Driving digital Bangladesh forward

Driving digital Bangladesh forward

Md. Joynal Abdin

The Independent on July 16, 2018

One achievement of the government is more visible i.e. expansion of digital technology and its uses in day to day activities of mass people. Making digital Bangladesh was the election manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League in 2009 general election. With different limitations digitization took place in many sectors and different government services became peoples reach due to introduction of online processes. But till now people are not getting full benefit of digital Bangladesh due to lack of commitments from the corrupt bureaucracy and lack of monitoring and evaluation by the responsible higher authority. Corrupt official are not allowing full digitization of the processes to remain unofficial earning line alive. Therefore respective Secretaries and Ministers should be careful to make the processes fully digital to ensure hassle free delivery of government services to the mass people and make digital Bangladesh truly functional. At the same time government has to move further with its Digital Bangladesh concept into Digital Economy concept.

Digital economy refers to an economy that is based on digital computing technologies. The digital economy is also sometimes called the Internet Economy, the New Economy, or Web Economy. Digital economy is related to various areas in the development of ICT infrastructures, equipment, services and applications across industries like mobile network, fixed broadband access network, transmission network, ICT application and services, ICT infrastructure, equipment and in semiconductor industry etc. According to the Oxford Dictionary “digital economy is an economy which functions primarily by means of digital technology, especially electronic transactions made using the internet”. Bangladesh entered into the Fourth Generation (4 G) age of telecommunication. High speed internet connectivity is available in the country but till now its cost is comparatively higher for the general people. Cost of internet uses has to bring into general peoples reach and other processes have to be cleared to make digitization functional, effective and fruitful. For example receiving foreign currency earnings through outsourcing is still out of mass peoples reach. Only members of a certain association can open such accounts in selective banks and receive PayPal account’s earnings here in Bangladesh. Making instant online inter-bank transactions, purchasing goods from online portals, receiving online payment is still impossible. Bangladesh has enormous potentials in outsourcing business but producing trade based qualified manpower is yet to be added in formal learning. Whereas digital economy risen about USD 3 trillion during last twenty years globally.

According to Forbes magazine about 1,25, 000 large organizations are launching digital business initiatives with estimated digital revenue increase by more than 80per cent by 2020. There is evidence that the companies that are adapting digital technologies are 26per cent more profitable than their industry peers. Bangladeshi SMEs are yet sleeping to adopt digital means of business i.e. e-commerce and e-business due to absence of digital infrastructure. Paying or receiving online is not possible till now. Even instant online interbank transaction is out of peoples reach. Online trading of shares by mass people is not started as a result share market did not expand as it should be. Company registration, trade license, tax payment, passport renewal and many other government services is supposed to get online but to remain corrupt practices alive relevant officials are not providing those digital processes to be fully functional.

According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report “Digital globalization: The new era of global flows”, “soaring flows of data and information now generate more economic value than the global goods trade” making “possible for companies to reach international markets with less capital-intensive business models”. Digital economy is contributing in increasing economic growth, expanding business opportunities, creating new jobs, improving public services delivery etc. with all these benefits digitization has few challenges like cyber security, cyber crimes, cyber war etc. to be careful about.

Now come to the point what initiatives could be taken to move from digital Bangladesh into digital economy. First initiative in this regard is to adopting relevant ICT skills in the curriculum of different levels to ensure demands of the proficiencies from the applied business sectors. Increasing use of digital technologies at work and adopting new skills in national curriculum. Adopting occupation specific generic ICT skills at worker level curriculum to make them able to use such technologies in their daily work like access information online or use software for a specific purpose.  Adopting curriculum relevant to the production of ICT products and services like software, web pages, e-commerce, cloud and big data etc. specialist skills to programs, applications and manage networks. Adopting ICT-complementary skills like capability to process complex information, communicate with co-workers and clients, solve problems, plan in advance and adjust quickly. At the same time attainment of sound levels of foundation skills constitutes a prerequisite for the proficient development of ICT generic, specific and complementary skills could make the curriculum digital economy friendly.

Secondly; government or donor funded development projects could be driven into establishment of digital infrastructures to make relevant business processes functional, secured, transparent and accountable. Without making the processes functional, or establishment of required infrastructures digital Bangladesh will not move into digital economy. Digitalization of enterprises and their functions is the prerequisite of digital economy. Globally its expansion speed is much higher than that of the product based economy. Services sectors especially government services delivery system digitization may be a good initiation of the digital economy movement.

Finally; spreading out of digital benefits throughout the country is still a major challenge of digital Bangladesh. Internet speed in the village level is remaining a major obstacle to start any productive venture. Therefore people’s congestion is rising in the major cities. Spread out of digital infrastructure into village level could reduce peoples flow to the cities too. Digitization of economy and entering into digital movement could offer quicker development of Bangladesh economy and achieving vision 2021, SDG 2030 and finally vision 2041 in time. Thus digital Bangladesh could be transformed into Digital Developed Economy of Bangladesh.


Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning


Md. Joynal Abdin

The Independent on June 11, 2018

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning emphasized on quality education and skills development. This goals highlighted on inclusiveness of education i.e. government is to ensure quality education for rich, poor, urban, rural, tribal or other ethnic children. Accommodating all ethnic groups, all races, all classes, and all geographical territories under the umbrella of quality education is inclusiveness here. At the same time this goal also emphasizing on lifelong learning, it could be described in two dimensions. These are recognizing learning of the dropout students from work experience and certifying them under a unique platform, promoting skills elopement in all levels of professional life. These are the short training courses to acquire targeted competencies through on-the-job trainings (OJT) or part-time training sessions. To understand SDG Goal – 4 we have to go through the targets set under this goal.

There are ten (10) targets of this goal. These are by the year 2030 (1) Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes, (2) Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education, (3) Ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university, (4) Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship, (5) Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations, (6) Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy, (7) Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development, (8) Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all, (9) Substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries, and (10) Substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.

