Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said Bangladesh has been able to avert the economic recession due to the Covid-19 pandemic though many countries across the world have suffered the most.
"It was possible to maintain the normal economic situation in the country as the government had taken special steps for saving human lives and facing the economic crisis during the coronavirus pandemic," she said.
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The Prime Minister said this while responding to a tabled question from Jatiya Party MP Rawshan Ara Mannan and ruling party MP Kazim Uddin during PM's question-answer session in Parliament.
Responding to a question from Ahsanul Huq, the Prime Minister said the government is facing the problem with caution from the very beginning of the pandemic.
"As a result, Bangladesh has been able to relatively show a better success in controlling the spiraling number of Covid-19 infected patients, death rate and economic losses," she said.
Responding to Jatiya Party MP Shamim Haider Patwary, Sheikh Hasina said the government has taken various measurers to send back Bangladeshi expatriates by creating new employment opportunities for those who have lost their jobs abroad and failed to go back to their destination of jobs as they got stuck in Bangladesh due to the pandemic.
The Prime Minister said the Foreign Ministry is in touch with the Foreign Ministries of the countries which recruit foreign workers.
"Three points are getting importance in this regard -- ensuring minimum food and health facilities of the terminated expatriates, facilitating the return of those lost jobs with all benefits and six months’ salaries and requesting the destination countries for creating Covid-19 recovery and response fund for creating jobs and setting up of small industries in those countries," she said.
According to the 'World Economic League Table 2021' of British Economic Research organisation 'Center for Economic and Business Research', Bangladesh will be the 25th largest economy by 2035 if the economic expansion which Bangladesh is going through now continues.
This report, she said, there is a forecast about the economic growth of the countries over the next year and also the next 15 years. As per the index of the 2020, Bangladesh is now the 41th economy of the world.
Amid the coronavirus situation, many countries suffered economic recession, but Bangladesh has largely been able to avert the situation, the Prime Minister said.
In FY2020, the economic growth of the country was 5.24 percent while the growth in FY2019 was 8.15 percent, which was the highest in the history of Bangladesh, Hasina said.
"It was possible to make the economic situation normal during the pandemic as the government had taken special measurers for saving people's lives and facing economic crisis," the PM said.
She also said a process is underway to gather three crore Covid-19 vaccine doses and the vaccination programme will begin soon.
Replying to Sultana Nadira (Woman reserved seat), the Leader of the House said the process to provide 66,000 houses among the landless and homeless families is going on for the first phase observing the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the government will gradually give houses to 8,85,522 families across the country.
Replying to Jatiya Party MP Mashiur Rahman Ranga, she said a process is on under the Delta Plan, to form Delta Fund structure and policy for conducting the Fund.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Wednesday said there would be plenty of vaccines in the country with the arrival of 20 lakh doses of Covishield from India as a gift on Thursday.
Bangladesh’s largest neighbour was going to send 20 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines made by Serum Institute, the minister said.
Also, Beximco Pharmaceuticals will bring 50 lakh doses of vaccines in the first phase.
“So, there would be plenty of vaccines in the country. We are quite assured now. We can start the vaccination programme ahead of the schedule,” Momen told the reporters.
Asked whether Bangladesh would get vaccines as a gift from other countries, Dr Momen said he was not aware of it but more countries including Russia and China were interested in supplying vaccines.
The vaccines that will come as a gift will be handed over through a programme at the state guesthouse Padma on Thursday.
Iranian Ambassador to Bangladesh Mohammad Reza Nafar on Wednesday urged its Bangladeshi friends to inspire children about art and culture, saying that Bangladesh is playing a leading role in art and culture in the region.
"Inspire your children about art and culture. I hope artists will play an important role in building a new world as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things," he said.
The Iranian Ambassador made the remarks after visiting the ongoing two-month long group art exhibition titled “Sheikh Hasina: On the Right Side of History” at Cosmos Centre in the city.
Deputy Managing Director of Cosmos Group Masud Jamil Khan welcomed the Ambassador and briefed him about the exhibition.
Ambassador Reza Nafar expressed deep sorrow over the deaths of people, including some of his family friends, due to Covid-19 who had much affection for art and culture.
He said every nation is affected by the coronavirus and mentioned that everything will have to be redesigned in the post-Covid-19 era.
"It's sad to note that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the global economy, politics and art and cultural arenas," said the Iranian envoy.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Ambassador said Prime Minister Hasina has also special love for art and culture.
The mother of Prime Minister Hasina used to recite poems of Persian poet Khwaja Shams-ud-Din Muḥammad Ḥafez-e Shirazi, known by his pen name Hafez or "Hafiz" to help her sleep, Ambassador Reza Nafar quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
Appreciating the host of the art exhibition, he said, "It's an honour for me to be here. My wife and daughter have also special interests in artwork. It gave me an opportunity to come out (from the confinement due to Covid-19."
