Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday (Aug 17) said Universal Pension Scheme will ensure better and improved life of everyone by bringing country's people aged above 18 under its coverage. "We have introduced the pension scheme so that every person of the country can lead a better life," she said while opening the Universal Pension Scheme virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka, local media reported.
The PM said they have initially opened the four pension schemes out of six – Pragati, Surokkha, Samata and Prabashi – while two others will later be introduced. She said people's love, confidence and trust on her and the Awami League (AL) drive her to work for welfare of the country and its people. "I request the people of Bangladesh to continue the confidence, trust and love on me in the days to come," she said.
The PM said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had the only target to give the countrymen a better life, for which, he had dedicated his entire life. "We introduced the pension scheme in the month of mourning. After seeing our efforts to give his people a beautiful and improved life, the souls of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Bangamata will get peace," she said.
Sheikh Hasina has sought blessings from the people as she can accomplish her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's incomplete tasks aimed at making the life of each people of the country meaningful. She said the country's independence gifted by Bangabandhu will not be meaningful if every person doesn't get a developed and better life.
"We can’t let the country's independence to fail and it will not be failed, even it has not failed. We have got the status of a developing nation from the least developed country following his (Bangabandhu's) ideal," she said.
She reiterated her pledge to work in continuing Bangladesh's indomitable march towards a developed and prosperous country keeping the status of a developing nation to build a hunger and poverty free "Shonar Bangla” as envisioned by the Father of the Nation.
The PM also exchanged views with the local public representatives, government officials and beneficiaries as three districts – Gopalganj, Bagerhat and Rangpur, and Consulate General of Bangladesh, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia – were connected to the event through a video conference.
The Pragati scheme will be applicable for private job holders, the Surokkha for self-employed persons, the Samata for low-income people and the Prabashi scheme for expatriate Bangladeshis.
The main target of the universal pension scheme is to bring all the citizens of the country above 18 under its coverage and they will enjoy a lifetime pension facility after being their age 60.
The age limit of pension scheme was initially fixed at 50 years which was later revised. The people above 50 years also can enjoy pension facility after paying installments for 10 consecutive years.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder also spoke. Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah moderated the function while Senior Secretary of the Finance Division Fatima Yasmin gave the address of welcome. A video documentary on the Universal Pension Scheme was also screened on the occasion.
Sheikh Hasina thanked all concerned, particularly former finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith and the incumbent finance minister to work for introducing the universal pension scheme. The premier said she wanted to open the pension scheme solely during her party's tenure as she feared no other government would initiate such a programme because they were seen exclusively making their fortunes in the past. "We wanted to introduce the pension scheme while staying in power and the election is approaching nearer. It will be good, if we stay in power, otherwise, the scheme will not see the light," she said.
Sheikh Hasina, also the Bangladesh Awami League President, said they had earlier opened a pension scheme forming Awami Foundation to provide protection to her party's leaders and activists as they were inhumanly tortured, killed and disappeared during the regimes of Zia, Ershad, and Khaleda. But, she said, they could not continue the scheme, adding that they later included the decision of bringing every person of the country to a universal pension scheme in the 2008 election manifesto.
"It is the greatest thing that we have been able to introduce the universal pension scheme for all the people of Bangladesh. It gives us self-satisfaction," she continued.
The premier also thanked the countrymen as they have shown confidence and trust on the Awami League time and again to serve them staying in power.
She said she had lost everything with the assassination of her father, mother and brothers on Aug 15 in 1975.
"I didn't get anyone, my father, mother and brothers after returning to the country in 1981. But I got the countrymen standing beside me. So, I have been working to give everyone of the country a decent life," she said.