Dhaka: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday
slammed her arch-rival Khaleda Zia of BNP for spearheading a
"misleading campaign" against the USD 1 billion loan deal with
India that has sparked a row between the government and the
main Opposition party.
"Our government has signed the deal with 1.75 per cent
interest rate and 20 years of repayment period while
Bangladesh Nationalist Party had struck another such deal with
India fixing the rate at 5 per cent with a repayment period of
15 years," Hasina said, as she flayed the BNP supremo for
leading a "misleading campaign" against the key pact.
Hasina pointed out the Zia-led government had also
signed a supplier`s credit agreement with China with 4.5 per
cent interest rate to explore the major Barapukuria Coal Mine
in northwestern Bangladesh.
Interacting with a delegation of university teachers,
Hasina joined the debate a day after Zia at a major party
rally in the capital demanded the scrapping of the loan deal,
calling it a "slavery pact".
"This is another pact of slavery signed against the
national interest the people of the country do not and will
not accept it," Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief
Khaleda Zia told a major public rally late yesterday two days
after the signing of the landmark deal.
Zia alleged that the post independence Awami League
government had signed a 25-year "slavery pact" soon after
Bangladesh`s 1971 independence while "this time too they
signed another such unequal treaty against the national
In the largest-ever loan India has given to any
foreign country, New Delhi on August 7 signed an agreement
with Bangladesh to extend a USD 1 billion credit line to Dhaka
for developing 14 infrastructure projects, mostly in the
The loan agreement was signed between the Exim Bank of
India and the Economic Relations Department of Bangladesh in
the presence of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee,
made a brief five-hour trip to be present at the signing
function of the key pact agreed during Hasina`s trip to New
Delhi in January.
The government singed the USD 1 billion Line of Credit
agreement to implement a range of projects mainly for
development of railway and other communication infrastructures
on August 7.
BNP had alleged "the government is getting the loan
from an Indian bank with an interest rate seven times higher
than that from any multinational bank or donor agency".
However, the Awami League-led government has strongly
defended the loan deal, dismissing the BNP`s charges as a
"disgusting attempt to spread falsehood."
Relations between the South Asian neighbours were
chilly between 2001-2006 when the Islamist-allied BNP was in
power in Bangladesh and New Delhi regularly accused Dhaka of
harbouring anti-India insurgents and fostering militancy.
The bilateral ties, however, have been on the upswing
since Hasina came to power after the landmark general election