Prominent terminologies in the above mentioned targets are (1) Girls and boys both has to be equally emphasized, (2) Free equitable and quality primary & secondary education, in Bangladesh, primary and secondary education is tuition free for the girls but secondary level boys have to pay, this goals emphasized on free education for the boys too in both primary and secondary levels, (3) Equal access for women and men in the quality vocational, technical and tertiary education in affordable cost. But in Bangladesh quality education is expensive whereas we have limitations in technical and vocational education ground. Qualified teachers, required laboratory and equipment have scarcity in vocational as well as technical colleges. (4) Skills for employment, decent job and entrepreneurship, focus of most Bangladeshi learners are employment but decent job is very rare in the society. At the same time skills are not focused to entrepreneurship at any level or at any faculty. Every faculty is creating job seekers but not job providers here in Bangladesh. (5) Disabled, indigenous and vulnerable area children have to get special focus. Other terminologies are relevant to curriculum development and priority areas like literacy and numeracy both are equally emphasized, life style, human rights, gender equality, promotion of peace and non-violence shall get priority in the curriculum. ICT education, engineering education technical and scientific education shall be prioritized to ensure pro-development and pro-employment education for sustainable development. Finally target ten has rightly pointed out that supply of qualified teachers is one of the most important tasks to ensure quality education and skills development for sustainability.

Now come to the Bangladesh perspective, 7th five year plan of the government provided enough emphasize on quality education. It emphasized on (1) Improve the Teaching Learning process in schools, (2) Ensure participation and reduce disparity, (3) Ensure Decentralization and enhance effectiveness, (4) Establish Effective Planning and Management, (5) Increasing the rate of enrolment, (6) Capacity increase in reading, writing, listening & speaking, (7) Necessary steps

Reducing the rate of dropout, (8) Encouraging female enrolment, and inclusion of all children in the education system. 7th five year plan is also recognizing the challenges like Infrastructural shortage, Inadequate implementation, Insufficient funding, Inequality and gender disparity, Imbalance among disciplines, Skills mismatch, and finally; Skills deficiency of migrant workers etc.

By focusing on the above mentioned challenges we would like to mentioned that, Bangladesh is earning about USD 13.5 billion by exporting 10 million workers abroad, whereas 2.3 million Pilipino expatriate workers are earning USD 31.2 billion per year. That means Philippine earns double remittance of Bangladesh by sending our one fifth workers abroad. It is because they are sending semi-skilled and skilled workers and professionals like nurses, technicians and others. Bangladesh has to focus on expatriate workers oriented skills development to earn more remittance and ensure their adequate demands and safe work environment in abroad.

On the other hand Bangladesh is paying more than USD 5 billion by employing about 0.5 million foreign nationals mainly in the readymade garment and its backward and forward linkage industries. It is also indicating we are paying much higher rate than our expatriate workers earning rate from abroad. We are not paying more by employing foreign nationals due to absence of required competencies among the local professionals. A recent study identified that, Bangladeshi professionals are weak in Communications, Strategic Thinking, Market Forecasting, Marketing& Promotion, Initiative, Product Development, Innovation & Creativity, Critical Analysis, Sales Planning, and Operations Management etc. competencies. Therefore capacities of local mid-level managers are not up to the mark of a foreign mid-level manager. Therefore government shall emphasize on the above mentioned competencies to incorporate in national curriculum in different levels and produce qualified teachers and trainers to ensure fruitful result out of it.

Finally we can state that, our technical colleges, poly-techniques and vocational institutes, training centers and teachers training institutes are lacking in laboratory facilities, shortage of equipment as well as qualified trainers. Therefore these faculties are unable to ensure quality education and skills development for optimum result out of these. Demand driven, employment oriented and entrepreneurial curriculum has to be developed with supply of adequate qualified trainers. Government alone cannot do this at all, private sector investors shall be attracted to invest in quality education and skills development with relevant facilities to produce world class professionals for local market as well as to export into the demanded world market. Tax holidays for a certain period, soft bank loan can be effective tools to attract entrepreneurs to invest in skills development sector. Similarly tax weaver facilities against training up employees from abroad could be offered for lifelong skills development of the employed workers and professionals. It will help to produce a technically sound and professionally qualified generation in near future. Thus Bangladesh could improve productivity as well as products quality and remittance earnings. Qualified non-resident Bangladeshi professionals could be attracted here to contribute in local quality improvement through offering them a tax free income for a certain period under certain criteria. Thus government could involve private sector in achieving SDG Goal – 4 i.e. ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030.

Entrepreneurial ecosystem needs improvement

Entrepreneurial ecosystem needs improvement

Md. Joynal Abdin

Published by the Financial Express on May 8, 2018

Bangladesh achieved the lower middle income country status in 2015, with the hope of graduating from the list of Least Developed Countries (LDC) by 2024. At the same time, we have a vision to become a developed nation by 2041. Bangladesh’s successes in different parameters of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) have been praised by global think-tanks and investment banks. Renowned investment banker Goldman Sachs and economist Jim O’Neill identified Bangladesh as one of the Next Eleven (N11) countries along with Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey, South Korea and Vietnam back in 2005.

In one of his recent articles published by BARRON’S on 28 April 2018, O’ Neill praised Vietnam for its successful journey of economic development from 2005 to 2018. He described Turkey and South Korea as countries having living standards similar to the European countries. But he was completely silent about Bangladesh.

Similarly, JP Morgan identified Bangladesh as one of the Frontier Five (Frontier 5) countries along with Vietnam, Nigeria, Kazakhstan and Kenya in 2007. JP Morgan revised this list of Frontier Five in 2017 by keeping Ghana, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Peru, and Colombia in the list, which they felt have more investment opportunities and prospects. Bangladesh was again missing from this list as well. Therefore, it is time for Bangladesh to rethink its entrepreneurial ecosystem: Why we are absent from such influential global ratings? Is it because Bangladesh was more promising for investment in 2005 or 2007 than the developing Bangladesh of today? Or is it because our entrepreneurial ecosystem is becoming more complex due to absence of certain entrepreneurial tendencies or features?

Let us try to analyse entrepreneurship, factors that influence it, models of entrepreneurship development, and significance of entrepreneurship for a developing country like Bangladesh. Scholars have defined entrepreneurship in different ways. For example, Kuratko & Hodgetts defined entrepreneurship as a dynamic process of vision, change, and creation. It requires application of energy and passion towards the creation and implementation of new ideas and creative solutions. It includes the willingness to take calculated risks in terms of time, equity, or to marshal needed resources and fundamental skills towards building solid business plans.

