Address 2001

Address of the Hon'ble President 
Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed at the 
First Session of 2001 of the 
Seventh Jatiya Sangsad


January 11, 2001

 

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Janab Speaker,

At the commencement of the first session of the new century, I convey my felicitations and best wishes to you and, through you, to the honourable members of this Parliament and my fellow countrymen.

2. This very year, we will complete three decades of our independence. At the outset, I express my deep respect to the architect of our independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led us to our coveted freedom; the four national leaders; millions of martyrs and our oppressed mothers and sisters.

3. During last year we lost honourable members of Parliament Janab Salahuddin Yusuf, Minister, Dr. Mohd. Alauddin, State Minister, Janab Julfiqar Ali Bhutto, Janab Mohd. Rafiqul Islam Bakul and Syed Kamal Bakht Saki along with many respectable and eminent personalities of the country. I pray to the Almighty Allah for the salvation of their departed souls.

4. The seventh Parliament will complete its term this year and election for the next Parliament will be held under the Care-taker Government. The nation will move a step forward in consolidating democracy electing a new government by the people, exercising their right of franchise freely and fairly.

Janab Speaker,

5. As a result of the successful implementation of the people-oriented economic programmes by the Awami League government, the socio-economic sector has recorded remarkable progress and stability. Stable price of food and non-food items, bumper harvest in agriculture and pragmatic monetary policy pursued by the government kept inflation at a very satisfactory and low level. Favourable climate for investment has been created by revitalizing the activities of the Commercial Banks and the Central Bank. With a view to improving the depressed liquidity position of the nationalized banks caused by the burden of non-performing and bad loans as a result of past mismanagement, the government has decided to pay off outstanding bank loans of the nationalized industrial enterprises that had been closed down. A sum of Taka 1,800 crore has been allocated in the current year's budget for this purpose.

6. The tax system has been rationalized, tax administration improved and tax base expanded with a view to increasing investment, reducing poverty and income inequality. To achieve this objective, a number of steps have been taken in the current year's Budget in the areas of direct and indirect taxes. The existing four-tier tax rates for the individual taxpayers have been restructured and the limit of individual threshold for tax exemption has been raised from Taka 75,000 to Taka 1,00,000. The facility of `Tax Holiday' has been extended upto June, 2005 to continue encouraging investment. The exemption limit of dividend income has been increased and various investment allowances on share purchases have been offered for the development of capital market. Provision has been made for cash reward for providing information on tax evasion and arrear tax realization. In case of income from business, the limit of initial capital has been raised from Tk. 10 lac to Tk. 20 lac under the expanded self-assessment system and income from the operation of micro-credit has been exempted from payment of tax. Besides, it has been decided to honour the top taxpayers as VIPs and provide them with other facilities to enhance income tax revenue.

7. Transaction Value Method, mandatory PSI system and easy and quick clearance of import and export consignments through computerization have been introduced in order to ensure dynamism and transparency in customs administration. The `Non-Tourist Baggage Rules' and `Transfer of Residence Rules' have been amended to make it easier for the wage earners. Customs duty on raw materials and inputs for the agro-based industries, textiles, leather & footwear and also on bulk import of powdered milk has been reduced. Customs duty on `Baby Incubator' has been entirely withdrawn to help save premature, new-born and critically ill babies. Steps have been taken to introduce stamp and bandrole from January, 2001 for collection of revenues from cigarettes. The revenue collection during the first 5 months of the current fiscal year under the National Board of Revenue was Taka 6,645.25 crore which is 21.62% more than the collection of the corresponding period of the previous year.

8. Over the last four years, despite various constraints, a considerable success is evident from the preliminary evaluation of the plan in the areas of rapid poverty alleviation through accelerated growth, massive employment generation, human resources development, creation of necessary infrastructure and, above all, strengthening of the rural economy. During the first three years of the Plan, the average growth rate was 5.85%. The economy grew at 6.68% during 1999-2000 on the basis of 1984-85 price according to old system of calculation and at' 5.92% on the basis of 1995-96 price according to the new system. This is the highest growth in the last 25 years. And this growth rate has been achieved keeping the price level very stable. The average annual inflation rate till last November was 2.4%. The per-capita income now stands at US$ 386. The proportion of population below the poverty level has fallen to 44% from the level of 47% in 1996.

9. For financing our Annual Development Programmes, dependence on external assistance has declined significantly. The size of this year's ADP is Taka 17,500 crore, of which the contribution of internal resources is 55.4%. Project implementation has also recorded significant improvement compared to the past years. Expenditure during 1999-2000 has increased to 94% as against 89% in the previous year. This is the best when compared to the performance of the past years. Over the last four years, social sector and the sectors directly contributing to poverty alleviation, have received top priority in the ADP.

10. The historic `Peace Accord' signed in 1997 has unveiled the opportunities for development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and in continuation of the peace process more and more funds are being allocated for development of the region. Besides, different Ministries have taken up 35 projects to construct 12 roads, set up digital radio links and digital exchanges, establish full-fledged radio station and television relay center, construct educational institutions and health centers etc. for the development of Chittagong Hill Tracts region.

Janab Speaker,

11. Primary education is the fundamental right of all citizens and the principal driving force for human resource development. An educated and capable human resource is very essential to accelerate development activities. In order to achieve this objective, the present government has declared the `National Education Policy' in fulfillment of its election commitment for the expansion and qualitative improvement of education to achieve the objective of "Education for All". The joint efforts of both the government and non-government organizations have resulted in the unprecedented success in this field which have been widely acclaimed both at home and abroad. Bangladesh is now considered as the model in the field of primary and mass education programme in the Asian region. Over the last four years adult literacy has increased from 47 to 64%.

12. A group of competent and trained teaching personnel is a must for ensuring quality education. So, the present government has given priority to fill up the vacant posts. Since assumption of office, the present government has recruited about 30,000 primary teachers. Various training programmes are being undertaken to develop a band of capable and trained teachers. A number of training programmes including foundation courses have been undertaken for the field officers to improve efficiency and capability in the field administration.

13. Steps have been taken to set up new community schools, satellite schools and government-funded primary schools run by the NGOs, to bring every village and moholla under the coverage of primary education. As a result, employment opportunities are also being created along with the expansion of education. Already, 4,000 satellite schools have been established. One-shift is being gradually introduced in the primary schools to improve the quality of education. Steps have also been taken to increase and improve the physical and other infrastructural facilities and recruit more teachers to transform the two-shift schools into one-shift ones.

14. To provide opportunity of higher education to the working children upto the SSC level, stipends are being extended through the "Children Welfare Trust". This has opened up opportunities of higher education for the meritorious working children.

15. To enhance enrollment of children, reduce drop-outs and raise the standard of primary education a project entitled `Stipend Programme for Primary Education' has been initiated. This project will cover those rural areas which are not now covered under the "Food for Education Program". As a result, children of marginal and landless farmers, agricultural workers and poor families will enjoy education facilities.

16. Registered private primary school teachers are being given government contribution to their salary on the basis of the New National Pay Scales, 1997 along with the teachers of the government primary schools. Government contribution to the salary of the teachers of the registered private primary schools has been raised up to a maximum of 80% with effect from 1st July, 1999. An additional sum of taka 31 crore has been allocated in the budget for this purpose.

17. For the last few years highest allocation of funds has been given in the education sector. To meet the challenges of the 2lst century the government has taken-up a massive programme of gradually fulfilling its election commitment of poverty alleviation, human resource development, science & technology based modern education and introduction of employment-oriented education system. Of the proposed 12 Science and Technology Universities, construction of 6 universities in the first phase have already began and initial preparations for construction of the rest 6 in the second phase have been completed. To implement the commitment to transform the ever-increasing manpower of the country into human resources, increased emphases has been given on the study of science & technology, technical and business management. For this purpose development of physical facilities of the educational institutions, programmes for the supply of teaching materials and training of teachers are being implemented. Technical, vocational, business management, computer science, teaching of English and teachers' training have been identified as priority areas. For this purpose SSC vocational course has been introduced in 500 non-government high schools. Business management course has been introduced at higher secondary level in 200 government colleges for acquiring realistic and business oriented knowledge. These programmes will be further expanded in phases. In addition to modernization of the existing 20 Polytechnic Institutes and 5 Polytechnic Institutes for Girls, construction of 23 new Polytechnic Institutes is in progress. Modernization of 51 VTIs, construction of 13 new VTIs and modernization of 6 Textile Institutes are nearing completion. A Three Year Diploma Course has been introduced in the Textile Institutes in place of the two year course. The traditional Mobile Weaving Schools have been converted into 28 SSC-level Vocational Textile Institutes. In addition, programme for establishing a Textile Degree College has also been taken up. Arrangements have been made for the supply of 10,000 sets of computers in secondary schools all over the country to expand modern education in computer science & technology. To expand technical education construction of 12 Technical Training Centers is progressing fast. Proposal for setting up 12 Technical Training Centers, including 5 female Technical Training Centers at divisional headquarters is under consideration of the government.

