Economy signals a turnaround, despite pandemic

Publish: 9:14 PM, May 8, 2021 | Update: 9:14:PM, May 8, 2021

Ever since the appearance of the coronavirus threat from last March, the country has heard only news of gloom or doom particularly in relation to the economy. But thanks to the prudence of our leadership, specially Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina and of course supremely the blessings of Almighty Allah, the Bangladesh economy is seen as making a significant recovery from the seemingly irresistible slump.

First of all, let us note that our country’s response to the Corona virus has not been entirely different from the rest of the world. We, no doubt, tried to restrict people’s unnecessary movement or unchecked heavy mingling of people. We declared holidays but not lockdown. But the holiday period was lifted notably quicker than expected. As a result, we could meet both ends : not shutting down the economy completely and allowing the economy to resume full activities sooner than later. The consequence have been splendid to say the least. Not only the limited or selective restrictions on mingling and travel aided mightily in keeping the infection rate low compared to other countries which applied rigorous restrictions, we could carry on economic activities and go for full fledged renewal of economic activities in this peculiar environment of ours leading to the economy coming out of hopelessness sooner than earlier expected.

The garments sector is a prime mover and achiever for the Bangladesh economy. After the unavoidable fall in garments export in April and May, the sector could show remarkable resilience and scored a decisive turnaround. This was mainly the outcome of wise and brave government policies that allowed garments industries to reopen amid the pandemic. The owners an workers showed excellent cooperation to resume work amid these conditions.

Despite a deluge of criticisms that opening of the garments sector was a very risky step, nothing of the sort happened. Owners and workers observed great discipline in meticulously heeding health warnings while working. Thus, no spike in infections among garments workers appeared while the owners could meet existing shipping orders paving the way for quick restoration of earlier cancelled orders and fresh large scale receipt of orders from buyers who had earlier lost interest on Bangladesh as the best source of supply. Not only Vietnam once again slid below Bangladesh in the list of garments supplier, Bangladesh has once again firmly reinstated itself as the second biggest exporter of garments in the world after China.

Furthermore, good news should inspire Bangladesh. China has recently withdrawn all tariff on export of Bangladeshi garments products to it. This has opened up a vast opportunity for Bangladeshi garments industries to export huge quantities of apparels into the Chinese market in no time. It is projected that Bangladesh can earn as much as $ 23 billion annually by exporting to the China market alone. Our entrepreneurs will have to add to their capacities to meet this Chinese demand.

Some other countriesareshowing great interest to invest in the garments sector of Bangladesh with thehope of sending their produced goods to the Chinese market. We believe that we can invite such foreign investments warmly. Till our garments sector acquires full capacities to supply the Chinas market fully, foreign manufacturers coming to Bangladesh will be employing Bangladeshi workers in very large number that would be very gainful from the perspective of increasing employment in Bangladesh.

As it is, the garments sector of Bangladesh has shown exceptional strength amid the pandemic by surpassing the expected export target. The latest figure available from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) showed that our garments industries could surpass the target set amid the corona situation by a robust 13.39 per cent. In sum, this sector’s total earning in financial year 2019-20, was well past the aspired target notwithstanding the shocks of the pandemic. And only a better performance is expected from it in the current fiscal year.

The country’s other major sector, remittance from our workers, showed also no great slump from the pre pandemic time. Helped by helpful governmental policies remittance flows have only gone on substantiallyincreasing for Bangladesh. Our overseas workers are taking advantage of these policies and sending more amounts through official channels that kept on swelling the foreign currency reserve. The reserve stands well above $ 43 billion, the highest ever recorded in the country’s history.

Thus, on the whole, the country’s macro economic strength has remained quite unaffected during the prevailing pandemic period and seems only set to become stronger in the near future. Exports of pharmaceuticals, leather and jute are also seen to be on the rise.

Statistics on production and marketing of all kinds of locally produced goods and services, ever since full economic activities were allowed from June, also show a glowing picture of uptrends that inspire full confidence about very satisfactory reactivation of the wheels of the domestic economy with rapid expansion of the demand situation. Needless to say, all these are optimistic signals about the Bangladesh economy notwithstanding shrilly criticisms from skeptics about the economy’s downhill course.