PM urges expatriates
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said it will not be difficult for her government to construct Padma bridge if Bangladeshi expatriates living in various countries remit more spontaneously.
“We don’t need to collect toll or go for subscriptions … if you remit more and more, it won’t be a tough job for us to construct the bridge,” she said at an Iftar party hosted by the Bangladesh community in her honour at Park Plaza Westminster Hotel on Saturday.
Hasina told the expatriates that the government must construct the multibillion-dollar Padma bridge. “We’re holding the trial of war criminals … can’t we build a bridge? This bridge must be constructed,” she asserted.
The premier arrived here on July 25 to attend the inaugural ceremony of London Olympics. She also attended a reception hosted by the Queen, Elizabeth II.
Hasina said she was delighted seeing the huge response from the people of all strata after the government declared that the bridge would be constructed with its own funds. “The government has earmarked financial provisions to kick off the construction work on the bridge during this fiscal year,” she told her audience.
Presided over by Awami League UK chapter President Sultan Mahmud Sharif, the programme was also addressed by LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, British MP Michael Burns, Labour Party MPs Villeroy Vague and Mike Gapes, former British minister Gerald Kaufman and Sylhet Awami League General Secretary Shafiqur Rahman.
Eldest grandson of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and only son of Hasina, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, London councillor and PM’s niece Rezwana Siddiqui Tulip were also present on the occasion.
The prime minister recalled the contributions of the UK-based expatriates to the War of Liberation and in all democratic movements.
She mentioned that the UK expatriates had appointed a lawyer collecting money for Bangabandhu to fight the “Agartala conspiracy case” in 1969.
She also recalled that the first movement seeking the trial of the killers of Bangabandhu had begun from London.
Hasina expressed her gratitude to the Bangladeshi nationals living in London for their movement against her arrest during the last caretaker government. “Your movement helped Bangladesh restore democracy from the hands of dictators,” she said.
The prime minister also voiced her government’s firm commitment to complete the trial of the war criminals as stated in their election manifesto.
About the power supply situation in the country, Hasina said the demand for power was on the rise with the country’s growing population and changing economic and living patterns of people.
In this connection, she mentioned that the government had added more than 3500MW power to the national grid when total power generation was 6,300MW.
She urged the expatriates to invest in small and medium industries, and said the expatriates could invest in the seven Special Economic Zones (SEZs) set up in seven divisions.
About Biman’s Sylhet-London direct flight, she said this could have started many years back had the BNP-Jamaat alliance government continued the development works of the Sylhet Airport undertaken by her government during its previous tenure.
“We can’t start the direct flight without having a refilling system in the Sylhet Airport,” she said assuring that her government would take necessary steps to operate flights on the route within the shortest possible time.
Ending her five-day official tour, the prime minister will arrive in Dhaka today by a special flight of Bangladesh Biman.
-With UNB/The Daily Star input