18. The Stipend Programme for female students has been further expanded all over the country to encourage women empowerment and their development. The number of female students among every 100 students at the secondary level has increased to 48 from the level of 33 in 1993. The female stipend programme is not only helping the expansion of female education, but also greatly contributing to the socio-economic development of the country. Expansion of female education has led to the success in the fields of health, nutrition, family planning and prohibition of child-marriage.

19. Over the last 4 years, massive programmes have been undertaken under the revenue and development budgets for the development of madrasah education. As a result, the development expenditure for madrasah education has gradually increased to Taka 22.15 crore during 1999-2000 which was only Taka 9. 15 crore in 1996-97. A sum of Taka 344 crore has been allocated in the Revenue Budget of the current fiscal year as salary support for the madrasah teachers. Moreover, a Madrasah Teachers' Training Institute has been established at Gazipur at a cost of taka . 8.13 crore for the training of madrasah teachers of the country.

20. To increase the expertise and capability in the fields of science and technology, a good number of scientists has been granted "Bangabandhu Fellowship" to pursue higher studies and research. To keep pace with the fast developing fields of information technology and bio-technology in the world, and to acquire skill and knowledge on research, construction works of the `IT Village', `High-Tech Park' and `Bio-Technology Institute' are going on in full swing. A project has been taken up to launch our first satellite named "Bangabandhu Jogajog-1". This satellite will have tremendous impact on the development of communication within and outside the country. Projects are also being implemented to set up Bio-gas Plants and Solar and Mini Hydro-Power Plants in the field of renewable energy across the country, including the districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts. The government has already declared information technology as the `Thrust Sector'. A good number of Computer and Information Technology Institutes has emerged both in public and private sectors across the country, as a result of the declared policy and strategy of government. A tremendous awareness about information technology among the educated people is also quite evident.

21. Over the last few years, the government has adopted various timely and effective policies, strategies and programmes for the control of population growth and overall improvement of quality in health & nutrition services in the country. A `National Health Policy' capable of fulfilling the aspirations of the people and the government to achieve "Health for All" has been formulated. Steps are also underway to formulate a new "Population Policy". With the objective of providing health services to the rural populace 18,000 Community Clinics, one each for every 6,000 people will be constructed across the country. Under this programme construction of 10,000 community clinics are now in progress. Over and above, 200 Union Health and Family Welfare Centres are being constructed.

22. Due to the various steps taken in the areas of health and population control over the last four years, child mortality rate has come down to 52 from 72. The coverage of `Expanded Program of Immunization' has increased by 10% to 68.7%, and polio has almost been eradicated. Contraceptive Prevalence Rate has increased to 53.8% from 49%. Life expectancy has gone up to 60.8 years.

23. Malnutrition is a serious problem in Bangladesh. The government has undertaken a massive programme to tackle this problem. A programme, entitled `Bangladesh Integrated Nutrition Project', is under implementation in 60 Upazilas of the country with the objective of mitigating malnutrition among women and children, increasing awareness about nutrition and supplying supplementary diet to mothers and children suffering from severe malnutrition. In the light of the experience gained through this project, `National Nutrition Project-1' at a cost of about Tk. 640 crore has been launched in July, 2000 covering 139 Upazilas of the country.

24. AIDS is a killer disease in the world today. Although its presence is not alarming in Bangladesh, considering the spread of the disease in the neighboring countries, the government has recently taken up a programme at a cost of about taka 313 crore for the prevention of this disease. The principal objective of this programme is to orient and motivate the people about the potential danger of this disease and inform them about its preventive measures.

25. To ensure overall improvement of public health, measures have been taken to make pure drinking water easily available and expand hygienic sanitation system in the rural areas. As a result, water supply coverage has risen to 101 person per tube-well, sanitation coverage to 43% in the rural areas and water supply coverage has risen to 56% in the urban areas.

26. Arsenic free water is being supplied in the identified arsenic contaminated areas through 5,516 deep tube-wells and through 679 pond-sand filters. Work is on to examine the water of all tube-wells in the arsenic contaminated areas and identify arsenic affected patients. The government has decided in principle to earmark one pond for drinking water in each village of the arsenic affected areas and take necessary measures for purification of the water of that pond. At the same time, people are being encouraged to use rain water and water of ring-wells as alternative sources of drinking water.

27. Water treatment capacity of Dhaka WASA has increased to 117 crore litres from 114 crore litres during last one year. As a result of taking emergency measures, problems of water-logging in the Dhaka city have remarkably improved. Five projects are being implemented during the current year for improvement of water supply in Chittagong City. Twenty-nine development projects are being implemented in 4 City Corporations to improve civic amenities.

28. As the economic progress of Bangladesh depends principally on agriculture, the government has earmarked agriculture as the top priority sector. In order to meet food and nutrition requirement, special attention has been given to technology-based modern agricultural methods along with strengthening a stable food security. With these ends in view, a number of important reform measures has been taken up to resolve the fertilizer crisis, ensure availability of agricultural inputs at farmers level, formulate the new `Agricultural Extension Policy', modernize research in the field of agriculture, increase investment and simplify loan disbursement. As a result, production of foodgrain has increased to 2.50 crore metric tons in 1999 - 2000 from 1.91 crore metric tons in 1995-96. For the first time, Bangladesh has succeeded in producing foodgrains in excess of its requirements. In the last fiscal year food surplus was around 10.58 lak metric tons. Production of foodgrain during 2000-2001 is expected to reach 2.60 crore metric tons. This success in the agriculture sector has made tremendous contribution to the national economy which has also earned international recognition. According to the estimates of the `Bangladesh Economic Survey, 2000' the growth in the agriculture sector and the grain sub-sector on the basis of static price of 1984-85 has crossed 7% for the first time in the last ten years. It may be mentioned that Bangladesh is going to cross the stage of producing foodgrains in excess of its requirements and thus transforming her into a food surplus country. Due to the increase in food production, supply of food in the markets has increased and the price of food remained within the reach of the general masses.

29. To make up the massive losses caused by the unprecedented flood in the south-west region of the country last year, emergency steps have been taken by the government for the supply of agricultural inputs, high yielding seeds and fertilizer to the farmers. More than taka 493 crore have been allocated in the current ADP for the overall development of agriculture and post-flood rehabilitation. Target for disbursement of agricultural loans has been set at a level which is taka 365.63 crore higher than the total disbursement during last year. As a result of these programmes, it will be possible to maintain self sufficiency in food that will result in food surplus and food security.

30. Because of the qualitative changes in the food management, the role of private sector has increased. At present, more emphasis is being given on internal procurement of food-grains over import of food-grains by the government. As a result, foreign currency is being saved on the one hand and the farmers are getting encouraging price support for their produce, on the other hand. The target for procurement of 6 lac metric tons of IRRI-Boro rice during the procurement season, 2000 has been fully achieved. Of the targetted 2.50 lac metric tons of wheat, 2.10 lac metric tons have been procured. About taka 12,000 crores have been infused into the rural economy through these procurement programmes which are expected to contribute significantly in bolstering the rural economy and building rural infrastructure.

31. The present government has ensured the right to food for the poor. To this end, the poorest segment of the population is being given priority in the foodgrain distribution programmes of the government. In 1999-2000, 85% of the foodgrains distributed under these programmes went to the poor compared to 64% in 1995-96. The government has set a target for distribution of 6.70 lac metric tons of rice and 1 1.67 lac metric tons of wheat under various programmes during the fiscal year 2000-2001.

32. Fisheries sector is playing an important role in the reduction of protein deficiency, generation of employment and poverty alleviation. It is also making significant contribution to the export earnings of the country. Export earning from the fisheries sector stood at taka 1,811 crore during 1999-2000, which is the highest compared to that of past years. This sector is the third largest foreign exchange earner. Various programmes have been taken up to impart training on pisciculture to increase production of fish in the private fish culture farms and open water bodies. With a view to making an overall improvement in the sector `National Fishery Policy' has also been formulated.

