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Bangladesh toasts economic achievements

Update: March, 26/2014 - 10:13
Rising star: People enjoy Bengali New Year in Bangladesh, which takes place in April, the first day of the Bengali calendar. The festival coincides with the New Year's days of numerous Southern Asian calendars. — Photo courtesy of Bangladesh Embassy

To mark Bangladesh's National Day today, Viet Nam News presents some words from Professor Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka.

Bangladesh aims to become a middle-income country by 2021 as the nation celebrates 50 years of independence. The future potential of the Bangladeshi economy is attracting increasing global attention.

The inclusion of Bangladesh, according to several projections, as one of the prospective next 11 emerging world economies reinforces these aspirations. Bangladesh's track record of achievements in different sectors and according to various performance indicators bear evidence that she is making impressive and encouraging progress.

In 20 years, Bangladesh has accelerated GDP growth from less than four per cent a year to more than six per cent. Per capita national income has increased at an even higher rate thanks to the robust flow of remittances from expatriates. This has reduced the percentage of population living below the poverty line by almost halve to about 31 per cent compared to the early 1990s.

Bangladesh has made a commendable transition from a predominantly aid-dependent economy to a trading nation, with the share of aid as a percentage of GDP coming down from about six per cent in the 1980s to less than two per cent in recent times. The nation has taken advantage of globalisation to increase earnings from the export of goods and services.

The combined net foreign exchange earnings from exports and remittance are at present about 15 times more than the aid we receive annually. Bangladesh has established herself as the second largest exporter of apparel in the world after China. Our shipbuilding, footwear, pharmaceutical and other non-traditional exports are showing encouraging signs. Farmers have increased grain production by more than three-fold since independence, enabling Bangladesh to move towards food security.

Our economy has demonstrated impressive resilience in the face of multiple global and financial crises. Bangladesh's track record in attaining key Millennium Development Goals in poverty alleviation, gender parity, and access to health and education has received high global acclaim. The nation has made impressive progress towards attaining most of the targets by next year.

All these achievements were made possible by supportive government policies and targeted resource allocation, the hard work of farmers and workers - both at home and abroad, the contribution of the private sector and vibrant entrepreneurial class, and the proactive role of non-government people in the disbursement of micro-credit, the development of micro-enterprises and raising consciousness about economic and social issues.

There is widespread confidence among our citizens that Bangladesh's time has come, but also that the window of opportunity is narrow and that we will need to move really fast. It will become important to make investments for translating the demographic dynamics into human resources capable of contributing to the transformational journey.

This will call for significant structural changes in our economy, which will necessitate a blending of the advantages of information and communications technology, human-resource development and productivity gains. Both the public and private sectors will have to ensure that the investment-GDP ratio is raised to 32 per cent. Of critical importance here will be our ability to undertake the huge investments required for infrastructure development, greater connectivity and new power generation.

Ensuring higher domestic investment, attracting more Foreign Direct Investment, getting our diaspora involved in Bangladesh's development, developing public-private partnerships and creating opportunities for our young generation of entrepreneurs and innovators will be important.

We will need to come out of the business-as-usual mode and think strategically if we are to generate the needed momentum to be a middle-income country by 2021. — VNS


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