Finance Minister Muhith lambasts US policy towards Bangladesh after fresh travel warning

REF: Peeved by Washington’s latest advisory to its citizens, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has ripped at the United States for its policy towards Bangladesh.

Muhith

“The US has been behaving this way since the Awami League-led government came to power,” he said at a media briefing at the Secretariat on Sunday.

His comment came when he was asked what would be the likely impact of the US’s warning on Bangladesh’s economy.

The US had issued a similar warning for its citizens immediately after the recent killing of two foreigners in Dhaka and Rangpur.

It issued the fresh security message on Saturday, apprehending future terrorist attacks against Westerners, including against US nationals.

“This is their policy. No matter how hard you try, I don’t think there will be much change in it (policy),” Muhith said in a sharp dig at the American policymakers.

“For the last seven years, the US has been continuing this policy,” he added.

Washington has not been happy with the removal of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus as Grameen Bank’s managing director. It also did not take kindly to Jan 5 elections, which was boycotted by the BNP.

Several ministers, including Awami League General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam, even recalled the hostile role of the US during Bangladesh’s Liberation War while taking a dig at the country at the time.

There is also tension between Dhaka and Washington over the Obama administration’s denial of GSP facilities to Bangladeshi products.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed claimed the reason behind the denial was political.

Asked about the US policy over Bangladesh, Muhith said it would not be able to impact Bangladesh’s economy.

“We are not losing much because of this…So I don’t see any reason to make a hue and cry over this,” he said.

Referring to the killing of foreigners in Bangladesh, he said the US also had its fair share of terror attacks and murders.

“Just count how many Bangladeshis die in New York every day. The United States holds the record of killing people, especially in the cities,” he said.

“Everywhere it happens… There can be law-and-order problem. But in Bangladesh law and order is wonderful,” he added.

About the state of economy, he said, “Though our GDP growth has been nearly 7 [percent], the IMF and the World Bank had been projecting that it would be less. Now they themselves are saying it will be 6.8 [percent].”

He termed the year “good” because of no political unrest.

Muhith, who heads a Cabinet committee set up to remove wage disparities, declined comment on the salary of the public university teachers fixed in the new pay scale.

“The education minister has already spoken about it,” he said.

He, however, added, “The teachers have taken a particular stance, which is very unfortunate.”

The finance minister said many were yet to understand the new pay scale introduced by the government by excluding time scale and selection grade.

He said the ‘misconception’ would be cleared once a gazette in this regard was published.

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