The Ambassador said the exhibition carries a special meaning for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
"I came here to see an art exhibition but I got an opportunity to get introduced with a greater world," he said.
Thanking the host, the Ambassador in a separate message said coronavirus has doused the visage of the world with paint of sorrow and the need for a new plan is hugely felt to change the present atmosphere. “It’s the only art that provides people with a good mood.”
He said the rich art ingenuity of the dexterous Bangladeshi artists in creating exquisite artworks visible in powerful and lasting paintings of the valuable the exhibition, more than anything indicates the lofty spirit and love for the national and spiritual values found in the hearts of the dear artists of Bangladesh.
Without a doubt, the Iranian Ambassador said, each and every one of the paintings in this exhibition is the golden page of the manifestation of the belief and the attitude of the freedom-seeking Bengali artists who care so much about the exaltation of the name of their motherland. “Visiting this treasure trove was a privilege that made me so pleased,” he added.
Masud Khan said it is necessary to recognise the huge value of art and culture to society as it promotes peace.
“Today, the world without art cannot be imagined as each artwork brings tranquillity in its own way. At this troubling time of Covid-19 pandemic, art has become even more important to our society,” he said, adding that the exhibition is part of the year-long programme to celebrate the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Masud Khan said Iran is a very old friend of Bangladesh and laid emphasis on enhanced trade relations between Bangladesh and Iran.
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud formally inaugurated the group art exhibition on December 15, 2020.
Gallery Cosmos in collaboration with the Cosmos Atelier71 recently hosted an art camp supported by the Cosmos Foundation on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu.
Artists Alakesh Ghosh, Ahmed Shamshuddoha, Sheikh Afzal, Nasir Ali Mamun, Bishwajit Goswami, Ratneshwar Shutradhar, Rasel Kanti, Monjur Rashid, Sourav Chowdhury, Maneek Bonik, Jayanta Sarkar, Azmol Hossain, Fida Hossain, Amit Nandi, Didarul Limon, Tamanna Afroz, Fahim Chowdhury, Miskatul Abir, Proshun Halder, Hasura Akter Rumky and Surovi Akter had participated in the camp.
The artworks produced at the camp are being showcased at the exhibition. The exhibition will remain open till February 12, 2021, at Cosmos Centre and can only receive 20 visitors at any one time.
Earlier, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson, Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller visited the art exhibition.
The Iranian Ambassador visited different wings of the Cosmos Group at Cosmos Centre, including UNB newsroom and WildTeam office.
Dr M Anwarul Islam, WildTeam’s CEO and Professor of Zoology at the University of Dhaka was, among others, present.
He thanked the Cosmos Group for the invitation and organising such a wonderful exhibition featuring Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Visitors have been advised to wear masks all the time while visiting the exhibition and maintain an appropriate distance from each other.
Three people were killed and 15 others injured after a bus overturned in Bogail area of Bhanga upazila in Faridpur on Wednesday.
Identities of the deceased could not be known yet, Officer-in-Charge of Bhanga Highway Police Md Omar Faruk said.
The accident occurred at 12 pm, leaving three people dead on the spot.
Road accidents in Bangladesh
Road accidents in Bangladesh remain one of the leading causes of deaths in Bangladesh. In the last five years, 37,170 people were killed in 26,902 accidents across the country.
Besides, 82,758 people were injured in these accidents, according to a report released by Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (BJKS), a passenger welfare body, in October last year.
According to the report, 8,642 people were killed and 21,855 injured in 6,581 road accidents in 2015 alone.
In 2016, some 6,055 people were killed and 15,914 injured in 4,312 road accidents.
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Road safety is a global development challenge. Every year, 1.35 million people worldwide lose their lives while driving, cycling, or walking on the road and another 50 million are seriously injured.
A recent World Bank study has shown that for South Asia as a whole, a 50 percent reduction in road deaths would generate an estimated gross benefit of about $1.2 trillion.
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Six Parliamentary Standing Committees were reconstituted on Wednesday.
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Chief Whip Nur-E-Alam Chowdhury on behalf of Leader of the House and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed the reconstitution in the House.
Later, the proposals were adopted by voice vote with Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.
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Tanvir Shakil Joy from Sirajganj was made the member of the JS Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry while Habib Hasan from Dhaka-18 made the member of the JS Committee on Textile and Jute Ministry.
Naimur Rahman Durjoy of Manikganj became the member of the Parliamentary Committee on Water Resources Ministry while Rumana Ali made the member of Parliamentary Committee on Home Ministry.
Shabna, Jahan from Reserved Woman Seat was made the member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Welfare Ministry while another MP from reserved woman seat Kaniz Fatema Ahmed made the member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Women and Children Affairs Ministry.