959Published on April 7, 2022
Bangladesh's economy has reached many promising milestones. The country is moving forward by overcoming various obstacles. The government has undertaken several mega projects. Work on the Padma Multipurpose Bridge is nearing completion. The bridge will be opened to traffic in June. This will revolutionize the communication system in the southern part of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu Satellite-1 provides comprehensive telecommunication services to all citizens (direct home TV, radio, telemedicine, education, and internet access), Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Dhaka Metrorail Project, Materbari Project are contributing to boosting the country's economy. The deep seaport construction project, Rampal coal-based power project, Bangabandhu tunnel construction project, 100 economic zones are under construction, an elevated expressway, more than three dozen high-tech parks and IT villages are being constructed. Eighth Five Year Plan has been adopted. The villages are being equipped with all kinds of civic amenities. My village is my city. Today we have become a country where it is time to keep our heads high.
So far, 3,20,062 families have been sheltered through the shelter project. On the centenary of Mujib's birth, the government has given one body to 6,179 families as a gift of the year. There are about 14,500 community clinics at the doorsteps of the people to provide healthcare at their doorsteps. The government provides scholarships and stipends to more than three crore students, various allowances to six lakh people, rice worth taka 10 lakh to 50 lakh families and subsidies to farmers in the agricultural sector. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has announced various stimulus packages worth taka 1,21,000 crore which is playing a vital role in alleviating poverty.
Bangladesh is now the third-largest rice-producing country in the world and also ranks second in terms of the growth rate of fish, meat, eggs and vegetables in self-sufficient inland waters. Today, the benefits of 'Digital Bangladesh' are spreading from urban to rural areas. The United Nations announced the transformation of Bangladesh from an LDC to a developing country in 2018. On the golden jubilee of independence, the United Nations made a final recommendation to make Bangladesh a developing country. According to the World Economic Forum by 2030, Bangladesh will be the 24th largest economy in the world. According to the second perspective plan, in 2031, there will be no one in Bangladesh who can be called extremely poor.
Per capita income, human resources and economic fragility-these three indicators determine the qualifications of developing countries. In these three indices, Bangladesh has achieved almost the desired qualification. Even in Covid-19, Bangladesh's per capita income has now stunned the world by maintaining 2554 economic continuity. Which has multiplied the acceptability. There have been positive changes in women's education, women's empowerment, healthcare and maternal and child mortality. Women are now contributing at all levels including social, political and economic interventions. Rural women are not far behind in the touch of technology. They are also moving forward on par with men. This has brightened the image of Bangladesh in the world. Bangladesh is moving forward on the path of building the golden Bengal of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's dream.
The Prime Minister has set a few milestones for the country to achieve. The first is to achieve the vision of Digital Bangladesh in 2021 which is prevailing in the society but more needs to be done.
All citizens must work for a better Bangladesh, free from hunger and poverty (SDG-1 poverty alleviation and SDG-2, zero hunger) and uphold the spirit of liberation war and secularism that Bangabandhu dreamed of. Bangladesh has limited resources and more population than land. Nevertheless, Bangladesh today is a role model of development to the world.
Most of the world's economies have seen negative growth over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This means that the gross domestic product (GDP) of these countries is lower than the previous year. Even in high-growth countries like neighboring India, the size of GDP has shrunk by about 6 percent. Bangladesh was one of the exceptions to this rule. The economy has suffered but has not shrunk in size compared to the previous year. Despite the global economic downturn in 2019-20, Bangladesh's economy did not lag.
The World Bank thinks that the growth of Bangladesh will be more in the next financial year. The company's forecast for the fiscal year 2022-23 is 7.9 percent. Exports and consumption are expected to continue. Whether the economy will continue to recover and poverty will depend on helping the affected families and businesses cope with the economic downturn.
It must be acknowledged that Bangladesh is facing many challenges on the development path. It is addressing these challenges through proper policy and planning and will continue to do so in the future. The current tariff and quota-free facility will only be available in the EU market until 2029. For this reason, preparation for the next five years is very important for Bangladesh. Economists are advising on the formulation and implementation of strong transit strategies in coordination with the SDGs, the Eighth Five Year Plan and the Perspective Plan for Sustainable Transit. To make progress in the coming days, it is recommended to pay special attention to increasing the purchasing power of the local market and people, export diversification, increasing employment, developing infrastructure, reduction of corruption, quality education, and expansion of healthcare.