33. The present government has now taken effective steps for the culture and production of pearls without affecting the environment, an important sector that has so long been neglected, inspite of its having vast potential for development. The Fisheries Directorate has already taken up a project in this sector. Steps are also being taken to undertake research on innovating advance techniques for the culture and procurement of pearls and imparting training to the people involved in this sector.

34. Various programmes are also being implemented for the development of livestock sector. In order to allow the livestock sector to make better contribution to economic development, 4 Veterinary Colleges, one each in Dinajpur, Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet and Livestock Development Centers in 164 Upazillas have been set up. Due to government patronization and financial support, the number of poultry, livestock and dairy farms in the private sector has been increasing day by day. About 30,000 cattle and dairy farms, 31,000 sheep and goat farms and 92,000 poultry farms have been setup in the country. As a result, despite decline in imports, supply of milk and eggs has increased significantly.

35. During the last 4 years, about 40 thousand hectares of land have been brought under afforestation. At present, afforestation programmes are being implemented in about 20,000 hectares under various forest development projects. A massive programme for rehabilitation of 10,000 unemployed freedom fighters has been taken up under the Nursery Development Programme. In addition, about 4 lac saplings of various types are being planted through social forestry in `Asrayan' project areas for protection of environment. By the year 2015, 20% area of the country will be brought under afforestation programme. Necessary amendments have been made in the `Forest Act, 1927' to make forest administration and forest law more effective and dynamic.

36. Priority has been given to the preservation of environmental balance . Environment courts are being set up to take legal action against the polluters. Supply of leadfree fuel in the country has been ensured. Use of CNG in the vehicles has been introduced for the supply of environment-friendly fuel. To increase the use of CNG six CNG re-fuelling stations will be built in Dhaka city. Three private companies have been permitted to set up CNG refuelling stations and contracts have been concluded for setting up 51 CNG re-fuelling stations. To prevent depletion of forest areas, people are being encouraged for commercial use of LP gas. At present, 20,000 metric tons of LP gas are being supplied under the public sector and a private firm is also distributing LP gas.

37. Proper development and optimum utilization of water resources is indispensable for the economy of Bangladesh. To ensure optimum development and rational utilization of water resources a `National Water Management Master Plan' is being formulated in the light of the `National Water Policy'. In all the programmes of the water resources sector, active participation of the people at all levels is being ensured. Under the historic `Ganges Water Sharing Treaty' due share of water is being received and supply of water in the Ganges-Kobadak irrigation project area during the dry season is now being ensured. As a result, agricultural production has also gone up tremendously in the area. Discussion for the conclusion of agreements for sharing water of other common rivers including the Teesta is continuing. As a result of increasing flow of water received through the `Ganges Water Sharing Treaty' it has been possible to prevent environmental disaster in the Gorai area by preventing salinity intrusion by dredging of the Gorai river.

Janab Speaker,

38. The `Industrial Policy, 1999' has been formulated in conformity with the clear-cut and appropriate economic policies and direction of the Government to foster rapid industrialization of the country. Under the industrial policy, private sector has been identified as the kingpin of industrialization. Government's role would be a supportive one. Within the next decade an expanded industrial sector would be developed in the country. Then the contribution of this sector will be 25% of the GDP and will account for the employment of 20% of the total work force. During the last 41/2 years, 89, 557 units of small, medium and large scale industries have been set up. Two fertilizer factories are being set up in Chittagong with a production capacity of 2.40 lac M.T. of DAP fertilizer in order to meet the increasing demand of fertilizer in the country. In addition, steps have been taken for establishment of new fertilizer factories in northern areas of the country and for augmenting the production capacity of some of the old fertilizer factories. During the last 41/2 years, investment agreements have been signed with 9 countries for increasing foreign investment towards industrial development. It has been possible to overcome the reduction of growth in the industrial sector caused due to the severe flood of 1998-99. A growth of 14% could be achieved in the industrial sector during the first half of the current fiscal year.

39. During the last fiscal year goods worth US$ 891 million, produced in 145 industrial units operating in Dhaka and Chittagong Export Processing Zones, have been exported. This is more than 15% of the total national export earnings. In these two Zones, more than 97,000 workers are now employed. Moreover, works for establishment of 4 more Export Processing Zones at Mongla, Iswardi, Comilla and Saidpur are in progress. The process of '' establishing 5 `Industrial Parks' and `High-Tech Parks' has ' started. All these steps will further expedite the progress of industrialization in the country.

40. Thirteen spinning mills under Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation are producing yarn for the private entrepreneurs under service charge arrangement. During 1999-2000 these mills earned a sum of Taka 39.7 crore, which helped to reduce financial loss by 16% compared to that of the previous year. The total loss from these mills came down to taka 249.27 crores during the three years from 1997-98 to 1999-2000, while it was Taka 686.52 crore during 1991-92 to 1996-97. Establishment of `Textile Palli' in Dhaka and Khulna has been taken up for setting up new textile industries. Yarn and textile production has increased from 9.85 crore Kg and 104 crore metres in 1994-95 to 15 crore Kg and 145 crore metres respectively during 1999-2000.

41. With a view to developing sericulture industry and making silk products competitive in the global market, various programmes have been undertaken for introduction and popularization of modern technology, ' undertaking research on cocoon development and rehabilitation of small-scale cocoon, silk yarn and fabric producers affected by the flood. As a result, the productivity and quality of silk products is expected to improve. Work for the construction of `Benarashi Palli' at Mirpur in Dhaka and `Resham Nagari' in Rajshahi are going on to facilitate the investors in setting up industries silk and benarashi products.

42. With a view to enhancing the skills of the existing manpower of the textile sector, improving the quality of the products manufactured and modernizing product designs, a programme to upgrade the Textile Industries Development Centre at Savar into `The National Textile Design, Training and Research Centre' has been taken up at a cost of Taka 26.90 crore. This will bring about excellence in training and research in this field.

43. In order to increase domestic investment in the industrial sector under private initiative, the government is playing the role of a facilitator than a regulator. The Investment Board has been organizing seminars in countries of Asia, Europe and North America to attract more foreign investment. `Probashi Bangladeshi Cell' has been set up to provide a comprehensive package of services to assist expatriate Bangladeshis to invest in Bangladesh. Moreover, three Expert Committees have been formed to prepare recommendations on how to increase investment in the sectors of agriculture and processing of agro-based products, information technology, textile and garments and garment accessories. During the period from July, 1996 to June, 2000, 6,232 investment proposals to the tune of US$ 12,290 mellion have been registered with the Board of Investment. These will create employment opportunities for 8.75 lakh people.

44. The Privatization Act, 2000 has been enacted in order to put the process of privatization of the state-owned enterprises into a legal framework and with a view to accelerating the process of privatization and making it more dynamic, the Privatization Board has been made more effective by converting it into a Commission. Government shares of 11 companies including 4 multinational companies and 2 private banks have already been divested to the private sector. Under the process of privatization, policy framework has been framed for handing over 9 textile mills and 1 jute mill to the worker-employees of those mills. Eleven more mills are being privatized. The present Government has already directed the concerned ; authorities to segregate the excess land not required for use ~ by the industrial units identified for privatization which, in turn, will lessen the burden of purchasers of those units. : This has also arouse interest among the prospective buyers of those industrial units. This vast area of excess land segregated from these units will make it possible for selling to those buyers interested to set up different industrial units. As a result, opportunities for setting up new industrial units will be created in the country. It may be mentioned that the total area of excess land of the 33 industrial plants in the jute, textile and industrial sectors earmarked for privatization, is about 554 acres.

45. Despite the slow economic growth in developing countries in the process of globalization, there has been marked growth in the export sector of Bangladesh. In 1995 - 1996 fiscal year, country's export earning was US$ 3,880 million. Since the present Government came to power export grew steadily and reached US$ 5,750 million in the financial year 1999 - 200U. It was possible to meet about 57% of the total import bills with the export earning of 1995 - 1996which improved to about 69% of the import bills in 1999-2000. Compared to the preceding year, export has increased by 8.27% in 1999 - 2000. Our export earning reached US$ 2,762 million during July - November period in 2000 - 2001. This growth is more than 26.68% compared to the corresponding period in the preceding year, and exceeds the target by more than 5%. If this trend continues, it is expected that we will be able to exceed the export target of US$ 6,314 million.