According to Harvard Kennedy School, entrepreneurship consists of any earnest activity that starts, maintains, and develops a profit-oriented business in interactions with internal situation of the business and external situations like economic, social, and political ones surrounding the business. In simplified form, we can say that entrepreneurship is an entity to commercialise an idea or innovation with a profit motive by taking calculated risks. Entrepreneur is that risk-taker who organises all the factors of production and uses them to convert an idea into a profitable venture.

Two types of environmental factors have influence over entrepreneurship, namely internal or controllable factors and external or uncontrollable factors. Controllable internal factors are lack of efficient manpower, absence of technical knowledge or appropriate machineries, managerial know-how, cost of the factors of production etc.

One of the most important comparative advantages of Bangladesh is its young manpower. But there is a shortage of skilled manpower in the market; as a result, local entrepreneurs are employing many foreign managers and technicians in the readymade garments sector. We have a scope to develop need-based, industry-specific skilled manpower in Bangladesh. But unfortunately, all the public and private universities are generating job-seekers educated on old-fashioned curricula. As a result, they are not capable of fulfilling the needs of different industrial sectors and remain unemployed. More than three million educated young men and women are unemployed in the country now. Additional two million educated job-seekers are entering the economy every year. Therefore, there is tough competition for availing any job. The government can revise the academic curricula after consultations with the industries and incorporate current issues to mitigate this challenge. Private sector entrepreneurs can be encouraged to spend money for their employees’ training at home and abroad in order to develop their skills and improve productivity in the local industries. There can be a provision in the next national budget for allowing private enterprises to spend five per cent of their income for capacity development of their workforce by offering equal amounts of tax waiver.

Uncontrollable or external factors include inconsistency of government policies, discontinuation of policies, frequent shift of policies, unjustified taxation system, corruption in government departments, unprofessional bureaucracy, deteriorating law and order situation, extortions etc. Bangladesh is suffering from negative impacts through each of the uncontrollable factors. Therefore, doing business here is more complicated and costlier than the competing countries. As a result, it is performing miserably in the global ‘doing business’ index every year. Our complex, time-consuming and corrupt processes of business registration and approvals are discouraging local youths from becoming entrepreneurs and are also repelling foreign investors.

Bangladesh needs a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem to sustain its status as a developing country and graduate to a developed nation status, because entrepreneurs have a significant role in the economic growth of a country in the following ways:

  1. Entrepreneurs invest their money to innovate processes and techniques for increasing productivity in respective enterprises and sectors. Thus, they contribute towards improvement of national productivity and GDP growth of a country.
  2. Entrepreneurs generate employment opportunities by establishing new enterprises and helping the government in its fight against unemployment.
  3. Entrepreneurs adopt new technologies in respective industries, and facilitate transfer of technology throughout the country.
  4. Entrepreneurs play strategic roles in commercialisation of new inventions in the society.
  5. They invest money and take risks to produce new products by utilising resources available in a society.
  6. Progress of a business venture or industry in a community helps improve the standard of living of that particular community.
  7. Entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the restructuring and transformation of an economy. For example, Bangladesh economy is now gradually changing from a traditional agrarian one to an industrial one.
  8. Balanced industrialisation facilitates balanced economic development of a country.
  9. Entrepreneurship ensures dynamism in industries by launching innovative products and services.
  10. Entrepreneurs often search for new international markets, and create new market mechanisms locally.

In conclusion, we can say that entrepreneurship plays a multidimensional role in the development of a country. Therefore, the Bangladesh government should ensure a healthy ecosystem to encourage new entrepreneurs and promote proper growth of existing players by implementing business-friendly policies, regulations, processes, ensuring law and order, and curbing corruption, extortions etc. Bangladesh has a long way to go in creating a congenial entrepreneurial ecosystem and improving its current ranking in the global ‘doing business’ index. Without effective steps that can address these issues, foreign investors are unlikely to come in a big way, while local investors may be lured to migrate to other countries.

Industrial infrastructure development for sustainable economic growth

Industrial infrastructure development for sustainable economic growth

Md. Joynal Abdin

Published by the Independent on April 25, 2018

Infrastructure refers to the basic facility required to run the daily life of the citizen of a country or city like roads, bridges, tunnels, water supplies, sewers, electricity, gas, telecommunication system, cellular network, internet connectivity and broadband speed etc. Infrastructures are primarily classified into two brad heads namely, hard infrastructures like transportation networks like roads, airports, sea ports or river ports, railroads etc. and soft infrastructures like education system, healthcare system, law and order situation, financial system, form of government, financial service and government responses to the civil emergency etc. of a country. Bangladesh has primarily graduated from the LDC list this year and hopping to be sustainably graduating into developing countries list by 2024. To fulfill that mission we have to fight few socioeconomic inconveniences like providing employment to the existing unemployed as well as new comers in this category, improve infrastructure (hard and soft) facilities, transform the economy from agricultural based into industrialised one.

Transformation of Bangladesh economy from agricultural to an industrialised one has  started naturally during last couple of decades. For example contribution of Agriculture, Industry and Service Sector to Bangladesh GDP in 1972 (soon after the independence) was 59.60 6.06 percent and 34.32 per cent respectively. In the year 1980 contribution of the same sectors to Bangladesh GDP was 31.55 percent (Agriculture), 20.63 percent (Industry) and 47.81 percent (Service). Current contribution (2016) of Agriculture reduced into 14.77, Industry and Service Sectors increased into 28.76 percent and 56.45 percent respectively. From the above statistics it is clear that, Bangladesh economy is transforming from agricultural economy into industrial economy, but the transformation speed is too slow. Questions may be asked that, why this transformation is necessary. This transformation is necessary because per acre agricultural land a highest threshold of production. After that particular threshold further growth in agriculture is not possible. On the other hand productivity of the same size of industries is much higher than that of agriculture.

Secondly, there are above 3 million unemployed (workable) populations in Bangladesh, another 2 million newcomers are adding with this number as fresh job seekers. But Bangladesh is experiencing a job less growth during last couple of years. As a result burden of unemployment in mounting up day by day. Government alone is unable to create employment opportunities for such a huge number of citizens. Therefore; industrialisation is the most suitable options for employment generation, increasing GDP growth, enlarging export basket and finally sustainably graduating into a middle income developing country. To speed up industrialisation movement government initiated some initiatives like the honorable Prime Minister herself seat in a forum called National Council for Industrial Development (NCID), Ministry of Industries is providing secretarial support to this council. Among others Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) and SME Foundation are working to facilitate entrepreneurship development and industrialization in the country. But due to lack of industrial infrastructure facilities Bangladeshi industrialisation movement is not getting momentum. Now come to the points what is industrial infrastructure? And why these are important to increase industrialisation movement of Bangladesh?

