ITLOS verdict to benefit generations: PMBangladesh Sangbad Sangstha . Dhaka
The prime minister on Wednesday said the recent verdict on the maritime boundary dispute in favour of Bangladesh would greatly contribute to its struggle to become a middle income country by 2021.
‘This is a victory of Bangladesh’s people and a unique spur to turn the country into a middle income one by 2021,’ she said at her address at a reception accorded to her by the business community on the occasion of Bangladesh’s winning the dispute in an international court.
She also observed that the win had opened up the door of immense potential from which the present and future generations would continue to derive benefits.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry arranged the reception at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
Foreign minister Dipu Moni, FBCCI president AK Azad, former FBCCI president Salman F Rahman, The Independent editor Mahbubul Alam, educationist professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, former caretaker government adviser Syed Manzur Elahi and FBCCI first vice-president M Jasim Uddin also spoke at the programme.
Additional secretary of the foreign ministry Khorshed Alam, also a retired rear admiral, who played the key role in the legal battle settled in the court of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, ITLOS in short, gave a power-point presentation on the subject.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said her government was implementing more programmes with the country’s own resources in a bid to reduce dependence on foreign aid.
‘We have risen the size of Annual Development Programme to Tk 41,000 crore by increasing Tk 18,000 crore in last three years and we are implementing the ADP with small amount of foreign aid,’ she said.
She also ruled out the worry expressed by some sections about the current state of the economy.
‘Our economic indexes are better despite global recession as the foreign exchange reserve has crossed $10 billion and the country clocked 6.7 per cent growth in the last fiscal,’ she said.
She also mentioned that the country’s export sector witnessed over 13 per cent growth from July to February in the current fiscal, while 42 per cent export growth was achieved in the last fiscal year and the country’s remittance flow increased by 12.50 per cent.
Having mentioned that the attempt to get the country’s deserved share of the Bay of Bengal was initiated by the founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, she said that during his tenure the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zone Act, 1974, was framed.
This act was the first of its kind in the South Asia, Sheikh Hasina also mentioned.
The PM also regretted that neither the Jatiya Party-led government nor that led by the BNP moved to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea-III.
The Awami League-led government during its last tenure ratified it which was endorsed by its cabinet in 2001.
But the subsequent government led by BNP did not make any substantial move to in this regard.
‘Even they [BNP led government] did not conduct necessary scientific survey for demarcating sea boundary,’ she said.
Having taken office in 2009, the AL government rapidly carried out the survey, she said.
‘We lodged two cases — one with the ITLOS in Hamburg in Germany against Myanmar and another with the international tribunal in the Hague in the Netherlands against India on October 8, 2009,’ she said.
ITLOS gave its verdict on March 14 this year in which Bangladesh’s claim over full 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone in the Bay of Bengal, and over a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 miles has been established.
‘The dispute with Myanmar has been resolved and the verdict of the case lodged against India is expected in 2014. If Allah blesses us we will win that case too,’ said the prime minister.
She also asserted Bangladesh’s every intention to avoid conflicts with its neighbours and settle all disputes in amicable means.
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