I EXTEND my warmest felicitations to my beloved countrymen and Bangla-deshis living abroad on the occasion of our Independence Day and the National Day today.

This is a day to rejoice and offer gratitude to Almighty Allah, whose immense blessing made us victorious in the War of Liberation.

Today we are proud to recollect the heroic struggle and sacrifices of the people and the freedom fighters to achieve our sovereignty and independence. The nation will always remember their sense of patriotism and heroism with gratitude. Determined efforts are being made to strengthen democracy, alleviate poverty, enhance the people's literacy, ensure health for all by the year 2000 and attain self-reliance.

The growth of our population has to be controlled to achieve sustainable economic development. Our huge manpower has to be turned into a productive workforce. Export earnings must be enhanced by finding new avenues and markets abroad.

National consensus on major issues, understanding between the political parties and unity of all can guide the nation towards prosperity.

Bangladeshis living abroad should increase their remittances and invest in the country to enhance its socio-economic development. Government is determined to bring about a qualitative change in all spheres of national life.

Today we shall have to take a fresh vow to safeguard our sovereignty and independence and consolidate democracy. We must allow democracy to flourish and function for welfare of the common people and for quicker economic growth.

ABDUR RAHMAN BISWAS President of Bangladesh