Column
NO LONGER A ‘BOTTOMLESS BASKET’

15 Feb 2016

#

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s description of Bangladesh as a “bottomless basket”, meaning that the country was destined to be a hopeless and endless case of international charity, has now been proven entirely wrong.

Thanks to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s initiatives and tireless efforts, the country has made rapid progress in different spheres to carve out a place of respect for itself. It has succeeded in creating an image of hard working and resilient nation struggling with the odds and coming up the ladder.

 

Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries President AK Azad said, “Bangladesh has gone a long way in last 40 years. We got independence from Pakistan. But we have superseded Pakistan in almost all sectors”.
The country pays fifty percent of the costs of its Annual Development Plan (ADP) and raises entirely the resources for its administrative budget. It is noted less and less for reliance on foreign aid for its sustenance and meeting the needs of its developmental activities.
 

 

Despite being one of the most populous countries in the world, Bangladesh has become self sufficient in food production. Its ready-made garment industry ranks among the top two in the world, just after China. Its ship-building, pharmaceutical and IT industries are fast emerging to be counted in a major way in the international scene. Present political discords and uncertainties are expected to give way to a happier time with democracy and rule of law, accountability and transparency of government, parliament etc., becoming stronger to secure future of the country.

 

An analogy between situation prevailing in 1972-73 and that of now will help clarify the development index of the country. In 1972-73 total food production was estimated at 99,30,235 tons, but now it is 347,00,000 tons. In 1972-73 the per capita income was $129 which is now $1,314. Revenue earning in 1972-73 was Tk 242 crore which is now Tk 1,63,371 crore. In 1972-73 development expenditure was Tk 462.66 crore which is now Tk 1,02,559 crore. Similarly non-development expenditure has increased from Tk 225 crore to Tk 1,84,159 crore. Besides, remittance has hiked from $ 0.80 crore to $ 1,530 crore. Foreign reserve was $ 2 crore and now it is $ 2,730 crore. GDP growth has jumped from 2.75 per cent to 6.51 per cent.

 

Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries President AK Azad said, “Bangladesh has gone a long way in last 40 years. We got independence from Pakistan. But we have superseded Pakistan in almost all sectors”.

 

Bangladesh has met many of the goals of the UN-established Millennium Development Goal (MDG), including poverty reduction, two years ahead of the 2015 deadline for faster advances towards the universal target. The New York-based Time magazine in a report published recently under the title “After Much Heartbreak, Some Good News at last for Bangladesh” and subtitled  ‘World Bank quietly announced that Bangladesh reduced the number of people living in poverty from 63 million in 2000 to 47 million in 2010, said that the country is on course to lower its poverty rate – the proportion of the population living below poverty threshold – to about 26 per cent, an improvement on the original target of 29.5 percent.

 

An in-depth study on global poverty reduction by Oxford University has certified Bangladesh as a ‘star performer’ in the struggle against poverty among other developing countries. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics provided the information from its research in 2011 that poverty rate in Bangladesh had dropped to 31.5 per cent in 2010, reflecting an 8.5 percentage point decline in the last five years. Some analysts are even suggesting that poverty would soon be a thing for the museum for future generations in Bangladesh.

 

Provisional GDP growth rate in the current fiscal year has reached 6.51% although the government was earlier hopeful of achieving 7%. GDP growth rate could have easily reached 7% had there been no loss during the period January to March 2015 due to continuing violent politics, arson attacks and vandalism caused by blockade and hartal enforced by BNP and its allies.

 

Bangladesh’s economy has achieved an average growth of six per cent over the last five years due to healthy flow of remittances and rising exports. The International Monetary Fund has projected the growth to accelerate gradually to seven per cent over the medium term. In July last year the country has graduated to a lower middle income country from a low income one.

Bangladesh has solid developmental plans as part of its mission 2021 which, if achieved, will transform it from middle to high income country. Mission 2021 has development priorities ranging from broadband growth to effective governance, to elimination of poverty to sound infrastructure and urbanization to innovation in knowledge based society. Use of information technology in poverty alleviation, health and education will help it achieve this goal. The country also plans on introducing ‘blue economy’ – a plan to harness the local economy through water resources especially through the Bay of Bengal.

 

Bangladesh has solid developmental plans as part of its mission 2021 which, if achieved, will transform it from middle to high income country. Mission 2021 has development priorities ranging from broadband growth to effective governance, to elimination of poverty to sound infrastructure and urbanization to innovation in knowledge based society. Use of information technology in poverty alleviation, health and education will help it achieve this goal. The country also plans on introducing ‘blue economy’ – a plan to harness the local economy through water resources especially through the Bay of Bengal.

 

The foreign currency reserve has increased two and half times. Economists say that exports, remittances and foreign reserves have come to form a growth triangle that helped Bangladesh pull a large part of its population out of poverty and helped it achieve UN targets two years in advance. For the first time since independence, Bangladesh has the surplus amount of $ 2,730 crore foreign currency reserves. By August, 2015 foreign exchange reserve stood at $ 26 billion. Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves are the second largest in South Asia and this has given the Hasina government the confidence to decide to fund the $ 2.9 billion Padma Bridge, the country’s biggest ever infrastructure project, with its own resources.

 

According to government statistics, Bangladesh’s per capita income now stands at $1314. The government aims to treble it to over $4000 by 2021. This success of Bangladesh has prompted many to predict a very bright future for the country in days to come.

 

Bangladesh is the first country in South Asia to achieve gender parity in primary education. Although primary education is free in the country, for girls it is entirely free until class 12, along with stipends awarded to reduce dropout rates.

 

MoneyGram, a US-based money transfer company, has included Bangladesh in its list of five fast-growing economies in the world. Brooking Institution, a US-based think-tank, said Bangladesh’s economy is 34th in the world in terms of size. In the next 25 years or so, it will become 23rd surpassing many European countries, Australia and Malaysia in terms of size.

 

Prudent macroeconomic management, financial sector reforms, deregulation, trade liberalization and inclusive social policies contributed to the creation of an environment congenial for investment. World Bank economist Zahid Hossen said, “although the average growth of six per cent is described by many as a trap, it put Bangladesh among the fastest growing countries in the world during 2004-14”.

 

In December last, the World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu said he was more upbeat about Bangladesh, adding that the country was on the cusp of a take-off and will become one of the new Asian Tigers. “Now it is time for the people of Bangladesh to feel that they have the reason to be ambitious”. The progress will be more rapid if the people realize that it is possible to grow faster onwards, he said.

 

Kaushik Basu’s visit to Dhaka coincided with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s inauguration of the construction work of Padma Bridge for which the WB promised $ 1.2 billion in credit but later cancelled it for alleged corruption. Basu remarked “It was unimaginable ten years ago that Bangladesh could undertake a project of this scale. But the country now has the means and capacity to pull off such an ambitious project”.

 

Bangladesh is going to launch its own satellite - Bangabandhu - within the next year. The vision of a Digital Bangladesh by 2021 may come through the usage of satellite, as the country has already made headway in the use of internet. Bangladesh’s own satellite would bring the entire country under internet facilities, and with the increase in internet connectivity in various areas, it would be possible to enhance industrial and farm production and bring about changes in education. With concerted efforts of the government, the vision of a developed and digital Bangladesh is not far to seek.




Video of the day
More Column News
Recent Photos and Videos

Web Statistics