46. Our export trade suffers from a narrow base and is limited to a few products. To remove this weakness, expand export market and exportable goods and strengthen export trade an ambitious project for diversification of export has been taken up. This project includes components like direct assistance to the exporters for product development and market expansion and modernization of Tariff Commission and NBR.

47. During last May, Bangladesh signed a Cooperation Agreement with the European Union. As a result of this Agreement, cooperation between Bangladesh and the European Union in trade and commerce will increase. An Inter-Governmental Group on Trade Liberalization within the framework of BIMST-EC has been set up to facilitate effective measures to be taken about trade at its ministerial level meetings. Steps have also been taken for setting up Free-Trade Zone among these countries.

48. Government has been attaching great importance to the employment of skilled and unskilled manpower of the country/overseas. Steps taken towards this goal have resulted in the increase of overseas employment opportunities for Bangladeshis. During our Prime Minister's recent visit to Kuwait, a Technical Cooperation Agreement has been signed regarding manpower export ' from Bangladesh. At the personal initiative of our Prime Minister, Malaysia has legalized 1 lakh 50 thousand Bangladeshi workers who were residing there illegally. More than 2 lakh 22 thousand Bangladeshis got employment abroad from January to November last year. During that period total remittance by the Bangladeshis working abroad was over Taka 9370 crore.

49. Government has framed certain pragmatic labour laws concerning the wage and welfare of the labourers. Wage structure for the labourers of the nationalized enterprises has been declared and law has been enacted for its implementation. A new wage structure has been made effective from 1~ January, 2000 for the private labourers engaged in inland river transport industries. Twenty nine labourers' welfare centres for the welfare of labourers in various industrial areas of the country have been set up and provident fund for the welfare of the tea garden workers have been introduced.

Janab Speaker,

50. Immediately after taking office, the Awami League Government took important steps to face the power crisis existing at that time and gave more emphases on a reform programme. As a result, power sector development has comparatively achieved remarkable success.

51. As a result of Private Sector Power Generation Policy, 1996 and Policy Guidelines for Small Power Plant in the Private Sector, 1988, adopted in order to encourage private participation in power generation along with the public sector, a number of agreements were signed for generation of 1188 MW power in the private sector, out of which generation of 302 MW of power has already started. Electric generators in private sector have been exempted from customs duty and VAT. 500 MW of captive power is being generated in the private sector which is helping to meet industrial demand of power during peak period. Construction work of 10 new plants in the public sector with a capacity to generate 1539 MW of power - by 2004 - 2005 is nearing completion and projects are being formulated for setting up another 9 plants by 2007 which will have the capacity to generate 1510 MW of power. Rural Power Company Ltd. set up under mixed public and private participation has already started generating 70 MW of power at Mymensingh. Work is going on for setting up more plants under this arrangement to generate 140 MW of power.

52. Since July, 1996, installed capacity of power generation has increased to 3803 MW with the addition of 480 MW in the public sector, 372 MW in the private and mixed sectors and 434 MW through rehabilitation of old power plants.

53. Emphasis has been given on transmission and distribution as well. Per capita generation has increased from 92 kw hours to 120 kw hours. There has been commendable progress in providing electricity to the rural people. Power supply has been ensured for irrigation. Now about 30% people have access to electricity, which was only 15% in 1995 - 96. Under Rural Electrification Programme, 17 lakh subscribers have been given electricity connection during the four years and a half since July, 1996, while it was only about 14 lakh subscribers who were given the connection for the whole period upto June, 1996. As a result, 31 lakhs subscribers are now enjoying electricity facility and this has activated rural economic activities. With a view to providing electricity to all the people by the year 2020 an Electricity Sector Reforms Programme is now under implemention.

54. Under Power Sector Reforms Programme, Dhaka Electric Supply Company and Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, constituted as a first step towards dividing the activities of the power sector into generation, transmission and distribution, are functioning in full swing. In addition, steps have been taken to update the existing rules and regulations and to establish Energy Regulatory Authority and approve Renewable Energy Policy. Measures have been taken to reach power in the remote areas by attracting private investment in the power distribution sector. A `Client Charter' is being introduced to protect the interests of the consumers.

55. The contribution of the energy sector to the overall economic development of the country is enormous. Production of natural gas increased from 700 million cft. in 1996 to 1000 mmcfd in 2000. Gas production is expected to reach 1450 million cft. 2004. Over the last 4 years the number of gas fields has increased from 7 to 15 and gas wells from 34 to 63. Ninety percent of the country's electricity production and 100% of urea fertilizer production depend on domestic gas. It has been possible to substitute imported oil with the use of domestic natural gas which is equivalent to 9 million cft. of fuel

56. The gas transmission lines have increased to 1775 km in 2000 from 1186 km in 1996-97 and the distribution lines have increased from 8801 km to 11,324 km. Gas supply in the western region of the country has started through installation of pipeline with the Bangabandhu Bridge. In order to increase gas supply in the western region "West Gas Company" has been formed. Gas connection has been provided in Sirajganj town and at Baghabari Power Station. Gas will be gradually made available to all the districts of the country. Law is being framed in order to ensure larger local and foreign investment, equal competition and protection of consumer interests in the gas sector.

57. For the purpose of oil and gas exploration and development, 8 out of the 23 blocks were awarded to 4 international oil companies in the first round bidding under Production Sharing Contract. In the meantime, production has started from newly discovered gas fields at Sangu in the Bay of Bengal and previously discovered Jalalabad gas fields. These two gas fields are transmitting 200 mmcfd into the national grid. A large gas field has been discovered at Bibiana where the estimated recoverable resource of gas is estimated at 2.4 TCF. In the second round bidding, 9 blocks have been selected for negotiation.

58. In the year 2001; granite will be produced from Malhypara Granite Mine at the rate of 16.5 lac tons per year. Steps have been taken to set up a cutting and processing plant capable of producing granite tiles and slabs under this project, besides using it for various construction work including barrages and river training works. When this project is completed, a new potential dimension will be added to the marketing of stones recoverable from Madhyapara. When implemented Coal is expected to be produced from the Barapukuria coal mine at the rate of 10 lac tons per year and most of this coal will be used in the proposed 300 MW power plant to be set up in that area. It is also expected that coal may be extracted from Fulbari coal field from 2007. By using coal it may be possible to set up, step by step, power plants with a generation capacity of 2100 MW.

Janab Speaker,

59. The importance transport and communication in socio-economic development is enormous. The current ADP allocation for implementation of 119 projects for development of roads under Roads and Highways Development is Taka 1673 crores. Through these projects development of Bangabandhu Bridge Approach Road, Construction of Nalka-Hatikamrul-Bonpara road, Maintenance of Regional and National Highways and Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of Dhaka-Sylhet highway, are going on. Rehabilitation work of various national and regional highways affected by the 1998 flood is almost completed.

60. For establishing direct communication link between the North-West and the South-West regions and with Mongla Port Construction of `Paksey bridge' on the river Padma started in the last November and construction work of Rupsa bridge in Khulna will commence soon. `Abul Khair Bridge', built on the river Madhumati at Mollarhat, has brought Mongla Port closer -to Dhaka. Construction of another bridge on the same river is under process. Construction work of the bridge on the river Dharala on the Kurigram-Bhurangamari road and the 5th Bangladesh China Friendship Bridge over the Gabkhan river is going on in full swing. To establish direet road link between Dhaka and the Southern Region of the county; construction work of the Shikarpur and Doarika bridges, is going .on. Construction work of `Shahid Syed Nazrul Islam Bridge' over the river Meghna is progressing fast.

61. In order to establish direct linkage between the southern region of the country and the capital Dhaka, a prefeasibility study ,on the construction of a bridge on the Padma has already been completed. Construction of the proposed bridge will establish a close linkage not only between the capital city and the southern region of the country, but also with the rest of the country.

62. In order to expand road communication between district towns and remote areas of the country, roads are being constructed at the Union and Thana levels. Two thousand 142 kilometers of metalled road, 5 thousand 271 kilometers of kutcha road and 4 thousand 317 bridges and culverts were constructed in the last fiscal year. Under the current ADP, -2343 kilometers of metalled road,. .9961 kilometers of kutcha road and 6140 bridges and culverts will be constructed.

