Work together to stamp out terrorism: PM
Goa: Outlining three specific ways for BRICS to engage with BIMSTEC, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday urged the leaders of both the forums to join hands to deal with terrorism and violent extremism to achieve sustainable development through security and stability.
“All our efforts for sustainable development depend on peace, security and stability. As a responsible member of the global community, Bangladesh maintains ‘zero tolerance’ to any act of terrorism or violent extremism. We must join hands to deal with terrorism and violent extremism as well,” she said.
The Prime Minister was delivering her statement at the BRICS and BIMSTEC Outreach at the tourist city of Goa.
Chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Outreach meeting was also addressed by other leaders from BRICS and BIMSTEC member states.
“Let our today’s meet be a beginning of a ‘new conversation’ for collaboration between BRICS and BIMSTEC aimed at greater peace and development,” Hasina said.
The Prime Minister outlined three specific ways for BRICS to engage with BIMSTEC like developing quality and resilient infrastructure, focus on development of science, technology and innovation capabilities and engage in a conversation by BRICS and BIMSTEC to sustain economic development.
Extending thanks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his wonderful initiative to bring the leaders of BRICS and BIMSTEC to a single table, Hasina focused on how the leaders of both the groupings could identify mutual scope as well as synergies for cooperation.
Hasina said a large part of BIMSTEC firstly needs to develop quality and resilient infrastructure as countries like Bangladesh need billions of dollars of investment.“We’re trying to attract investments — through FDI, equity investments or PPP. We’re developing a hundred Economic Zones (EZs) across Bangladesh for potential investors. We’ve also taken initiatives like Hi-Tech City in Kaliakoir, Software Technology Park in Jessore, and Sylhet Electronic City, which are opportunities for hi-tech investors,” she added.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh’s liberal investment policy includes protection of foreign investment by law; generous tax holiday; concessionary duty on import of machinery; remittances of royalty; 100 percent foreign equity; unrestricted exit policy; full repatriation of dividend and capital on exit.
“We can assure you that our regimes and incentives are indeed competitive; and regulatory and policy environments are supportive. Now that BRICS countries have put forward two new Multilateral Development Banks, I would call for the Banks’ special attention to the opportunities in the low-income countries,” she said.
Secondly, she said, BIMSTEC region recognises the need to focus on development of science – technology – innovation capabilities as the world is now focused on ‘learning’. Sizable part of our population needs access to technologies in farming, water, sanitation and basic health. “We also need to develop and adopt technologies to address the challenges arising out of climate change,”
The Prime Minister said her government is now focusing on innovative public service delivery, mass access to information, and enhanced transparency and accountability, to build an inclusive, empowered, digital and knowledge-based society.
“We’ve set up about 10,000 digital centres across the country to cater 200 different services to our people’s doorsteps. Digital Laboratories and Multi-media classrooms are operating in growing number of educational institutions. We’re extensively utilising ICTs for decentralizing service delivery to elevate Bangladesh to a middle-income country by 2021,” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has created government information portals, virtually uniting 43,000 government offices as well as taking a whole-of-government approach to address problem with the a2i programme at my office is leading this initiative.
“I believe South-South and Triangular cooperation on innovation is also important for attaining sustainable development. Bangladesh has already signed MoUs with Maldives and Bhutan to collaborate on promoting and scaling up public service innovations. We look forward to more of such collaborations in future,” she added.
In the BRICS countries, Hasina said, there are institutions which lead the world by bringing life-saving solutions and inventions. “We would call upon our leaders from BRICS to launch a wider cooperative agenda for technology. Collaboration among higher education and research institutions for development and sharing of technologies could be mutually beneficial.”
Thirdly, she said, both BRICS and BIMSTEC can engage in a conversation to sustain our economic development as the global economy moves on. “We need to look at ‘sustainability’ issues with purpose. It could be opportune for us to link our value chains and markets aligning with the norms and trends of global supply chains.”
In BIMSTEC, the Prime Minister said, the member countries are working on our own regional value chains. “While our countries are at different levels of development, our two groupings can surely join hands on developing value chains for products and services.”
She went on saying, “The potentials in our region are enormous as BIMSTEC region is strategically located at the crossroads of South and South-east Asia. Centuries back, we used to have deeper connects crossing our lands and sea space.”
In recent times, Hasina said, the BIMSTEC countries have made a significant economic growth as well as notable social advancements: in women empowerment, in education enrolment, in girls’ education, in reducing maternal mortality, in increasing life expectancy, and so on. “Our region also has a younger population; and we’ll continue to have large active population over the next decades.”
Referring to the regional hydroelectricity potential of over 300 gigawatts, Hasina said there is also vast marine resources in the Bay of Bengal, which are yet to be fully mapped and tapped.
In the global plane, she said all pledged to sustainable development last year, signing a transformative 2030 Agenda for SDGs.
“By now, we’ve similar outcomes on financing for development, disaster reduction and climate change. These are important for both of our groups – in terms of addressing our challenges and also for tapping possible opportunities,” she said.