The government tasked 10 ministries and departments in October last year with identifying nine key strategic fields to eradicate child labour. Following the decisions taken at the seventh meeting of the National Council for Child Labour Welfare on Jan 29, 2019 and considering the recommendation of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, a National Monitoring Core Committee was formed to declare some sectors free from child labour in order to get rid of the menace gradually. The owners of six sectors then claimed they do not use child labour. The National Monitoring Core Committee while visiting the factories of these sectors in November and December last year found the owners’ claim to be true, said Monnujan.

The Labour Act states that no one below the age of 14 can be employed as a factory worker, but children aged between 14 and 18 can do light work that is not risky. According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1.28 million children are engaged in risky labour. The government in 2010 made the Child Labour Policy to ensure their proper growth by bringing them under educational programmes and social safety net.

Two years later, it took a national workplan to eradicate child labour and after another year, it published a list of jobs risky for children. Committees were also formed at national, divisional, district and Upazila levels. Monnujan said she hopes the government will be able to declare Bangladesh free from child labour by 2025 in line with the Sustainable Development Goal set for the issue.  

Bangladesh is doing everything in its power to import the COVID-19 vaccine and the frontline workers in the fight against the pandemic will be prioritised for the doses, Sheikh Hasina has said.

Dhaka, Jan 8, 2021: "The infection rate and death toll (from COVID-19) in Bangladesh are still quite low. We’re trying our best to keep the pandemic under control,” the prime minister said in a televised speech to the nation on the second anniversary of the current Awami League government on Thursday. “It gives hope that several countries have begun vaccination campaigns against COVID-19. We're also trying everything to bring the vaccines to Bangladesh swiftly,” she told the citizens.   

Hasina thanked the frontline workers, including the doctors, health workers, law enforcers, members of the armed forces and field-level workers of the administration, for battling the pandemic courageously. The Awami League chief said the party and its associated organisations, including Chhatra League, along with the people from all spheres of life have come forward to help the destitute people who were affected by the pandemic crisis.

“I thank them all. I pray for those lost in the pandemic." The premier also thanked the people for supporting the government in tackling the disaster caused by the pandemic that has upended the economy of Bangladesh and other countries across the globe. She highlighted her government’s efforts to keep the economy running, especially by providing stimulus packages worth Tk 1.21 trillion, which is equivalent to 4.3 percent of the GDP.

“We’re still continuing the process to provide incentives, especially for the people from marginal groups. We’ve expanded the scopes of the social safety net.” The national GDP growth was 5.24 percent in the last fiscal year and the expected growth in the current fiscal year is 7.4 percent, the prime minister said. Several international organisations also forecast Bangladesh to top the list of South Asian countries with robust GDP growth while the IMF placed the country in the third position among the top growing economies of 2020, she said.

The government plans to make Bangladesh an upper middle-income country by 2031 and elevate it to the high-income group by 2041, the prime minister said. She mentioned the roadmap to reach the goal which includes a two-phase plan – Vision 2021 and Vision 2041. The country’s economy has been moving in the right direction despite the coronavirus pandemic setback, said the prime minister. “We could translate our long-nurtured dream into reality by installing the final span of the Padma Bridge in December, the month of our victory, to connect the 21 southern districts with Dhaka and other parts of the country.” Almost 82 percent of the construction of the bridge is complete, she added.

Hasina also highlighted the other mega projects of her government that made enough progress including the Dhaka Metro Rail, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant and Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli river. The government has been working to ensure peaceful repatriation of 1.1 million Rohingya, most of whom fled to Bangladesh following a 2017 military crackdown on the ethnic minority group in their homeland Myanmar.

It has arranged better housing and other facilities for 100,000 refugees in the Bhasan Char island to ease the pressure on the densely populated camps in Cox’s Bazar. “Only those willing to move to Bhasan Char are being shifted there,” she reassured the international community, urging them to take more effective measures to ensure the repatriation. She paid her respects to founder of the Awami League Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, founding general secretary Shamsul Huq and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy.

Hasina also paid respects to Liberation War martyrs and the four national leaders – Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali and AHM Kamruzzaman. Bangladesh will celebrate the golden jubilee of its independence this year. The country achieved its independence following a 24-year political struggle and a nine-month Liberation War led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, she recalled. She described the assassins and masterminds of the 1975 massacre of Bangabandhu’s family as the anti-liberation force that halted the rebuilding and growth of a war-torn Bangladesh.