63. `Dhaka Transport Coordination Board' has been formed with a view to relieving Dhaka City from traffic congestion through . short and long term transportation planning, ~ removing... , existing , bottlenecks . of traffic management, improving institutional capabilities and co-ordinating and monitoring of the project implementation activities of other relevant organizations: Construction of some fly-overs and improvement of some road connecting points; introduction of road network for rickshaws, reorganization and expansion of bus service and introduction of computerized traffic signals have been taken for implementation by `the Board at a cost of more than Taka 1,000 crores. Construction of mono-rail is also being considered for removing traffic congestion is the City. -A project is under implementation for constructing a circular riverway from Sadarghat to Ashulia. When these projects are completed, the level of traffic congestion and environmental pollution in the Dhaka City will reduce to a great extent.

64. Until 1996, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation was a loosing concern and its average annual loss was Taka 1.5 crore. Due to the reform measures taken by the present government, 'the Corporation is now making profit and during the last 3 years, it earned an operating profit of Taka 16 crore 90 lac.

65. Government has taken up a massive pragmatic programme for the overall development of Bangladesh Railway. In the current financial year establishment of railway link at both ends of Bangabandhu Bridge, establishment of railway link with Madhyapara Hard Rock and Barapukuria coal mine areas, replacement and modernization of signalling and interlocking system at 14 stations of the West Zone of Bangladesh Railway and rehabilitation of the mainlines of Bangladesh Railway, are being implemented. Construction work of 99 kilometers of new mixed gauge lines from Joydebpur on the east to Jamtail on the west and conversion of the existing broad gauge' lines-from Jamtail on the western zone to Parbatipur via Iswardi, has started with' the objective of establishing railway link with Bangabandhu Bridge. Construction of rail link between Tarakandi and Bangabandhu Bridge to connect eastern side of Bangabandhu Bridge with the railway network of Jamalpur-Mymensingh-Netrokona, is progressing .

66. As a riverine country, waterways occupy great importance in our internal communication network. In order to 'maintain inland waterways draught for smooth navigation; 3 dredgers and 1 booster ' pump are being procured: Three-fourth of the country's import and exports are handled through the Chittagong port. During the last financial year Chittagong port handled 1547 vessels containing goods of about 1 crore 70 lac M.T. Projects have been taken up for construction of a container terminal at Chittagong, port, procurement of essential handlirig equipment and tugboat for Chittagong and modern dredging and cutter dredger for Mongla port. Handling capacity of Dhaka container Depot has been increased from 1000 to 3927 TUES/TEUS. Marine Academy is being developed as a "Center of Excellence" ensuring higher professionalism by international standard. Services of 4 sea-trucks have been introduced to facilitate transportation of goods and passengers from the mainland to the islands. Formulation of the " National Shipping Policy" is being finalized to ensure development of overall management and maintain discipline and security of the shipping sector.

67. Construction M. A. Hannan airport at Chittagong has been completed in order to expand our international aviation systems. The most modern terminal building of this airport, built by international standard will become a milestone in the aviation sector of the country. A multistoried car park is being constructed including expansion of international terminal building and two more boarding bridges are being -installed with a view to increasing the passenger facilities at the airport in Dhaka. In order to meet the increasing aviation' demand domestic passenger flight; cargo flight and helicopter services have been introduced in the private sector. On June 3, 2000 Biman,s third weekly flight to Newyork via Dubai and London has been introduced. Moreover, two DC 10.-30 and two airbus procured through lease have been added to the fleet of Biman in order meet increasing demand on it. In order to enhance the competitive edge and reputation of Bangladesh Biman and consolidate its position abroad step has been taken to establish equity based partnership with a leading foreign carrier to pave the way for restructuring and commercialization of Bangladesh Biman Airlines.

68. Different programmes have been taken to expand the tourism industry. Under these programmes a modern tourist motel in at Tungipara in Gopalganj, near the mausoleum of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Ra.hman, has been constructed. Besides construction work of two beautiful tourist motels at Cox's Bazar and Teknaf, modern tourist motels at Dinajpur, .Mongla and Kuakata and a restaurant at Madhabkundu have been completed. At present, construction of tourist motels at Bandarban, Khagrachari and Mujibnagar is progressing fast. In addition construction of tourist ,motels at Sagardari, Benapole, Panchagarh and Kantoji Temple in Dinajpur will start soon.

69. Efforts are on to reframe the century old `Telegraph Act, 1885' and `Wireless .Telegraphy Act; 1993' to modernize management of the telecommunication System. With a view to improving the telecommunication infrastructure and services, the government has initiated a number of development programmes consistent with the latest technologies. With the increase in the number of telephones under both the public and private sectors,, the tele-density per: thousand people is expected to increase from 4 to 7 by .the end of 2001. In June 1996, the total number of telephones, in the country was 3,;87;769: In December 2000,.the number has gone up to 6,16042. In the mean: while cardphones numbering 1467 including 70I with ISD facilities; have been installed all over the country to provide telephone services to the people at large Facilities for 800 Operator Trunk-Dialling telephones have been installed for the people in remote areas. Packet Switching System has already been set up in 8 towns to make Data Communication Facility easily available Data network is being installed for inland and overseas data communication. Recently, V-SAT and internet services have been opened up for .the private sector as. well. `One Point Service' Center has been made operational at Ramna and Gulshan in the city to provide better services to the subscribers. Under the project for installing 2 lac 16 thousand digital telephone lines, digital telephone exchanges are being installed in every district headquarter. The number of such digital telephone exchanges in the district headquarters including Dhaka and Chittagong has increased to 86 from that of 11 in 1996. At the same time work for installing mini digital exchanges at 92 Upazillas is also in progress. Step has been taken to introduce mobile telephone in the public sector. The number of mobile telephones that stood at 21,000 in 1996 has increased to 2,42,650. Licence has been issued to a private firm for installing 2 lac Personal Handy System in order to provide telephone services at a low cost in Dhaka City. The process of issuing licence to the private sector for installing 3 lac telephone lines in Dhaka City is at the final stage. Moreover, "Prepaid Card-phone Service" with modern technology will soon be introduced in the private sector. "Optical Fibre Link" is being installed between Dhaka and Chittagong, . The plan to install "Sub-Marine Cable" with Singapore is at the final stage. This will trigger revolutionary changes in data entry and software export including telecommunication.

70. A 15- number National Task Force has been formed with the Prime Minister as its Chairman to tap the unlimited economic, social, commercial and scientific opportunities under Information Technology for the overall development of the country. The Committee will draw up a work plan and fix targets for identifying the contribution the information technology can make, all the possibilities for its expansion and development. I believe, such an initiative at the highest level of the government will be recognized as a milestone.

71. The present era is for free flow of information. The supportive role of mass media is very important in mobilizing public opinion, creating public awareness, ensuring public involvement and motivating them for the development of the country. Mass media acts as a link between the people and the government. Mass media plays a very important role in creating general awareness and motivating the people about various development activities undertaken by the government such as poverty alleviation health and family planning, adult literacy and total literacy. Steps have been taken to unfold to the present generation objective and true history about our glorious struggle for freedom, ideals of our Liberation War and contributions of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Actions have already been initiated to permanently preserve these invaluable national treasurers.

72. The present government believes in the free flow of information and therefore, has ensured free expression of opinion by the newspapers. Government has agreed, in principle, on granting autonomy to Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television and steps are being taken to implement this decision. Ekushey Television, a private TV channel has already started its transmission of programs.

73. In order stop degeneration of of national cultures by preventing the unbridled entry of open air cultures, a law is being enacted to control such cable television network programmes. Bangladesh Betar is directly broad-casting every session of Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad for ensuring accountability and transparency of the government. Bangladesh television is also telecasting live the questionanswersessions of the Parliament. By organising Honourable Prime Minister's programme named `Janagoner Prosna - Pradhanmantrir uttar', Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television have set a unique example of accountability.

74. The history, civilization and identity of a nation is reflected through its cultural activities. The present government left no stone unturned to focus, nationally and internationally, the manifold aspects of our multidimensional cultural activities in order to preserve, develop, expand and popularize the same keeping in view our national hopes and aspirations. Exchange visits are being organized to strengthen the existing bilateral friendly relations and understanding with the friendly countries. Cultural troupes have been sent to Germany, Bahrain, Iraq, Uzbekistan and India. An exhibition on contemporary art was arranged in China.

