Bangladesh's meteoric rise against poverty, underdevelopment

World Wednesday 21/June/2023 08:34 AM
Bangladesh's meteoric rise against poverty, underdevelopment

Dhaka : Bangladesh, which was a part of the world's least developed countries, whose per capita income was half that of Pakistan and lagged behind in key human development indicators, has come up a long way under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

What actually worked in changing the fortunes of people was the Awami League government's focus towards poverty reduction. Riding on this, Bangladesh is on track to graduate from the UN's Least Developed Countries (LDC) list by 2026 to a middle-income country, Bangladesh Live News reported. The per capita income of Bangladesh in 1987 was half that of Pakistan, and from there it has come a long way. Even the World Bank recognized this remarkable story of poverty reduction and development in Bangladesh during Bangladesh's golden jubilee in 2021.

In line with former Bangladesh PM Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his daughter Sheikh Hasina proposed an outline called 'Vision 2021' in 2001, which aimed to make Bangladesh a middle-income nation by 2021, three years ahead of the World Bank's deadline.

However, the government didn't stop at this. In 2018, it again launched 'Making Vision 2041 a Reality: Perspective Plan of Bangladesh 2021-2041'. It contained strategies, short and long-term plans, policies, challenges, programmes, and development plans to achieve some specific goals by 2041. The goals include eliminating extreme poverty and reaching Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status by 2031, and High-Income Country (HIC) status by 2041.

It is a consequence of the development-oriented economic strategy adopted by the incumbent government that has seen the country's GDP grow from 71.82 billion USD in 2006 to 416.26 billion USD in 2021. Further, FDI inflows into Bangladesh also saw a sharp increase rising from 466.40 million USD in 2006 to 2.17 billion USD in 2021-22.

The 8th five-year plan for Bangladesh, approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) in December 2020, had the goal of achieving 8.51 per cent GDP growth and lowering the poverty rate to 15.6 per cent by the end of this period.

"Bangladesh, which was earlier considered an 'international basket case' because of its dependence on foreign aid and donations to survive, has witnessed unprecedented growth under the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government," the Bangladesh Live News stated.

When the BNP-Jamaat alliance left the government in 2006, the per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of Bangladesh was a mere 570 USD. According to the World Bank in 2021 Bangladesh's GNI per capita stood at 2,570 USD. This reflects an exponential growth of GNI per capita with a 351 per cent increase in a relatively short period of time. With a 6.6 per cent average economic growth rate, Bangladesh has been able to pull millions of poor people out of poverty.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Bangladesh now happens to be the 43rd largest economy in the world in terms of nominal GDP, while it stands at the 32nd position in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). It is also amongst the 10 fastest-growing economies globally.

However, while the economy is on track, the power sector continues to face challenges. Bangladesh, which is the world's second-largest garments exporter behind China supplying global retailers including Walmart, H&M and Zara, has been forced to cut power for 114 days in the first five months of 2023, Bangladesh Live News reported.

While, in 2022, this number was 113 days. The overall supply deficit widened to an average of 15 per cent in the first week of June, an analysis of the data showed, nearly three times the average 5.2 per cent shortfall in May.

Bangladesh is also facing difficulties due to the Ukraine conflict. However, power generation capacity has overall increased from 4,942 MW in 2009-10 to 22,066 MW of installed electricity generation capacity in FY 2021-22.

The Bangladesh government's focus on the implementation of mega projects like Padma Bridge, Padma Rail Link Bridge, Karnaphuli tunnel, Dohazari-Cox's Bazar Railway construction, the Rampal power plant, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Payra Sea Port, the Matarbari Power Plant in Moheshkhali, and Dhaka Metrorail, etc., have also lent impetus for economic growth.

Especially, the construction of the Padma Bridge is a watershed moment for Bangladesh. It is the fifth-largest bridge in the world and has been constructed without the support of international donors.

Another factor contributing to economic growth has been the high level of remittances from non-resident Bangladeshis. With around 8-10 per cent contribution to GDP, remittances compose a major pillar of the economy. Bangladesh ranks seventh on the list of the world's top remittance-receiving countries. Each year more than half a million Bangladeshis join the 9 million already working abroad, mainly in the Middle East and South-East Asia, Bangladesh Live News reported.

Several government policies in the health and nutrition sector have helped increase the life expectancy in Bangladesh, reaching 73.57 years in 2023 and being higher than in other countries in the region.

The World Health Organisation case studies corroborate the success of developmental measures taken by Bangladesh. From a drastic reduction in maternal mortality rate (MMR), children under five years of age mortality rate (U-5MR) and the infant mortality rate (IMR), to ensuring sanitation facilities for all, the government has been registering transformational development success stories. The MMR has come down to 173 per 100,000 live births.

At the same time, the Sheikh Hasina government has also focussed on widening and expansion of welfare programmes to lift the poorest and most neglected section of the population and increased subsidies for other crucial elements of the economy such as agriculture.

This is the key takeaway from the fourteen years of the Awami League in power. Whether this trend will continue will be seen in the general elections likely to be held next year, Bangladesh Live News reported. (ANI)