After graduating from the LDC status, Bangladesh will face pressure in various areas, notably exports. Our duty-free access to the global market will end. Loans on easy terms from development partner countries and agencies will gradually come to an end. Funding on the climate change challenge will also be difficult. Strict intellectual property laws will be followed in the pharmaceutical industry and other sectors. Subsidies in agriculture and support for new industry will be reduced.
We will have to keep an eye on the rise of per capita income for the next five years. Development of human resources must continue. There must br control on climate change-related adversity. We have to reduce discrimination towards women amidst these achievements. Various financial vulnerabilities including exports will have to be tackled.
The coronavirus pandemic has made many things complex. Even when the pandemic goes away, its aftermath will linger for long. We will have to take special care regarding the growing impact of COVID-19 on the economic and social areas. We will have to ensure that macroeconomic instability isn’t hampered and that inflation doesn’t increase.
We should keep in mind Bangladesh will have to grow amid the global adverse economy in the next five years. Currently an there is a global economic slump. Business expansion and investment activities have become sluggish. Oil prices may rise further. The adverse effect of climate change may intensify further too. Then there remains the challenge of maintaining 1.1 million (11 lakh) Rohingyas and working for their repatriation.
Recently, the global community has given importance to two issues when it comes to development. The first one is how inclusive national development has been. This entails whether socioeconomic and long-standing discrimination in the country has been reduced or not. The second one is whether the state has ensured the good governance required for development. This indicates whether citizen rights, that is human rights, has been duly protected or not. So we will have to put emphasis on reducing discrimination in the society during the development for the next 5 to 10 years. And citizen rights must be ensured in all sectors of the state.
The government will have to prepare a graduation-time strategy paper immediately to bring together these measures effectively. That strategy paper will have different goals. One of the goals will be that Bangladesh continues, even during the time of graduation, to receive the aid and assistances it receives as an LDC. These global initiatives should be used to secure new international support and assistance even after graduating from LDC status. The other thing is to have more free-trade treaties, if the trade facilities no longer exist. It must bee determined how to increase revenue collection, how to attract further foreign investment and how to institutionally face intellectual property laws if these are made more stringent.
The major challenge in formulating the graduation-time strategy paper wil be to maintaining semblance with existing plans and papers of the government. The eight-year plan, perspective plan, 100-year delta plan, climate action plan and UN-declared sustainable development agenda will have to be taken into consideration. Gradual implementation of these will wean into the graduation-time strategy.
The government formed a national task force in 2018 for monitoring the activities for implementation of the roadmap to the graduation from LDC. The Economic Relations Division of the finance ministry will have to play an important role in leading the task force. The planning commission will also have a special role. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) will have to help by providing necessary data and statistics. Inclusion of the foreign ministry in this work is also vital.
Bangladesh missions in New York, Geneva, Brussels and other places will have to pay heed to place our demands before the international community. Private sector and non-government organisations will have to be included in such initiative.
Needless to say, we will have to implement this graduation-time strategy effectively at home and abroad with competency. The strength we will acquire while graduating from the list of LDC status will depend on this. It has started well and we must finish it well too.
Debapriya Bhattacharya is a distinguished fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). This comment appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir