PM stresses strengthening rural economy
Reported by: UNBconnect
Reported on: May 10, 2012 03:59 pm
Reported in: National
Dhaka, May 10 (UNB) - Describing agriculture as the driving force of the economy, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the rural economy has to be strengthened by injecting money into it.
“We’ll have to provide a strong base for the rural economy…so we need to pump money into the rural economy,” the Prime Minister said.
She was addressing the inaugural function of a subsidy-money distribution programme among the farmers of cooperative society for the waiver of interest on agricultural loan. Rural Development and Cooperatives Division organised the programme at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).
Hasina mentioned that cooperative is one of the tools that help the rural economy get a strong base. “And this ultimately helps the whole country.”
The Prime Minister, however, asked the cooperative members not to emerge as loan defaulters. “You need to be careful that there’ll be no loan default in the future. We’re waiving the loan this time, but this will not happen again,” she said.
Hasina said the borrowers repay their loan when they take it from NGOs at a higher interest rate. “But you’re found reluctant when they take loan from public banks.”
The Prime Minister reaffirmed her government’s commitment to keep on providing agri-inputs to the farmers at subsidised rates. “To live with dignity and honour, we have to be self-reliant reducing dependency on others,” she told her audience.
The premier said the government wants to ensure the optimum utilisation of internal resources and manpower to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021.
Hasina said her government has been working tirelessly to ensure the best use of internal resources and manpower to make Bangladesh a peaceful and democratic middle-income nation enriched with science and technology by 2021.
She said agricultural loan of Tk 5,000 was provided to each of the farmers affected by devastating floods in the 1988 but the members of the upazila central cooperative society were not provided with that compensation.
“The present government is now giving Tk 426 crore subsidy to those members so that they could cope with that losses,” she said, hoping that the 449 upazila central cooperative societies would get a new lease of life with the money.
Hasina said the government is implementing ‘One House: One Farm’ programme to build a self-reliant and production-oriented Bangladesh so that the living standard of the rural people could be enhanced substantially.
“Every inch of fallow land in rural areas would be brought under cultivation through the ‘One House; One Farm’ programme and the produces of these farms would be marketed through cooperative-based organisation,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina advised the farmers to process various food items, including fish and vegetables, under cooperative society to expand the country’s export basket, saying that the demand and price of the processed foods are among the foreigners, including expatriate Bangladeshis.
After the country’s independence, she said, Bangabandhu had formed Thana Central Cooperative Society to eliminate the problems of the poor and marginal farmers as well as to boost the agricultural production. “He had implemented development programmes in each sector, including agriculture, industry, education and health.”
After the assassination of Bangabandhu, the premier said, all the pro-people programmes were abandoned by the successive military governments.
During the previous term of her government from 1996-2001, Hasina said they had made the country food-surplus with 26 lakh metric tonnes of food, meeting the shortage of 40 lakh mts of the previous BNP government.
Hasina said her government has formulated the Cooperative Society Act, 2001 to establish the rights to cooperative movement by the people of all classes and professions of society and her government was the first to introduce bank loan for the sharecroppers.
Every village has been turned into a center of development through supplying money and priority was given to political, social and economic development of the rural women. As a result, the living standard of rural people marked substantial improvement.
“But the wheel of the economy got stalled as the BNP Jamaat government shelved all the rural development programmes in 2001 creating an obstruction to poverty alleviation,” Hasina said adding that the present government is going to adopt a national labor policy ensuring the rights of agriculture workers.
The government has expanded the social safety net programmes for social protection and empowerment of the poor. A total of 84 such programs are being implemented involving over Tk 22,000 crore during the current fiscal, she said.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, State Minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry Advocate Rahmat Ali, Chairman of the and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour and Employment Israfil Alam also spoke on the occasion.
Later, the Prime Minister distributed cheques of the subsidy money among 20 farmers.