Dismissing concerns that Bangladesh could go the Sri Lanka way, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that despite the Covid-19 onslaught and the conflict in Ukraine, her country’s economy continued to be in robust shape and that her regime exercised a high level of diligence when taking any loans.
Prime Minister Hasina said that currently the world as a whole was facing challenges which were not restricted only to Bangladesh.
“Our economy, still it is very strong. Though, we faced this Covid-19 pandemic, now the Ukraine-Russia war. That has its effect here. But in debt rate, Bangladesh always pays timely all the debts. So our debt rate is very low. In context of Sri Lanka, our economy trajectory and the development, it is (planned) very, very calculatively,” said the Bangladesh prime minister.
Ms Hasina asserted that because of this measured approach, her country was secure on the economic front. Bangladesh did not take any loan unless it was sure that it would benefit from the project undertaken, she said.
“I think the whole world is facing economic problem. We are also. But yes there are some people they raise this issue. Oh, Bangladesh will be Sri Lanka, this and that. But I can assure, no, that will not happen. Because we… all our development plans, what we prepare and we implement, always we see that what would be the return? How people would be the beneficiary? Otherwise I don’t take any project (for) just spending money,” she said.
Ms Hasina said that in Bangladesh, whenever the government considers any loan, it is a clear policy to estimate what would be the return for the country on the completion of the project. “How our economy will develop? And the people will be beneficiary, that is priority. So that way we are taking all the plans, programs. Unnecessary we don’t spend any money,” Hasina added.
The Sri Lankan economy collapsed and many experts believe that debts extended by countries like China in ambitious projects that did not provide a commensurate return were among factors that led to the debacle. Many experts refer to such loans as debt traps to which developing countries are especially vulnerable. Hasina, however, shared insights about the way Bangladesh manages its affairs.
Ms Hasina said that her government takes up plans for consideration in a very methodical manner.
“And we take the plan, so as because it is a very calculative way we are developing, I feel that we will not face a similar situation… Not only that, in the policy matter, the moment pandemic started , Covid-19, I called upon our people, and also we provided all kinds of support and inputs, up to the village level and also encouraged our people to grow more food items, as much as food they can grow. I always supported them that what you should do. You should grow your food so that we should not depend on others,” she said.
Ms Hasina, however, confessed that the conflict in Ukraine had posed some problems for her country. “It has bad effect no doubt about it, especially the things we import from other countries,” she said.