Bangladesh Insight

Jan 05, 2017 | Issue 142

Bangladesh Insight

2016: A Year of Continued Progress

Setting out new milestones for economic indicators

While a steady decline has gripped the global economy last year, all the key economic indicators in Bangladesh witnessed a significant rise, reaching out newer heights in uplifting the fortunes of the countrymen. Forty five years since independence, the gross domestic product (GDP) rose to a record high at 7.11% and exports registered 7.11% growth in 2016 to $34.93 billion. At the end of last December, forex reserves hit a record $32.09 billion and the general inflation marked a six year low decline at 5.3%, giving rise to a forecast that Bangladesh can break out the status of least developed countries (LDCs) by 2024.

Full swing progress in infrastructure and mega projects

Padma Multipurpose Bridge, the country’s first ever nuclear power plant at Rooppur, the Dhaka metro rail and the deep sea port are some of the dream projects which have seen substantial progress in 2016. These projects, rolled out to boost up the wheel of national progress, are personally supervised by HPM Sheikh Hasina under the ‘Fast Track Projects’ scheme. In an unprecedented move, an amount more than $2.3 billion was set aside from the national budget last year specifically for their speedy implementation. At a cost worth $20.5 billion, such projects would transform the future of the nation forever.

Laudable success in counter terrorism measures

In the aftermath of the July 1 terror attack, members of Bangladesh’s different law enforcing agencies have gained success in breaking down the network of homegrown outfits, rooting out the menace of terror threats and restoring security in the streets and people’s minds. In gunfight, around 40 operatives of different militant outfits were killed, while around 64 militants were sentenced to death, 154 to life term imprisonment, along with 242 sent to different jail terms and around 2,043 criminals charged in different cases.

Bangladesh stands out for social progress in South Asia

According to the Social Progress Index 2016, Bangladesh has been rated as one of the top performers in the league of 133 countries, in ensuring nutrition and basic medical care, and health and wellness. In the basic human needs dimension, Bangladesh performs best on nutrition and basic medical care and has most opportunity to improve on the shelter component. In the foundations of wellbeing dimension, Bangladesh scores highest on access to basic knowledge but lags behind on the environmental quality component. In the opportunity dimension, Bangladesh is strongest on personal freedom and choice and has the most room for improvement on access to advanced education.

Marking a strong presence on the global stage

Bangladesh remained vibrant through its strong presence in global forums round the year in 2016, clearly becoming a key player on the global stage addressing the growing domestic challenges. The country witnessed a growing interest shown by the global powers -- China, India, Japan, Russia, the United States and other countries in Bangladesh to have deeper engagements. The historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, US Secretary of State John F Kerry’s maiden visit on August 29 and Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s visit apart from dozens of high-level incoming visits clearly show the growing importance of Bangladesh among global players.

New heights reached in agriculture sector

Owing to a raft of visionary measures, as put in place by the present government, a marked rise has been vindicated in the country’s agricultural sector with Bangladesh turning into a self-reliant one in food production from a basket case. Country’s food grain production (rice, wheat and maize) was 39.1 million metric tons while cereal production was 09.39 million metric tons, potato production 9.46 million metric tons and onion production was 2.13 million metric tons. Different food varieties---three new rice, two potatoes and a wheat – were released last year. Jute farming has been increased in the country as farmers are getting better price of their produce due to rising demand of jute at home and abroad.

Milestones for power sector

In sync with the government’s promise to ensure electricity for all by 2021, the electricity generation capacity has set a new milestone at 15,000 MW with as many as 108 plants being installed across the country. Prudent and able policies have helped around 76% people gain access to electricity. A total of 100 MW of electricity from Tripura has been added to the national grid. Another large project was launched in 2016 to provide 2.5 million new power connections. Till date, around $3.5 billion has been mobilized implementing two mega power projects while a total of 45 sub-divisions achieved 100% electricity.

Digital Renaissance in ICT sector

While the size of ICT market stood at a mere $26 million just eight years back, a massive growth in the industry has taken place setting its appearance on the global stage hitting an unthinkable figure of $600 million. In terms of budgetary allocation, $6 billion has been allocated, up from $2 billion in 2008. As many as 23,500 schools have been equipped with multimedia classrooms alongside 5,300 labs were provided to primary schools. Such raft of accomplishments stands out as a shining testament to the strong commitment of the government in realizing its ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision, turning over a new leaf in the country’s future.

23, Bangabandhu Avenue, Dhaka-1000. Bangladesh.

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