Dhaka, Bangladesh
Elections among issues discussed

C'wealth SG meets PM

Elections among issues discussed

News Desk Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Thursday said her government is working for strengthening democracy and accelerating Bangladesh's development, as elections among other matters came up for discussion. She made the remarks when visiting Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland met the PM at her office in Dhaka. The country's GDP growth is now 7.78 percent, while the inflation rate 5.5 percent, she said, adding that her government is working for women empowerment at the grassroots level and now a large number of women are participating in socioeconomic development. "We're encouraging young entrepreneurs -- both men and women," PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim, while briefing reporters after the meeting, quoted the prime minister as saying. About the Rohingya issue, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is having discussions with Myanmar. The biggest worry for the government is safety of the displaced Rohingyas who took shelter in Bangladesh. She said the influx of 1.1 million Rohingyas has created burden on Bangladesh and local people are also suffering as the Rohingyas occupied their lands in Cox's Bazar. Turning to terrorism, Sheikh Hasina said her government has successfully combated terrorism and involved people from all walks of life in the movement against the social menace. "It almost turned into a social movement. We don't want to allow our children to indulge in terrorism." About election, she said more than 6000 elections - local-body polls and parliamentary by-elections - were held during the current term of her government, and all the elections were "free and fair". Patricia Scotland said the Commonwealth is ready to extend cooperation in upholding the democratic process in Bangladesh. About sports, the Prime Minister said Bangladesh Women Cricket Team has recently clinched the Asian Championship, while the Bangladesh National Cricket Team is also doing well. The government is promoting sports as a whole, she added. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland stressed the need for trade facilitation among the Commonwealth countries. She said it is imperative to reduce trade barriers among the Commonwealth countries and enhance the connectivity for the SMEs' network. Talking about cricket, the Commonwealth Secretary General stressed the need for creating Commonwealth Cricket Club and introduction of Commonwealth Cricket League with the participation of both male and female teams. "We should create Commonwealth Cricket Club...and introduce Commonwealth Cricket League," the PM's Press Secretary quoted Patricia Scotland as saying. She said the participation of women in the Commonwealth League will enhance their confidence and determination. Patricia Scotland highly appreciated the women empowerment in Bangladesh and said women should be involved in trade. She also suggested engaging women and girls in the SMEs. Mentioning that the displaced Rohingyas are burden on Bangladesh, she also praised the Prime Minister for hosting 1.1 million migrants, calling it a 'great compassion'. Scotland also appreciated the role of Bangladesh in combating terrorism and presented a copy of the Commonwealth Charter to the Prime Minister. Principal Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office Md Nojibur Rahman was present. (Inputs taken from UNB, media reports)

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