75. In order to preserve the memory of our glorious liberation war, a country-wide programme has been taken up. In order to properly preserve the archaeological monuments excavation, maintenance and reconstruction works are going on at Paharpur, Bargerhat, Jagaddal Bihar of Naogaon and Comilla. In order to construct cultural centers for the tribal people and organize various cultural programmes projects are being implemented at Bandarban, Rangamati and Birisiri. Development programmes have also been taken for the tribal people at Moulavibazar, Khagrachari and Rajshahi.

76. `Shilpi Kallyan Trust' is being formed for the overall welfare of the renowned poets, litterateurs writers and artists of the country. In order to make it compatible with the changes taken place in the technological field within and outside country Copyright Act, 2000 has been enacted replacing the Copyright Ordinance, 1962. Steps have been taken to repeal the `Dramatic Performance Act, 1876' in order to encourage the development of dramatic performance activities in the country in conformity with our own practices and cultures.

77. The religious harmony fraternity and understanding prevailing among on the citizens of Bangladesh belonging . to different faiths, is a model for other countries. Sincere and relentless efforts of the government and followers of all the religions are contributing towards this religious harmony and understanding.

78. Under the Saudi-Bangladesh Bilateral Haji Agreement and the Haji policy, 2001, for the first time, intending Haji pilgrims will be sent for Hajj through government approved agencies outside government arrangements. This will help increase facilities for the Hajj pilgrims during the Hajj as well as ensure their security.

79. The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman founded the Islamic Foundation in 1975. This institution has undertaken various projects for implementation for the propagation and expansion of Islam. Work has started for increasing the facilities in Baitul Mukarram Mosque for the musallies and for its beautification. Apart from enhancing the grant-in-aid for the Hindu Kallyan Trust and the Bouddhya Kallyan Trust, for the religious development of the Hindus and Buddhyas, their activities have also been expanded. Various development programmes have been taken up for the followers of all religious faiths.

80. With the objective of encouraging participation of women in statecraft and development activities, the government has adopted a national policy for the advancement of women and formulated `National Action Plans' for the development of women and children. During the recent UN Millennium Session Bangladesh signed the Optional Protocol on CEDAW. Bangladesh is one of the 10 countries who have signed this important Protocol and this will help implementation of this protocol internationally. A National Women Development Council headed by the Hon'ble Prime Minister is overseeing the overall activities for the development of women. In order to implement and supervise women development programmes 49 WID focal points have been formed in Ministries and Divisions and Women Development Coordination Committees have been formed at District and Thana levels. Every year Child Rights Day, Child Rights Week, Begum Rokeya Day, International Women Day, etc are being observed in order to make everyone aware of the rights of the child and women. Present government has made it mandatory to use mother's name along with the name of the fathers while expressing the identity of any child. It is the present government which has taken steps to appoint for the first time women as Justice, Secretary to the Government and Police Superintendent to ensure women's representation at all higher echelons of the country. In the past women officers were appointed in the Army only for the medical and nursing corps. The present government for the first time has started the process of appointing women in all the commissioned ranks of Army, Navy and Air Force.

81. An exhaustive programme has been taken up in the Health and Family Planning sector to ensure equity and provide equal facility to the women. More than 30% of the total manpower in this sector are women. In the light of "Beijing Platform for Action" various activities/ programmes have been initiated, like "Women Friendly Hospital Initiative" in 32 hospitals and "One Stop Crisis Center" in two medical college hospitals to ensure proper treatment of the distressed women.

82. Various programmes are being implemented for the socio-economic development of the youths of the country and for creating awareness among the people of all walks of life about sports and for the development of sports. Expansion of youth development programmes at all Upazillas of the country, provision of training to the youths in different trade courses, extension of credit on easy terms for self employment, are included in this programme. The number of youths taking training under youth development activities conducted by the Youth Development Directorate increased to 15,06,563 during the period from July'96 to September, 2000, while this number was 3,25,780 during the period from the beginning of this programme till June, 1996. During the same period the number of youths taking credit increased from 1,51,225 to 4,81,590. The volume of credit distribution increased from Taka 67 crore 43 to Taka 369 crore 33 lac. In addition, Employment Bank is providing funds for the employment of male and female youths. In order to expedite youth employment 4,449 khas ponds and tanks covering an area of upto 20 acres have been leased out to the youth cooperative societies.

83. In order to continue successes achieved in the field of sports, the 4t~1 National Stadium at Dhaka, Stadiums at 4 divisional headquarters and 17 district headquarters and 10 swimming pools are being constructed including creating other sports infrastructures phasewise. Work on the establishment of a physical training college at Mymensingh and introduction of sports science faculty in the BKSP, is now in progress. The construction works of the Ist phase of an international standard cricket stadium at Fatullah, Divisional Training Complex at Chittagong and Sylhet District Stadium have been completed.

84. To improve the standard of sports and games in the country under the `Talent Hunting Programme' arrangements have been made to identify promising talents from the grassroot levels and then to provide them scientific training by better trainers . In the Special Olympic World Games for the handicapped held in North Carolina, USA in 1999 Bangladesh secured 36 medals including 21 gold. Test status achieved by Bangladesh this year, glorious performance demonstrated by the Bangladesh team in the inaugural test match with India, championship achieved by Bangladesh "A" team in the cricket tournament held in Malaysia, success in the international athletic competition held in Karachi and eleven gold medals secured in the SAARC shooting competition held in Karachi all have brought fame for Bangladesh in the sports arena.

Janab Speaker,

85. Housing is a fundamental need of man. With the tremendous development of science and technology, many new industrial and commercial establishments are emerging in the urban areas. As a result, influx of people from low and middle income groups toward the urban areas seeking employment is gradually increasing and making the situation worse. To sort out this problem a number of steps were taken during the past years. Various projects have been undertaken including construction of flats for government employees and construction of flats for sale to them on hire-purchase, establishment of satellite towns at Yusufganj and Keraniganj in Dhaka, development of Nikunja residential area, expansion of Uttara Model Town, and development of Sonadanga residential area in Khulna, and residential areas in Rajshahi and Chittagong. Government has amended `National Housing Policy -1993' with a view to encouraging private initiative for housing development and to attract foreign investment in this sector. Through the formation of National Housing Authority various types of housing projects are being prepared and implemented in order to make accommodation easily available to people of all walks of life. Steps have already been taken for constructing 1040 flats in Dhaka and Chittagong for the low-income people. Similar flats will also be constructed gradually in other districts. A 98 crore Housing Fund has been created to help construct accommodation for people of low income group.

86. For the first time in the history of Bangladesh, the Summit of the Heads of Government and Heads of State of the 115 member of Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, will be held in Dhaka. Bangabandhu International Conference Center is being constructed at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka at a cost of Taka 181 crore to hold this conference. This center will offer various facilities including Plenary and Banquet halls covering an area of 20 thousand sq. meter. Construction work of 884 suites and apartments at Manik Mia Avenue, Mirpur and Nakhalpara is progressing to accommodate the honoured guests of the NAM conference. In addition, Rajuk is constructing 315 apartments in Gulshan and Banani areas.

87. The present government has taken measures in 1997 to lease out khas lands after formulating a policy for its management and settlement. Till todate, a total of 54 thousand 673 acres of khas land have been distributed among 1,01,616 families of landless, distressed women and freedom fighters. At present Diara settlement is under progress to identify newly accreted char land in every district. For rehabilitation of the assetless poor in the newly accreted land of the coastal areas, a programme has been taken up to distribute 1.5 acres of land per family for cultivation and for constructing houses.

88. Under the `Ashrayan Project' a programme designed to provide housing and self-employment to the landless, 25,820 families have so far been rehabilitated in 2 582 barrack houses and 1111 number of barrack houses are now under construction. Under this programme 50 thousand homeless families are expected to be rehabilitated at a cost of Taka 300 crore. Each rehabilitated family is provided with a permanent house, 0.08 acres of khas land in the joint name of husband and wife, vocational training and a loan of Tk. 10,000 each on average for self employment. So far, 135 community centers have been constructed in the project area and 227 are under construction. Taka 5 crore have been allocated for the rehabilitation of the urban squatters and homeless. For the same purpose, so far 12,200 people have been rehabilitated in villages under "Ghore Fera Karmashuchi" and they have been provided with loans to the tune of Taka 3 crore 66 lacs for their self employment. Under the Adarsha Gram Project about 18,000 landless families have been rehabilitated in 333 Adarsha Gram areas during the past four years.

