Finance Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said that Bangladesh's development and its economy are hampered by many challenges and some time is needed to figure out the situation.
On Sunday, his first day of work at the secretariat, Ali met and held discussions with four secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of related offices and agencies. He gave a nearly 25-minute speech after hearing the views of several officials.
Describing the context of his long tenure as a diplomat and Bangladesh's development, he said, “There were challenges then and there are challenges now. We must face these challenges to move forward. Many challenges have to be faced. Not all crises can be solved overnight. Give us some time to understand the situation.
Before entering politics, Ali studied economics and became a diplomat by profession. Before joining the Consular Corps, he briefly taught Economics at Dhaka University.
He takes the reins of the finance ministry as record inflation makes life difficult for the public, and the dollar's value and dwindling reserves become a headache for the government. Calls for reforms and good governance in the financial and banking sector have grown louder.
“Ramzan needs time to bring prices of essential commodities under control. The finance ministry alone cannot control commodity prices. We will coordinate with the Ministry of Commerce. Everything cannot be fixed overnight.”
“The work to prevent money laundering will be carried out. The price of Dhaka has come down. We have to work for that too. Let's see what we can do.
After the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine shocked the global economy. Bangladesh also felt the impact of the global headwinds.
During this critical period, AHM Mustafa Kamal's role as Finance Minister was repeatedly questioned.
For the past few years, Kamal has struggled to speak fluently during budget announcements due to age-related issues. At that time, MA Mannan, who was the planning minister in the previous government, extended a helping hand to him.
Many felt that Mannan might succeed Kamal as Finance Minister. However, both of them were eventually removed from the cabinet.
Mahmood Ali's name came as a bit of a surprise after Hasina unveiled her new cabinet line-up in a flurry of announcements on Wednesday.
Mahmood Ali was elected to Parliament for the fourth time from Dinajpur-4 constituency in the January 7 polls.
Although he was not part of Hasina's previous cabinet, he has served as a minister twice before.
In 2012, Mahmood Ali was given the responsibility to lead the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.
After one year in that ministry, he was sworn in as the foreign minister. He was instrumental in developing Bangladesh's relations with many countries for five years.
In 2014, Ali helped defuse a maritime border dispute between Bangladesh and India. Exchanges of enclaves between neighbors also took place under his watch.
Later, in 2018, he headed the Parliamentary Monitoring Committee of the Ministry of Finance, holding officials to account.
The 81-year-old politician returned to work on Sunday after being appointed to lead the finance ministry.