Industrial Infrastructure is a set of physical facilities essential for healthy operations and further growth of the industrial operations in a country or city. Industrial infrastructure is also known as commercial infrastructure. Industrial Infrastructures of Bangladesh could be described as follows:

  1. Aviation Facilities: There are three international and seven domestic Airports in Bangladesh. These are Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Shah Amanat International Airport, Osmani International Airport (International), Cox’s Bazar Airport, Jessore Airport, Shah Makhdum Airport, Barisal Airport, Ishurdi Airport, Saidpur Airport, and Comilla Airport (Domestic). This number of only 10 airports is self descriptive that most of the districts of Bangladesh are out of air network. Airport facilities, security systems, cargo handling etc. capacity are very limited to offer a full sewing aviation service for tomorrows Bangladesh. About nine airlines operators are operating local and international flights in Bangladesh but the national carrier Biman is a losing concern. Bangladesh has a very small network of destinations connected by direct flight and cargo transport facility. This network has to be broadened and air cargo service destinations have to be enlarged to fulfill increasing demand of tomorrow’s industrialisation.
  1. Roads and Highways: Bangladesh has 3.33 lac kilometers of road network. Maximum lengths of this network are Upzila, Union and Village level road. Condition of only 19.46 per cent is good, 37.47 per cent is fair and rests are poor and very poor. Among 3.33 lac kilometers of roads national highways are only 3.5 thousands kilometers. But Dhaka Chittagong Highways (215 kilometer) carries above 60 per cent of Bangladesh’s commercial traffic and 27 per cent passengers of the country. Therefore traffic jam is a regular phenomenon here in this highway. An alternative roads between Dhaka and Chittagong is the necessity of time to promote hassle free transportation of export oriented goods and imported raw materials to and from the busiest port i.e. Chittagong port. Economic importance of Dhaka – Chittagong port is more than all other roads and highways of the country. Government has a plan to make Dhaka-Chittagong Economic Corridor functional. It would help to uplift living standard of the linked cities like N.Gonj, M.Gonj, Comilla, Feni etc. SEZ going to be established besides Dhaka Chittagong Economic Corridor like AMEZ, API Industrial Parks, and Mireshwrai SEZ etc. would be pieces of diamond of this economic corridor.
  1. Railway: There are only 2.87 thousands kilometers of railroads in Bangladesh. Most of the cities are out of rail network and its service. It is one of the busiest modes of transport in Bangladesh but losing concern due to some hidden reason. Railway could be a safe and quickest mode of transport for passengers as well as goods in Bangladesh. New railroads have to be constructed and operated in commercial mode. Government can open up this sector for private investment like the cellular phone sector. Private Investment can develop this sector and make it profitable. Mode of private investment in this sector could be BOO (build, operate and own) or BOT (build, operate and transfer) under the PPP modality.
  1. Land Ports: There are 23 Land Ports in Bangladesh namely Benapole Land Port, Burimari Land Port, Akhaura Land Port, Bhomra Land Port, Tamabil Land Port, Darshana Land Port, Belonia Land Port, Gobrakura-Karaitali Land Port, Ramgarh Land Port, Sonahat Land Port, Tegamukh Land Port, Chilahati Land Port, Daulatganj Land Port, Dhanua Kamalpur Land Port, Sheola Land Port, Balla Land Port, Sonamosjid Land Port, Hili Land Port, Banglabandha Land Port, Teknaf Land Port, Bibirbazar Land Port, Birol Land Port and Nakugaon Land Port to carry its import and exports from the neighboring countries through road transports. Infrastructure facilities in most of the land port are measurable. Carrying goods to or from most these land port is till horrible experience for the businessmen. Storage facilities, Road condition, Customs stations and other important institutions in these land port has to be developed to make these functional and effective.
  1. Sea Ports: There are only three functional sea ports in Bangladesh i.e. Chittagong Port, Mongla Port and Paira Port. A large number of private or specific service oriented port facilities are there in different locations. About 92 per cent of maritime trade traffic of Bangladesh goes to a single port i.e. The Chittagong Port. Therefore traffic congestion in Chittagong Port is rising day by day. It is increasing hidden cost of doing international business through Chittagong port. A deep sea port is under process to ease maritime trade of Bangladesh. But delay in decision making related to deep sea port may increase threats to Bangladeshi maritime trade i.e. import or export in near future. Because we have a target to increase our export volume to USD 50 billion in 2021. Current export of USD 35 billion is making congestions in our major ports how they can handle additional USD 15 billion trade by existing capacity? Not only sea ports, government have to go for capacity building of all the existing river ports of the country to make trade goods transportation comfortable through river channels. River ports activation could ease traffic jam in roads and highways too.
  1. Electricity, gas, coal, oil and renewable energy: Currently Bangladesh is generating about 10 thousand megawatt of electricity per day. This generation is fighting to supply adequate amount of electricity to the existing industries. But when 100 SEZs will be commissioned with full range of factories then what would be the demand for electricity, gas, coal, oil and other forms of energies. This could be a major challenge to make our dream into reality. All the renewable energy sources could be unable to supply the demanded amount of energies. Therefore before making land boundaries of all the SEZs, Industrial Parks, Industrial Areas and Clusters we should work out how much different forms of energies could be demanded by all these industrial states, SEZs, and industrial clusters. Do we have enough preparation for that?

Finally we could state that, we are running towards a very lucrative goal but have to be prepared enough to achieve it and feed its demands too. Not only the above mentioned industrial infrastructures (hard) Bangladesh has to supply required soft infrastructures too to make 100 SEZs functional, to sustain as a developing nation after erosion of all the existing trade preferences from 2024 and  onwards.

Private sector investors could be engaged actively to develop all of the industrial infrastructures (hard & soft) under PPP or BOO or BOT etc. modalities.

Government should open up all of the industrial infrastructure development relevant sectors for private investors to contribute. Otherwise government alone may not be in a position to supply resources for all these and measurable pain of bounce back to the LDCs could be the end result.

