Land of impossible attainments

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 07 Nov 2018

Land of impossible attainments
Bangladesh is being tagged globally as the “land of impossible attainments”. The country has already achieved the targets set for hunger and poverty-free society under the UN Millennium Development Goals .

 The success achieved in poverty reduction has been acclaimed by the international community. Johannes Jutt, former World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, said “Against all odds, Bangladesh lifted 16 million people out of poverty in the last ten years and also reduced inequality that is a rare and remarkable achievement”.


Poverty is the single most important socio-economic policy challenge for Bangladesh which is home to a huge population of more than15 crore (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). Poverty alleviation has therefore been high on its development agenda as is evident in all plan documents. Success achieved in this regard is attributable to the present government’s relentless engagement in poverty reduction interventions. By scrutinizing poverty reduction rate for the last five years it can be envisioned that by 2021 Bangladesh would become a country free from extreme poverty.


When the Awami League government took office in 2009, around 5 crore people of the country were poor out of which 2.88 crore were in the clutch of extreme poverty. During previous term of the present government, although population growth rate was 1.16 per cent on an average, the number of poor and extreme poor came down to 3.85 crore and 1.57 crore respectively. Forty five per cent of extreme poor were pulled out of extreme poverty during the last five years.


Despite experiencing many ups and downs the country has become a global example of economic success in a short period. The country is now the 44th largest world economy in nominal terms of GDP and 33rd largest in terms of purchasing power parity. The country is classified among the 11 next emerging countries and a frontier market. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh economy was the second fastest growing economy in 2016 with 7.1 per cent growth rate.


With its emergence as one of the developing world’s biggest success stories in achieving Millennium Development Goals, Bangladesh has drawn the spotlight to emerge as a key global player in achieving the challenges that lie ahead to cross the threshold towards Sustainable Development Goals.


Bangladesh has set out on this voyage of national renascence under dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2009 when people of the country overwhelmingly banked on her ‘Charter of Change – Vision 2021’, the election manifesto of Awami League that promised to turn Bangladesh in to a middle income country by 2021. Such growing prospects have been bolstered further with the Awami League under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership assuming power for the second straight term in January 2014.


This time Sheikh Hasina promised to introduce landmark reforms such as inclusive monetary policy and lure massive foreign investment in a country that has suffered from weak infrastructure and institutional inertia. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s reform blitz has been dubbed as highly important for the unleashing of growth potential that Bangladesh has to offer.


The Bangladesh government plans to set economic growth at 7.24 per cent in the current fiscal year. The GDP growth of the fiscal year has been fixed at 7.2 per cent. The World Bank has painted a brighter picture for Bangladesh’s economy for the next two fiscal years pinning hopes on strong domestic demand, exports, investment and remittances. The Global Economic Prospects, a flagship report of the World Bank Group, said activity in Bangladesh would grow at an average of 6.7 per cent a year over fiscals 2018-20 benefitting from strong domestic demand and strengthening exports. Bangladesh is among the top 17 out of 134 countries that are projected to have a growth rate of 6.4 per cent or more in 2017-18, said Zahid Hussen, lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office.


Bangladesh economy is projected to grow 6.4 per cent in 2017-18. The seventh Five-- Year Plan aims to achieve 7.4 per cent GDP growth annually for 2015-16 and 2019-20.


Per capita income has now jumped to $ 1,610 which was $ 19 after Bangladesh emerged as an independent country. At the same time, poverty rate declined from 82.9 per cent in 1973-74 to 24.3 per cent with extreme poverty slipping to 12.9 per cent (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). Analysts are of the view that a shift from once agriculture-driven economy to a more service and industry-oriented economy led the country to prosperity.


Asian Development Bank (ADB) has projected a 7.5 percent growth for Bangladesh in FY 19 although its April forecast was 7.2 percent. In its flagship publication Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2018, the ADB has said better public investment and remittance-driven strong private consumption led it to upgrading its earlier projection. However this projection was much lower than the government-set yearly target of 7.8 percent in FY 19 and last fiscal’s record growth of 7.86 percent.


ADB Country Director for Bangladesh Manmohan Parkash, in reply to a question whether achieving 8 percent growth is possible, said it is possible but it needs efforts. In reply to another question whether the polls-centric uncertainty in an election year may tell upon growth, the ADB Country Director said they do not think upcoming polls will create any problem for the economy.


Renowned development analyst Dr Zaid Bakht thinks that two structural changes – more openness in the economy and rapid reduction in poverty – helped the Bangladesh government achieve success. “The country’s economy is now very much open in terms of the share of export-import in GDP which jumped to 40 per cent from 20 per cent”, he said. Increased openness means the country has become more efficient and competitive as both its imports and exports have grown considerably, he explained.


Agriculture, women empowerment, rural economic reforms, the role of NGOs and micro-finance played the key role in cutting poverty drastically, he observed. According to him, the structural change – declining share of agriculture to GDP – also helped the government in lowering poverty.
Noted economist Dr Shamsul Alam, head of General Economics Division of Planning Commission of Bangladesh and a top public think-tank, said Bangladesh has made tremendous economic growth, particularly in the last nine years, despite many ups and downs. According to him the country’s service sector is now contributing nearly 53 per cent of GDP with an increased share of industry which is the major shift of Bangladesh’s economy.


Bangladesh has become a low middle income country with per capita income of $ 1,610. It will become a middle-income nation if it achieves an average per capita income of $ 1,045 for three consecutive years as per the World Bank’s criteria.


Per capita income of Bangladesh is set to rise from the present $ 1,610 to $ 5,000 by 2030 and further to $ 12,000 to $ 15,000 by 2041 in line with the government’s mid-term and long term development vision, Dr Shamsul Alam informed. For doing this, maintaining social and political stability and preparing human skills for an industrialized economy will be the main challenges for the government.


Heads of States and different international agencies hoped that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would form the government again winning the next general election for the continuity of development and democracy. They expressed the hope when they separately met Sheikh Hasina at the bilateral meeting room of the UN Headquarters on September 27.


Popularity and acceptance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continue to remain on upward spiral for her role in leading the country forward, ensuring socio-economic development amid political unrest, trying war criminals and curbing violence and militancy. World leaders have praised her for playing a major role in attaining economic growth amid global recession, gaining millennium development goals, reducing poverty and curbing militancy with an iron fist.

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