DHAKA, April 6, 2017 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today accused the past BNP-Jamaat regime of portraying Bangladesh as "leader of beggars" keeping countrymen beggars for their entire life.
"They (BNP-Jamaat) never wanted to make Bangladesh self-reliant in food ... their policy is to keep the people of Bangladesh as beggars for their entire life," she told the Diploma Agriculturists' Grand Conference-2017 at Krishibid Institution auditorium this morning.
Sheikh Hasina added that the past regime actually took a policy of to do trade and business and earn two pice by importing rice, never thinking that Bangladesh should stand on its own feet.
"They (BNP-Jamaat regime) never thought this," the premier said.
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhuary and Awami League Organizing Secretary agriculturist AFM Bahauddin Nasim, MP, were present as special guests at the function.
Diploma Krishibid Institution organized the conference with its president ATM Abul Kashem in the chair while secretary general of the forum Abdur Rashed Khan spoke at the function.
Earlier, the prime minister inaugurated the conference by hoisting national flag and releasing pigeons.
Sheikh Hasina said the BNP-Jamaat government used to run the country as "the leader of beggars " keeping the people "remain poor, thin and weak, the party leaders would be benefitted that much" so they could seek and bring foreign aid and later eat its lion share". The prime minister said Bangladesh witnessed setback in all sectors during the rule of the BNP-Jamaat government.
"Bangladesh went backward in every sector including food and electricity production, literacy for no justified reason . . . just they wanted that the people will remain poor and starved to be shown abroad to get alms," she said.
Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, said her party doesn't want to be the leader of beggars like the BNP.
"We run the state as peoples servants and we want to ensure welfare of the people and this is the difference between the Awami League and BNP," she said
The prime minister said when the BNP was in power, their leader, finance minister and parliament members opined that becoming self-reliant in food is not good, because foreign aid won't be available for it.
Elaborating her government's steps to ensure food security in the country by boosting food production, the prime minister said her government has undertaken a master plan for increasing agri-production and so far given Tk 41,000 crore as subsidy in the sector .
"We've distributed agriculture assistance cards among 2.08 crore farmers so that they can get agri inputs at fair price, while over one crore farmers were given scope for opening bank account at Tk only 10," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the World Bank favoured not to give subsidy on agriculture when the government took a decision in this regard. "We have at that time said we don't need aid and we would provide subsidy from our own money and we are continuing this," she said.
The prime minister said when her government took office in 1996, the state of the BADC was on the verge of ruination. "We at that time have taken measures for strengthening the BADC and now the state-run organisation is very effective for the farmers," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has introduced modern technology based e agriculture or digital agriculture system to ensure food security.
She mentioned that her government has put emphasis on research activities to innovate seeds of various crops befitting to adverse and changing climatic condition and said a total of 145 types of different new varieties of crops have so far been invented.
It was the Aawami League government which first allocated Tk 12 crore for research in agri sector, she said, adding the landmark genome sequence of jute was decoded due to patronization in research activities.
She said, a project has been undertaken to mechanise the cultivation system of the country through its modernisation to increase production, reduce production cost as well as to meet demand of the agri- workers and Tk 163. 41 crore is s being spent in this project.
"As a result of these steps, the food production has now increased to four crore metric tons and Bangladesh is exporting foodgrains after meeting its domestic demand," she said.
The prime minister said the subsequent governments after 1975 did not take any steps for the development of agriculture and farmers, rather they stalled the agricultural production undermining the farmers. "As a result, Bangladesh was turned into a food deficit country at that time," she said.
Sheikh Hasina lamented that 18 farmers were killed by police during the rule of BNP in 1995 when they demanded fertilizers and 24 peasants were shot dead by the law enforcers when they staged movement for electricity.
Putting emphasis on mechanization of the agriculture sector, the prime minister said it's a must and a demand of the time to raise food production. The country's economy depends on agriculture, she said.
Referring to the worldwide economic recession when her government took office in 2009, Sheikh Hasina said there was food crisis and wastage of food when the world witnessed an economic recession at that time. Our government has taken measures so that such a situation doesn't arise in Bangladesh, she said.
Regarding the 2001 election, Sheikh Hasina said the BNP-Jamaat government came to power through a conspiracy and giving an undertaking to sell gas.
I was the direct witness to that incident (reaching an understanding) as BNP gave undertaking to sell gas if it could go to power," she said.
Before the 2001 national election, Sheikh Hasina recalled that she along with the then party general secretary Zillur Rahman and BNP chief Khaleda Zia and BNP's secretary general Mannan Bhuiyan attended a luncheon at the house of then caretaker government chief Latifur Rahman.
Sheikh Hasina said (former US president) Jimmy Carter joined the luncheon meeting where the issue of selling gas by a US company to India came up for discussions.
"My opinion at that meeting was that if there was any additional reserve of at least 50 years' gas after fulfilling the country's demand, only then we can sell the extra amount, or not," she said.
At one point of the discussion, she remembered, she along with Zillur Rahman came out of that meeting, but BNP chief Khaleda Zia and Mannan Bhuiyan were still there at the meeting and gave undertaking to sell gas to another country.
"If you look back at the results of the 2001 national election, you could find that AL got the higher popular votes, but it couldn't win the majority seats in parliament. There was no doubt that it was a huge conspiracy against our party," she added.
The prime minister called upon all including the diploma agriculturists to work for a developed and prosperous Bangladesh for the future generations.
"We'll have to keep in mind that we're a victorious nation and we must develop the country ... we can't remain alive as a nation of beggars because Bangabandhu said such a nation has no prestige and dignity, she said.
"We want to move with dignity and we can achieve that dignity when we become self reliant in all sectors. We don't want to advance by begging to others and we want to spend our resources for our own development," she said.
Terming the diploma agriculturists as the front-ranking soldiers in agricultural production, the
prime minister said they are playing an important role in boosting food production.
While talking about some demands of the diploma agriculturists, Sheikh Hasina said her government during 1996-2001 had raised the position of diploma agriculturists to the status of sub-assistant agriculture officers from grade 11 from 14.
Sheikh Hasina assured of considering the demands of the diploma agriculturists and said her government has hiked the salary of government employees up to 123 percent in the new pay scale so that they could lead a solvent life.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)