46.73 kilometres long Dhaka Elevated Expressway from Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport to Kutubkhali on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway along with ramps will be completed in June 2023. Work on constructing the 24 kilometre long ‘Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway’ from Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport to Savar EPZ is underway. Feasibility study on construction of a 253 kilometres long subway having 11 routes for easing the traffic gridlocks in Dhaka city will be completed by June 2021. Feasibility study on the 39.24 kilometres long Dhaka East-West Elevated Expressway from Baliapur of Dhaka-Aricha Highway to Langalband of Narayanganj on Dhaka-Chattogram Highway via Nimtali-Keraniganj-Fatulla Port has been completed.
55. The government has built 344 kilometres of new railway lines, 368 bridges, and 74 station buildings since July 2014 with the goal of grooming Bangladesh Railway as a well-planned mass transport. About 354 kilometres of railway lines, 353 bridges and 74 station buildings have been renovated. Two-hundred passenger coaches have been repaired, 478 new passenger coaches have been procured and 48 new train services have been launched on different routes. Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has laid the foundation stone of ‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Railway Bridge’ on 29 November 2020. Railway link between Chilahati and Haldibari of India has been re-established, which was inaugurated by the Honourable Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and India on 17 December 2020.
56. About 110.6 million cubic metres of development dredging and 66.6 million cubic metres of maintenance dredging have been carried out for the development of waterways during 2014-20 period. According to Lloyd’s List survey, the ranking of Chattogram Port has been raised to 58 th in 11 years from the earlier 98 th position. The average growth rate of cargo handling at Chattogram Port has been recorded at 10.59 percent, while that of container handling at 10.13 percent during the previous five financial years. The average growth at Mongla Port has been over 16 percent during the past 10 years. Eleven customs stations have been declared as land-ports since 2009, and another 10 landports have also been launched. Construction work of the country’s first deep sea port at Matarbari of Cox’s Bazar has been started in the backdrop of a gradual rise in Bangladesh’s contribution to the world trade. Three product oil-tankers and 3 bulk-carriers have been procured by Bangladesh Shipping Corporation. Work is in progress for procurement of six new ships from China.
57. Construction of the third terminal at Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport is progressing fast for meeting the growing demands of passengers for air travel as well as for development of the tourism industry. As a result, the capacity for catering to 12 million additional passengers will be created. Work on construction of a terminal building having 12,100 square metres area for Osmani International Airport at Sylhet alongside related upgradation is continuing. Upgradation work of runways at Osmani and Shah Amanat International Airport in Sylhet and Chattogram respectively is also ongoing. The runway of Cox’s Bazar Airport has been expanded in order to convert it into an international airport. Thirteen new generation aeroplanes have already been added to the air-fleet of Bangladesh Biman. A 13 storeyed ‘Tourism Building’ has been constructed at Sherebangla Nagar of Agargaon.
58. The government has been pursuing a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, drugs and terrorism. With this objective, 18 relevant laws have been formulated or updated. National Emergency Helpline ‘999’ has been introduced for obtaining help from the police, ambulance and fire services. Online GDs have been introduced in all thanas along with separate arrangements for women, children and the people with special need. The quality of services rendered by police has been improved through various Apps. The fugitive convict of Bangabandhu murder case Captain Abdul Mazed was arrested and his death sentence was executed. An 8.3 kilometres border stretch in Jashore has been declared as ‘crime-free zone’ through the joint efforts of BGB and BSF. Different kinds of allowances, honorariums and rations for temporary batallion Ansars and absorbed Ansar members have been increased and updated. Specific uniforms and arms have been supplied to the Ansar and Village Defence Force for the first time. Bangladesh Coast Guard has been modernized through commissioning of modern inshore and offshore patrol vessels. The police, RAB and other law enforcement agencies are working tirelessly for motivating and creating awareness about adherence to health etiquettes for containing Covid-19 through coordination with the field administration.
59. Dope testing has been made effective in line with the zero-tolerance policy declared by the Honourable Prime Minister. E-Passports have been introduced for upgrading the quality of passports to international standard. A total of 456 fire service stations have been set up till now as part of an effort to establish at least one station in each upazila.
The prisoners in jails are being trained in 38 trades for their self-employment and 50 percent of profits from the produced items are being disbursed among them. Financial allocation for improving their diet has also been enhanced.
60. Seventeen units have been formed in different corps of Bangladesh Army during 2019-20 fiscal year in the light of ‘Forces’ Goal-2030’ for protecting the country’s independence, sovereignty and integrity. Substantial numbers of vehicles and modern equipments have been added for boosting the army’s capacity. Bangladesh Navy has emerged as a three-dimensional force through addition of two submarines. Thirty-one ships, two marine helicopters and two maritime patrol aircraft have been inducted into Bangladesh Navy since 2009. Modern and high-capacity aircrafts, radars, ultra-modern arms and equipment have been procured by Bangladeh Air Force.
Bangladesh has regained its top position as a source country of United Nations Peacekeepers on 31 August 2020. At present, a total of 6,865 peacekeepers from the armed and police forces of Bangladesh are deployed in 7 missions of 7 countries, which has brightened the country’s image.
61. The main principle of the foreign policy pursued by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was ‘Friendship with all, and malice towards none’. Based on this policy and in the backdrop of the global corona situation, dramatic turn in relations between the USA and China, post-Brexit Europe and the heightening refugee crisis, the government made arrangements for livelihood and reappointment to work of overseas Bangladeshis living in different corners of the globe by maintaining good relations with friendly countries. Arrangements were made for the return of about 150 thousand expatriate Bangladeshis as well as proper repatriation of around 30 thousand foreigners to their home countries in the wake of Covid-19.