“People had witnessed a series of conspiracies, distortion of history and lack of democracy (following the killing of Bangabandhu).” On her return home in 1981 after six years in exile following Bangabandhu’s killing, she said, she devoted herself to the struggle to restore democracy and basic rights of the people. “Bangladesh Awami League formed government after 21 years in 1996. We took the responsibility to uphold Bangladesh as a self-respecting nation,” said Hasina as her government enters the third year of their third consecutive term. Bangladesh has achieved tremendous success in the socio-economic and infrastructure sectors during the Awami League government, she said.

Her government is determined to remove any obstacle in the way of development, and therefore, has no tolerance for corruption, said the prime minister. “A corrupt person will never be spared for their political affiliation.” The government has extended the celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu to Dec 16, 2016 she said adding that the UNESCO has introduced an award for creative economics honouring Bangabandhu. Hasina also said the government will celebrate the golden jubilee of the country’s independence with much fanfare once the coronavirus pandemic ebbs.

The prime minister urged everyone to move forward in building the nation, no matter if the road towards the goal is smooth or not. “I am quoting Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from his address to the nation in 1973. “It is a tougher job to build a nation than to earn independence for it. We need more sacrifices, endurance and hard work for this,” she quoted from Bangabandhu’s 1973 address to the nation. “I believe we’ll be successful to reach our goal if we work hard and fulfil our responsibilities with honesty and patriotism,” said Hasina. Staff Correspondent,

Stay Firm on Non-Communal Spirit of 1971

DHAKA, Dec 17, 2020: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressing a Victory Day discussion organised by Awami League at its central office in the city’s Bangabandhu Avenue on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. She chaired the discussion by joining virtually from her official residence Gono Bhaban. Reiterating her call to the people to stay firm on the non-communal spirit of the Liberation War, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said people of all religious faiths would live in the country with equal rights. "All people had collectively liberated the country, sacrificing their blood... Everyone will have the freedom of practising their respective religious rituals as we believe in this spirit and Islam also teaches us that lesson," she said. Hasina was addressing a Victory Day discussion, organised by Awami League, at its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue in the capital. She joined the event virtually from the Gono Bhaban. The premier said,

"People of all religions -- Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist will live on this soil. Being a Muslim majority country, we will not neglect other religions." She also mentioned that Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) has given us that lesson. "I will tell all of you that any situation has to be tackled with patience. We will only think about how much we could contribute to the country rather than listening to what others say. Then we will be able to make right decisions and do the right thing." Hasina said the country's intellectuals were killed on the eve of the final victory in 1971 so that there was none having knowledge and qualities left to take Bangladesh forward. The premier said she can feel the pain of those who lost their relatives as she herself lost her near and dear ones. "Many did not find the bodies of their near and dear ones after the killing of intellectuals which had begun on December 9, 1971." After the killing of Bangabandhu along with most of his family members in 1975, many leaders and activists of AL, Chhatra League and other organisations were killed and their bodies were also not found, she added.

The PM said such torture of people is still going on. "We have seen arson attacks, militancy, and terrorism." Thanking the party men for standing beside the people during the Covid-19 pandemic, Hasina urged the AL leaders and activists to strengthen the organisation and spread the ideology of the Father of the Nation to the mass people. About Unesco's international award to be given in honour of Bangabandhu, the PM said the UN body announced the prize in the name of the Father of the Nation. She said the defeated forces had tried to erase his name from the history. "I think this is a great gift for the Bangalee nation in the birth centenary of Bangabandhu," she said. It has been decided that "Unesco-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Prize" will be given in the field of creative economy to promote creative industries that provide youths, women and migrants with sustainable jobs globally.

The PM urged the people to follow the health guidelines properly amid a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases. Hasina, also the AL president, said her party's job is to serve the people and the party was providing the service which would continue in future. On Victory Day, the PM also remembered the support and contributions of different countries and their people to the Liberation War and to Bangladesh during its post-independence period. AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader, presidium members Matia Chowdhury, Abdur Razzaque, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, among others, also spoke at the programme, moderated by Publicity and Publication Affairs Secretary Abdus Sobhan Golap.