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German federal minister of economic cooperation and development Gerd Muller pay a courtesy call on prime minister Sheikh Hasina at her official Ganabhaban residence, Dhaka on 25 February 2020. Photo: PID

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday called upon the international community including Germany to mount more pressure on Myanmar government to take back its Rohingya nationals from Bangladesh.

“Rohingyas are a huge burden for us and they’re creating social problems… So, Myanmar should take back its nationals from Bangladesh immediately,” she said.

In this connection, the prime minister requested particularly Germany to play role further in repatriation of the forcibly displaced Rohingyas.

The prime minister made the remarks when visiting German federal minister of economic cooperation and development Gerd Muller paid a courtesy call on her at her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital this evening.

After the meeting, PM’s deputy press secretary Hasan Zahid Tusher briefed newsmen.

The prime minister said the exodus of over 1.1 million Rohingyas has created a big problem for the people of Cox’s Bazar as they outnumbered the local people.

She also said many are taking scopes to involve them (Rohingyas) in terrorism and human trafficking.

Sheikh Hasina said apart from bilateral discussion Bangladesh has signed an agreement with Myanmar so that they take back their nationals from Bangladesh voluntarily.

“After that Myanmar is not taking back the Rohingyas and they’re not following the deal,” she said.

The prime minister said there is a huge number of young Rohingya people who have lost their parents. “So it’s quite natural for them to be involved in terrorism and fell into the trap of human trafficking.”

“So considering their security and our security we’re erecting fence around the Rohingya camps,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has been extending all kinds of assistance to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

She said identity cards have already been provided to the Rohingyas for the security of the area.

The German minister said his country will consider how they could be involved more and help further Bangladesh on the Rohingya issue.

Muller informed the prime minister that he will visit the Rohingya camps on Wednesday. “I think that the stance of the Myanmar government on the issue might change to some extent after their election.”

The PM’s deputy press secretary said the prime minister and the German minister discussed various issues of bilateral interests including German investment, readymade garments and energy sectors development in Bangladesh and setting up of water treatment plant and climate change issue.

While the German minister talked about his country’s investment in Bangladesh, the prime minister said her government is setting up 100 special economic zones across the country. “If Germany wants, they could be given exclusive economic zone for their investment,” she said, urging the German investors to invest more in Bangladesh.

When Muller wanted to know from the prime minister about the development of Bangladesh’s garments’ industry, she said all the factories are following the standard process.

Sheikh Hasina said her government increased the wages of garment workers by 221 per cent as well as ensured their other facilities by convincing the industry owners. “The minimum wages of garment workers were only Tk 1600 when we assumed office in 2009, but we increased it to Tk 8,300.”

She said the government is also providing hostel and training facilities to the RMG workers. In this connection, the premier urged the buyers to increase the price RMG products of Bangladesh. “Though we’ve incresed the wages of the garment workers significantly, the prices of our RMG products declined in many cases.”

“As buyers you’ll have to think how much you pay,” she said.

The prime minister said her government, considering the country’s socioeconomic perspective, has given importance to technical and vocational education to create more job opportunities for the people.

“We’re setting up vocational and technical educational institutions in all upazilas of the country so that students by staying in remote areas could get this education,” she said.

The German minister said they have taken initiatives to set up a water treatment plant on the Meghna river to supply pure water among the people of southeast Dhaka at a cost of US$500 million.

He sought the support of the prime minister to expedite the process.

Sheikh Hasina assured the German minister of looking into the matter so that the plant is set up at the quickest possible time.

The prime minister urged the German chancellor to visit Bangladesh marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “We’ve already invited her to visit Bangladesh on the occasion.”

The German minister mentioned that the Chancellor will go on retirement in November next.

Sheikh Hasina said before her retirement, she could visit Bangladesh to attend the Mujib Borsho (Year) programmes and see Rohingya issues here. The prime minister requested the German minister to look into the matter with utmost sincerity. She also urged the German ambassador in Dhaka to make effective measures to this end.

Sheikh Hasina apprised the German minister of her government steps for women empowerment and development. She pointed out the economic cooperation with Germany in different sectors including passport, e-passport and other matters.

On the issue of power sector development, the prime minister said: “We’ve set up 5.5 million solar panels in remote areas of the country to ensure electricity facilities for the remote people.”

Muller highly praised the leadership of the prime minister, saying that: “You’re so popular in your country like your father.”

At the outset of the meeting, the German minister extended his heartfelt congratulations to Sheikh Hasina on being re-elected as the prime minister for the fourth time.

He also greeted the prime minister and the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of the birth centenary of great leader Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s principal secretary Ahmad Kaikaus, director general of head of Middle East, Asia, South-East and East Europe, the ministry of economic cooperation and development in Germany Claudia Warning and German ambassador in Dhaka Peter Fahrenholtz were present on the occasion, among others.

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