Relations with US still 'excellent', insists Hasan Mahmud
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said the relationship between Bangladesh and the United States remains excellent despite recent comment regarding US sanctions by PM Sheikh Hasina. “We have taken several positive decisions in recent times to enhance our relations with the United States,” he said, while speaking at a press briefing in the Secretariat this afternoon. Mahmud emphasized the government's desire to strengthen ties with the US. Also Read: PM strikes defiant tone in face of US pressure Highlighting the need to diversify trade opportunities, Mahmud mentioned that Bangladesh has not been able to increase trade with countries of South America. He also stressed the importance of expanding trade with the Middle East beyond labour export, given the increased purchasing power and awareness in the region. He also emphasized the trade potential in ASEAN countries and the Oceania region, citing the Prime Minister's interest in exploring these opportunities. Also Read: New visa policy to help PM Hasina's govt in holding fair elections: US “Prime Minister's remarks regarding the US visa policy were intended to alleviate concerns and ease tension for those worried about obtaining US visas,” he said. Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said it doesn't matter at all if someone goes to the USA crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a 20-hour- plane journey. “There are other oceans and other continents in the world, we will make friends with those continents crossing the other oceans. Our economy will be stronger and more developed and vibrant,” she said firmly. Also Read: US govt’s new visa policy does not bother Bangladesh government: Shahriar Alam Hasan Mahmud also mentioned that Bangladesh's budget deficit stands at 5.2 percent, whereas in comparison, India's deficit is 5.9 percent, the United States' is 6 percent, and the United Kingdom's is 5.5 percent. He referred to the proposed budget for 2023-24 as "people-friendly and poor-friendly," stating that the government aims to increase the number of direct beneficiaries and the number of allowances provided. Also Read: People, not PM, to decide whether they go to USA or not: BNP He further said that around two crore people would directly receive various forms of government assistance, including financial aid. In addition, he announced that a list containing the names of individuals involved in arson attacks, as well as their instigators and financiers, would be disseminated to relevant authorities.
Hike in retail power tariff is less than in developed countries: Info Minister
The electricity tariff in Bangladesh hiked by 5 percent at the retail level is still less than that of many developed countries, said Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Friday. A slight increase in electricity tariff is proposed to adjust the subsidy borne by the government, he told the reporters at Rajshahi Circuit House. “Our government is counting thousands of crores in subsidies for the power sector so that the people do not suffer and can get electricity at a cheap price.” Rising fuel prices in Europe and the UK are driving electricity rationing, driving up prices. But in Bangladesh, the price has not been increased in that way as the power sector is still dependent on fossil fuels, he said. Also Read: BNP paying for "imprudent" decisions: Hasan Mahmud The government has raised the electricity tariff by 5 percent at the retail level that will be effective from January 1. Now the average tariff for all consumers will go up by Tk0.36 to Tk7.49 from Tk7.13, the Power Division said in a media statement Thursday. Regarding the prime minister’s rally in Rajshahi on January 29, Hasan said the rally will be in a field, but the whole city will turn into a rally that day. There will be millions of people joining the rally. “We believe in the power of the people. And they (BNP) believe in conspiracy and the power of arms. So, all evil forces should be eliminated by the power of the people and that should be shown in the rally of Rajshahi on January 29.” Marking the PM’s rally here, Hasan Mahmud arrived in Rajshahi this morning for an exchange of views with local leaders and a field visit.
Pushing activists towards violence is deplorable: Info Minister
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud has said that pushing party leaders and activists towards violence is deplorable. The minister said this today while speaking to journalists at his ministry’s conference room at the Secretariat. Speaking on the death of a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader in Panchagarh, Mahmud, also Joint General Secretary of Awami League (AL), said that the man had died of heart attack. Read: Handcuffs, leg irons should’ve been removed during funeral of BNP leader’s mother: Info Minister “I’m saddened by the news of Abdur Rashid’s demise. But he was a heart patient and died of a sudden attack, not during the BNP-Police clash. But BNP leaders pushed their party activists to become violent over the issue, which is bad politics. Violent politics doesn’t bring any good for the country and BNP should quit this path,” he said. Replying to a question, the minister added that AL wants to strengthen the country’s democracy by fair and peaceful elections. “BNP leaders know that they’ve moved away from the people and that’s why they are afraid of taking part in the elections. The government can’t do anything about it. A party which was formed in an undemocratic way can’t place their trust on democratic principles,” he added. Read: Jamaat, which was behind killings of intellectuals in 1971, BNP's main associate: Info Minister The minister further said that AL wants BNP to take part in the next general election with full force. “We want to win the game of politics by playing the election round, not by walkovers. I hope if BNP takes part in the election and we can compete with them properly, we’ll be able to crush them like we did in 2018,” Hasan said.
