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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Balance of payments: Ukraine war, Covid create fears of impact

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the Russia-Ukraine war and the pandemic have created fears of impact on Bangladesh’s balance of payments.

“Against the backdrop of Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war, weak growth of world economy, disruption of supply chain, increased cost of fuel, gas, food products, consumer goods, industrial raw materials and international freight in the global market, decline in exports and negative growth of remittance have created fears of impact on Bangladesh’s balance of payments,” she said.

During the PM’s question-answer session, Hasina came up with this reply to a question tabled by Jatiya Party lawmaker Mashiur Rahman Ranga.

In the scripted answer, she said her government has shown remarkable success in keeping both the budget deficit and debt levels at sustainable and bearable levels for the last 14 years.

She said it has been possible to keep the budget deficit within five percent of the GDP despite various local and international economic problems, including those caused by the pandemic.

The debt and GDP ratio is also at the satisfactory level, she added.

The PM also highlighted various steps of the government to deal with the situation.

POWER CUT

Replying to a question from Syed Abu Hossain, lawmaker from Dhaka-4, Hasina said there is no electricity crisis in the country, considering the fact that the country has the production capacity in line with demand.

She, however, said efforts are on to get out of this present situation, which was created due to the ongoing global fuel crisis, through maintaining austerity in using electricity and planned power cuts to save fuel.

“The government has taken various measures to keep the load shedding within a limited scale to tackle the ongoing situation,” the PM said.

Hasina hoped that if the power generated from the new coal-based power stations adds to the national grid and the austerity could be ensured in electricity use, it would be possible to overcome the ongoing problem soon.

In reply to another query of Awami League MP M Shahidul Islam, Hasina said currently the country has a total of 7.01 tonnes of refined and crude oil which can meet the demands of 30-35 days.

“By this time, two vessels carrying fuel will reach the country… ,” she said.

The PM said considering the country’s demand for the next six months (July-December), import schedule of fuel has been finalised with the supplying companies.

In response to a question from another AL MP Habibur Rahman, the premier said 6,836 peacekeepers are currently engaged in eight peacekeeping missions under the United Nations. Of them, 521 are women.

A total of 161 peacekeepers have been killed and 258 injured so far while discharging their duties in missions, she said.

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