Dhaka: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said her government’s stance and continued efforts to build the Padma Bridge with its own fund have changed the attitude of the world towards Bangladesh as all now treat it with respect.
“That incident (implementation of Padma Bridge with own fund) has changed the mindset and attitude of the world towards the people of Bangladesh as they now give due respect while talking about Bangladesh. We want to move ahead in the global arena with due respect as a victorious nation in the Great War of Liberation,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing a dinner programme hosted at Hotel Sofitel in honour of her by Bangladesh Ambassador to Thailand Saida Muna Tasneem, concurrently accredited to Cambodia.
Hasina said there was a big challenge for her government over the Padma Bridge issue when the World Bank and other development partners withdrew their funding from the much-hyped bridge project following a false allegation of corruption.
“There was a perception that we won’t be able to construct the bridge without the World Bank funding. But, I then insisted that we can do that. We didn’t accept any false allegation and we had to endure sufferings and mental pain, but we took the challenge. Now the most important thing is we’re doing it with our own fund. All the materials including cement and steel are being provided from Bangladesh for the bridge,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina also urged the Bangladeshi businesses to look for suitable partners in Cambodia and thus move ahead for joint venture projects with their Cambodian counterparts.
The Prime Minister said the aim of her government is how to improve the socioeconomic condition of the country and alleviate poverty.
She emphasised the need for increasing the size of the domestic market as well as boosting exports.
Renewing her call to Bangladeshi businesses to explore newer markets, the PM said her government wants to boost FDI inflow as well as trade and commerce through keeping up good relations with the neighbouring countries. “If we can do that we won’t have to rely on others.”
Highlighting various achievements of her government in different socioeconomic fields, Hasina said her government has increased the size of the national budget by almost five times over the last nine years while the GDP growth reached 7.28 percent in the last fiscal. “InshaAllah, we’ll be able to move ahead further.”
Referring to the recently held Envoys’ Conference in Dhaka, she said diplomacy these days not only means politics, but also means trade and commerce. “The ambassadors have a bigger responsibility to expand trade and commerce alongside strengthening the economy and attracting more FDI.”
Turning to her visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum today, Hasina said no other countries in the world except Cambodia and Bangladesh have witnessed such level of genocides.
She said her government is taking steps to preserve the historic sites and evidence of the Great War of Liberation so that the future generation could learn properly the history and tales of the Liberation War.
Pointing at the inclusion of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s historic 7th March Speech as World Documentary Heritage by the Unesco, Hasina noted that the whole Bengali Nation now has got the respect.
“No one can erase history …distorted history can never help people grow in a healthy atmosphere,” she added.
Recalling her previous visits to Cambodia back in 1997 and in 2001, the Prime Minister said Cambodia is a very resourceful and beautiful country and the country is also moving ahead like Bangladesh braving all the odds and obstacles.
Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana, Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Chief Coordinator on SDGs Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office Md Abul Kalam Azad, Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque were present at the dais.
Later, the Prime Minister enjoyed a colorful cultural programme performed by Bangladeshi artistes living in Thailand and Cambodia. unb