Bangladesh is now accredited as one of the next 11 emerging economies. Very few people envisioned in 1971 that 45 years later Bangladesh would encompass almost $32 billion reserve.
Overcoming myriad crisis, Bangladesh has indeed made substantial progress during the past four and a half decades. Now Bangladesh aims to be a middle-income country by 2021.
Its per capita income is now 1466 us dollar and foreign investment is nearly $2.23 billion. Women participation in labour force has increased to 41%, literacy rate to 63% while school dropout rate has reduced to 20.4%. There are now 143 schemes of social safety net. Poverty rate is also on the decline.
It means our country is experiencing economic boom. Six ongoing mega projects testify such claim. First of all, with a cost of $2.9 to $3.7 billion, Padma bridge is expected to open before the end of 2018 linking Louhajong, Munsiganj to Madaripur and Shariatpur. Mass people of southern region will get maximum benefits from it. Secondly, Metro Rail Project (rail route from Uttara to Bangladesh bank) will smoothen the communication system within the capital. Thirdly, Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant will bring about some huge changes in the national power productivity. Moreover projects like Rampal Power Project, Paira Deep Sea Port and Matarbari Coal Power Plant will definitely change our economic condition for better.
Though all these are yet to complete, but when these projects will end, these will massively affect the economic growth of the country. Bangladesh is also a leading global exporter of ready-made garment products. McKinsey recently predicted that apparel exports could gross $36 billion by 2020. Goldman Sachs highlighted Bangladesh as one of the next 11 emerging economies and JP Morgan identified it as a ‘Frontier Five’ regarding the booming economy.
Moreover relations with India and China have opened avenues of cooperation due to the landmark visits of our prime minister to both these countries. Relationships with Myanmar and Bhutan have considerably been improved.
The government has tackled the chronic power and energy scarcity taking different short, mid and long-term plants. Now Bangladesh can generate 14980 megawatts power. The telecom sector, with nearly 100 million cell phone subscribers, has attracted FDI. Now the number of internet subscribers are 6.36 crore.
Apart from these achievements, Bangladesh has also taken a leading role in the UN peacekeeping missions to enhance peace, promote dialogue and encourage cooperation. Bangladesh has become a brand name in UN peacekeeping as a top contributor participating in more than 51 missions involving 1,21,407 peacekeepers since 1988. Bangladesh is also the birthplace of microcredit, pioneered by the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Professor Muhammad Yunus – the founder of Grameen Bank. The Bank’s approach has been replicated in more than 100 countries.
About 10 million Bangladeshis are now working overseas in 155 countries. The reserve of the country has reached 31.7 billion dollars, according to the data provided by Bangladesh Bank in the last month, because of their remittance.
However Bangladesh has some challenges as well. The political scene during the last few decades has been full of bitterness, animosity and violence. There is little energy left for giving constructive views on the national issues in the parliament. We should not forget that democracy consists of free media, rule of law, transparency of all government decisions, accountability of the government to the mass people and independent judiciary. Peaceful co-existence, tolerance and mutual respect are the basic elements of democracy. And these are also essential for ensuring a booming economy.
Meanwhile the widening disparity between rich and poor within the country is shattering the dream of the mass people. According to Bangladesh Economic Association, 50 percent people are landless, while 6.2 percent families own 40 percent of the total land in the country. It is also mentionable that corruption has been widespread in the country. Combating corruption is necessary for stimulating economic growth and social development.
Under such circumstances a few steps may help us to get rid of these problems. Firstly, the government will have to ensure a stable political situation. Secondly, experts have opined that information and communications technology (ICT) will be a crucial sector for economic development in Bangladesh. So Bangladesh has to focus on service sector through information and communications technology. Thirdly, remittance earning may increase if the government could send more skilled and trained workers abroad. In that case the overseas employment ministry needs to be more active in encouraging vocational training.
Finally, Bangladesh must create adequate jobs for its unemployed population to defeat poverty. Over 2 million labour forces join Bangladesh job market every year. New job opportunities should be created for them so that they can also contribute to the economy. In the meantime government will have to encourage local and foreign investments