Bangladesh cannot import the development formula of another country: PM Sheikh Hasina's exclusive interview in the Whiteboard Magazine


Published on March 20, 2024
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In an exclusive interview with the country’s first policy magazine WhiteBoard, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina explained her priority goals in setting out long term policies that have led to a rise in living standards in the youngest nation in South Asia.

“The Bangladesh model, is based on certain indigenous values and policy continuity. Policy-makers have to factor in issues like our strategic location, our topography, our people’s needs, our history, our environment and our resources. A foreign prescription for development never works,” explained Sheikh Hasina, currently the longest serving female head of state in the world.

“Our country’s governance will be based on our priorities alone. In other words, Bangladesh cannot import the development formula of another country,” added the premier.

She also laid focus on the need for having an open mindset to learn about developments taking place around the world.

“This doesn’t mean we shut our eyes to developments across the world. We have to study the good practices of different countries to repurpose them for our needs,” she said.

Under her watch, Bangladesh has become a top performer in attaining MDGs and overcame countries in South Asia in human development indices. In the interview, her economic policy approaches have been illustrated in depth that policy experts say offer a lesson for the country’s future policymakers.

In response to another question on foreign partners influencing the country’s economy, she referred to it as a “deep-rooted dependency” and said, “Foreign dependency has been reducing, and this is because of a deliberate approach by my administration.”

“In this effort, you have to start viewing yourself as an equal. These issues need to be tackled in a nuanced way. Political leadership and money play a big role here.”

In the space of more than five decades, Bangladesh has come a long way from rules of military dictators that economists often describe as “worst stints when policymakers succumbed to foreign pressures.”

Not to be outdone at foreign prescriptions to shape policy reforms, Sheikh Hasina has earned a repute of putting the national interest as foremost priority as demonstrated by the construction of Padma Bridge and rolling out of an unprecedented scale of safety nets.

Read the full interview here:

“When other administrations formulated a budget for development projects, the lion’s share would come from foreign financing. Their fiscal policy was essentially ‘donor-dependent.’ On top of this, public spending capacity was miniscule. I flipped this policy by rejecting foreign-borrowed money that makes us dependent,” the PM told WhiteBoard.

Focusing on approaches by her government, she added “My administration accelerated the borrowing from our domestic sources. At least the money will circulate within our own borders. This long-term policy has yielded results. Now you will see that the lion’s share of our public spending comes from our own domestic resources.”

In addition to the interview, the latest issue of WhiteBoard features an array of insightful articles from experts on wide ranging issues including Bangladesh’s export diversification drive, Sheikh Hasina’s diplomatic doctrine, and way forward to reduce gender disparity.

Strategy consultant and youth advocate Radwan Mujib Siddiq, a trustee of Center for Research and Information (CRI), who is the editor of WhiteBoard, shared the link to the interview with the comment: “Don’t miss the latest issue of WhiteBoard out now”.

The interview has already been shared widely on social media. ICT Affairs Advisor to PM, Sajeeb Wazed, who has been credited with transforming the country’s digital landscape shared the link on his social media accounts as well.