89. Steps have been taken to computerize the process of preservation and updating of land records. Under this system, land owners will be given an acceptable, flawless and reliable land ownership certificate through modernization of land administration. Towards this end, steps have been taken to amend the relevant law and enact a new law. In order to ensure proper use of land, `Land Use Policy' is being framed.

90. Last year, there was a sudden severe flood in the S south-western districts due to excessive rainfall and water~ flowing down from across the border. Government undertook immediate rescue and relief work minimize the ravages of flood. All arrangements have also been made for Post-flood rehabilitation programmes.

91. In the backdrop of the Government's declared policy for poverty alleviation in general and overall village development in particular, and in order to provide appropriate direction towards these goals the drafts of `National Rural Development Policy' and `National Cooperative Policy' have been prepared. In order to ensure greater effective participation of and contribution by the cooperatives members and to develop cooperatives consistent with the open market economy, a new cooperative law is being enacted after making significant amendments in the existing law. In addition various programmes are under consideration of the Government in order intensify cooperative movement. Recently a new institution by the name of `Palli Daridra Bimochaan Foundation' has been set up to more effectively direct poverty alleviation programme in 129 Upazilas of 17 districts.

92. A unique; timely and comprehensive initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for poverty alleviation is "Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar" programme. This programme is to bring about overall development of village with and integrated approach by bringing about economic prosperity in every rural family, especially the poor multitudes and the women. The prime objective of this project is to improve the standard of living of every family through optimum and effective utilization of all physical and non-physical resources existing in every house and to make every family self sufficiently ensuring proper and optimum utilization of resources at its disposal. This will also be ensured through the proper and maximum use of the services provided by the existing departments responsible for national development. The programmes will make immense contribution to poverty alleviation.

93. Various programmes have been taken up to bring into the mainstream of the society the poor, the backward, the orphan, the handicapped, the distressed, the helpless, old men and women, widows and the divorced helpless women in particular and backward multitude in general, by converting them into self dependent and capable human resource through the creation of various opportunities. In each of the six existing divisional Shishu Paribars, one `Shanti Nibash' is being established for the helpless old men and women who will be able to live in a family environment. In each Shanti Nibash, 40 old males and 60 old females will stay with all government cares till their death. The orphan children will also be able to enjoy the company of these old persons in the Shanti Nibash. Government is also constructing `Oboshar' a center at Srimongal with all modern amenities, for those old men and women who are financially well-off' but socially helpless. They will be able to live here in peaceful environment at their personal expense. This facility will be gradually expanded to all areas of the country. Under the old-age pension programme introduced by the present government for the distressed helpless multitude, 4,13,190 old males and females of all unions and C-category municipalities of the country, are being given a monthly allowance of Taka 100 each. 2,06,595 widows and divorced distressed women are also getting allowance at the same rate. An integrated programme has been introduced for the overall development of the street children. Another programme has also been taken up for the overall development of socially handicapped women and their children. In each of the 6 divisions, a Training and Rehabilitation Center is being established for the socially handicapped girls.

94. Under the rural social welfare programme for poverty alleviation a total amount of Taka 123 crore 14 lac had been distributed as revolving loan upto October, 2000. As a result of this program about 23 lac 700 families are getting direct benefit. The recovery rate of the loan under this programme is 90%. At the same time, 8,15,575 women had been imparted vocational training, 11,06,295 people had been motivated for using contraceptives and 5,99,290 distressed rural women had been given interest-free loan of a total sum of Taka 23 crore 52 lac under revolving fund upto October, 2000 through 11,516 Rural Mother Centers. The recovery rate of this loan is 93%.

95. Under the Urban Social Services Programme, families living under poverty line in 50 towns have been distributed up to October, 2000 a total loan of Taka 2.92 crore and 1,73,640 people have been helped for self employment through imparting vocational training. Recovery rate of loam provided under this programme is 96%.

96. Government has introduced honorarium on financial assistance to those valiant sons and freedom frighters of the country who are now insolvent. Under this programme insolvent freedom fighters will be getting honorarium at the rate of Taka 300/- per month througout their life. Allowances paid to wounded and crippled freedom fighters and families of martyred freedom fighters have been enhanced by 60%. Stipend is being given for the education of meritorious children of the freedom fighters. 30% jobs have been preserved for the children of the freedom fighters. In order to show respect to the dead freedom fighters it has been decided for the first time that they will be buried with due state honour.

Janab Speaker,

97. A six- year program entitled "Legal and Judicial Capacity Building" has been undertaken at a cost of Taka 250 crore. in order to update judicial system through radical reforms. Modern administration, improved management of cases and information technology will be added to legal system through this project. This will ensure quick disposal of cases with case and at reasonable cost; and increase public trust on the judicial system. This project includes construction of a multi-storied Training Institute Complex for judges, setting up of a Law Commission, Judicial Administration Training Institute, establishment of the Legislative and drafting wing; setting up Metropolitan Sessions Court, Public Safety related Special Tribunals, formulation of Women and Child Oppression Prevention Act, 2000 and setting up of special Tribunals thereunder, constitution of Insolvency Court and preservation of all existing laws upto 1938 in the electronic version under CD-ROM, enactment of laws for adaptation of laws enacted upto 1957 and Construction of the Supreme Court Annex Building-all these symbolize the successes by the present government. As a result of construction of the Annex Building problems encountered in accommodating new judges will be solved. These steps are no doubt, unprecedented and very timely addition to the strengthening of the judicial system of the country.

98. In order to take the administration to the doorsteps of the public and decentralize powers, a four-tier local government system has been introduced. Upazilla Parishad Law and Zila Parishad Law have been enacted and Local Government(Union Parishad) law has been amended. Government has already created 5 new Upazillas and 101 Pourashavas. People have already started to enjoy the benefit of a decentralized administration.

99. Internal peace and discipline are a pre-requisites for the development of a country. Government is committed to keep the law and order situation under control and relieve the society of terrorism. Since its assumption of office, the the present government has taken a number of very important steps for the improvement of the existing law and order situation. Attracting topmost importance to the low and order of the country. Most notable among these steps is the police operation carried out in the south-western region of the country. The police operation in that region, more known as a sanctuary for the terrorists, the fetched a huge quantity of arms and ammunitions. A significant number of terrorists surrendered under general amnesty. As a result, peace has come back to the people of that area. Government has taken initiatives to rehabilitate those terrorists who have no cognizable cases against them. Following enactment of the Public Safety Act, 2000 the number of criminal acts like terrorism, vandalism, arson etc, have started to come down. With a view to increasing professionalism of the police officers through training, a Police Staff College has been established.

100. Bangladesh Rifles, engaged to protect borders and curb smuggling, has been playing an important role along with the police force for the improvement of law and order situation in the south-western region of the country. Ansar and VDP are also playing an important role during natural calamities and by extending help to the authorities concern in maintaining law and order, socio-economic development and control of terrorism. Law has been enacted to make the services of those Battalion Ansars permanent who have rendered 15 years of service. Coast guard has been engaged for controlling smuggling and piracy, preventing sea pollution and ensuring safety of the coastal forest areas. Last year, they carried out operation in the sea and seized contraband items worth about Taka 5 crore.

101. Under the Jail Construction Programme, construction of 8 Jails has so far been completed and construction of 26 more Jails are now in progress. Construction of Dhaka central Jail at Kashimpur and expansion and modernization of Chittagong Central Jail are progressing fast. Land acquisition and construction of 166 Fire Service and Civil Defence Stations at various important places and in Upazillas are going on. Construction of 4 fire stations has already been completed and 13 others will be completed soon.

102. Effective measures have been taken for modernizing the armed forces and making it more dynamic and consolidated by increasing professional efficiency. Towards this end, National Defence College, Military Institute of Science & Technology, Armed Forces Medical College and Peace-Keeping Center, have been established. The Trust Bank has started functioning for the welfare of the members of the Armed Forces. The War College will also start its operation this year. Modern fighter aircrafts, C-130 hercules transport planes, modern Helicopters, radars and arms including latest MIG-29 fighter aircrafts, have been added to the fleet of the Air Force.

103. Government has handed over the Khulna Shipyard to Bangladesh Navy for developing ship building infrastructure in the country. The Yard is gradually becoming a profitable concern from a sick industry. Bangladesh Navy has taken up a plan to build modernized warships and support vessels in this shipyard. To make the Army self sufficient, government has handed over Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory to the Army. In view of the losses suffered, the factory remained closed for many years. Under the active supervision of the Army, production has again started and some lorries assembled in this factory here have already been added to the fleet of the Army.