Many are warning Bangladesh of the current crisis in Sri Lanka. But be careful but keep in mind that the nature of Sri Lanka's economy is different from that of Bangladesh. There is no shortage of food production in Bangladesh. Our main food is not import-dependent. The amount of export earnings and remittances in Bangladesh is increasing day by day. Bangladesh's reserves are. 44.40 billion and Sri Lanka's is less than 2 billion. Bangladesh's foreign debt per capita is not as high as Sri Lanka's. The per capita debt of Bangladesh is 292 dollars and Sri Lanka is 1650 dollars.
Bangladesh's economy has huge potential. Moving forward at breakneck speed. Covid-19 has hampered our progress a bit, but we believe it will continue to move forward in the days to come. In this case, we have a lot to learn from Sri Lanka. We will not go beyond what we can not dream. Everyone expects to undertake any development project beyond our capacity. At home and abroad, those who are by our side today as genuine friends of our economy, can withdraw their support at any time. Therefore, the government, as in the past, has to think only about the real development sector, income-generating potential sector, and poverty alleviation sector. Policymakers need to make sure that we are never in danger. In the uncertain future, even if there is a bigger push like the Covid-19 pandemic, we have to keep an eye on it so that we can cope like this time. Only then will we be able to stand in a developed country, with people from all walks of life.
Considering the economic situation, it would not be right to match Bangladesh with Sri Lanka. The society and economy of the two countries are different. They will evaluate them. Sri Lanka, which a decade ago was on the verge of emerging as an upper-middle-income country, is now on the verge of bankruptcy. The country is not getting electricity now as it cannot buy fuel. Driving is becoming difficult. Due to a lack of papers, the examination is not going to be taken in the educational institution. Commodity prices are skyrocketing. In this situation, the government is on the verge of collapse due to public protests. The crisis-stricken South Asian country has also sought a loan from Bangladesh. But considering the overall situation, Bangladesh Bank has said that they will not give loans.
Not only the financial crisis but also the growing dependence on China and the family dictatorship are being blamed for the current crisis in Sri Lanka. Bangladesh has a stable democracy, developing economy is moving forward. The economic base is also very strong. Bangladesh is researching this subject and is closely monitoring it. The economy of Sri Lanka and the economy of Bangladesh are not the same, so it would not be right to match.
The situation in Sri Lanka is so dire that inflation, high unemployment and shortages of almost all necessities have created many problems. Sri Lanka has undertaken several mega projects in their country for more than a decade which are currently considered superfluous.
Sri Lanka is currently reeling from the worst economic crisis in its 74-year history. Sri Lanka is the most advanced economy in South Asia, with a per capita GDP of over 4,000 USD. 95% of Sri Lankans are educated and their education system is the most people-oriented in South Asia. Their health system is also the best in South Asia. Sri Lanka was also a major tourist destination in South Asia. But over the years, Sri Lanka's economy has been in deep crisis. The growing shortage of imported goods in the country is ruining the lives of the people. The country has been going through a food crisis for months. With foreign exchange reserves at an all-time low, it is safe to say that they cannot deal with the crisis by importing food from abroad. The growing shortage of essential commodities has brought about an unprecedented catastrophe in public life. The line for buying various items is getting longer and longer, as a result of which the anti-government rallies of angry people are also getting bigger day by day.
The foreign exchange rate of the Sri Lankan rupee was 190 rupees per dollar a few days ago, but in the last two months, it has risen to over 360 rupees. Within the next year, Sri Lanka will have to repay 7.3 billion in interest. This means that Sri Lanka is on the verge of financial bankruptcy. Since 2009, analysts feel that Sri Lanka has to pay the ultimate price for taking projects everywhere in the form of foreign loans. Due to India's role in the Sri Lankan civil war, it began to distance itself from India and lean towards China. China also facilitates the construction of a deep seaport at Hambantota under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the construction of a Chinese city near the seaport in Colombo and the construction of the Rajapaksa airport in a forested area. Later, when the construction of the Hambantota deep-sea port was completed, it was seen that there was not enough demand for port use. Sri Lanka was finally forced to lease the port to China for 99 years after failing miserably to increase its port revenue. Some other projects are of the same difficulty.
Many people are worried about the tendency of Bangladesh to take up very expensive projects in the future as well as Sri Lanka to get trapped in the debt trap. When the World Bank canceled its decision to provide a loan for the Padma Bridge project on June 29, 2012, the Prime Minister surprised the whole world with her bold decision to build the Padma Bridge with his funds. That one decision has forever changed the image of Bangladesh's international floorless basket in the world. The Padma Bridge road will be opened for traffic on June 30. There are many more mega projects. But many have suggested that we have to learn from Sri Lanka's bankruptcy and economic collapse. However, our firm belief and expectation is that Bangladesh will be Bangladesh, not Sri Lanka. The soil under our feet is hard.
Writer: Columnist and Researcher