Sun, 24 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

BRICS needs to be lighthouse of multi-polar world: PM

Update : 24 Aug 2023, 20:44

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the BRICS needs to emerge as the lighthouse of the multi-polar world and be an inclusive platform responding to times.

"We need BRICS as a lighthouse in a multi-polar world. We hope to see BRICS emerge as an inclusive platform responding to our times. We must prove to our children and youth that our nations may suffer, but will never be defeated," she said, reports BSS.

The prime minister was delivering a speech on behalf of Bangladesh as a member of the "New Development Bank of BRICS" at Friends of BRICS Leaders Dialogue (BRICS-Africa Outreach and the BRICS Plus Dialogues) comprising representatives from 70 countries at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also spoke at the dialogue.

On the sidelines of the BRICS Plus Dialogue, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo exchanged pleasantries with the Bangladesh Prime Minister.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, Vice-President of Uganda, Deputy Prime Minister of South Africa, Russian Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia also exchanged pleasantries with the premier.

The Prime Minister also joined a photo session with the heads of the states and governments who arrived in Johannesburg to attend the 15th BRICS Summit.

In the Global South, the Bangladesh premier said, "We should say 'no' to artificial choices and divisions being thrown at us. We must reject attempts to weaponize universal norms and values. We need to stop the cycle of sanctions and counter-sanctions."

She said all must speak out against all threats, provocations and commission of war.

"I keep calling for channeling resources from the dangerous arms race to global public goods. We need to take responsibility for peace, justice and stability around the world," she said.

Together, all must continue to seek every one's dues for international financing and technologies and need to unite around climate justice, migrants' rights, digital equity and debt sustainability, she added.

"We must preserve the rules-based multilateral trading system with scope for using our own currencies," she said.

The prime minister arrived in Johannesburg on August 22 to attend the 15th BRICS Summit at the invitation of the current BRICS Chair and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

South Africa is hosting the historic 15th Summit of BRICS nations -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are attending the BRICS summit.

Quoting Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's speech at the UNGA, Sheikh Hasina said, "For us in the emerging world, ... we must have faith in ourselves and in our capacity fulfill our destiny and to build for ourselves a better future."

The message he (Bangabandhu) conveyed fifty years ago still rings true, she opined.

The premier thanked Ramaphosa for his invitation, saying, "I feel a personal attachment to South Africa having enjoyed the affection and blessings of President Mandela. I recall his joining our celebration for the 25th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence in 1997."

Like Mandela, Bangladesh's Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman lived a life of sacrifice for his nation, she said, adding that he spent more than 13 years in prison to secure Bangladesh people's right of self-determination.

In 1974, at the UN General Assembly, Bangabandhu condemned Apartheid as a crime against humanity and called for decolonizing Zimbabwe, Namibia and Palestine, she said.

Following Bangabandhu's legacy, she said, "We have come here to BRICS Outreach to reaffirm our solidarity with the Global South. We also maintain a spirit of friendship to all nations of the world, with malice towards none."

The lesson all take from the global health, cost-of-living and climate crises is that none of us is secure until everyone is, she said.

About Bangladesh, the prime minister said Bangladesh is now the world's 35th largest economy, with a strong commitment to sustainable development.

"We have cut poverty from 41.5% in 2006 to 18.7% in 2022. We have reduced extreme poverty from 25.1% to 5.6% in the same period," she said.

She said her government has kept its word to provide electricity to all households and are about to eliminate the curse of homelessness under her free social housing project, Ashrayan.

"Our government has built digital public infrastructures across the country. Around 108% of our population has access to cellular mobile connections, higher than the global average. In the last fiscal year, the Mobile Financial Systems recorded transactions worth US dollar 111.27 billion. This has hugely benefited our rural women among others," she said.

The premier said Bangladesh now has more girls than boys in primary and secondary schools and the average life expectancy is almost 73 years.

"Last week, we introduced the Universal Pension Scheme for 100 million people, with all the transactions taking place online. Government employees enjoy pension benefits. Our government's next target is to build a 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041," she said.

Keeping pace with the country's economic growth, she also said there is considerable merit in Bangladesh's share in the New Development Bank.

"We need predictable financing to support our investments in infrastructures, industries and clean energy. We must have viable options while waiting for reforms of the international financial architecture," she said.

Mentioning that Bangladesh has traditionally championed the cause of LDCs, with most of them in Africa, she said they feel proud to engage in UN peacekeeping and peace-building in different parts of Africa.

With 1.2 million Rohingyas from Myanmar living in Bangladesh, she said they understand the burden shouldered by refugee-hosting nations in Africa.

"We stand ready to share our expertise with the Continent on food production, affordable medicines, financial inclusion and disaster risk reduction," she said.

"We can enhance collaboration in combating terrorism, human trafficking, cyber-crimes and money laundering. We should increase air and maritime connectivity to promote mutual trade and investment," she added.

PM's daughter and Thematic Ambassador of Climate Vulnerable Forum and Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Saima Wazed, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, PM's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah and Senior Secretary of Foreign Affairs Masud Bin Momen, were present.

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