Wednesday, 17th August, 2022
Wednesday, 17th August, 2022

Bangladesh’s development not a ‘paradox’, says Mannan

The economic development of Bangladesh is not a “paradox”, rather it is the result of the hard work of the people, proper policies, and the initiatives of entrepreneurs, Planning Minister MA Mannan said on Tuesday.

He also said the world is praising Bangladesh for its success even amid the pandemic.

“The IMF has given recognition to how Bangladesh has maintained the growth,” he added while speaking as the chief guest at a virtual event titled “After the Pandemic Onslaught – Economy on Strong Recovery Path,” organized by the Policy Research Institute (PRI) of Bangladesh.

“Terming this economic development as ‘paradox’ or ‘magic’ is an insult to the working people of this country; the state of today’s economy is the result of hard work,” Mannan further said.

Economic development has continued amid the pandemic due to the decision of keeping factories operational, and the uninterrupted transportation of goods, agricultural products and equipment, he added.

“Bottomless basket is now a disgusting word in the country, thus forgetting the words ‘paradox’ or ‘magic’ we will give proper status to the labour force,” he also said.

The minister also urged private sector entrepreneurs to work for the welfare of the country and its people, adding that the government and entrepreneurs must work together.

“Entrepreneurs in the private sector have to take initiative for skill development of workers according to their own needs and for this the government will provide all support,” he added.

Mannan said that the independent research institutes like PRI should also be enterprising in order to determine the limitations of governmental policies and inform it.

He also said all have to work for the development of living standards, must be proactive in tackling climate change and the challenges associated with it, and give importance to agriculture.

Zaidi Sattar, chairman of PRI, in his keynote presentation, discussed key issues including a snapshot of the economy, growth performance in the post-Covid-19 global context, which shows strong recovery under way, not a fragile one.

In 1972, the per capita GNI of Bangladesh was $90, which is currently $2,554, Sattar noted, adding that the size of the economy is $411 billion, which may cross $500 billion in FY23 — it was only worth $6.3 billion in 1972.

Total export in 2021 was $38 billion, which was $355 million in 1972.

However, the previous fiscal year had also seen a 5.43% real GDP growth, 30.76% national investment rate, and 32.22% national savings rate.

Bangladesh exported goods worth $36.90 billion in FY21 and imported goods worth $60.7 billion. The foreign exchange reserves were worth $44.88 billion as of November 2021, and remittance influx was $24.78 billion in FY21, the keynote presentation said.

The first half of FY22 has seen export of $24.70 billion (28.41% growth), import of $23.90 billion (51.40% growth), and remittance inflow of $8.63 billion (negative 20.98% growth).

In FY22, the GDP of Bangladesh is projected to grow by 7.2% by BBS, 6.4% by the World Bank, 6.5% by the IMF, and 6.8% by the ADB, said the keynote.

Sattar also said that the exports are on track to achieve 25.30% growth in FY22, which is a sign of strong recovery.

And according to the BGMEA, this is not just volume growth, as prices have increased by over 10%.

The PRI chairman concluded that Bangladesh is no longer a “test case of development”.

“It is a success story of development, described as a ‘development paragon’ by a leading development economist,” he said.

Dr Monzur Hossain, research director of BIDS, said that Bangladesh’s exports have turned around as the global market system is backing normalcy.

“Vaccination has also played an important role in the country, especially in increasing the confidence of the people,” he added.

He also said that various government policies have played an important role in this export boom, like keeping the export-oriented industries operational, giving incentives, etc.

However, Bangladesh has to formulate a policy based on the lessons learned from these two years of experience, he suggested.

Sayema Haque Bidisha, research director of SANEM, said that agriculture needs to be focused on as it has ensured food security during the pandemic.

“The economic recovery is not the same for everyone. The SME sector is lagging behind in this process. We have to look at all these sectors, like CMSMEs, agriculture, etc.,” she added.

She also suggested paying more attention to long-term effects of the pandemic and to formulate better and effective policies.

Faruque Hassan, president of the BGMEA, said that Bangladesh has been fighting the pandemic for two years and for 2022, they have many new expectations.

“The apparel sector of the country has come to the current stage after facing various challenges,” he added.

He also said that the sector has become child labour-free, compliant, and one of the most sustainable and safest industries in Bangladesh.

“After a drop and then a turnaround, 2021 was a promising year for the apparel sector. And in December, exports exceeded $4 billion,” he added.

However, 2022 is still an uncertain year with many new challenges, including the supply chain systems, raw material price hikes, delayed payments, deferred payments, discounts, etc.

The speakers also said that Bangladesh is no longer remembered as an impoverished and resource-poor nation subjected to frequent natural calamities.

Rather, it is hailed by international analysts for its economic progress as a dynamic exporting economy and for its successful fight in reducing abject poverty of millions.

Dr Ahsan M Mansur, executive director of PRI, delivered the introductory and closing remarks, while Waseqa Ayesha Khan, MP, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, president of FICCI, and Fazlul Haque, managing director of Plummy Fashion, were also present at the event.

Share this post: