Md. Joynal Abdin
The Daily Sun on June 15, 2011
We, Bangladeshis, are habituated to look at Bangladesh as an emerging economic power house. But we are not to determine how and when this status will be turned into reality i.e. when this sun of economic power house will reach to its zenith. How this target will be achieved? In the 1980s, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore — these countries were in a single row of economic condition. But in 2011 where is our position and what about the economic situation of the other stated countries? We shall study these facts to identify strengths of the forwarded countries and weaknesses of Bangladesh. Why are we lagging behind the row? According to some critics political instability and ineptitude of our politicians are the major cause of this failure. Though I do not support the argument, I am not in a position to express 100% disagreement with the statement.
Let us try to know the current economic situation of Bangladesh. With about 160 million population the total size of our GDP is about USD 99.36 billion, this is official figure but experts’ argument is that we may have even a bigger one. It may be true due to existence of black money and other factors. Bangladesh’s per capita GDP is about USD 684 on current price basis. We exported USD 16.2 billion in 2009-2010 fiscal year and in the same period we imported worth USD 21.5 billion. We have foreign exchange reserve of USD 10.75 billion in June, 2010. That means we may import only for a quarter without earning foreign currency by export or in remittance form.
We have 5-year plan, PRSP, MDG and finally vision 2021 as declared by the ruling party. The targets set in vision 2021 may be mentioned as follows:
* Democracy and strong democratic institutions.
* Accountability of government and effective parliament.
* Local government institutions of adequate strength and jurisdiction.
* Rule of law and good governance. oHuman rights (political, legal, social, economic, cultural).
* Separation of power with independence of judiciary.
* Delegation, decentralisation, democratisation and devolution of power at local levels of government.
* Meeting basic human needs.
* Alleviation of poverty from 45% to 15% by 2021.
* Social safety nets for the extremely poor.
* Autarky in food production. oUniversal primary healthcare and sanitation.
* Housing for all by 2015.
* Comprehensive handling of the fallout effects of climate change.
* Planned reduction of air, land, water pollution and congestion.
* Formation of a comprehensive regional water policy.
* Rights to information.
* 100% enrollment in schools by 2010 Elimination of illiteracy by 2014.
* High priority to information & communication technology sector.
* Transformation of political culture.
* Elimination of religious bigotry, terrorism, violence, organised crime and corruption from society.
* Effective mechanism for dissent and conflict management/resolution in a spirit of respect and tolerance.
* Raising the economy to the level of a middle-income country by 2021 i.e. GDP per capita at $1500.
It also contains some midterm and longterm targets. The midterm targets are supposed to be achieved by the year 2013 like, raising economic growth rate to 8%, reducing poverty rate to 25%, enhancing electricity supply to 7,000 MW. The longterm targets are supposed to be achieved by the year 2017 like boosting economic growth rate to 10%, reducing poverty rate to 15%, enhancing electricity supply to 20,000 MW.
The government should evaluate the current position in achieving these. Otherwise lots of disheartening reports are waiting for them!