Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has defended the government’s measures in the face of BNP criticism over the country’s declining foreign exchange reserves, stressing the party’s acting head Tarique Rahman’s money laundering conviction in a harsh reaction.
“The Awami League government did not squander a single resource of this country,” she declared at a Saturday ceremony.
The prime minister accused the BNP of launching a “disinformation campaign” across the country and questioned the party’s track record in government. “The reserve was barely $2.9 billion when the BNP was in power.” And it climbed by only $5 billion between 2001 and 2008. We were able to boost it to roughly $48 billion from there.”
Hasina’s words came after she virtually inaugurated the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway project.
The prime minister emphasized the economic blows dealt by the coronavirus pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, stating that the twin crises pushed up the country’s import expenses, putting a strain on the country’s FX reserves. She also stated that the government provides free COVID-19 testing and immunizations to individuals.
Although Bangladesh produces rice, Hasina claims that other commodities such as wheat and corn, as well as fuel and edible oil, must be imported. However, as a result of the turmoil in Eastern Europe, the prices of these products, as well as transportation expenses, have risen.
“So, whatever we spent was for the people’s benefit and welfare. We must purchase food and medicine for the people, as well as fertilizer, fuel oil, and electricity, with cash.”
According to her, the government also used its foreign exchange reserves to acquire aircraft and fund river dredging projects.
“We are investing because if we borrow from another country’s export-import bank, we must repay those dollars with interest. If we spend our own money, we do so through Sonali Bank so that the money and interest stay in the country.”
With this in mind, Bangladesh spent approximately $8 billion, some of which was borrowed to crisis-hit Sri Lanka, she added. “So that’s how we’re spending the money. No money was taken.”
“Fear is always present in the BNP’s psyche. The reason behind this is that their commander, Tarique Rahman, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined Tk 200 million in a money laundering case and is now on the run.”
“That is why those who engage in money laundering can only conceive of stealing money.”
In reiterating the Awami League’s obligation to safeguard the welfare of the people, Hasina emphasized the vision of the Father of the Nation for the country. “We want to put into action the values that the Father of the Nation used to liberate the country.”
“Bangladesh has evolved in the last 13 years because we have administered the country with that purpose in mind.”