Bangladesh is not taking IMF loan on condition: PM tells JS

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today told the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) that Bangladesh is not taking loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on any condition.

“IMF only lends (to any country) when the country attains the ability for repayment. We are not taking loan (from the IMF) with any condition,” she said while responding to a question from the Jatiya Party lawmaker Md Mujibul Haque of Kishoreganj-3 constituency.

Taking floor on a point of order, Mujibul Haque said Bangladesh is now meeting some conditions to get loan from IMF and already raised the electricity tariff and will increase gas tariff, which will lead to price hike of commodities and inflation.

The Leader of the House said that the government is providing subsidy to power and gas. “My question is that which country of the world provides subsidy to electricity and gas. We’ve increased the power generation and ensured electricity supply. But all will have to be economical in using electricity,” she said.

She added that the UK has hiked electricity price by 150 percent after the Ukraine-Russia war while Bangladesh has increased by only 5 percent and raised some amount of gas tariff at bulk level.

Sheikh Hasina said the spot price of LNG which was only US$ 6 is now US$ 68 in the international market. “If so, how much subsidy will the government provide? The government provides the subsidy from the public money,” she said.

Mentioning that the commodity prices have soared throughout the world, she said that in Bangladesh, the government provided fair price card and TCB card for the lower and middle-income people so that they can purchase some essential commodities, including rice at subsidized rates.

The premier said: “We’re providing huge subsidy to agriculture. Now if we need to provide Taka 40,000-60,000 crore to electricity-gas generation and supply, then how will we provide this?”

She said the inflation came down slightly in December and January last in the country.

She mentioned that the food inflation is 13.3 percent in a country like the UK and the same situation prevails in all other countries of the world. But Bangladesh has not yet fallen into such a situation, she added.

The Prime Minister put emphasis on austerity in the use of electricity and gas. The use of electricity has been reduced by 50 percent in Prime Minister’s Office and Ganabhaban. If all take such measures, they can show austerity in the use of electricity, she said

Sheikh Hasina said she clearly told the businessmen that the government can provide uninterrupted gas supply to them, if they agree to pay the same rate what the government spends to procure gas from international market.

“If they want uninterrupted gas supply, they would have to pay the same price what the government needs to procure gas. They will have to pay the same price. There is no reason to provide subsidy here,” she said.

In reply to a question from Jatiya Party MP Syed Abu Hossain, the Prime Minister said the risk of a food crisis has increased due to the overall economic and social negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

She said the prolonged Corona pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have put impacts on the global economy and Bangladesh is not an exception here.

Sheikh Hasina said her government has taken various measures so that food shortages won’t occur in the country due to the global economic recession and food crisis.

The measures include increasing agriculture production by bringing all the fallow land under cultivation, constructing modern food reservoirs and ensuring the storage of safe foods.

Responding to another question from Awami League lawmaker M Abdul Latif, the Premier placed the statistics over the progress of 10 mega projects.

Out of 10 mega projects, Padma Bridge and Metrorail have already been implemented, while Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the Karnaphuli River is awaiting the inauguration.

About the implementation progress rate of other mega projects, she said the work progress is 52 per cent in Ruppoor Nuclear Power Plant, while the physical progress is 90 per cent in Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant, 71 per cent in Matarbari 2X600 MW Ultra Super Critical Coal Fired Power Plant, 81 per cent in Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project (Line-6), 100 per cent in Anwara-Fauzdarhat Gas Transmission Pipeline Project, 95 per cent in Moheshkhali-Anwara Gas Transmission Parallel Pipeline Project and 92 per cent in Chattogram-Feni-Bakhrabad Gas Transmission Parallel Pipeline project.

The Prime Minister also said the implementation works of other mega projects continue in full swing.