Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday asked the authorities concerned to gradually coming out from the trend of subsidies initially on utilities like electricity and water to reduce burden on the state coffer.
The Premier gave the directive while chairing the last ECNEC meeting of the present government held at the NEC Conference Room in city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area on Thursday.
Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister MA Mannan said that the Premier had asked the authorities concerned to come out from the tendency of providing subsidies primarily on some key utility services like electricity and water.
“We’ll have to come out from the practice of subsidies in phases. Utilities like electricity and water are universal and are used by all. All from the Minister to cleaner equally enjoy the benefits of such subsidies,” Mannan said quoting the Premier as saying.
The Planning Minister said the Prime Minister in the meeting had suggested for fixing charges or fees on such utilities according to area-wise, income-wise and family-wise perspective.
Answering to a question, Mannan said this is still an initial thought by the Premier while related experts would work on it further to make the concerned charges and fees more justified.
“We’ll have to come out from the trend of subsidies in phases and this is the main message,” he said adding that such system would be developed in line with the practice of developed countries.
The Planning Minister said the Prime Minister once again stressed on the need for forming a dedicated fund through realizing tolls for maintaining the countrywide roads and Highways in the long term.
Sheikh Hasina also underscored the need for having low lying areas on both sides of the Highways so that rain water could be drained out from the roads and Highways to those areas and thus the highways would not be damaged.
Mannan said the Premier also asked the authorities concerned to keep special attention so that the ongoing or future multi-storey buildings in the capital could not create air funnel in the way of air traffic movement.
When asked whether the government is concerned over the ongoing blockades called by the BNP, the Planning Minister said, “We’re not at all worried while there is no question for being feared since we’re living in our own motherland,”
He said that the Premier has put emphasis on conducting massive publicity among the common people on the benefits of the Universal Pension Scheme so that they could avail these in large numbers.
Mannan said that the Prime Minister in the meeting mentioned her strong voice on women’s role in Islam as well as condemned the Israeli barbaric attacks on the innocent women and children of Palestine in her just concluded visit to Saudi Arabia.
The Planning Minister said that the day’s five and a half hours long meeting approved a total of 44 projects since there would be no ECNEC meeting after the Election Commission would announce its schedule for the next general election.
Mannan said if elected again and could form the government, the Awami League would be able to continue to work for the development of the Nation.
Replying to another question, State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said that the government obviously believes in accountability for which each and every developed project is passed at the ECNEC following approval at the PEC meeting while the IMED is also discharging its duties properly through project monitoring and evaluation.
Planning Division Secretary Satyajit Karmakar said that approval of projects through this ECNEC meeting has no connection with the next general election.
He informed that prior to this ECNEC approval of a good number of projects, loan agreements were signed with the concerned development partners much earlier for which there was a necessity to have ECNEC approval for those projects.
Besides, the Planning Secretary said that more important projects have remained pending at the ECNEC wing of the Planning Commission for further processing.