President Mohammed Shahabuddin on Tuesday called upon the political parties to carry out non-violent constructive programmes to uphold constitutional rights of the people and democracy in the country.
"Polls boycotting parties are staging political programmes fully independently . . . I hope the parties to shun the path of violence, anarchy and conduct non-violent constructive programmes for people's welfare and democracy," he said.
The head of the state said this while delivering his maiden speech at the first session of the 12th Jatiya Sangsad (JS) this afternoon.
He also suggested the government to show restraint, saying political stability should be maintained to continue this ongoing trend of development in Bangladesh.
"The democracy must have to be shaped institutionally strong and the practice of democracy will have to be spread to the grassroots for permanent and sustainable development," he added.
The president asked all concerned to remain more careful so that no one can create anarchy in the name of movement and harm people's lives and livelihood anyway.
He underscored the need for reforming the country's financial sector and taking necessary strict measures against all sorts of corruption.
Mohammed Shahabuddin also urged the people to be more vigilant against all rumors and misinformation and said everyone should have to be more careful about the people's rights and none, as if, could take away it by hatching conspiracy.
The president called on the ruling and opposition parties to play a constructive role in successful implementation of the dreams and aspirations of transparency, accountability, complete tolerance, consolidated human rights and the rule of law and the progress of the nation.
He said people expect that the country's political parties will stand by them with a liberal and positive attitude for the smooth ways of democracy and development.
"It is natural that there will be differences in political principles, ideals and opinions . . . But the people don't expect any disagreement in turning parliament into the focal point of democracy and development," the president noted.
Terming this JS as 'the bearer of all expectations of the people', he said people hope that the Jatiya Sangsad would play a proper and effective role in the welfare of the citizens by giving utmost importance to the people's needs.
The head of the state said an uncertainty is looming large in the global economy due to geopolitical reasons. "If the global economic crisis occurs, it will also affect us and for this, we must have to take necessary preparation", he observed.
President Shahabuddin said the use of advanced agricultural technology should be increased while agricultural storage and agro-processing industries should be developed.
Along with the developing of skilled human resources, he stressed exploring new labor markets for exporting skilled manpower.
On the English New Year and the opening of the first session of 12th JS, the president extended his warm greetings and congratulations to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the newly formed government, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and all Members of Parliament (MPs).
He also thanked the Election Commission (EC) and all concerned parties such as public administration, armed forces division, law enforcement agencies, other forces and the media for helping hold a free, fair and impartial parliamentary election by upholding the constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh and continuing the process of parliamentary democracy.
Referring to the twelfth national parliament election as a landmark event for the country's democracy, the head of state said all steps taken by the government and the election commission had been worthwhile due to the spontaneity and active participation of the common people.
The president said soon after the brutal assassination of Father of the Nation and most of his family members on August 15, 1975, the way for the development and progress of the newly-independent Bangladesh was stopped.
However, Bangladesh has become a 'role model' in the world due to continuous development in the socio-economic field in the last decade and a half, he added.
"Our goal is to establish a developed and prosperous Bangladesh by 2041. After building Digital Bangladesh, the four pillars of Smart Bangladesh-Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Social System have been announced to build a smart and technology-based advanced "Smart Bangladesh", the president mentioned.
He also apprised of initiatives taken to impart training to the youth with various elements of the fourth industrial revolution.
This is the first speech given by Mohammed Shahabuddin in Parliament as the 22nd President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury of the 12th national parliament chaired the session starting at 3 pm. In his written speech, the President highlighted the various development activities of the government and said due to the firm, strong and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, unprecedented development has been achieved in all sectors including the socio-economic sector in the last one and a half decades.
He said as a result of taking integrated initiatives for the implementation of Digital Bangladesh, almost all sectors including, agriculture, education, health, economy, business and commerce, banking, administration, innovation, skilled human resource development, digital economy, information and communication technology industry have improved equally.
"During this time, we have been able to reduce the poverty rate from 41.01 to 18.07. The unemployment rate was 4.10 percent in 2010, which has decreased to 3.2 percent today," the President told the parliament
The literacy rate was only 45%, which has increased to 76.8%; life expectancy has increased from just 59 years to about 73 years. Maternal mortality has reduced significantly and Bangladesh has been awarded the MDG due to its success in reducing infant mortality, healthcare has reached people's doorsteps, he continued.
The President said despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, the average GDP growth in the last one and a half decades is more than 6.7 percent. At this time, the per capita income of the people of Bangladesh increased four times to 2793 US dollars and the size of the national budget increased more than ninth times to 7 lakh 61 thousand 785 crores.
Highlighting the social context of the country at present, he said the annual export of Bangladesh has increased almost four times and currently stands at 55.56 billion US dollars. The allocation for social security programmes has continuously increased to BDT 126 thousand 272 crore in the current financial year for about 10 crore 61 lakh beneficiaries.
With the aim of inclusive development, last year, for the first time in Bangladesh, a universal pension scheme has been introduced for all citizens above 18 years of age, except government employees, he added.
Bangladesh has already achieved self-sufficiency in food production increasing the production of various crops including rice, corn, potatoes, vegetables and mustard.
"Food security prevails in the country despite the global crisis. Currently, Bangladesh ranks third in rice production, second in jute production, second in freshwater fish production and first in the world in Hilsa production," the president mentioned.
Shahabuddin said the country's power generation capacity was only 4 thousand 942 mega watt in 2009, which has now increased to 29 thousand 727 mega watt, including captive and renewable energy. However, hundred per cent people are being provided with electricity facility.
The under-construction prestigious Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is expected to supply electricity to the country's national grid this year, he said.
The head of the state said despite the gradual decrease in the amount of agricultural land, Bangladesh has become self-sufficient in food production ensuring food security despite the global crisis because of the increase in productivity following various agriculture-friendly policies.
He said that currently, Bangladesh ranks third in rice, vegetable and freshwater fish production, second in jute production and first in Hilsa catching in the world. Bangladesh has achieved self-sufficiency in fish, meat and egg production.
The President said revolutionary development has been achieved in the communication sector. The iconic Padma Bridge, Payra Bridge, Second Meghna, Second Gomti, MRT Line-6, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel under the river for the first time in South Asia and Dhaka Elevated Expressway along with numerous bridges, roads, and highways were constructed, rebuilt.
About the tremendous progress in railways, he said the amount of railways as a modern public transport has increased by one and a half times to 3 thousand 486 kilometers in a decade and a half.
Noting that Bangladesh is at the top of South Asia in terms of gender equality and women's political empowerment, the President said the number of reserved seats in the JS has been increased to 50 for women empowerment.
The President said the implementation of Digital Bangladesh is one of the best achievements in 53-year Bangladesh history after independence. Some 17 crore people of the country are enjoying its benefits. Currently, ICT exports amounts to 1.9 billion dollars.
He called upon the MPs to play a constructive role in the JS standing committees related to various ministries to ensure the transparency and accountability of the government.
The President said, "We have to make more progress to build the Sonar Bangla envisioned by the father of the Nation Bangabandhu but there may be very tough challenges in days to come."
He urged all to be always careful in this connection. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was present at the first session while president's wife Dr Rebeka Sultana witnessed the House proceedings on the day.