SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, highlighted that the poverty rate in her country has been reduced from 41.5 per cent in 2006 to 18.7 per cent in 2022, and extreme poverty has gone from 25.1 per cent to 5.6 per cent. Additionally, social safety net coverage has been expanded to ensure social and financial security of destitute women, widows, the elderly, persons with disabilities, persons of third gender and other marginalized segments of society. In the current fiscal year, $12 billion has been allocated for the social safety net programmes. Reiterating her Government’s commitment to ensure women empowerment and gender equality within a stipulated time frame, she said special attention has been given to overall education, including female literacy.
She underscored that, despite contributing less than .47 per cent of global emissions, Bangladesh is one of the most climatically vulnerable countries in the world. Accordingly, she pointed to the “Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund”, established in 2009 to finance climate adaptation. Under the “Ashrayan” project, a landmark initiative of her Government for landless and homeless people, more than 800,000 families have been provided with houses free of cost. The developed economies must fulfil their $100 billion commitments, she asserted, demanding the urgent operationalization of loss and damage funds, as agreed at the twenty-seventh UN Climate Change Conference. She called for stronger global solidarity in sharing the burden of climate migrants induced by sea-level rise, salinity increase, river erosion, floods and droughts. The interlinked crises of the past few years have pushed up prices of food, energy and commodities globally — as an energy- and food-importing country, Bangladesh’s import bills have shot up significantly, having a negative impact on its foreign currency reserves.
Stressing that her Government has ensured food for everyone, she spotlighted various initiatives to keep inflation under control. In this context, she voiced deep concern that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has become defunct and called upon all parties concerned for its early restoration. For countries like Bangladesh, uninterrupted access to fertilizers must be ensured, she added. As part of Vision 2041, her Government is heavily investing in building a “Smart Bangladesh” to transform the country into a high-income, poverty-free developed nation, grounded in proper utilization of science and technology, and powered by innovation. Further, she noted that after peaceful settlements of maritime boundaries with neighbouring countries, the “blue economy” has opened up a new horizon for the country’s development. In this context, she emphasized that the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea need to be effectively implemented to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources.
Further, she expressed concern about the continued prevalence of terrorist threats, which are now taking new shape due to the misuse of ICT. “The recent incident of burning copies of the Holy Quran has shaken our conscience,” she said, adding that such acts of perversion not only hurt religious sentiments of Muslims, but also instigate violence and harm the peaceful coexistence of people of various faiths and beliefs. Turning to the forcibly displaced Rohingya people from Myanmar, she said last month marked six years of their mass displacement. Out of humanitarian concern, Bangladesh has given temporary shelter to those who fled their homes for safety. However, the displaced Rohingyas want to return to Myanmar and live a peaceful life there, she underlined, adding: “Let’s ensure that those destitute people return to their own country.”
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh on Friday appealed to world leaders gathered at the UN “to shun the path of war and confrontation, and to work collectively for enduring peace ... and economic prosperity for our people and future generations.”
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