She virtually joined the inaugural function held at the construction yard adjoining to Ashulia Bazar in Savar, from her official residence, Ganabhaban.
The prime minister said the BNP leaders are always raising questions on the expense of the reserve money and trying to mislead the nation by giving false information.
“No paisa from the reserve money is misappropriated. They (BNP leaders) are always talking about this as their leader Tarique Zia was awarded seven years imprisonment and Tk 200 million penalty in a money laundering case and he is now a fugitive accused,” she said.
We are investing some reserve money to keep our money within the country. Otherwise, we have to take loans from foreign banks and repay the debt by dollars with interest
The prime minister said her government is using the reserve money to meet the import expenses including purchasing food, fuel, edible oil, wheat, capital machinery, medicine of cancer and Covid-19 vaccines despite the prices of goods, fuel and transportation cost are skyrocketing for global high inflation and economic meltdown stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions and counter sanctions.
Sheikh Hasina said they have to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines in cash and are giving the vaccines to the masses alongside conducting the coronavirus tests free of cost using the reserve money.
The prime minister further said that Bangladesh has later got donations of the Covid-19 vaccines from various countries.
“No developed country even administered the Covid-19 vaccines to their citizens free of cost,” she said.
The government has purchased planes for the Bangladesh Biman and is dredging the rivers using the reserve money, she said.
“We are investing some reserve money to keep our money within the country. Otherwise, we have to take loans from foreign banks and repay the debt by dollars with interest,” she said.
The prime minister said they have given some money to Sri Lanka from the reserve after it has fallen into crisis.
Bangladesh is a self-reliant country in food production, she said, adding that despite the fact, it has to import rice using the reserve money as the paddy fields were badly damaged during the recent flood and cyclone.
The prime minister said they would do nothing harmful for the country as her government has liabilities to the people.
“We are Awami League and we have liabilities to the people as Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dedicated his entire life to give the masses an improved and beautiful life,” she said.
The reserve was only US $2.9 billion when BNP was in power while it increased to five US dollars during 2001-08, she said, adding that the present government has been able to raise it to $48 billion.
She said the $48 billion reserve was possible as communication, transportations and import was almost halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Referring to apprehension of the global famine, the prime minister reiterated her call to the people to grow more food using every inch of land so no famine can hit Bangladesh.
About the 24-kilometre Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway from Shahjalal International Airport to EPZ through Asulia, she said the project is taken mainly to make free Savar, Nabinagar, Ashilua and the North Bengal from traffic snarl and create uninterrupted communication.
The prime minister said her government had built the Dhaka-Ashulia Highway after coming to power in 1996.
She added that the expressway will make uninterrupted communication on 44 kilometre highway up to Kutubkhali under Jatrabari Police via EPZ, Ashulia, Abdullahpur, Shahjalal International Airport, Kawla, Kuril, Banani, Mohakhali, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Kamlapur, Sayedabad and Jatrabari after connecting the Dhaka Elevated Express Highway.
The prime minister said the communication of the Ashulia-Savar industrial area with the rest of the country would be easier and the expressway will contribute immensely to the national economy.
“Once completed, the expressway will boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) 0.21 per cent,” she hoped.
People from 30 districts will be highly benefited from the expressway as it will make transportation of people and goods easier and quicker as it would help cut traffic congestion, she said.
The prime minister thanked the Chinese President for his support to Bangladesh’s development including the construction of the Dhaka-Ashulia expressway.
Briefly describing the government’s measures for the overall development of the communication system, she said, “We have made tremendous development in all the road, river, rail and air ways for which the people are now getting benefits of those.”
The prime minister said her government is working to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous one by 2041.
Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming spoke at the function moderated by PM’s principal secretary Ahmad Kaikaus.
State minister for disaster management and relief Md. Enamur Rahman and local people’s representatives were present at Ashulia site.
Bridges division secretary Md. Monjur Hossain made a power point presentation on the express way.
A video documentary on the elevated expressway was also screened on the occasion.