Role of SME clusters in Bangladesh economy

Role of SME clusters in Bangladesh economy

Md. Joynal Abdin

Published by the Independent on March 29, 2018

Michael Porter, father of the industrial cluster concept defined cluster as a “geographic concentration of interconnected businesses and associated institutions in a particular field”. In this definition we are getting three criteria of an industrial cluster. These are geographic concentration, group of interconnected business and a particular field. Beside this fundamental definition industrial cluster could be defined based on common activities, single origin, size of the business, used technology, and focused market or target market etc. Countries like Japan or China define clusters based on different criteria for example “One village, one product” or “one town, one industry” and this notion is quite popular in the region. India define cluster based on a particular number of similar production units in a specific geographical location. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) defines industrial cluster as a “Geographic and economic concentration of manufacturing activities which produce and sell a domain of interrelated and complementary products and having common problems and opportunities”.

There was no official definition of industrial cluster in Bangladesh. For the first time in 2011-12 fiscal years the Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation (SME Foundation) took initiative to define SME Cluster in Bangladesh. After a thorough discussion with relevant stakeholders like the Bangladesh Bank, Ministry of Industries, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation, Export Promotion Bureau, and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), SME Foundation defined cluster as “A cluster is a concentration of enterprises producing similar products or services and is situated within an adjoining geographical location and having common strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats”. Key criteria selected to define a SME cluster are; products or services should be similar or homogenous and related, enterprises must be production or service units, At least 50 and above production units, adjoining geographical location: several villages, wards, unions and industrial estates, scattered within an area of 3-5 kilometre radius.

SME Clusters in Bangladesh:

Based on the above definition SME Foundation identified 177 SME Clusters in 51 districts of Bangladesh. There are maximum 38 Handicrafts & Miscellaneous clusters followed by 34 Agro-Processing/Agri-business/Plantation, 31 Light Engineering and Metal working, 22 Knitwear & Readymade Garments, 16 Fashion Rich Effects, Wear & Consumers Goods, 13 Leather Making & Leather Goods clusters, 10 Handloom & Specialised Textiles clusters, 5 Healthcare & Diagnostics clusters, 3 Plastics & Other Synthetics, 3 Electronics & Electrical, and 2 Educational Services clusters in Bangladesh. These clusters are located in 51 different districts and there are 13 districts namely Netrokona, Rajbari, Narail, Meherpur, Lalmonirhat, Sunamganj, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Noakhali, Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachari where no clusters are found.

There are about 69,902 SME enterprises employing approximately 1,937,809 workforces. Their annual turnover is about BDT 573,510 million per year. A major portion of government revenue in different forms (Income tax, VAT, Customs duty etc.) comes from these sectors. But no significant government support is visible to develop or promote SME Clusters / entrepreneurs.

Product producing in SME Clusters:

Major products producing in the SME clusters of Bangladesh are as follows:

  1. Agro-Processing/Agri-business/Plantation Clusters: Major products are rice, Brocken rice (commonly known as khud), husking dust (commonly known as kura), burning wood (commonly known as lakri), oil, and oil cake (commonly known as khail) etc.

  1. Light Engineering and Metal Working Clusters: Major products are Door and window grille, door and window frame, collapsible gate, iron and steel furniture, Motor parts, engine repair, pump, Machine tools, Agricultural equipment, automobile body building, repairing, and colouring, ship breaking etc.

  1. Knitwear and RMG Clusters: Major products are thread, pants, jackets, ladies’ three piece sets, towels/gamchas, shirts, tape/ nima, frocks, baby set, suit, and cloths etc.

  1. Fashion-rich Wears, effects & Consumption Goods Clusters: Major products and services are Jewellery made by Gold / Silver / other metals, hair spa, hair protein, party makeup, facial, eye-brow pluck, Herbal facial,

 haircut, and orange facial etc.

  1. Leather and Leather goods clusters: Major products are gent’s shoes, ladies shoes, baby shoes, sandal shoes, and Slippers etc.

  1. Healthcare & Diagnostics Clusters: Major services are X-ray, ultra-sonogram, ECG, different pathological tests, haematological tests, biochemical tests, echo-cardiogram, CT scan, and surgery etc.

  1. Plastics & Other Synthetics Clusters: Major products are Mugs, Bowls, Buckets, Bodna, and many other home appliances.

  1. Electronics & Electrical Clusters: Major products are Electrical Board, Switch, Socket, Holder, Cut-out, Anti cut-out, Coil, Battery, TV, Pluspain base, and electric cables etc.

  1. Educational Services Clusters: Major services are education services/counselling.

  1. Handloom & Specialized Textiles Clusters: Major products are Blouse, Sari, orna, three piece, farnet, towel, Panjabi, cushion cover, bed sheet, and pillow covers etc.

  1. Handicraft & Miscellaneous Clusters: Major products are dining table, Mat, Bamboo net, Large bamboo basket (commonly known as Dhol), tabla, Nest, kula, candle stand, cup-plate, clay piggy-bank, flower vase, different dices, mud cover, tub, oil-based perfume, incense sticks, curry and rice cooking pot, bamboo goods, tray set, bowl set, file set, ruler set, cylinder set, and partition set, Wooden Furniture boxed bed, normal bed, dressing table, reading desk, computer desk, Sofa set, dining table, and chairs, etc.

Raw-materials used in SME Clusters:

Major raw materials used in the SME Clusters are rice, wheat, yeast, sugar, salt, husk, sesame, mustered, SS pipe, steel, iron, scrap, GI pipe, aluminium, flat and angle bar, copper, lead, colour,  elastic/rubber, thread, gum, foam, sticker, lace/ribbon, bale, chemical, cloth, cotton, soda, jori/puti colour, zipper, paper, button, necklace, metal, buckram, fabrics, navy blue RX copper, zinc, acid, sohaga, massage cream, face pack, orange pack, foundation, hair polish, nail polish, spa pack, half silk, herbal pack, beauty pack, Rexene, solution, sole, rubber/elastic, thread, gum, foam, sticker, pasting, gum, synthetic, chemical, plastic, cellulite, animal skin, X-ray film, ECG roll, Ultra sonogram paper, different chemicals, surgical equipment, plastic, uranium powder, steel, plastic, colouring mud, copper, zinc, uranium powder, screw, copper rod, picture tube, remote, steel, carbon, iron, brass, PVC, thread, ribbon/lace, cellulite, wool, half silk, , jori/puti, polyester, colour, paper, bamboo, cane, wire, plastic, wood, mud, colour mud, soda, date leaf,  agar tree, hay and different type of timbers etc.

