Renewing her firm resolve to build Bangladesh imbued with the Liberation War spirit, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said her government has undertaken various steps to modernise the Armed Forces so that they could move ahead keeping pace with the world.
"We've formulated the Forces Goal 2030 in light with the Defence Policy of 1974 framed by Bangabandhu so that our Armed Forces could be of international standard and more dynamic," she said.
The Prime Minister was delivering her speech at a reception accorded to the gallantry award winning freedom fighters and their successors at the Armed Forces Division premises marking the Armed Forces Day 2014.
Hasina handed over honorary cheques and mobile sets and shawls as gifts to some 59 gallantry award-winning freedom fighters and their successors, including the close relatives of the seven Bir Shrestha at the function.
She also handed over Forces Medal and Outstanding Services Medal to former and current armed forces officials for the year 2013-2014.
Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lt General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq delivered the address of welcome.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, the chiefs of the three services and high civil and military officials were present there.
After assuming office, Hasina said, her government has taken pragmatic steps to further enhance the strength and skill of the Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy and Air Force.
She said the operations of the Armed Forces are not only today limited to Bangladesh, rather they are also brightening the country's image abroad playing a strong role in the UN Peacekeeping Missions, laying down their lives, are being lauded.
"This is why we've taken steps to modernise and develop the Armed Forces so that this (Armed Forces) could move ahead keeping pace with the whole of world," she told the function.
Apart from protecting the country's independence and sovereignty, the Bangladesh Armed Forces are conducting various social welfare activities as well as contributing to socio-economic development, she said.
Hasina said her government is not only working for the development of the Armed Forces, but also for the overall development of the entire nation.
Listing various steps of her government for the welfare of the freedom fighters and their predecessors, the Prime Minister directed the Minister for Liberation War Affairs to take steps for ensuring houses, accommodations and livelihoods for each of the distressed freedom fighters at the district, upazila and union levels.
Of the 676 gallantry award winning freedom fighters, the Prime Minister mentioned, the allowances for the Bir Shrestha have been raised to Tk 12,000, Tk 10,000 for the Bir Uttams, Tk 8,000 for the Bir Bikrams and Tk 6,000 per month for the Bir Pratiks with effect from July 2013.
She said the monthly allowances for the general freedom fighters have also been raised to Tk 5,000 from Tk 900.
Hasina said the monthly allowances for the wounded freedom fighters have been raised from minimum Tk 9,700 to maximum Tk 30,000 from November 1, 2013 while the government has decided to bring the wounded freedom fighters of the Armed Forces under the state allowances.
She also listed 30 percent quota in government jobs for the sons and daughters of freedom fighters, 5 percent quota in different educational institutions for their admission, raising of the age bar of the freedom fighter government officials and employees to 60 years, ongoing implementation of a Tk 228 crore project to accommodate some 2,971 insolvent freedom fighters, completion of 15-storey residential-cum-commercial building for the wounded freedom fighters in the city's Mohammadpur area, ongoing construction of some 64 Muktijoddha Complex Buildings, construction of a permanent Liberation War museum at Agargaon.
She also mentioned the conferring of 'Bangladesh Freedom Honour' on former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, while 'Bangladesh Liberation War Honour' on 15 eminent personalities and 'Friends of Liberation War Honour' on 312 personalities and 10 organisations during her immediate past tenure for their outstanding contributions during the Liberation War.
Alleging that the industries and commercial institutions under the Muktijoddha Kalyan Trust had turned into losing concerns after the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, Hasina said her government has taken steps to turn those into profitable ones.
Hasina said the way the country's people liberated Bangladesh, her government would become victorious against poverty and it would further alleviate poverty from the present level of 24.4 percent.
The Prime Minister also asserted that Bangladesh would not lag behind, continue to move ahead and would become a hunger- and poverty-free mid-income country well before 2021 and a prosperous developed country by 2041. ?UNB