Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has laid emphasis on ensuring transparency and accountability in development partners’ aid activities especially amid COVID-19 pandemic that pushed the global economy towards its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
The development partners should disclose publicly their spending so that tax-payers know where their tax money is being spent, he said.
The foreign minister made the remarks while joining a video conference on Wednesday with head of mission of 10 European Union (EU) countries stationed here, a foreign ministry press release said here today.
The EU countries envoys include ambassadors of Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the EU Delegation.
During the meeting, the European envoys informed the foreign minister that the EU would offer 334 million euros to Bangladesh in the coming days, with 103 million to be channeled through the finance ministry’s economic relations division.
The rest of the amount would be disbursed through different development partners here for Rohingyas and other vulnerable sections of Bangladesh population.
Dr Momen thanked them for the support and briefed the ambassadors about the steps taken by Bangladesh government in responding the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.
He also informed the envoys that the government has taken all necessary steps to contain the pandemic at the Rohingya camps in cox’s bazar as well while minimal cases of coronavirus positive were detected there recently.
The Ambassadors appreciated the initiatives taken by the government to contain the pandemic and offered helps of their countries in overcoming the challenge.
They also raised the issues related to freedom of press and Momen said Bangladesh ensured complete freedom of speech and media while the government always considers freedom of expression as an important tool for effective governance in a democratic society.
He said there are nearly 33 private TV networks, hundreds of dailies plus a flood of online services which many countries even in Europe don’t have.
However, Momen said, freedom without responsibility may result in social chaos and indiscipline.
For example, he continued, in the name of freedom of choice, no one is allowed to open assault rifle to kill people in a crowded Mall or at a public school, neither one is allowed to incite or provoke people with fabricated stories to lawlessness.
The foreign minister reiterated that EU members are Bangladesh’s long standing reliable development partners and if they have any issue, they are most welcome to share those with the government.
However, Dr Momen reminded them that Bangladesh per capita income is around 2000 US dollars with a density of population around 1200 per square mile.
“Our situation is different to that of the EU where their per capita income is around 50,000 dollars and density of population is as low as 15 per square mile. Therefore, one must be pragmatic,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen also joined at the video conference.
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