Hiren Pandit: The New Year 2023 begins with a pledge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by leaving no one behind by achieving the 2030 Agenda. Several mega projects have been started for the development of the country for the last couple of years. The long-cherished Padma Bridge and Metrorail were inaugurated last year which has been changing the economy of the country. 10 mega projects and 100 economic zones are going on at a fast pace. These 10 mega projects will play an important role in laying the foundation for sustaining the high growth trend in the future
Since its independence in 1971, the economy of Bangladesh has made significant progress. When Bangladesh appeared as a new country on the world map in 1971, many doubted its economic viability. But there is no economic or social indicator of the country that has not progressed even the biggest critics are now praising Bangladesh. Economists say that Bangladesh’s achievements in 52 years are incredible. Bangladesh has done what the world could not imagine. The garment industry of Bangladesh is one of the largest industries in the world.
Bangladesh has started to turn around again under the competent, efficient and prudent leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Her dynamic and energetic strong leadership from 1996 to 2001 and from 2009 till now has radically changed Bangladesh. The country has set a shining example of sustainable development. The economy of Bangladesh has gone from a weak, underdeveloped, shaky state to a strong one. Every day new aspects of the modern transformation of conventional infrastructure are unfolding. A renaissance has taken place in previously neglected sectors or businesses. A handful of immense possibilities are inspiring and exciting to the people of this country. Those potential sectors which have been nurtured for a long due to neglect are gradually waking up.
Sheikh Hasina, the pioneer of development and the leader of developed Bangladesh, has always been called upon to advance those possibilities with the necessary cooperation and patronage. Providing instructions to concerned government departments, and ministries from time to time. As a result, new sectors of potential are emerging. Potential new sectors playing a very strong role in achieving prosperity Bangladesh’s story and prospects are impressive. The country has achieved self-sufficiency in food production and has become a role model in disaster management.
Bangladesh has empowered its women and reduced infant mortality. The story of Bangladesh is how the country beat all odds and self-financed billions of dollars to build a bridge over the mighty Padma River. The story revolves around its growing portfolio of mega-structures and the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 and plans for a second. The story of Bangladesh is about the migration of millions of Bangladeshis who are increasing the country’s foreign exchange reserves by sending huge amounts of remittances. In 2020 alone, the Bangladeshi diaspora sent 20 billion dollars to the national treasury.
Bangladesh’s evolution from a classic debt-dependent, fragile economy to a respectable growth rate and a confident future is no miracle. This evolution is possible because of Sheikh Hasina’s vision. She took the country from being mostly aid-dependent to one that relied on its resources. Singlehandedly, she took Bangladesh into the digital age, nuclear energy age, and space technology age. Under her steady and pragmatic leadership, the country has successfully tackled terrorism, extremism and tackled climate challenges. Bangladesh is considered a stable and prosperous young country in the world. It fulfills its international obligations, observes international treaties and respects the cultural rights of all people. If we proceed with Bangabandhu’s firm commitment to build Sonar Bangla, our beloved motherland Bangladesh will become a developed and smart country by 2041 by achieving the SDGs by 2030. Digital Bangladesh is already working to improve and modernize the quality of life of the citizens and facilitate the citizens. Services, education, health, management, working methods, industry, trade and production, economy, social and cultural life in digital mode. As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, arrangements are being made to reach the marginalized as well. Technology has become a trusted medium in all civic services and livelihoods.
In the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IT sector of Bangladesh has focused on various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh is trying to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index for the next five years. The One Country One Rate program brings internet access to people at an affordable cost. More than 5,000 unions have come under the umbrella. 5G has been launched last year experimentally.
With the help of information technology, young people are building small and large IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services and other enterprises. Besides, some major achievements including Bangladesh’s first satellite in space have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the world.
Bangladesh’s position in the world economy is now 35th. Bangladesh is now the fifth fastest-growing country in the world. The once ‘bottomless basket’ is set to become the world’s 25th-largest economy by 2036. But soon after independence, there were concerns about the economic future of Bangladesh. This concern was mainly spread by the Pakistan government which was defeated in the war of 1971.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “We have won the great liberation war. We are a victorious nation. As a victorious nation, we can walk with our heads held high in the court of the world. We will not bow down to anyone. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu has repeatedly said that we are glorious in our glory in the World Assembly. We will build ourselves up and walk with our heads held high in the world. Step for the people of this country. This is how our beloved motherland Bangladesh built by Bangabandhu will move forward. Sheikh Hasina urged the people of the country to work for a developed Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty, Mujibur Rahman used to dream.
There is a renaissance in sectors or businesses that were previously languishing in neglect. The people of this country are motivated and interested. Those potential sectors that are nurtured in neglect, and carelessness are gradually waking up. Giving instructions to the concerned government departments, offices, and ministries occasionally. As a result, new sectors of potential are developing. Promising new sectors are playing a very strong role in achieving the prosperity of Bangladesh, in the unstoppable progress. The people of Bangladesh are not in any way incapable, weak or untalented. They can work hard. Men and women of different classes and professions who previously kept themselves imprisoned in the net of unemployment, poverty and helplessness, are now using their talent, intelligence, strength, courage and hard work to set new paradigms of possibilities.
A new threat to global food security is the Russia-Ukraine war. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis is not limited to these two countries. It is already having an impact on the global economy, which was feared at the start of the war. Sanctions and counter-sanctions in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war are disrupting the production and supply of food, fertilizer, electricity, energy and other goods around the world. Due to the impact of war, countries like Bangladesh are suffering the most. The prices of essential items are going beyond the purchasing power of most common people. Emphasis must be placed on strong political commitment and global solidarity. The war in Ukraine and the resulting crises have created profound problems in our society and economy, especially in developing countries. This is emerging as a new challenge in efforts to recover from the Covid-19 situation and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We are following specific fiscal measures in Bangladesh to ensure macroeconomic stability and keep inflation under control. Our social security program has been expanded manifold. Assistance is provided to protect agriculture, a small cottage and medium industries and other vulnerable sectors. Specific plans have been taken to increase the share of renewables in the energy sector.
Traders are dreaming of buying LNG for business. But with the money that the government is buying, it has provided much less than the cost. Foreign exchange reserves rose to USD 48 billion during the Covid-19 period. Because most of the remittances were channeled through banking channels ignoring the illegal hundi process and the expenditure from reserves also decreased at that time.
Businessmen have to find new markets along with the production of new products. The current government is business-friendly. The government is working so that businessmen can conduct their business properly. The government’s target is to increase export earnings to 60 billion dollars by 2023. Many agricultural products are now exported from Bangladesh. We now have to focus on exporting more products abroad. However, we still need to do a lot for this. The government is paying attention to these aspects.
We have to rethink what exportable products we can produce. This business-friendly government has taken Bangladesh a long way in the last few years. Despite the global economic recession, as growth has increased, so has the socio-economic situation. Inflation is under control. The per capita income of people has also increased, and the poverty line has decreased. Now Bangladesh is one of the lists of developing countries. That is why political stability and continuity of government is a big issues. The culture of our country is that when the government changes, all the functions of the government are changed.
We need to pay attention to climate change, restoration of political stability, creation of jobs for educated unemployed youths, dissemination of the spirit of liberation war among new generations, and ensure a free, fair, and participatory election for the continuation of the development and move the country toward a smart Bangladesh by 2041.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist
and a researcher.