Challenges of SME Clusters:

SME clusters are mostly naturally grown due to availability of raw materials, skilled labour in competitive price lead by daily needs of local people. There are few clusters growing faster to meet local or international demands, few of the clusters are going to be abolished due to wrong government policy, or absence of necessary support from the government. Clusters are playing a vital role in employment generation and balanced development of the country but till now they are neglected by the governments or donors in terms of policy support, technology development, infrastructure development, electricity and other utilities supply, market linkage with local or foreign buyers. Development barriers of SME Clusters are very much location specific and sector dependent. Therefore it is quite difficult to describe challenges of SME Clusters in a particular document or article. With this limitation in mind we could describe major challenges of Bangladeshi SME Clusters as follows:

  1. Absence of appropriate technology: Most of the clusters are using old technology adopted in 1950 – 60s. Therefore productivity is lower than that of their competitors. As a result the quality of the products is inferior. Entrepreneurs are losing market share to imported products or failing to get market access in target market at home and abroad. For example; entrepreneurs of the Coconut Oil Cluster located at Bagherhat Sadar are using a semi auto technology imported from Japan in 1952. Local workshops were copied it and producing the same machine during last 60 years. Major limitation of this machine is that, it is unable to extract 100 per cent oil from the coconut and quality of the oil produced is crude graded. Till now there is no refinery machine at Bagherhat Coconut Oil Cluster as a result their oil is losing market share to imported coconut oil marketing by various multinationals in Bangladesh. Similarly; hundred years old technology is using at Sataranji Cluster at Nishbetgaonj, Rongpur and different handloom clusters all over the country.

  1. Inadequate raw materials supply in justified price: Most of the clusters are dependent on imported or purchased raw materials from a third party. There are middlemen / intermediary traders / importers in each of the sectors supplying raw materials to the clusters. Sometime these intermediaries used to charge illogical price of the raw materials without any valid reason. For example; there are more than five thousand electrical and plastic goods manufacturing enterprises in Bangladesh. Raw materials of these sectors are mainly import dependent or recycle based. Small entrepreneurs of the sector could not import raw materials directly due to their limited financial and technical ability. They used to purchase raw materials from local trader / importers. In few cases importers used to charge higher price of raw materials which is not justifiable with the international market. Syndication is responsible for this unusual price hike in these sectors. Not only in plastic or electrical sector same scenario is happening with the handloom or power loom entrepreneurs in home textile cluster at Kumarkhali, Kustia and Hosiary cluster at Gobindagaong, Gaibandha while they used to purchase threads or dye. These irrational price hicks of raw materials make the whole sector uncompetitive in the market. A large number of entrepreneurs, workers have to suffer to give undue cost of raw materials into the pocket of a fractional number of middlemen.

  1. Absence of modern designing knowledge and technology: Most of the SME clusters in Bangladesh are using old technologies and producing almost similar products throughout their life. On the other hand customer’s choice is changing every day and they are not willing to purchase the same design, same quality or same shaped products with a higher price. As a result they are attracting by the imported good looking products even lower quality products with higher price. Limited deign knowledge and technology is a common problem in almost all the SME Clusters in Bangladesh.

  1. Absence of testing facility: Testing products is a prerequisite to classify or grading up the products. But we have absence of testing facility in almost every cluster in Bangladesh. For example there are no testing machines in Bangladesh to test quality of Agar – Ator producing at Agar Ator Cluster located at Barolekha, Moulvibazar. Gold testing facilities is very rare in any Jewellery clusters in Bangladesh, Wood seasoning and testing facility of the wood producing Cricket Bat is absent in Baldia Cricket Bat Cluster at Nesarabad, Pirojpur. Without out a very limited cluster this is a common problem everywhere in Bangladesh.

  1. Access to finance: Access to finance is one of the oldest problems for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs either in any cluster or outside. So many initiatives were taken by the central bank to facilitate access to finance at door step of the entrepreneurs. But till now it is a major challenge for any new entrepreneur or unable to pay mortgage. But today we will see sector specific or location specific format of the same problem in different forms. For example entrepreneurs of Bhairab shoe clusters faces a dry season for three months in every year. At that point of time their product reaches lowest sales and lowest revenue generation. As a result they are unable to pay bank instalment during that period. But they are willing to pay whole year’s instalment in rest eight months. But no bank is offering that tailor made loan products to them to address their ground reality. Entrepreneurs of Agar-Ator Cluster located at Barolekha, Moulvibazar are getting bank loan for BDT 5-50 lac easily. But they need up to BDT 10 – 20 Crore while government Agar garden / forest used to call for tender. If a third party (do not have ator producing plant) win in the tender then either original entrepreneurs having Ator producing factories have to purchase the trees with much higher price or the tree will be exported to neighbouring country. Thus Bangladesh losses its own wealth to add value and export in a much higher price. There are no banks who can give that BDT 10-20 Crore loan for a shortest period of time to the Agar-Ator entrepreneurs at Barolekha Agar Ator Cluster at Moulvibazar. Another unique form of this access to finance problem could be seen at Nawgah Jewellery Cluster, Banks usually do not provide loan to Jewellery business. Though our nearest neighbour India is exporting Jewellery products worth of millions of Dollars to Dubai and other Middle East countries. Till now Bangladesh government is not providing any support to Jewellery sector. Even official import of gold is banned or strictly controlled by our government. On the other hand Bangladesh is importing a significant amount of artificial Jewellery / stone Jewellery from India and China to meet its internal demand.

  1. Lack of knowledge about product’s quality and quality certification: Our entrepreneurs have very limited knowledge about product’s quality and international quality certification system. As a result they are lagging behind even with qualitative products in few sectors.

  1. Limited number of skilled labour and absence of qualified technicians: Most of the clusters have potentials to grow further but availability of skilled manpower is very limited. As a result labour turnover is higher and entrepreneurs are not willing to develop skills with their own cost. Entrepreneurs are not adopting new technologies due to not available of technicians of modern machineries in local market. As a result productivity and quality of products is not increasing up to a satisfactory level.

