Political stability indispensable for economy
Time and again analysts and expertsstressed the point that political stability is tooessential for the needed at least 8 per cent economic growth that could take Bangladesh in time to the goal of achieving middle income country status sustainably. The concern about instability has once again become relevant when the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) seems to be girding up its loins to launch afresh another mindless upheaval in the streets in support of its various rabid demands. It appears that this political juggernaut has learnt nothing from its previous sordid experience and cares little or nothing about the economic consequences of its renewed intention to plunge the country into another upheaval. Even now the economy has not well recovered from the battering it received during 2014 and the following year. Thus, politically induced violence– reviving-would surely greatly hazard Bangladesh in acquiring the necessary annual economic growth rate to climb to a middle income country status by the targeted date.
Of course, those who are critical of views and suggestions that seem to reflect the government’s stand, they would understandably or pathologically tend to consider the above views as partisan ones aimed to promote government’s objectives.
But can we say the same about the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) ? The CPD is a highly respected leading think-tank of the country. It is particularly esteemed for its objective and unemotional analysis of the national economy, for calling a spadea spade without hesitation. Thus, when the CPD also makes observations in an analysis of the Bangladesh economy that rhyme with the above views of concern, can we then dismiss off the same so easily or as politically motivated ? The answer hardly needs an explanation ; it is self explanatory.
Not only the CPD, other well known local and international think tanks, plus our main chamber bodies, and even the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other international organizations who engage in analyses of the Bangladesh economy, they have repeatedly pointed out the imperative of establishing long lasting political stability in the context of Bangladesh for this country to economically grow and develop at a faster pace to successfully overcome its remaining problems of poverty and underdevelopment.
Underinvestment in its economy has been Bangladesh’s big economic problem in varying degrees for decades. But notwithstanding the same, our economy has been showing remarkable resilience and capacity for moving forward in recent years. The growth momentum appeared so strong that all indications were the economy was headed to achieve its highest growth rate of some 7 plus per cent in the outgoing fiscal year. That this did not happen and growth slumped somewhat in the end, was seen linked directly to the worst man-made and politically induced troubles all through from 2013-2015 particularly from the appearance of conditions that virtually brought all kinds of economic activities to a halt or near to a halt in that period.
The economy has not adequately recovered from the very bad battering it received at that time. Its lingering problem of less than the desired amount of investment has now reached a worrying level . As it was highlighted in the CPD analysis, the predicament is mainly due to investors’ lack of confidence . It is not that the traditional bottlenecks posed by government’s inconsistent policies, non availability of enabling infrastructures, paucity of financial resources for borrowing, obstructive bureaucracy, insufficient energy supplies, etc., these are also creating disincentives for investments. But these problems have been sorted out considerably in different degrees in the last two years. What then is acting so powerfully to discourage investment decisions ?
Anybody with a sensible bird’s eyes views of the investment scenario would likely not fail to note that the investment train remains largely derailed from potential investors feeling not confident about getting in the longer run not even break-even returns from their investments not to speak about decent profits out of continuing political instability. This apprehension which is scaring away investors is being caused by repeated threats by the BNP leaders that they would soon start another movement to unseat the present government from power. Therefore, it is the duty of all patriotic quarters in the country specially including the business quarters, to tell the BNP that nobody gave them any license to further destroy the economy by their so called movements started in the name of the people in which people are actually least interested.