In an official statement released on Sunday (August 20), Barrister Md. Sameer Sattar, the President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), lauded the introduction of the Universal Pension Scheme (UPS) as a timely and pivotal move aimed at establishing a comprehensive and sustainable social safety net to foster greater socio-economic advancement.
Sattar emphasized that this strategic initiative holds the potential to usher in a new era in Bangladesh’s economic landscape. The UPS, encompassing four distinct people-centric packages—namely ‘Pragati,’ ‘Surokkha,’ ‘Samata,’ and ‘Prabashi’—has been meticulously tailored to cater to diverse segments of society. These packages target a wide range of individuals, including private sector employees, non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs), informal sector workers, and those belonging to low-income groups.
The DCCI President highlighted that the UPS has the capacity to encompass a substantial portion of society within its ambit, signifying a significant step towards inclusive development. One of the standout features of the scheme is the provision for the government to contribute 50 percent of the deposit for insolvent beneficiaries under the ‘Samata’ package—an aspect that Barrister Md. Sameer Sattar deemed remarkable and far-reaching.
Drawing inspiration from the successful implementation of similar schemes in various developed and developing economies, such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Australia, India, Canada, Iceland, and Switzerland, Sattar expressed optimism that imbibing operational and safety lessons from these nations could position the new scheme as a transformative force in driving the much-needed economic evolution in Bangladesh.
PM Sheikh Hasina Emphasizes No Room for Arson Terrorism in Political Movements
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has underscored her firm stance against any recurrence of the 2013-14 incidents of arson terrorism and inhuman atrocities in the run-up to the next national election. During a community reception held in her honor at the Methodist Central Hall Westminster, she emphasized that there would be no tolerance for such actions conducted in the name of a movement.
Recalling the events of 2013-14, Prime Minister Hasina pointed out that the BNP-Jamaat alliance had wreaked havoc across the country by setting people on fire, destroying public and private properties with petrol bombs hurled at various modes of transportation, including buses, trains, and launches. These actions led to severe burn injuries for many, including women, who continue to suffer from the consequences.
She clarified that her government had no objection to peaceful movements but highlighted the stark difference between peaceful protests and movements that involve killing people through arson terrorism and damaging the nation’s assets. She also referenced a past incident where 29 police personnel were killed, emphasizing that any attempt to harm innocent citizens would not be tolerated.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen and AL Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr. Abdus Sobhan Golap were in attendance during the event, presided over by UK AL President Sultan Sharif and moderated by General Secretary Syed Sajedur Rahman Faruk.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also serves as the President of the ruling Awami League, criticized the BNP’s claims about democracy, citing their dubious election practices. She noted that the people of Bangladesh had swiftly removed the BNP from power within a short period after they conducted a controversial election on February 15, 1996.
Regarding voter lists, she pointed out that the BNP-Jamaat alliance had attempted to manipulate elections by creating a voter list with 1.23 crore fake voters. In contrast, Awami League leaders and activists had worked tirelessly to establish and protect the voting rights of the people, with some even sacrificing their lives in the process.
Prime Minister Hasina reiterated her commitment to holding free and fair elections, highlighting the reforms implemented by her government, including the establishment of an independent election commission and the introduction of transparent ballot boxes and voter lists with photographs.
She also mentioned that the BNP’s focus had shifted from political movements to seeking treatment abroad for Khaleda Zia. She clarified that she had acted within the confines of the law when allowing Khaleda Zia to stay at home after suspending her jail term in a corruption case.
Prime Minister Hasina called upon Bangladeshi expatriates to send remittances through official banking channels, acknowledging their contributions to the country’s progressive and democratic movements, including the War of Liberation in 1971.
In light of rising inflation due to global factors, she encouraged citizens to utilize every inch of land for agriculture to reduce dependency on food imports. She briefly outlined her government’s efforts to advance Bangladesh economically and digitally, with the goal of transforming it into a developed and prosperous nation by 2041.
Country’s Goods Export Witnesses Strong Growth in September, Falls Short of Target
In September of this year, the country’s export earnings from goods demonstrated robust growth, surging by 10.37 percent and reaching a total of $4,310.33 million. However, these single-month export figures fell short by 7.05 percent of the strategic export target set at $4,637 million, as reported by the latest statistics from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Comparatively, the export earnings for September in the previous year amounted to $3,905.07 million, indicating a noteworthy increase in the current year.
Taking a broader view, the data from EPB revealed that the overall export earnings during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-September) saw a significant growth of 9.51 percent, totaling $13,685.44 million. This exceeded the strategic target of $13,988 million set for the same period.
In contrast, during the same July-September period in the last fiscal year (FY23), the export earnings were recorded at $12,496.89 million, illustrating a noticeable upswing in the current fiscal year.
Among the various exportable items, the Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector continued to dominate the overseas market during this three-month period, amassing an impressive $11,617.5 million with a growth rate of 13.07 percent.
Breaking down the RMG category, knitwear stood out as the frontrunner, securing the highest export amount of $6,762.59 million, followed closely by woven garments with earnings of $4,854.91 million.
For the current fiscal year, the government has set an ambitious target to export goods worth $62 billion, aiming for an 11.59 percent year-on-year growth. This follows a remarkable achievement in the previous fiscal year (FY23), where exports reached a record-breaking $55.56 billion despite challenging global conditions and uncertainties.
PM Sheikh Hasina: Bangladesh Must Avoid Return to Era of Darkness
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a stark warning, suggesting that unless the ruling Awami League retains power, the country could regress into a state of darkness. She conveyed this message during a reception hosted by the US chapter of the Awami League at the Holiday Express Inn Hotel.
However, the Prime Minister expressed her confidence in the people of Bangladesh, stating that they would not want to return to such a bleak period. She referred to the 29 years under the BNP-Jamaat governments as an era of darkness during which little was done for the citizens except for the self-enrichment of the ruling clique.
She emphasized that the Awami League, since coming into power in 2009, has made significant strides in bridging the developmental gap created during those years of darkness. Bangladesh has achieved recognition as a developing country during this period, thanks to specific plans and a continued democratic process.
Prime Minister Hasina mentioned that her government is preparing for Bangladesh’s journey as a developing nation, starting in 2026. To facilitate this journey, a committee has been formed, led by her principal secretary, to find ways to ensure development and prosperity. She reiterated her belief that if the Awami League remains in power, Bangladesh’s path to becoming a developed nation will face no hindrances.
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