Government cautious on loans for megaprojects

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated yesterday that his government remains cautious so that loans do not become a burden.

“Once these (mega)projects are implemented, the face of our economy will change. We take loans from domestic and foreign sources. However, we ensure that they do not become a burden,” he said. she said in an address to the nation on the eve of Pahela Baishakh.

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About the mega projects, Hasina said Padma Bridge is being built with own funds. Other megaprojects have been undertaken through economic studies conducted by local and foreign experts. And many projects are implemented on the basis of foreign partnerships.

“Our main objective is to accelerate economic activities, create jobs, increase resources and facilitate people’s lives through infrastructure development,” she said.

The Prime Minister said that 2022 and 2023 will be milestones for Bangladesh in terms of infrastructure development. The coveted Padma Bridge will enter service in just a few months. The bridge is expected to contribute 1.2% to GDP, she said.

She said Metrorail will be launched on the 14 km Uttara-Agargaon route by the end of this year. It is expected to bring a revolutionary change in the capital’s transport system, she added.

The country’s first undersea tunnel, the Karnaphuli River Tunnel at Chattogram, will open next October, Hasina said.

The first unit (with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts) of the Rooppur nuclear power station, the largest development project in the country’s history at a cost of Tk 1,130 billion, is expected to be commissioned by end of 2023, she said.

Last month, the 1,320 megawatt Payra power plant was inaugurated before the deadline. “The implementation of other megaprojects is progressing rapidly,” she said.

She said Bangladesh’s economy has been on a solid footing over the past 13 years, which is evident in different macroeconomic indices. GDP was only $102 billion in 2009, which rose to $416 billion last year. Per capita income rose from just $702 to $2,591, she said.

She said these achievements were made possible through far-sighted political thinking and the implementation of far-sighted economic programs.

She said the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian war and the emerging situation caused by the war have led to instability in commodity prices in the global market.

Fuel prices have increased abnormally. International transport prices have also risen sharply. As a result, the prices of some products have also increased in Bangladesh. “But we are not standing still. We are doing our best to provide relief to the general public,” she said.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the government provides several essential items at affordable prices to some 10 million families through TCB by providing subsidies, she said.

Hasina said there is an agreement to sell meat, eggs and milk at affordable prices through 15 freezer vans every day by the capital’s Livestock Department. “Thus, the prices of many essential items have already returned to normal levels.”

In addition, the government has given a special allocation of over 100,330 metric tons of rice against 10,033,054 (over 10 million) VGF cards in the upcoming Eid, she said.

“I would like to inform you clearly that there is no shortage of commodities, including rice, in the country,” she said.

The Prime Minister sent his New Year’s greetings to everyone in Bengali. “Although many traditions (bangalee) have been lost due to various blows, the New Year celebration on Pahela Baishakh still survives with its own glory,” she said.

She urged everyone to come forward to make Bangladesh a happy and prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’ where there would be no inequality or disparity between people or discord between religions.

“The Pahela Baishakh urges us to adopt a liberal lifestyle avoiding all narrowness and ignorance. It gives us strength and shows a dream to live with new enthusiasm by removing all kinds of filth and misery from hearts,” said she declared.

Hasina urged everyone to join Pahela Baishakh celebration programs and enjoy the joy of Bangla New Year, maintaining health protocol as the coronavirus has not completely gone away.

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