Nearing the vision of a Tiger economy

Publish: 8:09 PM, December 17, 2022 | Update: 8:09 PM, December 17, 2022

As we celebrate today the 51st Victory Day or final triumph in our freedom struggle of 1971, we feel confident to face the future. Bangladesh has come a long way in the struggle to win also freedom from poverty and underdevelopment. From (Least Developed Country (LDC) status we have proudly entered the rank of a developing country and a middle income country. The growth of the Bangladesh economy has been without a pause in all these years.
The crucial foreign currency reserve was some 5 billion US$ only in 2008 in Bangladesh when the previous BNP led government departed from power. But according to our media reports , the vital foreign currency reserve remained above US$ 43 billion even after paying the three monthly regular payment of US$ 718 million to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) in the last quarter of the present year.
One may say that US$ 43 billion is not a very big amount of money. But the point is, compared to the past when our reserve used to be meager and sometimes even slid below the amount required for three months of import operations, today the reserve is not only more than eight times larger but nearly all of it is composed of the country’s own earnings from export activities and remittances from workers.
If we look at the US$ 5 billion or so reserve left by the previous BNP government, then even that far smaller reserve reflected foreign loans and aid which were added to it. But in contrast, the very substantially increased reserve-nowadays-is almost entirely the outcome of proceeds from higher and higher export earnings and workers’ remittance inflow.
Bangladesh’s much bigger foreign currency reserve underwrites the present economic security of the country convincingly. What is notable this sound reserve position just did not happen automatically. It is the outcome of commendable implementation of policies in different fields by the government.
Usually, a country must have a foreign currency reserve sufficient to smoothly pay all its import bills for a period of at least three consecutive months to be judged as meeting the minimum criterion for financial solvency. The longer the period of time when its total import payments can be met by its foreign currency reserve, the better. The foreign currency reserve of Bangladesh is now considered to be enough to pay for all its needs of importing goods and services for a year. Bangladesh today meets all criterion of a safe foreign currency reserve which is also proof of its macro economic maturity and stability.
According to media reports, Bangladesh attained the highest ever power generation of 6,576 mw of power on 4th July last which was nearly double the generation of around 3,200 mw on average daily production of power left behind by the BNP government. And since that time, this level of power production has been holding steady and increasing. The present daily generation of power on average is considered to be in the neighbourhood of 7,000 mw and actual generation capacity has crossed 10,000 mw.
When that last elected government left, power supply was in a mess. It was impossible to supply power without interruption for restful sleep of people for five-six hours at a stretch at that time as power supply used to be shut off for one hour after one hour of supply that created great torments for people. Comparatively, people of the country have known great bliss from far better and uninterrupted supply of power during the last two years.
Apart from extending comfort to people, the improving power supply position in Bangladesh has had the most salutary impact on its economic activities or economic growth. Export activities have continued to surge, specially the main readymade garments (RMG) exports have gone on increasing without a pause, thanks to increasing supply of power to RMG industries that mightily aided the export performance.
The total export earnings of the country from all export goods and services are expected to reach US$ 40 billion in 2021. The export performance has been indeed spectacular belying all sorts of negative remarks made earlier about shortfall in export activities from external as well as internal quarters
A recently issued report from Bangladesh Bank’s Foreign Exchange Policy Department notes the increasingly rising inflow of remittances from our overseas workers. This was linked to Bangladesh Bank’s expert management of the exchange rate that encouraged the remitters to remit more from expectation of getting more money in Taka terms. Also government’s policies of opening more exchange houses abroad and facilitating their working, also led to the greater remittance inflow. Thus, Bangladesh today is the sixth biggest manpower exporting country in the world and its projected earning from this sector is expected to be US$ 20 billion in 2021.
Bangladesh was one of the top six recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) , according to a report of the FDI Intelligence which monitors global inflow of FDI regularly. Bangladesh received FDI worth US$ 19.3 billion in 2021 according to an UNCTAD report.
The supply of utilities, too, has been marked by tremendous improvements. For example, water supply in Dhaka used to be considered as far inadequate compared to the need. But Dhaka Water Supply Authority (DWASA) is now producing a surplus of water after fully meeting the demand of citizens. DWASA as successful water management authority among 4 short-listed cities achieved the Water Leaders’ Award at the Global Water Summit held in Seville, Spain .
More than two crores of primary school students are currently getting free text books, which is unheard of in any developing country. The agricultural development has made the country self sufficient in food.
Dhaka city was known as the city of nightmare for unceasing traffic tangles, but now it has two mega flyovers which stand out as the landmarks of this government’s achievements. Some more-the Gulistan-Jatrabari flyover, for example-has been commissioned and are plying a part in further easing traffic congestion. The sparkling Hatirjheel project has added remarkably to the beautification of the city as well as improving its traffic movement.
The much debated Padma bridge mega project built with our own resources will open for use by mid next year along with several other mega projects. The World Bank also recognised that the development plans which were supposed to be completed after two years have been finished now, long before the scheduled time.
In the social sectors such as primary health care, sanitation, empowerment of females, etc., the scorecard of this government has been brilliant. Bangladesh is now considered by various UN agencies as enjoying a long lead over even our great neighbour, India, in these respects.
The above are only some of the records of achievements of the present government in recent years. It would not be an overstatement to say that the records of successes of this government in the realms of economy and development, cannot be matched by any other previous government.
The sustained economic growth and development of the Bangladesh economy has brought it very near to achieving recognition as a Tiger South East Asian economy such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Bangladesh has already become a developing country and middle income country well before expected dates for such advancement. Internal and external assessments of the Bangladesh economy realistically puts it as a country headed to become a full fledged developed country by 2040.