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2024-02-16 13:07:09

15 challenges ahead of government

Ruknuzzaman Anjan

15 challenges ahead of government

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given directives finalizing 15 priorities that include inflation and commodity price control, keep the prices of daily necessities normal. Implementing these 15 challenges has become the big challenge to the government. Already a few ministries have started working on these issues. However, the concerned persons are worried over the capacity of the related ministries in ensuring commodity prices control, employing necessary manpower and showing zero tolerance to corruption.

The Prime Minister gave these 15 directives on January 15 after forming the new government. She asked the ministers and secretaries to take concerted efforts to implement these directives. However, the authorities concerned are facing many challenges to implement these directives in field levels.

The directives of Prime Minister: Taking effective measures to control inflation and commodity prices hikes in coordination with relevant ministries/departments and stakeholders; Taking prompt measures to control commodity prices and maintain normal supply of essential commodities during Ramadan; Taking concerted initiatives with sincerity to implement the promises stated in the election manifesto; Giving priority to increasing agricultural production and building food storage; Implementation of the four pillars of building Smart Bangladesh – Smart Citizen, Smart Government, Smart Economy and Smart People; Benefit of the project/welfare of the country should be given priority in taking up new projects. Adequate feasibility should be verified while taking foreign loans. Apart from this, completion of the ongoing projects which are at the final stage with the required funds in the stipulated time; Ensure transparency and accountability in public procurement and follow zero tolerance policy to prevent corruption; Ensuring that social security programs reach genuine beneficiaries; Take the initiative to quickly hire manpower for government vacancies; Continue the streak of success in women's development and empowerment; Facilitating export diversification, exploring and entering new markets; Taking necessary initiatives to develop industries such as leather goods, jute and jute products and agricultural products in the garment sector; Giving special importance to ICT education in order to make education work oriented; Keeping the youth away from drugs, terrorism and militancy by encouraging them in sports and cultural activities and taking concerted action against arson and vandalism.

Among these guidelines, controlling the price of commodities during Ramadan has become a big challenge. After the formation of the government, the prices of some products did not decrease, but increased. One kg of ginger, garlic is priced over Tk 200. After the reduction in the price of eggs, it has increased again to Tk 140 per dozen. One kg of beef is heard to be reduced in one or two places, but in most areas it is more than Tk 700. Sugar, chickpeas and dates are usually high in demand during Ramadan. Although the duty of these products has been reduced, the prices have not been adjusted. And the price of onion, a spicy product used in daily cooking, has increased another round. A week ago it was sold at Tk 80-90 per kg but now it is Tk 100 to Tk 110 at the retail level in the market.

Earlier, the onion crisis was tackled by importing the product from Myanmar, Turkey and Egypt. But this time the situation is different. Internal unrest is going on in Myanmar. As a result, import-export trade with the country is stopped. In addition, no initiative was taken to bring onions from Egypt and Turkey due to high transportation cost and rotting. In this situation, we have to depend on India for the product. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce has sent a letter to the Delhi Embassy to import onion and sugar from the country through TCB. In this situation, the government is making an effort to facilitate 1 crore people from TCB's truck sale by providing products at a fair price.

​ An official of the Ministry of Commerce spoke to the Commercial Councilor at the Delhi High Commission on Thursday and said, "The inter-ministerial meeting that was supposed to take place in India on Wednesday regarding the export of onion and sugar to Bangladesh did not take place. However, our diplomatic efforts to import the products before the two fasts are continuing.”

Those concerned said the government must implement several initiatives as soon as possible to quickly overcome the situations created due to war in Europe and the Middle East, disturbances in neighboring Myanmar, internal political unrest, as well as the increase in commodity prices and the uncertainty of the economy. For this reason, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina identified 15 priorities in the first meeting of the cabinet immediately after taking oath as the Prime Minister of the elected government and directed to take action accordingly.

Exports to Europe-America are decreasing due to the war, while imports of food products have also become expensive. As a result, issues like inflation or commodity price control cannot be solved immediately. In addition, the post-Ukraine war global economy is changing. Elections are going to take place in some countries, changes are coming in the government system of some others. In this situation, while undertaking activities like searching for new markets for exports, one has to face various complications. Besides the reserve crisis, there is also a cash crisis. Due to non-collection of required revenue, money is being dragged. In this situation, the financing of the project has also become complicated. Finance department is now forced to issue bonds in favor of banks due to inability to pay fuel and fertilizer. This again increases the interest burden on the government. In this circumstance, there is a challenge about how fast the new manpower recruitment process will be in compliance with the instructions of the Prime Minister. And on top of these challenges, issues such as lack of transparency in government purchases and prevention of corruption are pressing on the neck of the government as a bigger challenge.

The officials of the cabinet department said the challenges before the government have been there before and will come again. The Prime Minister has given some instructions to deal with these challenges. Letters have been sent to various ministries to take initiative to implement the instructions quickly. The officers and employees of the Republic have also been asked to take necessary measures to implement these instructions. The guidelines include some rapid implementation and some medium-term implementation. For example, in the upcoming Ramadan, initiatives such as keeping commodity prices tolerable and increasing the supply of commodities should be implemented as soon as possible. Again, the implementation of things like recruitment of manpower in vacant posts is time-consuming. Ministries also have to understand it and work accordingly.

(The report was published on print and online versions of The Bangladesh Pratidin on February 15 and rewritten in English by Lutful Hoque Khan) ​


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