Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday underscored the need for making BRICS as a lighthouse in a multi-polar world to take responsibility for global peace, justice and stability.

"We need BRICS as a lighthouse in a multi-polar world. We hope to see BRICS emerge as an inclusive platform responding to our times. We must prove to our children and youth that our nations may suffer, but will not be defeated," she said.

The prime minister was speaking at the BRICS-Africa Outreach and the BRICS Plus Dialogues at Sandton Convention Centre here. BRICS is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Hasina is attending the 15th BRICS summit at Johannesburg at the invitation of host president Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.

She strongly spoke against artificial choices and divisions being thrown at the countries of the Global South.

"We must reject attempts to weaponise universal norms and values. We need to stop the cycle of sanctions and counter-sanctions. We must speak out against all threats, provocations and commission of war," she said.

She also called for channeling resources from dangerous arms race to global public goods.

"We need to take responsibility for peace, justice and stability around the world," she added.

PM Hasina said that Bangladesh has traditionally championed the cause of LDCs, most of them in Africa.

"We feel proud to engage in UN peacekeeping and peace-building in different parts of Africa. With 1.2 million Rohingyas from Myanmar living in Bangladesh, we understand the burden shouldered by refugee-hosting nations in Africa," she said.

In this connection, she said that Bangladesh stands ready to share its expertise with the Continent on food production, affordable medicines, financial inclusion and disaster risk reduction.

"We can enhance collaboration in combating terrorism, human trafficking, cyber-crimes and money laundering," she said.

The premier put emphasis on increasing air and maritime connectivity to promote mutual trade and investment.

"Together, we must continue to seek our dues for international financing and technologies. We need to unite around climate justice, migrants' rights, digital equity and debt sustainability," she told the conference.

She also demanded preservation of the rules-based multilateral trading system with scope for using our own currencies.

Talking about Bangladesh, she mentioned that the country is now the world's 35th largest economy, with a strong commitment to sustainable development.

The PM also said that the government has cut poverty rate from 41.5 percent in 2006 to 18.7 percent in 2022.

"We have reduced extreme poverty from 25.1 percent to 5.6 percent during the same period," she said.

She mentioned that her government has provided electricity to all households.

"We are about to eliminate the curse of homelessness under my free social housing project, Ashrayan," she informed.

She mentioned that around 108% of the population has access to cellular mobile connections, higher than the global average.

In the last fiscal year, she said, the Mobile Financial Systems recorded transactions worth US dollar 111.27 billion, which has hugely benefited rural women among others.

"We now have more girls than boys in our primary and secondary schools," she said.

PM Hasina said that the average life expectancy in Bangladesh is almost 73 years.

"Last week, we introduced the Universal Pension Scheme for 100 million people, with all the transactions taking place online. Government employees are already receiving pension benefits. Our government's next target is to build a 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041."

Keeping pace with economic growth, she said, the government sees considerable merit in Bangladesh's share in the New Development Bank.

"We need predictable financing to support our investments in infrastructures, industries and clean energy. We must have viable options while waiting for reforms of the international financial architecture," she said.

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