  1. Non-cooperation from relevant government agencies: In most of the cases Tax-VAT, police, environment, consumer rights etc. officials are not cooperating with the entrepreneurs. There could have an orientation gap between these officials and entrepreneurs. Government could orient these officials that, all entrepreneurs are not dishonest so everybody shall not be treated as a thief. They must remember an entrepreneur’s role in the economy by paying taxes / VAT, generating employment and increasing GDP growth of the country.

Way forward:

So many development projects are being implemented by the government, donor agencies and NGOs in different sectors of Bangladesh. There could be a development project to update existing technologies of different SME clusters for increasing productivity and product quality. Government could allow sectoral associations to import raw materials with bonded warehouse facility to facilitate export of SME products producing in different clusters throughout the country. Government may consider allowing minimum import duty on raw materials using SME clusters and give protection of SME products against importing. The central bank have to inspire the scheduled commercial banks to offer tailor made loan products based on local needs in different SME Clusters. Government has to take the lead in establishing sector specific testing laboratories and training institutes to promote world class product and efficient labour / technicians in Bangladeshi business arena. Today or tomorrow we have to face the reality that without producing qualitative products of international standard certification no one will buy our products. Therefore government could inspire entrepreneurs to achieve global standard quality certification for respective products.

Moreover cluster development activities shall get priority in government development agenda for balance development of Bangladesh. At this stage SME clusters are in need of government’s intervention for prompt growth and sustainable development. It will facilitate industrialisation, employment, poverty reduction, increase in export earnings, and balanced development of each district of Bangladesh. Government shall not control industrialisation may be anywhere without ensuring proper facilities into a particular location. Otherwise we will see that no natural clusters are growing due to extreme government controlling mechanism. It could increase our import dependency in many sectors.

Capacity Building of Local Professionals

Capacity Building of Local Professionals


Md. Joynal Abdin*

Published by the Independent on March 16, 2018

Bangladesh economy performed on an average 6-7 percent annual growth during last few decades based on Readymade Garment (RMG) export earnings and foreign remittance by exporting semi skilled and unskilled labours mainly to the Middle Eastern countries and two Southeast Asian countries. RMG and expatriate Bangladeshi led growth mentored us to dream big and focus further. Now we are a lower middle income country during last few years and aiming towards a middle income status by 2021, developed economy by 2041. We took SDG Goals seriously and are confident to achieve by 2030, similarly we have numbers of visions like Vision 2021, 2030, 2041 etc. given by major political parties of the country. All of the above visions and goals bring the nation (knowingly or unknowingly) towards a consensus that, Bangladesh wants development; Bangladesh would like to be a middle income country in between 2020-2030 and a developed country in between 2031-2041.

Each of the above vision and goal sounds good and aspiring but this is the appropriate time to assess Bangladesh’s ability to cater all of the inputs needed to achieve the visions. Do we have enough resources to deploy in different sectors for aspiring development? Do we have enough skilled hand to work towards a developed country? Is our education system ready to produce required manpower for sustainable development? So on and so forth. At the same time Bangladesh have to realise its existing challenges and find out root causes of those challenges to make us capable and forward moving. For example one latest survey of BBS showed that there are 2.6 million unemployed people (age 15-64) in Bangladesh. Every year another 2 million new jobseekers are entering the job market. The same survey (Labour Force Survey 2015) identified that Bangladesh created only 1.4 million jobs during 2013 to 2015-16 FY. If we interpret the above data like this, 2.6 million unemployed and 2 million new jobseekers that means 4.6 million unemployed workforce in a year whereas only (1.4/3) 0.46 million placement in a year. It results about 4 million remains unemployed or under employed in a year. It means creating employment is a great challenge for Bangladesh. Therefore growth of the economy may look good for time being but may not be sustainable in the long run.

On the other hand Bangladesh is paying about USD 5 billion every year by recruiting foreign mainly Indian and Sri Lankan professionals and mid-level managers here. Two conflicting statement that Bangladeshi jobseekers are remaining unemployed and Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are paying huge salaries to the foreign professionals is giving a signal that our education system is not producing required level of qualified manpower to serve our industrial needs. Therefore it is the best time to assess the capacity needs of Bangladesh, identify the required trade, and incorporate these in national curriculum, trained up respective teachers and trainers and produce demanding manpower. But governmental process is extra ordinarily slow and cumbersome. Therefore focus of the need may be changed while government will start to produce manpower of that certain need. In such case private sector could be a good weapon to fight with this sort of challenges and government could encourage entrepreneurs to train up respective manpower from home and abroad by providing tax benefit against training cost of the companies.

Bangladesh Employer’s Federation (BEF) with assistance from the UNDP Bangladesh has completed a study titled “Capacity Needs Assessment for Enhancing Management and Professional Capacity of the Private Sector in Bangladesh”. They have identified ten (10) weakest competencies of Bangladeshi managers and professionals. The weakest competency is ‘Communication Skills’ of local professionals, 72 percent of the respondent identify communication as a competency needed to be improved further. Lack of ‘Strategic Thinking’ has been identified as the second most important competency weakness of local professionals followed by ‘Market Forecasting’ in the third position with responses of 52 percent and 51percent respondents vote respectively. Other seven weakest competencies of Bangladeshi professionals identified as ‘Marketing & Promotion’, ‘Initiative Taking’, ‘Product Development’, ‘Innovation and Creativity’, ‘Critical Analysis’, Sales Planning, and ‘Operations Management’ in that order.

All of the above mentioned weaknesses of Bangladeshi professionals are human competencies which could be improved through proper education and training. Similarly all of the above competencies are very much essential to operate corporate houses and to compete with global players in export market.

Therefore Bangladesh has to develop these skills at any cost to survive, sustain and compete with local and foreign competitors. As our education system failed to develop these competencies among the local professionals government should take steps to ensure this competency development in professional arena. Massive skills development projects could be taken on the above skills and compulsory training participation could be ensured. Private sector entrepreneurs could be encouraged to train up respective employees on the above competencies against tax weaver benefit. Private training institutes could be used to train up professionals on the above competencies with government’s budgetary support.

All the major trade bodies like FBCCI, DCCI, MCCI and BEF could be the right platforms to assist government for this capacity building drive.

