Don’t panic, searching alternative raw material sources: PM

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:21, Feb 19,2020


Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said that there was no reason to panic as Bangladesh was taking steps to import various raw materials from markets other than China against the backdrop of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

‘We are facing problems regarding raw materials we used to import from China. But we are cautious enough to look for alternative sources,’ Hasina told the parliament while speaking on the thanksgiving motion on the president’s speech and her concluding speech in the sixth session of the current parliament.

‘We are taking steps to import raw materials, including raw chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry, from alternative sources,’ she said, adding, ‘Do not stock any essential items in fear of Chinese import — that might go to waste.’

Hasina made these comments in the wake of public fear over the coronavirus pandemic and imported Chinese goods.

Still, many Bangladesh’s manufacturers are left playing a nervous waiting game: will normal service resume anytime soon in China?

Bangladesh imports the most from China, starting from the simplest needle to high-tech capital machinery, industrial raw materials to finished consumer goods and foodstuff.

Last fiscal year, about 26 per cent of Bangladesh’s imports worth $52.19 billion came from China, according to the central bank’s country and commodity wise import data. A year earlier, the share of imports from China was 23.8 per cent.

Saying that a huge amount of investment is coming in the country, the Premier said Bangladesh is the most attractive destination for investment in the South East and South Asia.

‘Bangladesh is not only placed at the apex among the South Asian countries, it is also ahead of all the South Eastern countries,’ she said.

Pointing to the opposition leader of the house Raushan Ershad’s comment during her speech on the thanksgiving motion on the President’s speech on how the finance minister is claiming that Bangladesh will cross Singapore in terms of economic progress, PM said ‘I can at least claim that we are stronger than Singapore in terms of economic progress.’

Earlier Raushon sought explanation from the finance minister AHM Mustofa Kamal how Bangladesh will cross Malaysia and Singapore on the development index.

The PM also responded to Raushon Ershad’s allegation that there was no money at the banks by saying that there was enough money at the banks. 

‘Our reserve is 32 billion US dollar. If there was no money at the banks how we are carrying out development works,’ PM retorted.

Hasina alleged that opposition leader during her parting speech has painted a grim picture and added, ‘I will urge her to read president address in parliament. It will help her to get over her frustrations.’

Hasina also urged Bangladeshis who want to go abroad looking for work to follow proper procedures.

‘Expatriate Bangladeshis who go abroad by adopting the wrong path through middlemen, face problems,’ she pointed out and explained that there is Probashi Kallyan Bank they can take loan from. ‘They do not need to go abroad by selling their home and land,’ she added.

Earlier Raushon Ershad said that there were hardly any anti mosquito drive and the presence of waste management work was almost absent. 

She pointed out that Dhaka has turned into a city full of garbage. ‘Bad smell of waste is part and parcel of life in Dhaka now,’ the opposition leader added.

Raushon criticised education minister Dipu Moni and said, ‘She remains absent at the parliament — she stays abroad. How will the education sector see improvement.’

Raushon Ershad also pointed out that Bangladeshi expatriates in Saudi Arabia were passing their days in agony. ‘When I visited Saudi Arabia, during a meeting, they all broke down in tears. They alleged that they were not getting work, proper wages and others,’ she said.

The 6th session, which is the first session of the calendar year, was prorogued on Tuesday after 28 sittings. Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury read out the prorogation order of the president on the night.

Seven bills were passed during the session that began on January 9.

The session also unanimously adopted a thanksgiving motion on the president’s speech delivered in the first sitting. Altogether, 224 MPs discussed for 54 hours and 24 minutes, participating in the general discussion on the thanksgiving motion to president.

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