Vested quarters raise commodity prices through conspiracy: PM Hasina

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina addresses a joint meeting of the AL’s central executive council, advisory council and its associate bodies at the party’s central office at Banganandhu Avenue, Dhaka, on 15 January in 2024BSS

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina Monday said that they have got a huge public support in the 7 January election due to having confidence and trust of the people in her party.

“Since we have a strong political party like the Awami League, we have gained support, confidence and trust of the people. This time election reflects the fact immensely,” she said.

The prime minister was addressing a joint meeting of the AL’s central executive council, advisory council and its associate bodies at the party’s central office at Banganandhu Avenue in the capital this afternoon after securing a landslide victory in the 7 January election.

The AL president said the general people of the villages have trust in her party as their fate has changed whenever they assumed power. “They (the people) have no trust in others.”

The prime minister asked the party men to devote themselves to change the fate of the poor and distressed people and give them a better and beautiful life following the ideal of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“We have to meet their aspirations. We must bear in mind always how we can change the fate of the general people, turning one from a day labourer into a farmer, and how to provide the poor people an improved life,” she said.

Referring to the absolute victory in the 7 January election, Sheikh Hasina stated that political organisation is the most important thing and nothing can be achieved without a party’s support.

Mentioning that strength is required to achieve any success, the prime minister said, “Our strength is the people of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Awami League and our associate organisations.”

The government has successfully overcome the challenges of Covid-19 as it got the support of a political party like the Awami League, the prime minister insisted. “Whatever we do using administration, it is hard to achieve success without the support of any political organisation and people.”

The prime minister, however, thanked the AL leaders and activists for entrusting her with the charge of the party president in 1981 that paved her return to the country from long-forced exile.

“I have come to the AL office as it is my main root. So, I am here today. I may sit with all at the Ganabhaban. We have done everything, including the struggle and movement from there. I have a lot of memories of it,” she said, giving a brief description of what she did after winning the election.

Sheikh Hasina said they have taken the required measures to purchase essentials in advance for the month of holy Ramadan so that people won’t face any problems. “We’ve taken the necessary initiatives to purchase in advance whatever is needed during the month of Ramadan.”

Besides, food support programmes for the poor will also continue during the Ramadan. People can buy commodities at subsidised rates through TCB family cards and purchase rice from open market sale (OMS), she said.

“We’ll ensure proper arrangement so that the people don’t face problems in purchasing commodities. We’ll take adequate measures to pull the reins of inflation further,” she said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the cabinet meeting on 15 January in 2024

She acknowledged that the prices of commodity are causing public suffering now. “Yes, inflation went up, but we’ve eased it to a large extent. But there are some vested quarters, who raise the prices through conspiracy.”

The prime minister, however, said it is true that the purchasing power of the people has increased.

AL general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader gave the address of welcome.

Sheikh Hasina asked all, including the political parties, to take part in the election to forget the pain of defeat and engage in the work to ensure the people’s welfare. “We have to work together for the welfare of the country and its people.”

The AL president asked all, particularly her party members, to stay alert against the arsonists, who burned people to death that included a mother with her child.

She also directed them to keep faith and confidence in the Awami League through their work for which they went to the polling centres, defying the call of the “BNP and Jamaat clique” to boycott the polls.

“We have to work for the country without paying heed to the words of those who wanted to thwart the election and those who don’t want democracy. The people of the country have boycotted them,” she insisted.

The prime minister also stressed the need to bring every inch of arable land under cultivation to grow more foods, diversifying the country’s export basket, and searching for new export markets for Bangladeshi goods.

Mentioning that her government has taken the education and healthcare services to the doorsteps of the people, she said the services will continue.

About the AL electoral manifesto 2024, Sheikh Hasina said, “We keep the promises we make to the people.”

She also said AL government’s achievements, pledges and what is to be done in future have been stated in detail in the electoral manifesto. The AL president asked her party leaders and activists to read the manifesto thoroughly. “Then you will be able to understand our political ideology and work accordingly.”

The Prime Minister said the ongoing development works will have to be completed. Development trends of the country will have to be carried forward and accelerated further as per the perspective plan.

‘Corruption in public procurement not to be tolerated’

At a separate programme today, the prime minister issued directive to ensure transparency and accountability in all areas, including public procurement, saying any kind of corruption and irregularity will not be tolerated.

“Alongside ensuring transparency and accountability, special attention has to be given to government revenue, expenditure and procurement. I will not tolerate any kind of corruption and irregularity here,” she asserted.

The prime minister was delivering introductory speech of the maiden cabinet meeting of the new government formed after the 12th parliamentary election.

Mentioning that corruption is not good for the country, she said that “We will utilise whatever resources we have appropriately, and we will move ahead maintaining financial discipline.”

Sheikh Hasina went on, “Our resources are limited but population is large. We have to do the welfare of the people with our limited resources.”

Directing the authorities concerned to ensure transparency in the social security sector, the head of the government further said that attention should also be given to make sure that eligible people get the old-age and social security allowances.

She also asked the concerned authorities to take measures for controlling drug abuse.

The prime minister also re-issued her directive to check wastage of public money, even in taking up any kind of development project and maintain austerity in every sphere of life.

She asked the concerned authorities to put the price manipulators under strict supervision.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said that Ramadan is coming and a specific number of companies import food products. “They always want to play a game here. In that case we have to take our own preparations.”

The prime minister said prices of products that are needed the most during the Ramadan should be kept under tolerable range and their availability should be ensured in the market through uninterrupted supply chain. “Appropriate measures should be taken in this regard.”

Regarding the inflation, the prime minister said although the prices of various products are high but there is no shortage of those.

She laid emphasis on keeping the inflation less than the growth as only then the common people of Bangladesh will get its benefits.

Sheikh Hasina said that the government since 2009 has been able to bring down inflation and food inflation, which was around 12 per cent, to nine per cent. “All others fell to 8 per cent. But we have to reduce it further.”