Government may strengthen training facilities of these trade bodies and develop qualified pool of trainers, course modules to ensure better training performance and qualified local professionals. If government does not take the matter seriously then all the development visions, goals and targets may remain beyond our reach. Because recruiting foreign professionals and rendering local manpower unemployed may be double the burden for the country in near future.

* Mr. Md. Joynal Abdin is a Development Researcher, Columnist and Author. He is serving at DCCI Business Institute (DBI) as Executive Director. Could be reached through mdjoynal@gmail.com

Post-LDC Challenges for Bangladesh Economy

Post-LDC Challenges for Bangladesh Economy

Md. Joynal Abdin

The Daily Sun on 6 February 2018

Bangladesh became a member of the least developed country (LDC) club in 1975. As a newly emerged independent country Bangladesh had to face many socioeconomic as well as geopolitical challenges at that period (soon after the independence).

But gradually we achieved remarkable progress in many fields and emerged as one of the fastest growing economic power in Asia. Continuous progress of Bangladesh economy is an example to the entire world. But we are supposed to achieve even more if political chaos, greed and immaturity is not there. Frequent change of political ideology made us bound to radical shift towards multidimensional economic paradigm. Besides shortcomings of infrastructure, industrial utility, absence of united political will towards a particular system of economy, Bangladesh achieved the millennium development goals (MDGs) with significant performance in many arenas. Bangladeshi expatriate workers and women workers in readymade garment (RMG) sector are the significant contributors of this wonderful achievement.

Bangladesh reduced poverty rate into 23.2% (up to 2016) whereas it was 31.5% in 2010. At the same period extreme poverty rate declined into 12.9 % from 17.6% in 2010. Per capita income of Bangladesh increased to USD 1610 in 2016-17 fiscal years. Hopefully, Bangladesh could be considered to graduate from the list of LDC in upcoming triennial review meeting of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) in this year. Second review of the same committee could be in 2021 then we will be observed for another 3 years i.e. up to 2024 to be finally graduated from the LDC club. This graduation is so much expected and welcoming for the whole nation. It will increase value of Bangladesh brands, Bangladeshi passport, and Bangladesh’s position in different global platforms. Therefore every Bangladeshi is expecting this graduation as soon as possible. But before going for final celebration of this achievement we should conduct an impact assessment study by an impartial body to identify possible impact of LDC graduation on Bangladesh economy during next decade. Few impact of LDC graduation on Bangladesh economy could be as follows:

  1. Loosing preferential market access / preference erosion: Bangladesh exported USD 34.83 billion in last fiscal year. About 90% of Bangladesh’s total exports go to the export markets under different preferential market access facilities in EU (under EBA), Canada, Japan and the US, under their respective GSP schemes. Bangladesh also enjoys preferential market access in such other industrialized countries as Australia and in some developing countries, such as China, India and the Republic of Korea, under RTAs and bilateral initiatives. All these schemes are non-reciprocal in the sense that Bangladesh is not expected to offer preferential access to products originating in the preference-giving countries in response to the offer made to her as an LDC. Since developed country markets account for about 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports, preferential market access in these countries is of special significance to Bangladesh. Besides GSP or EBA Bangladeshi export items are enjoying duty free and quota free market access under the following trade regime:
  • Special and Differential Treatments (S&DT) for LDCs under different agreements of WTO
  • Preferential market access for LDCs under different regional trade agreements like SAFTA, BIMSTEC, APTA etc.
  • Preferential market access for LDCs under different bilateral trade agreements.

The above mentioned discussion made it clear that, Bangladesh’s export items enjoys preferential market access in different parts of the world under different trade regime. If 90% of our export items loose preference then Bangladesh’s export performance is likely to be adversely affected. Therefore fact finding studies should be conducted to identify the financial value of preference erosion in USD, what could be its spillover effects on Bangladesh’s investment environment especially to attract FDI, what could be ways forward to minimise adverse affects of preference erosion on Bangladesh economy.

  1. Impact of Reciprocal Trade Regime Offerings: Currently Bangladesh is a member of nine (9) RTA or FTAs namely, Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (Proposed), Bangladesh-Turkey FTA (Proposed), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Free Trade Area, Pakistan-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement (Negotiations launched: 2003), People’s Republic of China-Bangladesh FTA (Proposed), Preferential Tariff Arrangement-Group of Eight Developing Countries (D-8), South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), Trade Preferential System of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC PTA). An LDC country is allowed not to offer reciprocal trade preference to its counter parts. But Bangladesh has to offer it while graduating from LDC. In such case signing free trade agreement could be more costly for Bangladesh after graduating from LDC list.

  1. Paradigm shift in Official Development Assistance: Bangladesh received official development assistance from development partners 90.5 % as grant and only 9.5% as loan in 1971-1972 fiscal years. Foreign grants and soft loans played a vital role in infrastructure and other development activities in Bangladesh. Still official development assistance (ODA) is a significant source of funding in various mega project of Bangladesh. Development partners are shifting their mode of financing with the wheel of local economic development. Grant amount is decreasing and loan amount is increasing day by day. For example Bangladesh received only 12.5% grants and 87.5% loan in last fiscal year. Soon after the graduation Bangladesh will be completely out of grant assistance facility, everything has to be bearded by local resources or go for foreign loans and repayment with interest. So it may have another adverse affect on development motion of Bangladesh.

  1. Other challenges: Besides the above mentioned challenges Bangladesh may face challenges in getting aid for trade, implementing IP laws, paying more subscription fee to international platforms like UN, unavailability of technical cooperation in terms of development assistance etc.

Finally; we can state that, Bangladesh’s graduation from the list of LDC is a good news for us, but could we please recheck statistical figures that we are producing now, is there any methodological errors, could we conduct an impact assessment study to identify post graduation adverse affects on Bangladesh economy, could we please evaluate economic value of those prospective adverse affects whether we could survive and prosper further or bounced back to the LDC club again. It is better to graduate later than bouncing back to the same pavilion again. We have to develop 100 SEZ, Deep Sea Port, Increase efficiency of existing sea ports, generate more power, develop internal road networking and offer load shedding free electricity connection to the mass people. Lots of mega projects are yet to be materialised. Internal resource mobilisation, confidence building of local investors and attracting foreign investors to invest here in Bangladesh is still pending. So graduation without preparation could be more painful for us if sustainability is not sure.