“The Covid-19 pandemic has created a multifaceted global problem and it should be addressed globally. We need a well-coordinated roadmap to face this crisis,” she said while virtually inaugurating the 14th international conference of the Finance Ministers of ASEM member countries.
Bangladesh hosted the meeting virtually which the Prime Minister opened by delivering a pre-recorded video message.
The theme of the 14th ASEM Finance Ministers Meeting is “Addressing Covid-19: Ensuring a Strong, Sustainable, Inclusive and Balanced Recovery”.
Sheikh Hasina expressed her optimism that the world is going to get effective vaccines against Covid-19 soon. She has called for making the vaccines available at free of costs for all countries.
“We’re hoping that the world is going to get effective vaccines soon. They must be made available for all countries, especially the LDCs and developing ones, at free of cost. The rich countries and, the MDBs and IFIs should come forward with generous support in this regard,” she said.
Concerted efforts for recovery
The Prime Minister urged the rich countries, Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to come forward.
Emphasising greater collaboration to conquer any hurdle on the path to prosperity during this difficult time, she said that collaboration, not isolation, can help overcome any crisis.
The advanced economies must fulfill their unmet promises concerning duty-free and quota-free market access, and technology support for developing countries, the Prime Minister said.
Urging the G-7, G-20, OECD countries, MDB and IFIs to play their vital roles to bail out the affected LDCs and developing nations, she said, “They’ll have to come forward with increasing fiscal stimulus, concessional finance, and debt relief measures.”
The Prime Minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on the health systems and the economies of all countries.
She said the least developed and developing countries, in particular, are the worst-hit by the pandemic and a vast majority of the people is suffering from the loss of income and employment.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that poverty is worsening and the health sector is facing serious challenges, while progress in achieving SDGs and hard-earned prosperity of most countries are at stake.
‘Bangladesh economy bouncing back’
About Bangladesh’s efforts for advancing its economy, the Prime Minister said, Bangladesh achieved sustained high growth in the last one decade and also attained tremendous progress in some socio-economic indicators.
She mentioned that the government also adopted “Vision 2041” aiming to elevate Bangladesh to an upper-middle-income country by 2031 and a developed one by 2041, she said adding that the country was well on track to achieve SDGs.
But the pandemic made a serious dent on the advancements despite her government’s all-out efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, she said, noting that a large stimulus package was given to recover from the economic losses.
Sheikh Hasina elaborated that her government has so far announced 21 stimulus packages equivalent to USD 14.14 billion for various sectors as well as support to different segments of the society.
She said that after suffering an initial setback for a few months, the economy has started recovering.
In this regard, she highlighted the latest trends in the export, remittance and agricultural production which indicate that the economy is now getting back on track towards the sustained growth path.
Finance Minister AHM Mostafa Kamal gave the welcome address, while vice presidents of World Bank and ADB, as well as the IMF’s Deputy Director for the Asia-Pacific region, delivered keynote speeches at the conference.a
Finance Ministers, Advisors on the Ministry of Finance and concerned representatives of the ASEM member states including Germany, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria, Thailand, Japan, China, Myanmar, Indonesia and Singapore are taking part.