BTV produced many renowned artists: Info Minister
Mentioning BTV's founding anniversary as an important milestone in the nation's trajectory, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday reminded everyone that the state television channel produced many famous artists in Bangladesh. The minister said this while briefing reporters after paying tribute to the portrait of the Father of the Nation at the beginning of the programme marking the 58th anniversary of Bangladesh Television (BTV) in Rampura of the capital on Sunday afternoon. BTV, BTV World, Sangsad BTV and BTV Chittagong are now four channels under the state's umbrella. Initiatives have been taken to set up full-fledged BTV centres in six more divisional cities, added the minister. Read: No substitute for sports in developing flair: Info Minister He also recalled many BTV officials who gave their lives in the Great Liberation War. "BTV has played an important role in all aspects of the Bengali independence movement, development of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman inaugurated the new building of BTV in Rampura. And on March 7, 1971, BTV officials refused to work because they were not allowed to broadcast Bangabandhu's speech," he mentioned. "Since 1964, the role of BTV in nurturing our tradition, in enriching our art-culture, in building the country is really undeniable," the Broadcasting Minister said. Humayun Kabir Khandakar, secretary of the information and broadcasting ministry, Director General of BTV Sohrab Hossain and senior officials were present at that time.
Handcuffs, leg irons should’ve been removed during funeral of BNP leader’s mother: Info Minister
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud said on Wednesday that handcuffs and leg irons should have been removed when a prisoned BNP leader attended his mother’s funeral on parole in Gazipur on Tuesday. The minister made the comment while talking to journalists at the conference room of the ministry at the Secretariat. “I’ve talked with the police about the matter. They said that the matter of locking or unlocking handcuffs is the responsibility of the district administration and the Inspector General of Prison. Police have maintained caution because some militants had escaped from their custody a few days ago. Still, I think the handcuffs of the BNP leader should have been removed during the funeral,” said Hasan. BNP leader Ali Azam’s mother died due to old age complications on Sunday. To attend her funeral, Azam had requested the Gazipur district administration for his freedom on parole on Monday. But the administration failed to do so as the formalities could not be completed on that day. Also read: BNP MPs resigned to impede democracy: Hasan Mahmud On Tuesday, the district administration granted Azam a three-hour parole to attend his mother’s funeral. Azam was taken home in Boali union of Gazipur’s Kaliakair upazila and was brought back to the prison after the funeral. The incident triggered criticism in media.
US envoy’s visit to Mayer Dak coordinator’s house won’t hurt ties: Info Minister
The controversy over the visit of US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas to the residence of ‘Mayer Dak’ coordinator will not harm the relationship between Bangladesh and the United States, said Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Thursday. “Of course, the United States is our development partner. They also have a great role in our development journey,” said the minister while talking to reporters at the secretariat. “I would urge the US Ambassador to stay alert about any wrong advice or attempt to make him biased like this,” he said. Those who advised Haas to visit the residence of the coordinator of Mayer Dak made him controversial, he said. Read more: Families of armed forces officers executed during Zia regime seek US ambassador’s intervention for justice “I don't know who advised him to go to the residence yesterday. Whoever gave him the advice did not give the right advice,” the minister added. “But I think the decision was up to the envoy and he also needed to focus on our special days”, he said. The minister said it would have been great if Haas had visited Martyred Intellectuals’ Memorial, marking the Martyred Intellectuals Day on Wednesday. Ambassador Haas visited the residence of Sanjida Islam, coordinator of Mayer Dak, a platform of the relatives of the victims of enforced disappearance, at Shaheenbagh in the city on Wednesday morning. Sanjida is the sister of BNP leader Sajedul Islam Sumon, reportedly a victim of enforced disappearance that took place in 2013. The minister said the Foreign Affairs Ministry was not aware of the matter and Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has already said so. “Mayer Dak was formed by those who are reported to have been made victims of enforced disappearance. Many of them are being found again. Many are accused involving murder cases, many are accused of drug cases and many are fugitive convicts,” he said. BNP keeps telling them that their leaders and activists have been victims of enforced disappearance, he added. Read more: US envoy meets Momen, shares displeasure over embarrassment Following the envoy’s visit to Mayer Dak coordinator’s residence, around 50 people from another organisation ‘Mayer Kanna’ a platform of family members of the victims of enforced disappearance during Gen Ziaur Rahman’s regime, went there to give a memorandum to the US Ambassador, said the minister. But those who were in charge of security of the US envoy did not let ‘Mayer Kanna’ to do that due to his security concern. “I think if the US Ambassador received their memorandum and had a talk with them, then he will not face the bitter criticism now," said the information minister said.
