According to the Finance Ministry document, economic recovery will be central to the government's forward-looking agenda for the next three years
Building a resilient economic recovery to emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic would be Bangladesh's growth mantra for the next three years.
This inference can be drawn from a government document that looks at how the Covid-19 second wave and the consequent economic slowdown have affected the growth momentum in Bangladesh and mulls measures to overcome the crisis.
According to the Finance Ministry document, economic recovery will be central to Sheikh Hasina government's forward-looking agenda for the next three years, which will focus on the effective implementation of a slew of state policies through aggressive spending.
"In the medium term, the government will put emphasis on economic recovery from the fallout of Covid-19-19 and on implementing the Eighth Five-Year Plan, SDGs (sustainable development goals), Second Perspective Plan, Delta Plan 2100, and Blue Economy strategies," it states.
Over the past decade, Bangladesh has been achieving a steady and stable economic growth along with maintaining sound macroeconomic stability with stable inflation, low public debt, and greater resilience to external shocks.
In fact, in FY19, the growth rate reached a record 8.15% but due to the Covid-19-19 fallout, the growth rate sharply declined to 5.2% in FY20, the document says.
In the last fiscal, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth target was initially set at 8.2%, but the second wave of the pandemic in April 2021 forced a revision of the target to 6.1%.
On the demand side, private consumption, export-import and public investment have largely been affected by the pandemic. And on the supply side, farm output has been satisfactory so far "but manufacturing, construction and service sectors have been significantly affected", the document says.
GDP is the total monetary or market value of all finished goods and services produced in a country within a specific time.
Alongside, Bangladesh also achieved praiseworthy improvement in social indicators, such as reducing poverty rate and infant mortality rate and increasing life expectancy and literacy rate.
As per the document, Bangladesh has already qualified for the least developed country (LDC) graduation. "It has met, for the second time, all the three eligibility criteria for LDC graduation involving income per capita, human assets, and economic and environmental vulnerability."
According to the United Nations Capital Development Fund's (UNCDP) recommendation, Bangladesh's transition will be effective in 2026. It means until 2026, Bangladesh will be able to enjoy all benefits applicable to LDCs.
However, under the current rules, Bangladesh will be able to enjoy duty-free and quota-free market access for another three years, that's until 2029, after entering the EU market.
Bangladesh adopted Vision 2041, Second Perspective Plan 2021-2041, with an aim to eliminate poverty and reach the upper middle-income country status by 2031 and high-income country status by 2041.
The Eighth Five Year Plan (2020-25) has been approved with the following objectives -- recovery from Covid-19-19, preparing Bangladesh for LDC graduation, achieving SDGs, realizing Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, and setting a trajectory towards a prosperous country by 2041.
The plan centers around six core themes -- rapid recovery from Covid-19-19, growth acceleration, employment generation and rapid poverty reduction, a broad-based strategy for inclusiveness, a sustainable development pathway that is resilient to disaster and climate change, improvement of critical institutions necessary to lead the economy to upper middle income country status by 2031, and mitigating the impact of LDC graduation.
The government has already announced a comprehensive economic recovery program to tackle the aftershocks of the pandemic. It has also raised the coverage of different safety net schemes for social protection to address the Covid-19 setbacks.
A nation-wide vaccination drive began in February 2021. However, the document points out that achieving mass vaccination and herd immunity will take significant time.
Priority should be given to sectors like health care, agriculture, education, rural development, employment and social security, it advocates.