Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said Bangladesh would be able to meet six to nine months of food import expenditures with the existing foreign currency reserves.
"We have money in our hands to import food grains and others [essentials items] for at least three months during any crisis. We'll be able to import food for six to nine months, not only for three months, with the reserve that we have now," she said.
The premier was addressing the 28th founding anniversary programme of Bangladesh Awami Swechasebak League at Krishibid Institute Bangladesh auditorium in the city's Farmgate area, joining it through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Awami Swechasebak League, an associate body and the volunteer wing of Bangladesh Awami League, was founded on 27 July 1994.
The prime minister said despite having enough reserve, the government will have to take steps to grow more crops in order to save the foreign currencies and keep the forex reserve for any emergency.
Noting that the reserve was some $3.8 billion in 2006 during the BNP regime, the prime minister said her government was able to raise it to $48 billion from $7 billion in 2009.
She said Bangladesh had to spend huge amounts of foreign currencies from the reserve to import the materials for development works, capital machines for the industries as well as Covid-19 vaccines, testing kits and other Covid-19 materials.
The people of the country would be benefited when the imported capital machineries go in operation, she added.
Taking a swipe at the critics of the government over forex reserve and energy, Hasina questioned why they don't see the development activities of the government.
She said the government continues providing a huge subsidy, placed such a budget, raised the per capita income and has been able to keep the GDP growth.
The prime minister said her government pledged to reach electricity to every house and also kept this promise. But now many developed countries are taking austerity measures over the use of energy amid the global economic recession.
"We've also to take precautionary measures so that we will not fall in a great danger….we've taken steps for limited use of electricity. But it doesn't mean that we don't have any energy or it is running out," she added.
Noting that it is true that Bangladesh needs to procure diesel, she said it doesn't import petrol and octane as the country gets these as byproducts of gas extraction. "We've much more petrol and octane than what we have demands for. We can also sell these sometimes," she added.
"We've some so-called wise men who talk about many things sometimes. But I don't know whether they keep any knowledge over many matters," she added.
Citing that they forget small things due to their huge knowledge, Hasina alleged that they want to mislead the people talking back and forth.
The premier said many intellectuals write many things here and an economist wrote about the construction of Padma Bridge saying that the bridge was constructed unnecessarily as it would not be profitable one.
She said the economist, in his article, questioned who would use the bridge and raised objection over the installation of rail tracks in the Padma Bridge as the people of the southern region travel through launches.
"It is thought of some economists and they write articles…. I doubt how much they know Bangladesh and I don't know whether they have ever visited the southern region," she added.
Not mentioning any name, Sheikh Hasina said an organisation is there that finds everything bad. The 2007-caretaker government put something in their brain which made them not want a healthy democratic trend to continue in the country and they don't see that the country is progressing.
"If an unusual government is there in the country, their values get increased. They think they are wise and they can do everything," she said.
Citing that many conspiracies continue to interrupt the progress of Bangladesh, the prime minister said she believes that this progress can't be halted no matter how many conspiracies are hatched. "Bangladesh is progressing at an irresistible pace and Inshallah, we'll continue advancing," she added.
Hasina, also the Awami League president, asked the leaders and activists of Swechasebak League to raise the development activities and successes of the government before the people.
She also thanked Swechasebak League men for their volunteer works for the help of the people during the recent flood and Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
The premier unveiled the cover of a publication titled "Swechasebar Ek Bosor" highlighting the activities of Swechasebak League in the last one year.
In the function, a cake was cut celebrating the birthday of Sajeeb Wazed Joy, son of Sheikh Hasina and her ICT affairs adviser.
A documentary was screened on late Swechasebak League President Nirmal Ranjan Guha who died on 29 June last.
Swechasebak League founding President AFM Bahauddin Nasim and its acting President Gazi Mesbaul Hossain Shachchu spoke at the function conducted by its General Secretary Afzalur Rahman Babu.