62. New judges are being recruited, physical infrastructures are being built, and higher trainings are being imparted to judges in order to flourish the judicial system. The right to justice as enshrined in the constitution has been ensured by extending legal assistance to the helpless and distressed people.
Epoch-making steps have been taken for digitalisation of case management. Eighteen laws, 4 ordinances, 273 statutory regulatory orders and 58 treaties have been audited during 2020 for consolidating the legal framework.
63. The government is working hard for grooming an efficient, service-oriented, welfare-minded and accountable public administration. Two thousand physicians were recruited in newly created cadre posts of Assistant Surgeons through 39 th Special BCS exam for meeting the urgent needs of doctors to treat Covid-19 patients. The appointment of another two thousand physicians through the 42 nd Special BCS is also under process. Promotions have been given to a total of 1,029 officials from grade-1 to grade-4 up to the level of senior secretary. Approvals have been accorded to the creation of 35,401 posts in different ministries and divisions and making 4,009 posts permanent.
Financial grants of Taka 1,066.50 million have been distributed among 1,411 families of government employees working in the civil administration who died, or were permanently disabled due to serious injuries.
64. The great liberation war of 1971 was the most glorious chapter in the history of the Bangali nation. A management information system has been developed by the government containing all information about the valiant freedom fighters who participated in the great war of independence and the descendants of the valiant freedom fighters who passed away. As a result, it has become easier to transfer honorariums directly to the bank accounts of valiant freedom fighters. A project has been undertaken during the Mujib-Year to construct 14 thousand houses and then distribute those among insolvent freedom fighters free of charge. Construction of the ‘Mujibnagar Liberation War Memorial Centre’ is being started for making the oath-taking spot of the first government of independent Bangladesh memorable. The projects titled ‘Bangabandhu’s ideals and spirit of the liberation war’ and ‘Building liberation war-based panorama’ have been taken up.
65. Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been awarded various international prizes and honours as recognition of her leading role in different areas including global peace, establishment of democracy and good governance, eradication of terrorism and militancy, women’s empowerment, education, health, development of information technology and tackling the challenges of climate change. These international prizes and honours awarded to the prime minister have bolstered the image of Bangladesh all over the world. It has been possible to obtain internationally significant honours because of the strong leadership and farsighted vision of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I once again extend my sincere felicitations to the Honourable Prime Minister for this success.
66. The Bangalis have achieved a red-green flag and an independent and sovereign Bangladesh under the undisputed leadership of the greatest Bangali of all times the Father of the Nation Bangabadhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The immortal 7 March speech of Bangabandhu, his life and ideals should be followed by all freedom-seeking people of the world including the Bangalis. His relentless struggles for realizing the rights of the masses, fearless and farsighted leadership, and profound patriotism have been recognized in the international arena. The birth centenary of the Father of the Nation is being observed as the ‘Mujib-Year’ for presenting to the new generation in particular as well as national and international audiences the life, philosophy and deeds of the Father of the Nation.
Alongside the ministries and divisions various private, social and cultural organizations are also implementing their own programmes for observing the ‘Mujib-Year’ nationally and internationally.
67. Bangabandhu and Bangladesh are inseparable entities. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is a legend.
He became the principal leader of the movement for self-determination of the Bangalis through his uncompromising leadership, firm determination and sacrifices. He could spread the core mantra of freedom to all Bangalis. The invisible Bangabandhu is equally powerful like the living Bangabandhu. The government has extended the tenure of Mujib-Year to 16 December 2021 from 17 March 2020 as it was not possible to properly complete all programmes adopted for celebrating Mujib-Year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Holding of all programmes adopted for the Mujib-Year will have a positive impact on the present and future generations through knowing about the life and works of Bangabandhu.
I once again extend my sincere congratulations to Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government for observing the ‘Mujib-Year’ on the occasion of the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
68. We stand today on the doorsteps of the golden jubilee of our independence. We shall have to advance on the path of peace, democracy, development and prosperity, which we are treading now. We shall observe the ‘Golden Jubilee of Independence’ this year as a middle-income nation. But our goal is to ascend to the prestigious position of a developed cum prosperous country on the global podium by 2041. I firmly believe that we shall be able to build a welfare-oriented, developed and prosperous Bangladesh through all-out participation of the people under the leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
69. The Jatiya Sangsad is the focal point of all hopes and aspirations of the country’s people. I would like to make a clarion call to all political parties, and people irrespective of classes and professions, to take a collective initiative for building consensus on democratisation, good governance and unhindered socioeconomic development.
The opposition parties will also have to play a constructive role in maintaining transparency, accountability, tolerance of each others’ views, human rights, consolidation of the rule of law, and the forward march of the nation. I call upon all irrespective of their status as treasury or opposition members to play their due role in the Jatiya Sangsad.
70. Despite innumerable obstacles, the relentless efforts of the government have been sustained for ensuring participation of people belonging to all strata in consolidating good governance, practice of democracy and implementation of development programmes in order to accelerate the progress of the country and nation. We all have to work unitedly for eliminating corruption, drugs, terrorism and militancy from the country by upholding the spirit of liberation war in order to build the ‘Sonar Bangla’ dreamt by Bangabandhu. Come; let us all, irrespective of our religion-colour-caste, repay the debt of blood of millions of martyrs through establishment of an exploitation-free society by shunning the differences of party, paths and opinion.
I once again extend my sincere thanks and good wishes to you all.
May Bangladesh live forever.
18 January 2021
BISMILLAH-AR- RAHMAN-AR- RAHIM