Ansar Ahmed Ullah
The year 2021 is the 50th Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s liberation. 2021 also marks the Centenary Celebrations of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Bangladesh has had remarkable Covid 19 co-operation with neighbours, especially India and currency swap Sri Lanka. In South Asian economies, Bangladesh is a rising star. In 2020 – 21, its per capita income was $2,227.
The Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem mentioned the above during a Q&A session. She was talking at an event, “Bangladesh: The Emerging Asian Tiger economy”, hosted by Priyajit Debsarkar, at the Taj Hotel, Central London, on 30 July 2021. This was the first in person session organised by Bridge India Foundation in association with British Bengali media online Channel NL24.
On various indicators of human development, she said Bangladesh had shown significant improvement. For example, life expectancy in 2019 was 72.6 years, a gain of over 7 years since 2000, years of schooling were up from 4.1 to 6.2, and the country’s human development index value had climbed from 0.478 in 2000 to 0.632 in 2019. As a result, Bangladesh’s index ranking is now 133rd out of a total of 189 countries.
Bangladesh’s growth stems largely from its success as an exporter of garments, which account for 83% of its total exports, and remittances from overseas, which amount to over 7% of GDP. However, the principal driver of growth is investment, which has risen from 24% of GDP in 2000 to 32% in 2019. When asked about Bangladesh’s amazing rise and economic growth, she put it down to the Sheikh Hasina factor.
The High Commissioner emphasised that during the Covid19 pandemic Bangladesh Government offered 2% incentives bonus for Bangladeshis sending remittance to Bangladesh, creating $2billion to keep the growth going. In addition, the Bangladesh Government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had given an exponential economic package to the economy to protect the marginal fringes of the workforce. Globally 57% of Shipbreaking worldwide takes place in Bangladesh and is number three globally in exporting of agricultural produce. She also highlighted the completion of the Padma Bridge will make a huge contribution to the economy.
In the Q&A session, the High Commissioner said some of the challenges include resolving longer term structural challenges could accelerate the post-COVID-19 recovery. Reform priorities include diversification of exports beyond the RMG sector, tackling climate change, deepening the financial sector, improving urbanisation, and strengthening public governance. In addition, addressing infrastructure gaps would accelerate growth and reduce spatial disparities in opportunities across regions and within cities. Human capital development remains a priority as well.
The event was attended by CEO(s) and key members of the UK Business community like POP Airways, Royal Sweets & Airline Catering, Future Bricks and other intellectuals like President Alumni Association UK of Lady Shri Ram College Delhi. Members of Britain Bangladesh Business council were also present who also pledged to work in cohesion with the Bridge India foundation.
The High Commissioner extended all possible cooperation to business leaders at the event for investing in Bangladesh and exploring future avenues together.