104. At present, 2200 Bangladesh Army personnel are participating in the U.N. peace-keeping Mission in Congo, East-Timor, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Iraq Kosovo, Kuwait, Macedonia, Sierra-Leone and Western Sahara. Besides, 4 thousand army personnel are working in Kuwait. In recognition of successes of the Bangladesh Army working in different U.N. Missions, action has started to send to Sierra-Leone another Brigade of Army comprising 3 thousand 5 hundred personnel at the request of the U.N. Besides Army, members of the Navy, Airforce and Bangladesh Police Forces are also ~participating in the U.N. peace-keeping mission with high reputation. Two helicopters of Air Force are now engaged in the U.N. mission in Kuwait.

105. The Public Administration Reforms Commission, constituted for recommending the improvement of the level of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and transparency in public organizations to enable them fulfil the governments' commitment �to ensure socio-economic development, submitted its Final Report of the first phase in last July. Presently, the Commission is working on restructuring and rationalizing of manpower of the corporations and autonomous bodies. Altogether, the Commission has submitted 137 recommendations in the first phase. Government has already accepted some the these recommendations and their implementation is underway too. The rest will be approved gradually and implemented.

106. Various steps have been taken to recruit meritorious officers in the cadre services, give them training to ensure their accountability and service to the public for building an efficient, dynamic and welfare-oriented public administration. Apart from recruitment of meritorious officers through the Public Service Commission, they are being imparted advanced training in different training institutes including Bangladesh Public Administration Training Center and BCS Administration Academy, to acquaint them with modern management concepts. Under the joint collaboration with Birmingham University and British Civil Service College promising and meritorious officers are being trained through a project entitled. "Managing at the Top" to enable them carry Bangladesh forward in equal pace with the process of globalization.

107. In order to hold other elections including the next election for the Jatiya Sangshad, new voter list has been prepared by registering all eligible voters throughout the country. Based on that registration, a draft voters list was published on July 18 and the final list on October 26, 2000. The Election Commission has taken initiatives to computerize a voter database and print the voters' list in the offset system.

108. Last year, by-elections to the Rajshahi-5, Jhalakathi-2 and Khulna-5 constituencies of the Jatiya Sangshad were held in a free and fair manner. Moreover, election schedule for holding elections in 19 Pourashavas was declared througout the country on September, 25 and 26. Due to subsequent injunction order issued by the court, election for 6 Pourashavas was postponed and elections in the rest 13 were held in a fair and peaceful manner.

109. In order to take necessary steps towards institutionalization of parliamentary democracy a project under the name of "Stenghthening parliamentary Democracy" is currently under implementation. Institute of parliamentary studies, established under this project, orientation programs for the Honourable Members of Parliament about Parliament and Parliamentary system and training programmes for the officers and staff of the Parliament Secretariat. Under the purview of this Institute a modern Research and Information Center will be set up to provide rapid services to the Honourable Members of the Parliament. For proper administration of the Institute, Bangladesh Institute of Parliamentary Studies Bill, 2000 has already been placed before the Parliament.

110. Bangladesh Jatiya Sangshad is playing an active role in the sphere of introducing and carrying through the concept of "Parliamentary Democracy" in international arena, Bangladesh is playing a glorious role in various international Parliamentary forums viz: Inter-Parliamentary union, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and Parliamentary Union of OIC members. Delegations from Bangladesh Parliament took part in the international conferences and seminars organized by these International Institutions. Apart from this, Bangladesh Jatiya Sangshad has exchanged many delegations with other Parliaments of friendly countries. A "Friendship Group" has been formed in Bangladesh Jatiya Sangshad in order to further strengthen the existing bilateral relations with other friendly countries on reciprocal basis. For proper practice and fostering of democracy, the establishment of Peace and expansion of reciprocal cooperation, the Executive Committee meeting of the Association of Asian Parliaments for peace has been successfully held in Dhaka. The leading role Bangladesh played in forming this Association has been widely appreciated abroad.

Janab Speaker,

11 l. The doctrine, `Friendship with All, Malice to None', pursued by the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. The fundamental objective of the present government is to seek peace and economic development on the basis of equality and reciprocal respect among the nations of the world. At the dawn of the new millennium Bangladesh has strengthened her role in the international arena for the promotion of international peace, democracy and human rights.

112. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's participation in the U.N. Millennium Summit and the Security Council Summit in last September was an important event in our foreign policy last year. In these summits, the bold proposals she put forward had deep impact on the participating world leaders. Active participation of Sheikh Hasina in the Security Council Summit, held for the second time in the history of the U.N., reflects the unflinching commitment of Bangladesh to ensure effective U.N. role in safeguarding international peace and security. The signature and ratification by the Prime Minister of the six important Treaties on Human Rights and Disarmament and signing and ratification of CTBT, have brightened the image of Bangladesh as a country committed for the cause of human rights, peace and development.

113. As the present President of the D-8 Group and an active member of BIMSTEC, Bangladesh is continuing her activities to play her due role. As the coordinator of LDC, Bangladesh is giving her bold and constructive leadership in various international forums on issues relating to their interests. Bangladesh's participation in the NAM foreign ministers' meeting held in Columbia and in the Summit meeting of the South countries of the held in Cuba and her contribution made there has earned international appreciation. Preparatory work for holding 13t'' NAM Summit in Dhaka is progressing in full swing. Under able leadership of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh joined NAM. Holding of NAM Summit in Dhaka will reflect the deep commitment Bangladesh to the policy of non-alignment.

114. As an active member of OIC, Bangladesh is evervigilant for securing the interests of the Muslim world. We have re-iterated our unreserved support for all the inalienable and legitimate Palestinian and Arab rights including the right to establish an independent and sovereign Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. In the OIC Summit held in Doha last November Bangladesh delegation, led by the Prime Minister made important contribution on various issues.

115. Bangladesh is making sincere efforts for making regional cooperation more effective through SAARC. During the last one year, our bilaterial relations with South Asian countries, namely : Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been further strengthened and consolidated. In the past year, Bangladesh's bilateral and multilateral relations had been consolidated through exchage of visits with international agencies and friendly countries. In this regard, special mention is to be made about our Prime Minister's visit to Belgium, Malaysia, United States, Kuwait, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Qatar for the OIC Summit. The visit by the U.S. President to Bangladesh followed by the Prime Minister's official visit to the United States at the former's invitation in October last, added new dimensions to the existing relations between the two countries. The two visits at the highest level have raised the political, economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries to their most intimate levels ever. The existing excellent relation of friendship and cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan was further consolidated by the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's visit to Bangladesh. As a result of these visits, some important Agreements for expansion of economic cooperation were also signed.

l16. Eleven of the self confessed and convicted killers of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman are still absconding abroad. Efforts to bring them back to Bangladesh to face justice have been continuing both bilaterally and through iriternational initiative. It may be mentioned that, in the last General Session of the UN Human Rights Agency at Geneva a deep concern was expressed and a well-defined decision was taken to the effect that the killers be not given shelter in any country of the world. This may also be deemed as a total support to and international recognition of the relentless efforts of Bangladesh in the establishment of human rights and human values.

117. The dynamic foreign policy pursued by the government during the past year has helped raise the prestige of Bangladesh abroad and has greatly enhanced her image as a peace loving and democratic country committed to economic development. In view of unfolding new developments in the process of globalization as well as in information and communication technology, Bangladesh will continue to actively pursue her present dynamic foreign policy.

118. We could successfully lead our country to weather through the economic crisis and financial volatility that rocked many of the East and South-East Asian countries during the second half of the preceding decade. The growth rate we have achieved over the last four years particularly testifies this efficiency. We have to expedite the pace of this success to keep in step with the world. We have tremendous promising pictures before us in the new century. In order to make sure that we can continuously our improve steps breaking new grounds on the road to development, we have to take appropriate actions and programmes with patriotism, unity and solidarity forgetting all differences. Our aim will be to free the country from hunger and poverty and celebrate the Golden Jubilee of independence of our freedom struggle in the year 2021 as a proud and developed country. I, therefore, call upon all of you, irrespective of all party affiliations, let us work selflessly together in this promising nation's journey to reach her desired goal of translating the dream of "Sonar Bangla" of the Father of the Nation, into reality.

119. Expressing my thanks to you and to all the Honourable Members of this august Parliament and wishing this Parliament a success, let me conclude here.

Khoda Hafez,

May Bangladesh live forever.