Sheikh Hasina Factor: Economic Development amid Pandemic

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Published on February 3, 2022
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Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday:

In the last two years, the health sector and economic progress of almost all the countries of the world have gone through a very tough time due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the negative effects of COVID-19 in the health sector, many countries have struggled to cope with the overcrowding of patients in hospitals and to provide healthcare to COVID-19 sufferers. Even the world's strongest economies have struggled to cope with the negative effects of COVID-19 for the past two years.

It is worth mentioning that this global pandemic has caused an economic recession. The economic growth of rich countries has slowed down drastically. At that point, Bangladesh not only successfully coped with the first and second phases of the COVID-19 but also attained positive economic growth. While the growth of the major economies in the last two years was below three per cent, Bangladesh has achieved a growth rate of around six per cent, which is a great achievement for her.

When many countries around the world were slowly starting to recover from the terrible grip of COVID-19, the effects of the Omicron variant identified in South Africa at the end of last year began to intensify the rate of transmission. Since December 2021, the situation in various European countries including the United Kingdom as well as the United States, has already started to spiral out of control. As a result of this upward trend of infection, the growth of different countries will be threatened in the coming days. As a result, the economic development of different countries may decrease in 2023. However, even in this situation, Bangladesh is different from other countries because it has maintained its progress even amid the global recession.

According to a recent report released by the World Bank, Bangladesh's growth in the 2021-22 fiscal year will be 6.4 per cent, and it will be 6.9 per cent in the next fiscal year, 2022-2023.

Only India can play behind Bangladesh in the 2021-22 financial year, but in the 2022-2023 financial year, Bangladesh will achieve economic growth by leaving the whole world behind, which will be a truly wonderful achievement. The World Bank's Global Outlook was released on January 14 from Washington.

The most successful way to prevent the spread of the virus was to implement a lockdown in the country. And during the implementation of this lockdown, supply-chain management broke down everywhere. On the one hand, this was a huge loss to the industries of a country; on the other hand, many people were losing their jobs as a result of the economic slowdown. Emerging markets and developing economies are facing constraints. And the weaker economies are getting more vulnerable, particularly those whose economies were highly dependent on the tourism sector as we have seen in the case of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's economy has been on the brink of bankruptcy for the past year. Although several allied countries, including Bangladesh and India, are trying to keep the country's economy afloat by providing various types of economic assistance, the country is passing through a terrible time.

If we compare the growth of Bangladesh with the growth rate of the United States, it will be evident that the growth rate of the United States will be 3.7 per cent in FY 2021-22, and the growth rate in FY 2022-23 will be 2.6 per cent. On the other hand, during this time, Bangladesh's growth will be above six per cent, which is a delightful achievement. It is predicted that the growth rate of European countries will be three per cent this year while it will be 2.9 per cent in the following year. Growth in Japan is expected to go down at this time. The data that Global Outlook reveals in this report is calculated, considering the negative impact of Omicron on the economy.

Along with the economic growth, a favourable wind is blowing in the export market of Bangladesh. And this is why the export sector has turned around. At the same time, the size of labour income and remittances has increased. And that's why the International Monetary Fund has projected for the first time this month that the size of the country's economy has crossed the one thousand billion or 1 trillion US$ mark, based on human purchasing power. Exactly four years later, in 2026, the IMF expects Bangladesh's economy to reach 1.5 trillion US dollars. Now a pertinent question is what is the reason for this unprecedented economic achievement of Bangladesh during the pandemic? The simple answer to this question is that due to the visionary leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the economy of Bangladesh today stands on a solid foundation. When she came to power in 2009, she was determined to take Bangladesh to a unique height. And this is why her government has adopted and implemented various positive plans in the country.

The implementation of several development projects - which we can call mega projects - are in full swing. These include Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project, Metrorail Project, Padma Bridge Rail Link Project, Dohazari to Ramu via Cox's Bazar and Ramu to Ghumdhum rail line construction project, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant construction project, Matarbari Coal Power Station construction project, Payra deep seaport construction and Sonadia deep seaport construction. Once these projects are completed, economic progress will accelerate further. We already know that the government plans to open the Padma Bridge in June and the Metrorail and Karnaphuli Tunnel in December this year. Completion of these mega projects will have a positive impact on the economy. And for this reason, the IMF hopes that Bangladesh's economy will exceed trillion dollars in 2026.

However, the continuity of power under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina has played an important role in this unprecedented triumph. Because we know that in the political reality of Bangladesh, there is a lack of consensus among different political parties. Therefore, with the change of power, the implementation of all the activities of the previous government came to a halt. From this context, it can be stated that the present government is in an advantageous position in taking and implementing decisions as they have been in power for almost 13 years, from 2009 to 2022. As a result, it has been possible to implement these projects easily.

When COVID-19 started wreaking havoc in 2020, various international organisations and countries thought famine could start in Bangladesh, and the economy would collapse. But under the able leadership of Sheikh Hasina, the whole world has witnessed the enticing development of Bangladesh in the last 13 years. Over the past two years, Bangladesh has been recommended to be included in the list of developing countries. Bangladesh's development progress in various indicators of economic development has been appreciated by various international organisations. Therefore, it has been established as a role model of development. In the same way, it has emerged as an emerging country or Asian Tiger on the world map. Those who once described Bangladesh as a basket case are praising the alluring economic development of Bangladesh under the able leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has proved that tremendous growth can be attained if the government is committed to achieving it. We want Bangabandhu's golden Bengal to be established very soon under the leadership of his daughter our Honourable Prime Minister.

Writer: Professor, Department of Public Administration, University of Rajshahi

Courtesy: Daily Sun