Present-day Bangladesh is one of the fastest developing economies of the world. In 2015, Bangladesh graduated from Less Developed Country (LDC) status to become a low middle-income country. Many economists think that soon Bangladesh will become a middle-income country. Today, Bangladesh is moving forward at relentless pace in per capita national income, export income, foreign exchange reserves, electricity sector, communications, economic and social infrastructure. South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and especially Afghanistan, should follow the ‘Bangladesh Economic Model’.
Despite the global epidemic of corona, the per capita national income of Bangladesh is growing. According to various local and international media outlets, in the fiscal year 2019-2020, the per capita income of Bangladesh was 2,064 US dollars. In the fiscal year 2020-2021, this income has increased to 2,228 US dollars. In the fiscal year 2018-2019, the GDP growth of Bangladesh was 8.15 percent. In the fiscal year 2019-2020, this growth was 5.24 percent. According to an ADB report, in the 2020-2021 and 2021-22 fiscal years, this growth is expected to be 6.8 percent and 7.2 percent respectively even in this Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the able and dynamic leadership of development-friendly Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh is on the highway of development today. Bangladesh is moving towards surpassing various countries in South Asia. In the meantime, Bangladesh has fulfilled various conditions of the United Nations and in accordance with the criteria set by them. According to a 2020 survey, Bangladesh is the 41st largest economy in the world. Bangladesh is one of the 11 countries in the world today that are considered as emerging regions for future development.
According to the Center for Economic and Business Research (CIBR), a British economic research institute, Bangladesh will be the 34th largest economy by 2025, 26th by 2030, and 25th by 2035 if the current economy continues to grow at the expected rate. While the global economy is in the grip of the corona epidemic, Bangladesh’s economy is moving forward. One of the factors behind this is the growth of its overall export earnings, the growing inflow of remittances, and the positive growth of per capita national income.
According to a survey by the World Bank, Bangladesh ranked 8th among the top ten countries in the world in terms of remittance flows in 2020. At present, Bangladesh’s remittance reserves are over 45 billion US dollars. According to an EPP statistic, in the first ten months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Bangladesh’s export earnings were 32.07 billion dollars, an increase of 8.75 percent over the same period last year.
This rise and progress of Bangladesh’s economy is a surprise to the whole world. People are now amazed at this progress of Bangladesh. Policy makers, economists and newspapers of different countries are now praising Bangladesh. They are studying our economic development strategy. Some countries are also considering whether this development strategy can be followed or implemented in their countries.
According to a reliable source, Nicholas Christoph, a well-known columnist for The New York Times, recently advised US President Jo Biden to learn from Bangladesh on ways to alleviate poverty. A US daily, the Wal-Mart Journal, recently wrote that Bangladesh’s economy is the ‘fast horse’ in South Asia. Mike Hard, a commentator for the Washington Post, wrote that at one time South Korea was cited as an example of development and now Bangladesh has occupied that place.
The remarkable success that has been achieved in the field of economy of Bangladesh in recent years has been reflected in various reports published in various news outlets in the country and abroad. Before presenting her 2021-2022 budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of Bangladesh’s neighbouring country, India, said in February that there was a lot to learn from Bangladesh on how to increase export earnings in certain sectors. The Economic Survey presented by her commented, “Bangladesh has emerged as an important exporter in the international arena. Between 2011 and 2019, the country’s compound annual growth rate was 7.8 percent, 0.9% higher than India and 0.4% higher than the rest of the world.”
By the end of 2020, the IMF had forecast, Bangladesh would surpass India in terms of per capita national income. And that has really happened. On June 1, Blumberg headlined, “South Asia now needs to look at the region’s stars. Needless to say, this star is Bangladesh.”
According to a report in The Print on May 26, Bangladesh has built up deep ties with its neighbours, from sending India Covid-19 relief supplies, to helping in Sri Lanka’s economic crisis through loan assistance. Bangladesh recently agreed to exchange 200 million US dollars with Sri Lanka. This money will go a long way in strengthening the Sri Lankan economy. The currency exchange process will also help Colombo overcome the huge debt crisis. Through this initiative, it is clear to the outside world that Bangladesh is currently on a strong economic footing.
Moreover, Bangladesh is one of the 40 countries that sent relief twice in the second wave of coronavirus to India. On May 8, Bangladesh sent 10,000 medicines to India. Later, on May 16, Bangladesh sent 2,072 boxes of antiviral drugs and Covid protection materials to India.
The rise and development of Bangladesh’s economy has also attracted the attention of Pakistani intellectuals. According to a source in a Pakistani daily, Abid Hassan, a former adviser to the World Bank’s Pakistan programme, compared the situation in Pakistan with Bangladesh’s economic rise. He said even 20 years ago it was unthinkable that by 2020 Bangladesh’s per capita GDP would be higher than Pakistan’s. According to him, if Pakistan maintains its disappointing performance, it may have to seek cooperation from Bangladesh by 2030. If Bangladesh can pay 20 million US dollars to Sri Lanka, waive the IMF’s Bangladeshi share of money from Somalia and Sudan, help Indonesia with Covid-19 medical equipment, shelter a large number of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, it can also financially help Pakistan.
The Canada-based International Forum for Rights and Security, a think tank, recently published a report on Bangladesh and Pakistan. It showed that Bangladesh is ahead in all development indices.
South Asian countries are close to Bangladesh geographically and have similar socio-economic conditions. They can learn from Bangladesh how it is developing despite having many problems, especially overpopulation and climate change. The South Asian countries would be better off if they follow the Bangladeshi model of economic management. Ultimately all South Asian nations would benefit mutually.
—The writer is a Dhaka-based NGO activist and freelance columnist. [email protected]