Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said her government is working relentlessly for further strengthening democracy and speeding up development in the country as Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland QC paid a courtesy call on her.
“We’re working tirelessly for further consolidating democracy and accelerating development in the country,” Premier’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted her as saying while briefing reporters after the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office here.
In this connection, the Commonwealth Secretary General said her organisation is ready to extend cooperation to Bangladesh in upholding its democratic process.
Sheikh Hasina said over 6,000 elections, including local government body polls and Jatiya Sangsad by-elections, were held in the last nine and half years.
“Those elections were staged in a free, fair and neutral manner,” she said.
While talking about the terrorism issue, the premier said her government has successfully combated the social menace. “We’ve built a social movement against terrorism by involving the people of all strata …we don’t allow our children to be indulged in terrorism,” she said.
On the Rohingya issue, Sheikh Hasina said: “We’re having discussion with Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis.”
Describing weather as the biggest concern for the government regarding to the safety of Rohingyas, Sheikh Hasina said local people are suffering a lot as their arable land was occupied by the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.
The Prime Minister said women empowerment is being made from the grassroots level and the womenfolk in large number is participating in the country’s socioeconomic uplift.
“We’re encouraging the young entrepreneurs — both males and females — in SME,” she said.
Talking about the country’s development, Sheikh Hasina said the GDP growth rate has now increased to 7.78 percent while inflation brought down to 5.5 percent, thanks to various pragmatic steps of the government.
Noting that her government is promoting all kinds games and sports, the Prime Minister said the Bangladesh women cricket team became champions in the
Asia Cup recently while the men’s team is also doing well.
The Commonwealth Secretary General termed the exodus of a huge number of Rohingyas into Bangladesh as a huge burden for Bangladesh.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina showed a great compassion by giving shelter to a huge number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh,” she said.
Patricia Scotland highly appreciated the role of Bangladesh in combating terrorism.
She called for trade facilitation among the Commonwealth states saying trade barriers need to be reduced among them and connectivity should be enhanced for strengthening SME network.
The Commonwealth Secretary General also highly appreciated women empowerment and development in Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
In this connection, she put emphasis on more involvement of women in trade and business as well as the SME.
Patricia Scotland also highly lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s speech on women empowerment in the last Commonwealth Summit in London.
She highly praised the Bangladesh’s role in the interfaith conference held in Kenya recently. “The speech of the Bangladesh representative was the best of all,” she said.
The Commonwealth Secretary General also appreciated the role of Bangladesh in the last Ocean Conference.
On cricket issue, she stressed the need for formation of a Commonwealth Cricket Club as well as introduction of the Commonwealth Cricket League for further development of the popular game in the Commonwealth states.
Patricia Scotland handed over a copy of the Commonwealth Charter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
PM’s Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman was present at the meeting, among others.
The Commonwealth Secretary General arrived here on Wednesday on a three-day visit.-BSS