Strict action if anyone creates anarchy: Information Minister
Information and Broiadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud has said that the government will take stern actions if the Bangladesh Nationalist Party tries to disrupt peoples’ lives and creates an anarchic situation by blocking important roads during their upcoming divisional rally in Dhaka. The minister said this while talking to journalists about BNP’s rally at CIRDAP Auditorium of the capital. “We know that terrorists belonging to BNP are hiding in the city and they’re trying to come out on the occasion of the party’s Dhaka rally. These terrorists are funded, directed and encouraged by those BNP leaders who have a big mouth. The government will take tough measures against them if needed,” said Hasan. Read: Govt helping BNP to make Dhaka rally a success: Info Minister Hasan, also the Joint General Secretary of the ruling Awami League (AL), added that BNP’s divisional rally in Cumilla was nothing but a picnic. “BNP had slaughtered hundreds of cows and arranged a feast in the name of divisional rally in Cumilla. Although many people attended the feast at night, they left on the morning of the rally. Their leader (Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir) has said many things at the rally, including that they will hold their Dhaka rally at Naya Paltan, which will never happen,” Hasan added. Hasan further said that BNP wants to hold their rally at Naya Paltan from an evil mind. “The government won’t tolerate any suffering of the people. Naya Paltan is a busy neighborhood and there isn’t any field there. If BNP arrange the rally there, the entire city will be paralyzed. That’s why the government has offered them an open space like the Suhrawardy Udyan. Instead of accepting the offer, Fakhrul is still talking about Naya Paltan with vicious intentions,” Hasan said. Read: Country can’t be handed over to the patron of terrorists: Info Minister Earlier, the Minister spoke as chief guest at an anti-smoking seminar held by Development Organization of The Rural Poor (DOAP) at the auditorium. The event was presided over by DOAP President Md Azahar Ali and moderated by the NGO’s Deputy Executive Director Mohammad Jobayer Hasan. Eminent citizens including bureaucrats, retired army personnel, journalists and social workers attended the event.
Govt helping BNP to make Dhaka rally a success: Info Minister
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Wednesday asked the members of the ruling Awami League (AL) to stay alert during the upcoming rally in Dhaka by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) on December 10. “BNP has been demanding resignation of the government for 12 years. We know what may happen on December 10 as we’ve seen their recent divisional rallies. The number of people who attended the rallies is nothing compared with the number of people who attended our party programmes at district level,” Hasan said. Read more: BNP wants rally at Nayapaltan with aim to anarchy: Hasan Mahmud The Minister added that the government is trying their best so that BNP can organise their programmes peacefully. “We couldn’t hold any political programmes when BNP was in power. We had to sustain grenade attacks, while no such incident has happened during BNP’s programmes under our rule. It has been possible because the government has ensured security for them,” he said. Read more: BNP to launch one-point movement from Dec 10 rally at Nayapaltan He also said that Purbachal, not Nayapaltan, is the perfect place for BNP’s upcoming divisional rally in Dhaka. “Even if we block all the roads adjacent to BNP’s Nayapaltan office, no more than 50,000 people can gather there. But BNP is saying that millions will join their Dhaka rally. There is no place inside Dhaka city, which can accommodate such a huge number of people except Purbachal. That’s why BNP will have to organise their rally there if they want to make it successful,” Hasan said.
Info Minister tests positive for Covid-19 again
Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud has again tested positive for Covid-19. Hasan gave his sample for the Covid-19 test at Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control And Research (IEDCR) on Sunday and the result turned out positive on Tuesday, Mir Akram Uddin Ahmad, director of the ministry, said in a press release. With this, Hasan, also joint general secretary of the ruling Awami League, tested positive for Covid-19 for the third time. Read: State Minister Khalid contracts Covid again The minister felt sick while performing official tasks at his office in the ministry upon returning from Panchagarh last week, after distributing relief and financial assistance to the relatives of victims who died in a terrific boat capsize in a river of the district recently. Later, he gave samples for the Covid-19 following consultation from the physicians, the release said.
Diplomats are welcome to advise on polls, but no meddling with internal matters: Info Minister
Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud has said that foreign diplomats are free to give advice on elections as long as they don’t interfere in the country’s internal affairs and cross diplomatic etiquettes. The minister said this while exchanging views with journalists after receiving the annual report of Bangladesh Press Council at the ministry’s meeting room on Monday. “The foreign diplomats can talk to any political party of the country about participatory elections. They can even talk to any particular political party in private on avoiding conflicts during the time of elections. The government has no problem with that as we also want transparent and participatory elections,” Hasan said. About Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) recent activities, the minister said it’s the BNP men who are attacking their own fellows to create an anarchic situation. “In 2018, BNP secured five seats in the parliament as an outcome of their dialogue (with the government). This time, they’ll be rejected by the people if they don’t shun the path of violence,” said Hasan. Replying to a question, the minister added that Father of The Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had established the Press Council to remove misunderstanding between the public and the media. Read: Transit a big achievement of PM’s India visit: Info Minister “Currently, the only role that the Press Council plays is of reprimanding. The government is trying to formulate new laws to increase the power of this body,” Hasan added. Hasan, also the Joint General Secretary of the ruling Awami League, reaffirmed his view media in Bangladesh enjoys more freedom than in many developed countries of the world. “The government is creating a database of the journalists. The Press Council has prepared a draft policy in this regard, which will be approved soon,” said Hasan. During the meeting, Press Council Chairman Nizamul Haque presented their report for 2022. Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, editor of The Daily Observer and Saiful Alam, dditor of the daily Jugantor, among others, were present at the meeting.