Speaking to Prothom Alo, president of Workers’ Party, an ally of the 14-Party Alliance, Rashed Khan Menon said Bangladesh is witnessing a difficult situation like the rest of the world because of global factors but policies of the government and corruption has its share too. The government has taken up an import-dependent fuel policy in the interests of a few business people and no step was taken to explore the country’s gas resources, he added.
It is necessary to give utmost importance to agriculture to reduce people’s sufferings caused by the hike in prices of essentials, Rashed Khan Memon observed.
Deputy leader of opposition and Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader thinks the Russia-Ukraine war is not solely responsible for the existing crisis; the war accelerated it and even if the war did not broke the crisis would rise in future.
Disorder and mismanagement exists everywhere in the country and people are suffering from the price hike. There are allegations of corruption and excessive expenditure in mega projects, he said adding, corruption is everywhere from railway tickets to mega projects. There are reports on laundering of millions of taka but where does this money come from?
According to Awami League’s policymaking sources, the government had two alternatives amidst the rise in price of fuel globally and pressure on foreign currency. One way is to take quick decision based on emotion to save its image, and in that case, the government could have subsidised the power sector to continue electricity generation but that took the country and its economy to a deep crisis. Another one is to take various austerity measures with caution instead of being emotional and the government is following this path. Leaders of the Awami League think the government has chosen the right option among all possible alternatives.
Several leaders of the Awami League, however, are also wondering whether the austerity measures of the government spread panic among the people. This correspondent talked to three presidium members and two senior leader of the advisory council of Awami League. A leader on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo people of Bangladesh has been witnessing the volatile situation in Sri Lanka, and opposition parties also raise debate whether Bangladesh is going to face such situation and there is a sort of panic among people too.
Another important leader said the government faces backlash when the country falls into a crisis and that is normal. Issues like corruption and money laundering came to the fore during such times. Party lawmakers reportedly were involved in various unwarranted incidents at various places amid this situation. There are also internal feuds. Names of Chhattra League leaders also came up in various crimes including sexual harassment at educational institutes and other places. Names of ruling party people also came up in communal incidents at the grassroots.
Another central leader said the credibility of Awami League lawmakers and the ruling party is very low and now economic pressure added to this. That makes it difficult for the party policymakers to formulate any strategy.
Six lawmakers on condition of anonymity talked to this correspondent. They said they had to face questions over price hike for long and now load shedding has been added to this and there is no clear idea on how long this situation will last, so it becomes a big challenge to reassure the people.
A lawmaker said Awami League leaders and public representatives are somewhat in the dark over various issues such as how long this global economic crisis will last and what the party’s strategy should be over it. They are trying to understand the problems themselves from various level of the government, but what explanation they should give the people over the current situations is not clear yet.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Awami League presidium member Pijush Kanti Bhattacharjee said the measures that the government has taken to tackle the situations caused by global crisis are correct but whether these measures are being implemented properly will have to be monitored.
Awami League leaders said situation may ease over the Russia-Ukraine war ahead of the next winter and volatility in energy sector may reduce slightly.
However, many of the party’s policymakers think people may endure this difficult situation for six months but if situation prolongs they will be restless and Awami League may suffer the consequence. Economists fear western countries may see a downtrend in export along with the rise in oil price, and if pressure on export and remittance-dependent foreign reserve increase situations will get worse.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Awami League presidium member and agriculture minister Mohammad Abdur Razzaque said, “We have nothing to do in the situation that led to the Russian-Ukraine war and that does not mean but the government is sitting idle. The government is emphasising cut in expenditure and rise in production and this is very important at this very moment.”
The present government had tried to bring some relief to people during all crises including the coronavirus pandemic, and it had become successful and this time the government will be successful too, he added.
This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna