Just some time ago, the country’s foreign minister and chief spokesman for foreign affairs. Abdul Momen said that Bangladesh’s relationship with India is as close as husband and wife. We said that there was no talk about obscenity. But even then, what message did the countrymen get and what message did our foreign friends receive? Especially how they have accepted the issue of China’s Dahram-Mahram with the government; It is important to think about it. We know that the relationship between India and China is like a snake. It is not easy to balance here. Who will say whether such a statement of the foreign minister will affect our foreign relations or not? What will balance? Scholars think that talking about very important and sensitive issues of the state should be thought of thousands of times. Needless to say, his statement was not well received by the people of the country. India longs for Bangladesh’s friendship but one-sided love is always short-lived. is not permanent.
A few days later, the foreign minister addressed the United States and said, “You give a lot of advice and obstruct our work.” But I will listen to you only when you bring money like China. Considering his two touching statements side by side, it can be said very simply that there is no reason to think that this is a shrewd diplomat’s words. But he is the chief diplomat of Bangladesh government. The people of the country are often listening to the speeches of diplomats. Can we understand and learn from the second-level diplomats of different countries who sugarcoat their strategic and sarcastic statements! Our minister may not understand that there is a huge difference between the speech in the field and the language of diplomacy. In the field, the ministers are saying pour it on the head, digest it, dip it in Buriganga. The difference of the country’s chief diplomat with such a field statement is no longer detectable. Let’s go ahead and finish the last word like this. What I hear about the lack of capacity, qualified people at all levels of government, may not be completely irrelevant. Moreover, it has been increasingly criticized everywhere lately. Bangladesh has reached the level of bankruptcy not only in economic and political matters, but also in other matters, linked to our incompetence in foreign affairs.
But it is exactly Dr. Momen must have said a very true thing. That is, China is giving money to Bangladesh. No one should again misunderstand that China is giving a lot of money to this country as a grant. No, there is no reason to think so. The money that China is giving to Bangladesh, the loan is on tough terms and at high interest rates. The feeling is like this, take the money, do I go after you? It should be remembered that after giving such a loan, Bangladesh was again tied to the eighth page by China. But then it can be a big danger. One thing needs to be mentioned here, after independence some western democratic countries including USA have given huge amount of money to Bangladesh. China and Russia received absolutely no donations worth mentioning. They only gave loans on tough terms with high interest. Not only do they charge high rates of interest, but they also offer tough terms. These conditions sometimes spell disaster for many countries.
Foreign Minister Dr. Momen has been quoted as saying in reference to the United States that if you bring money like China, then I will listen to you. But the tone of his words is that China has only given us a lot of money as grants, which is not correct. From 2014 to 2018, China provided $2191 million in cable loans. In this regard, the latest study by AidData, an international research lab at the University of William and Mary in the United States, paints a picture of Chinese loans in Bangladesh. As an institution, the amount of loans taken by the Awami League government in the current term has exceeded all previous records.
The Padma Bridge Rail Link Project in Bangladesh has received the largest loan assistance from several Chinese banks for the project. Bangladesh borrowed US$2.91 billion for transport and conservation sector projects in 2021 at dollar rates. Bangladesh has taken a loan of 2.16 billion US dollars from China’s Exim Bank for the 1,320 MW Payra thermal power plant. Dhaka Electricity Distribution Authority has taken a loan of 1.15 billion dollars from the above-mentioned bank of China for capacity building and strengthening of electricity supply system. Bangladesh has taken a loan of 1.13 billion dollars from Exim Bank of China for Dhaka-Ashulia Expressway. Bangladesh has received a loan of 0.99 billion dollars from the Exim Bank of China and the Chinese Development Authority for the 1,320 MW Putkhali Thermal Power Plant.
The government is taking huge loans from China at high interest rates. This loan will be spent on the ‘development’ of the country. However, economists fear that Bangladesh may face a big danger in repaying China’s debt. Because the interest of the loan taken from China has to be paid at the rate of 2.45 percent including service charge. Besides, project parts and other products have to be imported from China. Apart from this, the interest must be paid within one month of the effective date of the contract. In addition to cost overruns in contract management and commitment ‘fees’, there will also be doubts about timely completion of projects. By doing this, the possibility of increasing the burden of foreign debt is considerable. Every Chinese loan has such obligations. The currency of Chinese debt that is talked about is a back. There is another side to that coin. Discussing that back is dangerous and touchy right now. When the time comes, someone will bring it up. But then neither lenders nor borrowers can feel any relief. Not now, I’m just tired. Looking to the future.
Not to mention a statement by the Chinese ambassador who is currently serving in Dhaka. But two things have become very clear and transparent. The Chinese ambassador said that China is ready to help the Bangladesh government overcome the serious reserve crisis that Bangladesh is facing. The first thing is that it is being said from the highest levels of the government that there is no crisis with reserves. The Chinese ambassador in Dhaka must have known this for sure and talked about Bangladesh’s crisis over reserves. Then the reserve situation is not as transparent as daylight. Secondly, the Bangladesh government’s reserve assistance means not less than a few hundred crores of taka, but not less than thousands of billions of dollars. Is it just to help a friend of China? Not at all. They will provide reserve support with strict conditions and high interest. The Chinese have already had the sixteen fun of lending to Bangladesh. China has understood that the blood of the people of Bangladesh is very sweet.
Anyway, Chinese debt is there. There is no question as to who will fill the shortfall, the state or the government, which has been forced to take loans from various countries and organizations. There is no need to dispute that the national economy is now in grave danger.
Although soft loans are still available from international lenders such as the World Bank-IMF or the Asian Development Bank, there is no end to enthusiasm and interest in taking them without trial and error. But most of our external debt is from suppliers’ credit. The disadvantage of this loan is that the suppliers are given the plant, equipment and all the equipment of the project as a loan; Higher prices than in competitive international markets result in higher borrowing costs. Everyone knows that the country’s economy is heading towards a dire crisis. There is no light to be found anywhere. That the situation is going from bad to worse has been mentioned only two lines earlier. One of the reasons for this is the stubbornness of the government.
The government says that they want to do everything for the welfare of our people. They are dedicated to the development of the people. But why don’t they want this thing, which people all over the country want right now. That is the election of the 12th National Assembly under a caretaker government. 80 percent of the people of the entire country are united in this demand. But why are they so reluctant to demand? If they are doing well, there is no question of fear. Why the government does not show such courage. Once they are not seen from afar, the barometer of their popularity is at what level.