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Friday, January 27, 2023

Bangladesh: Economic indicators reflect optimism

A group in Bangladesh always tries to mislead the people and the international community by spreading negative news.

Following the war between Ukraine and Russia last year, several derogatory remarks regarding the economics of countries like Bangladesh have come from various sources. Many groups, including those within Bangladesh and the international community, have claimed that Bangladesh would resemble Sri Lanka. During this time, this assertion was frequently justifiable since many governments found it challenging to maintain the stability of their economies in the post-Corona era due to the impacts of the war. Due to Sri Lanka’s near-bankruptcy at the time, a similar scenario existed there. From that point of view, many people forecasted that a Srilanka-like situation would occur in Bangladesh. However, their forecasts have yet to come true. Bangladesh’s economy is currently in the same state as it was 12 months ago. However, some fears remain because of the war’s impact on commodity prices in the international markets.

We have passed 2022 and entered 2023 with various kinds of anxiety. Various news reports have shown that the situation in 2023 will be worse than in 2022. Even the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh warned fellow citizens about the possible economic recession risk of 2023 and urged them to increase savings from different times and positions. Meanwhile, two positive economic data came to my attention at the beginning of the year. The headline of the January 3 issue of one of the country’s leading newspapers gave me hope. “Despite the crisis, export income increased by 10.5%” the report under the title mentioned that Bangladesh’s export earnings have increased by 10.5 per cent during the first six months of the fiscal year 2022-2023 (i.e. July to December) amidst various worries and crises. In December of the recent year, the export income was 537 million dollars, the highest in the country’s history as a month’s export income (Prothom Alo, 03/01/2023). The report also noted that in December 2022, the country received $1.7 billion in expatriate income, which is 4.35 per cent higher than the same period of the previous year (Prothom Alo, 03/01/2023).

At the same time, another report in the newspaper came to my attention, which mentioned that the income of freelancers in Bangladesh has increased. These three facts are very promising for the country’s economy. Such positive information will ease the government’s and people’s minds in early 2023. The government can be commended for this positive data for the economy. Some successful government decisions have played an important role in increasing export earnings. Likewise, the establishment of Digital Bangladesh has had a significant impact on the income of freelancers. In this case, too, the government should be applauded.

Now, naturally, the question that is being discussed in everyone’s mind is why this information is important for the economy of Bangladesh. We must remember that due to the Corona pandemic and the war, there was a kind of anxiety about the foreign currency reserves in the country. Foreign currency reserves increased to 48 billion dollars in 2021 but have since decreased to 34 billion dollars (Prothom Alo, 03/01/2023). The main reason for this was the increase in the dollar’s value. In the last few months, the dollar price has increased from 86 to 105 taka in several steps. Due to the strong dollar appreciation, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, and other commodities have increased. As a result, the government had to accelerate paying the export price, which led to a slight deficit in foreign exchange reserves. But since the end of last year, the economy has slowly started to turn around, which is very positive for the government.

Everyone is aware that the Bangladesh National Parliament Elections will take place in January 2024. This year is vital for the Bangladeshi people and the government because the continuation of the nation’s development over the last 14 years depends on the present government’s continuity in office. However, we have noticed some anti-Bangladesh activism in recent months from both domestic and foreign sources. Many people are trying to halt Bangladesh’s growth by joining opposition parties. There are many different forms of election-related conversations. However, the government consistently conveys its desire for a change of government through an inclusive election that is fair and free.

On the other hand, opposition parties have expressed their stubborn stand on the demand for elections under the caretaker government, ousting the government. But what is vital for the country is that the government has to adopt various policies very carefully in the next year to maintain the development trend. It can be said with certainty that the positive data on two important indicators of the economy will create room for relief for the government. Undoubtedly, the budget that will be prepared this year will be an election budget. There is a need to make various allocations in the election budget to attract the people. As a result, negative economic flows would have made it difficult for the government to prepare an election budget.

A group in Bangladesh always tries to mislead the people and the international community by spreading negative news. This group does not see any positive information about Bangladesh. Their main goal is to belittle the country and the government before the people of the country and the outside world for the sake of opposition. In politics, there will be opposition—that is normal. However, if constructive opposition is not opposed for the sake of opposition, democracy will be consolidated. It is desirable in a democracy that the opposition would criticise the government’s evil deeds; at the same time, good deeds must be appreciated. But presenting only negative information without appreciating good works can never be the core philosophy of constructive opposition. Furthermore, it is not the citizen’s responsibility to be shy about praising the country’s positive aspects. Let’s create a place of trust for the country and the people by positively presenting the positive facts of Bangladesh in front of everyone without opposing for the sake of opposition.

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The author is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.

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