Essay : Bangladesh on Development Highway

Bangladesh on Development Highway

Introduction : The market-based economy of Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It’s the 41st largest in the world in nominal terms, and is classified among the nest eleven emerging markets of middle-income economies. The financial sector of Bangladesh is the second-largest sector in the subcontinent. Through the continuation of the present government, Bangladesh is now moving towards the development highway. 
In recent decade Bangladesh has been largely driven by its exports of ready-made garments, remittances and the domestic agricultural sector. The country has pursued export-oriented industrialization with its key export sectors including textiles, shipbuilding, fish and seafood, jute and leather goods. It has also developed self-sufficient industries in pharmaceuticals, steel and food processing. The government promotes the Digital Bangladesh scheme as part of its efforts to develop the country’s growing information technology sector. 

Economic Growth : Economy of Bangladesh has maintained a sustainable growth and achieved GDP growth at more than 6 per cent on an average during the last decade. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the GDP growth surpassed 7 per cent in FY 2015-16 and stood at 7.11 percent. The GDP growth increased to 7.28 per cent in FY 2016-17 and 7.86 percent in FY 2017-18. As per provisional estimate of BBS, the GDP growth stood at 8.13 percent in FY 2018-19. 
On another hand, per capita national income in FY 2018-19 stood at Tk. 1,60,060 up from Tk. 1,43,789 in the previous fiscal year. In US dollar, per capita GNI and GDP stood at USD 1,909 and USD 1,827 respectively in FY 2018-19 compared to USD 1,751 and USD 1,675 respectively in FY 2017-18. 

Transforming the power sector : At present, about 93 per cent people of the country are covered by electricity facilities. The government took several initiatives such as instant, short, medium and long term plan to meet the increasing demand of electricity. In FY 2019-19 (Up to February 2019), total grid-based installed capacity was 18,079 megawatt (MW) including 9,065 MW in public sector, 7,854 MW in private sector and 1,160 MW imported from India. 
To bring all citizens of the country under electricity facilities by 2021, the government is continuing development, reform and reconstruction activities in power sector. In order to achieve the government’ vision 2021, there are plans to generate 24,000 MW by 2021, 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041. 

Road to Middle-income Status : Bangladesh has been on the list of UN least Developed Countries (LDC) since 1975. Bangladesh met the requirements to be recognised as a developing country in March, 2018. Overcoming myriad crises, Bangladesh has indeed made substantial progress during the past decades. 
It's per capita income is now increasing gradually. Women’s participation in labour force has increased to 41% and literacy rate to 72.3%. Poverty rate is also on the decline. About 10 million Bangladeshis are now working overseas in 150 plus countries. The reserve of the country has reached 32 billion USD. It means our country is experiencing an economic boom. Now Bangladesh aims to be a middle-income country by 2021. 

Mega Projects in Transforming the Economy : The mega-infrastructure projects evidently play a crucial role in accelerating economic growth. Even under the Sustainable Development Goals framework, it is estimated that the world economics need to spend about USD 57 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to enable the anticipated levels of GDP growth globally. At present, there are some ongoing mega projects in Bangladesh which would be helpful for its national development that is- 

Padma Multipurpose Bridge : With overall 71% work (till June 2019) accomplished the dream for the largest and the longest infrastructure undertaking in Bangladesh- Padma Multipurpose bridge appears to be a distinct reality now. A self-funded project of Bangladesh government and 6.15km double-deck bridge is connecting southern part of Bangladesh with the capital city as well as eastern part of the country. The bridge will have road and rail linkages in two separate decks. 

Paira Sea Port : Initiating its operational activities in 2016, Paira Sea Port is another mega project comprising 19 components. Out of these, 13 components will be implemented under Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the remaining six under the Government-to-Government (G2G) deals. The port will be fully operational by 2023. 

Dhaka Metro Rail Project : The country’s first-ever metro rail will be able to start operation on December 16, 2021, when the nation celebrates its golden jubilee of independence. Originally, the project’s implementation period was 2012-2024. Now, the entire part (the 20km) will be operational within 2021. Once completed, a total of 24 trains together will transfer 60,000 passengers every hour in both directions. 

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant : A financing agreement had been signed with Russia for the construction of 2,400 MW Rooppur nuclear power project at Rooppur (Pabna). The construction work of the Power Unit 1 was inaugurated in November 2017 and Unit 2 in July 2018. The commissioning of Unit 1 is planned in 2022 while the commissioning of Unit 2 is planned in 2023. 

Karnaphuli Underwater Tunnel : Karnaphuli Underwater Tunnel project is worth USD 2.49 billion and construction work is set to start in 2017. The boring work beneath the tunnel is inaugurated in February 2019. The construction of the proposed 3.5km-long four-lane tunnel would improve the connectivity between Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar and impact positively on the operation of Chattogram port. The total length of the tunnel will be around 9.1km, including 3.4km under the Karnaphuli river. 

Dhaka Elevated Expressway : Dhaka elevated Expressway is Bangladesh’s first elevated expressway project, which will connect the Shahjalal airport with Kutubkhali via Mohakhali, Tejgaon and Kamalapur. It will be 46.73km long including the connecting roads. This will impact positively to the economic productivity of Dhaka city. 

Matarbari Coal Power : Matarbari 1,200 MW coal power project site is in Matarbari close to Maheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar. It is going on in full swing with 25 per cent of the work completed as of May 2019. 

Rampal Power Project : The 1320 MW Rampal coal power project near the Sundarbans, whose work started in April 2017, is scheduled to be operational by June 2020. Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company is implementing the project, which drew criticism from environmentalists for its potential adverse impacts on the Sundarbans. 

Other Prospective Mega Projects : Dhaka-Chattogram Express Way (Rail or Road), Circular Road around Dhaka City, construction of an International Airport in the centre of Bangladesh, Dhaka Underground Train/Tube Rail and construction of second bridge on river Padma are a few of the other prospective mega projects that are in the offing in Bangladesh, and for which opportunities exist for Direct Foreign Investment. 
Bangladesh’s development story, especially implementation of the ongoing and future mega projects have earned the reputation in the region as a hot spot for global investment. The role of these mega infrastructure projects is expected to be fundamental in the overall national development process. 

Challenges & Steps to be Taken : However, Bangladesh has some challenges as well. The political scene during the last few decades has been full of bitterness, animosity and violence. Meanwhile the widening disparity between rich and poor within the country is shattering the dream of the mass people. It is also mentionable that corruption has been widespread in the country. Combating corruption is necessary for stimulating our sustainable development. 

Conclusion : Under such circumstances, a few steps may help us to get rid of these problems. Firstly, the government will have to ensure a stable political situation. Secondly, as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a crucial sector for economic development, Bangladesh has to focus on service sector through ICT. Thirdly, remittance earning may increase if the government could send more skilled and trained workers abroad. Finally, Bangladesh mush creates adequate jobs for its unemployed population to defeat poverty so that they can also contribute to the economy. Thus these initiatives would transform the country’s economic growth and social development and also help the country to achieve high mid-income country status by 2041.
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