Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Bangladesh has become a role model in the world for being the 35th economic power.
“We are now the 35th largest economy in the world. By 2037, we will be the 20th. Also by 2026, we will become a developing nation. We’re working to build a prosperous and smart Bangladesh by 2041,” she said.
The premier was addressing a seminar at Columbia University in the USA on Thursday. The daily Bangladesh Pratidin organised the seminar styled ‘Bangladesh Economy: Opportunities and Challenges’.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen was the special guest while Bangladesh Bank former governor Dr Atiur Rahman keynote speaker at the seminar.
Prof Dr Birupaksho Paul of New York State University conducted the session while Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam chaired it.
Former head of United Nations Development Research Team Dr Nazrul Islam, Farida Khan of Colorado University, environmental and water scientist Sufian Khondker, Professor Golam M. Matbar of Monmouth University and Prof Michael Steckler of Columbia University took part in the panel discussion.
State senators Sheikh Rahman, Masudur Rahman, state representative Abul B Khan and Milborne Mayor Mahbubul Alam Taib also took part in the discussion.
In a prerecorded speech, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she has come to politics to realise her father's dreams.
“The dream was to make Bangladesh a happy and prosperous country where every citizen can lead a decent life. You will be happy to know that we have come a long way towards fulfilling this dream. By 2026, we will become a developing nation. By 2041, we expect to build a prosperous and smart Bangladesh,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has seen massive socioeconomic changes over the last 14 years.
“Bangladesh has now become role model for development in the world. We’re now the 35th largest economy in the world. By 2037, we will be the 20th. The country has made a significant progress in poverty alleviation. In 2006, the poverty rate was 41.5 percent. In 2022, this rate has come down to 18.7 percent,” she added.
Mentioning 5.6 percent poverty rate, she said per capita income stood at US$2,760 and GDP growth was 6.7 percent before the corona pandemic, the premier said Bangladesh saw around 3.45 percent economic growth during the Covid-19 pandemic although other countries faced a setback.
Now the country’s GDP growth has risen to 7 percent while industrial GDP jumped to 37 percent from 22 percent. About life expectancy, Sheikh Hasina said the country’s average life expectancy has increased from 59 years to 73 years.
She also said child mortality rate has been checked significantly. Bangladesh is ahead of other South Asian countries in gender equality.
The country’s GDP size is now $465 billion although it was just $60 billion in 2006. Unemployment rate has fallen to 3.2 percent and literacy increased to 75.6 percent. Since 1997, the Awami League-led government has made homes for more than 8.40 lakh landless people across the country.
Last month, the government introduced universal pension scheme. “Time-befitting and prudent decisions have acted behind the record socioeconomic progress.” Earlier, Bangladesh was part of British colonial and Pakistani regimes. After 1947 partition, Bangabandhu started movement against the Pakistani regime. Bangladesh achieved independence from Pakistan in 1971 through nine months of war. Unfortunately, in 1975, Bangabandhu along with most of the family members was killed.
“We transferred power peacefully in 2001. Then we plunged into another dark chapter of murder, terror, corruption and military intervention.”
Sheikh Hasina said, “I had to live as a refugee for six years. I returned to the country in 1981, to establish democratic rights of the people. My journey was not smooth. Attempts were made for 19 times to kill me. The grenade attack on August 21, 2004 was one of such attempts. In this attack, 22 leaders and workers of my party were killed and more than 500 were injured.”
Urging Bangladeshi students to work for the country, the premier said, “Don't forget your birthplace. Above all, birth is our identity. Your talent, knowledge and skills will be utilised for the welfare of the country. You can do it wherever you want.”
Emeritus Professor of Dhaka University and former governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr Atiur Rahman said the story of the extraordinary transformation of the economy of Bangladesh is really amazing. The beginning was very challenging. After the Liberation War, Bangladesh was a pile of ruins. It can be mentioned that Bangladesh started its development journey with empty hands. But the great asset was the inspiring aesthetic leadership of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is the fighting spirit of this leadership given to the nation that pulls Bangladesh on the highway of development. From 2009 to 2023, Bangladesh did not take any major wrong strategy in economy and politics.
Bangladeshi-origin American Abul B Khan, who has been elected House of Representative at New Hampshire State in the USA, said Bangladesh has made a tremendous progress. “It is a long way and this progress has not been made overnight. Bangladesh has achieved a success in major areas, including food security and women empowerment,” he said.
Thanking the Bangladesh Pratidin for organising the event, he said Bangladesh is no more a bottomless basket. “We have removed off this stigma after coming a long way,” he said.
BDST: 0427 HRS, SEP 22, 2023