Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said Awami League has never wasted the country’s money, rather it uses every taka for people’s interest, for their wellbeing and their brighter future.
She said this while inaugurating the construction work of Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway — aimed to facilitate fast entry and exit of vehicles to and from the capital.
She joined the programme virtually from Ganabhaban in Dhaka.
Sheikh Hasina said that no one has gone away taking money from country’s forex reserve.
“This fear is always in their BNP’s mind. BNP will say this. The reason behind this is that their leader Tarique Zia has been convicted for seven years and fined Tk 20 crore in money laundering case. He is now an absconding criminal,” she said.
She also said that BNP is habituated with money laundering while they always think it is normal to take away money from the country.
The Prime Minister said that the government is investing from the country’s forex reserve, as it takes loans from other countries’ banks, it has to repay that dollar with interest.
“If we use our own dollars through Sonali Bank, that money remains in our country. Keeping that in our mind we have given US$8 billion,” she said.
She mentioned that Bangladesh has given some dollars to Sri Lank as loan while they were in deep economic crisis.
The Prime Minister said that BNP often questions about the money in the forex reserve.
“They are trying to spread propaganda across the country regarding the reduction in reserve amount,” PM said.
She mentioned that when BNP was in power, the forex reserve was only USD 2.9 billion, and during 2001-2008, it was increased to USD 5 billion only.
“From that position we were able to raise that up to about USD 48 billion. It was increased during coronavirus pandemic when communication, transport, import and everything was almost stopped,” she highlighted.
But, she mentioned, when the world started opening up, import increased, especially the inflation and recession due to the coronavirus and Ukraine-Russia war created a blow over the economy worldwide and Bangladesh is also affected due to that.
“We are paying our import expenditure from reserve; besides we have given vaccines free of cost and arranged coronavirus tests free of cost. Developed countries across the globe did not do this vaccination and testing free of cost. We have procured vaccines by giving cash. After that, we got vaccines as grants,” she said.
The premier added that food prices, transportation cost, fuel price, edible oil, wheat price, lentil price and corn price also have increased around the world.
“We are importing those. We are producing rice and other food items, apart from those we have to import some other items. We had to import some items while we were affected in flood and cyclone,” she said.
The Prime Minister said that what the government is spending is just for the people of the country and their welfare.
“For procuring food for them, procuring medicines for cancer, fertiliser, fuel and electricity. We are procuring those with cash money.”
She also said that Bangladesh has procured aircraft and doing river dredging with reverse money.
Regarding the apprehension of scarcity of food in the coming days, she again requested all to utilise every inch of land for food production to avert any kind of food related crisis.
“Briefly describing various positive impacts of the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway, the Prime Minister asked the concerned authorities to complete the project quickly.
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, Chinese Ambassador Li Jiming and Bridges Division Secretary Monjur Hossain also spoke at the programme.
Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway
Once built, the 24km expressway will connect Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport to Abdullahpur, Ashulia, Baipail and Dhaka Export Processing Zone on the Nabinagar-Chandra highway.
Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway will allow people from 30 districts to enter and exit the capital fast and easily. It is also expected to boost the country’s gross domestic product by 0.21 per cent, as per projection.
The expressway, which is expected to be completed in 2026 — in the Asian Highway Alignment — will be linked to the Dhaka Elevated Expressway.
The aim of the Ashulia Expressway is to reduce traffic congestion on the Abdullahpur-Ashulia-Bypail-Chandra road, connecting 30 districts with Dhaka.
The project will have an 11km ramp. There will be a 14.28km four-lane connecting road on both sides of the flyover.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in 2017 approved the project which was originally scheduled to be completed in June 2022.
Construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway has not progressed in the last five years due to complexity of the loan agreement with China.
The government and Exim Bank of China signed a $1.1 billion loan agreement for construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway in October 2021.
Though China was initially supposed to bear the entire cost of the project, due to the change in the country’s debt policy, it is now providing 85 per cent of the total expenditure.
In June this year, the ECNEC meeting approved the amendment proposal of the project with the time extension to June 2026. Now the project cost has increased by Tk652 crore to Tk17,553 crore from Tk 16,901 crore.
Some pre-construction work such as land development and instrument purchase started earlier. Now the project’s main construction work will begin with the laying of the foundation stone by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The Dhaka Elevated Expressway will run over a 20km stretch from the Dhaka airport to Kutubkhal point on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway.
The two expressways, a total 44km in length, will save commuters four to five hours usually lost in Dhaka city traffic.
UNB . Dhaka
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