• Saturday, Jan 19, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:40 pm

Riding high in the surging economy

  • Published at 12:55 am January 6th, 2019
webWorkers at a television factory assembly line syed ZAkir HossAin
Workers at a television factory assembly line Syed Zakir Hossain/ Dhaka Tribune

The per capita income in Bangladesh now shoots up to US$1,751 from less than half of the amount back in 2008 when the Awami League had another landslide and since then the party has overseen how this country’s poverty and extreme poverty rates have also come down to 21.8 percent and 11.3% now

The Awami League (AL)-led 14-party Alliance is all set to form the country’s next government at a time when Bangladesh is in a development trajectory with its economy well poised. 

The members of a new cabinet will swear in tomorrow afternoon with a big job in hand – that is to complete Bangladesh’s graduation process from a least developed nation to a developing economy.

The formation of a new government and that again by a ruling coalition that has already shown Bangladesh a growth path over the past decade could not have been better timed. 

With Sheikh Hasina at the helm of state affairs, Bangladesh posted a record 7.86% GDP growth in 2017-18, highest in South Asia. And the country now aspires to propel its GDP growth to a double digit.

After AL-led grand alliance’s landslide victory in the December 30 election with as many as 288 parliamentary seats under its belt, the AL president Sheikh Hasina already got presidential assent to become the country’s prime minister for the fourth time. Her new cabinet will take shape tomorrow.

The per capita income in Bangladesh now shoots up to US$1,751 from less than half of the amount back in 2008 when the Awami League had another landslide and since then the party has overseen how this country’s poverty and extreme poverty rates have also come down to 21.8 percent and 11.3% now.

As Sheikh Hasina is set to lead her new cabinet after tomorrow her government would also have to consider diversifying its export basket where currently over $30 billion out of its nearly $37 billion export earnings are being fetched by ready-made garments only.

Economists and analysts, however, find it as a move towards the right direction, that AL is aware of the challenge, ready to go for export diversification; at the same time attract more foreign direct investments (FDI) and develop 100 special economic zones in the country.

Bangladesh’s economy though buoyant with a $32 billion foreign exchange reserve, over $15 billion remittance earning and a steady farm sector growth, is still not free from the concerns over banking sector irregularities, rising bad loans and youth unemployment.

Hasina’s third term on the trot in power would come with the challenge of making some crucial reforms in the banking sector, generate job opportunities and create an enabling environment for the youth, whose role seems all the more crucial at this point of a ‘demographic dividend’. Bangladesh must tap this potential ‘window of opportunity’ before its population starts aging.

In absence of any formidable parliamentary opposition, public expectations run high that the new government would give greater space for dissent, civic liberty and free press as the AL keeps pursuing all its other pro-poor activities like funding more on the social safety net programs and building human capital.

The new government’s time in power (2019-2023) will also see Bangladesh celebrating the golden jubilee of its 1971 independence, centenary celebration of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the country and accomplishing the goals set under Vision 2021.