Dr.Syed Mehboob

Senior Research Editor

The News Lark, political and economic analyst

                                                                            Soon after its independence Bangladesh faced many challenges. The Bangladesh famine of 1974 began in March,1974 and ended in about December,1974. The famine is considered one of the worsts in the 20th century. It was characterized by massive flooding along the Brahmaputra River. On 15th August,1975 Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman was killed by a group of Bangladesh Army. Most of his family members were killed except Sheikh Hasina Wajid and her sister who were out of country for higher studies.

On 21st April,1977 Lt General Zia ur Rehman former Chief of Army staff Bangladesh became president and remained on this post till his assassinations on 30th May,1981.

Sheikh Hasina Wajid the talented daughter of Sheikh Mujib ur Rehman served as Prime Minister of Bangladesh from June 1996 to July,2001 and againsince January,2009. Having served combined 20 years, she is the longest serving Prime Minister in the Bangladesh. As on 28th May,2024 she is the world’s longest serving female head of government. Under her visionary leadership Bangladesh is steadily advancing towards establishment of Bangabandhu’s dream of “SONAR BENGAL”, The current government’s aim is to present Bangladesh as an upper middle-income country by 2031 and a developed country by 2041.

Year Growth rate % GDP per capita US$ Total debt to GDP % Import US$ billion Export US$ billion Remittances US$ billion Foreign Exchange US$ billion
2008-09 5.05 759 39.3 22.51 15.54 9.68 7.47
2009-10 5.57 843 37.4 23.74. 16.20 10.99 10.75
2010-11 6.46 928 38 33.6 22.93 11.65 10.91
2011-12 6.52 955 37.4 35.52 24.30 12.84 10.36
2012-13 6.01 1,654 36.6 34.10 27.02 14.46 15.31
2013-14 6.06 1,184 35 40.73 30.18 14.33 21.50
2014-15 6.55 1,316 32.3 40.71 31.21 15.32 25.02
2015-16 7.11 1,465 31.5 43.12 34.26 14.93 30.16
2016-17 7.28 1,610 30.8 47.00 34.66 12.77 33.49
2017-18 7.86 1,751 31.9 58.86 36.67 14.98 32.94
2018-19 8.15 1,909 33.1 59.91 40.53 16.42 32.71
2019-20 5.24 2,064 35.7 54.78 33.67 18.21 36.01


Bangladesh through its 15th and 16th five years plans, has achieved GDP growth average rate of 7%, attainment of the MDGs and graduated from low income country to middle status by 2015. Bangladesh has also fulfilled all the UN thresholds criteria for graduating from Least Developed Country (LDC) to Middle Income Country and now it is planning to be Developed Country by 2041 with per capita income of over US$ 12,500 and duly tuned with the digital world. Poverty will become thing of past in SONAR BANGLADESH.

There has been significant development in the socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh in the past more than half a century. The benefits of which the countrymen are getting. Smart Bangladesh is moving forward with digital Bangladesh. Along with achieving sustained high growth People’s lives are changing as poverty is reduced at a significant rate. In 2015, after developing from a low-income country Bangladesh is on track to become a developed country in 2041. Significant improvement has been achieved in the country’s average life expectancy, per capita income, literacy rate, per capita calorie intake, etc. Bangladesh is now determined to realize Bangabandhu’s dream of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2031 and a developed country by 2041. Vision 2041 through implementation, the government aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2031 and reduce poverty to below 3 percent by 2041.It aims to bring the country down to the status of a high-income country.

Implementing ‘Food for Work’, ‘Employment for Rural Extreme Poverty’ program to generate rural employment and prevent seasonal unemployment. Initiatives have also been taken to expand their scope. Emphasis is placed on women’s empowerment. As a result, women’s participation in the labor force is increasing. On the supply side, the country’s new labor force will grow at a rate of 2.2 percent per year, significantly faster than population growth. The government has set a target of reducing the poverty rate to 12.3 percent and the extreme poverty rate to 4.5 percent by the 2023-24 financial year. It is working with the aim of bringing underprivileged people of various classes and professions under the Social safety net program. To ensure transparency in disbursement of various financial cash assistance, direct cash payments are being made to the beneficiaries using G2P system using National Identity Card of the beneficiary. The social safety net program has been expanded by including the poorest 262 upazilas of the country. Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given importance to the cultivation of crops in uncultivated land with the aim of increasing productivity and income and improving the quality of life of the large population of rural areas. With the aim of providing all the modern facilities of the city to the villages in a phased manner, the ‘My Village, My Town’ project is being implemented. The Government has continued its efforts to develop a self-sufficient and sustainable modern agriculture sector by modernizing crop production and marketing activities through innovation and transfer of appropriate technologies and crop varieties to ensure food security. To increase agricultural production, the government is providing subsidies, incentives and rehabilitation assistance in this sector. With the aim of agricultural mechanization, the government is providing agricultural machinery to the farmers at a subsidized rate of 50 to 70 percent. The government is playing an important role in meeting the nutritional needs of the people. Bangladesh has already achieved self-sufficiency in fish, meat and egg production and will soon be able to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production.

 Bangladesh is establishing 100 more Special Economic Zones (SEZ). on 25 June 2022, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid inaugurated the 6.15 km long two-tier Padma Multipurpose Bridge.

At this moment, there are eight public Export Processing Zones, seven public SEZ and three private SEZ When the plans to set up 100 more SEZ (about 75,000 acres in total), 70 public and 30 privates, of which administrative approval has already been accorded to 97, come to fruition, Bangladesh would become an industrial hub in South Asia. Bangladesh is also setting up 40 IT Parks and all set to incentivize free lancers and software companies, and to digitalize the country.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge was constructed at a cost of nearly US$ four billion financed out of the country’s reserves and connects 21 districts in Southwest Bangladesh with the capital, Dhaka, by road and rail and substantially reduces travel time. The nation that once was one of the ten poorest countries in the world is now the 41st largest economy and according to J. P. Morgan, it “is one of the Frontier Five economies” while the World Bank says that it “is among the five fastest growing economies of the world”. US President Joe Biden in a statement said that “Bangladesh is an example of economic progress and a country of great hope and opportunity”. The economy grew 271 times in 50 years which is a manifestation of prudent economic governance, efficient fiscal management and macroeconomic stability.

Research done to find out what other mega projects are in the pipeline or work in progress revealed some of the following mega projects with support from the Japanese, Chinese and Russians that would be a game changer in the development and growth of Bangladesh. The Dhaka Metro Rail Project costing US$ three billion, having capacity to handle 60,000 passengers per hour, and to be completed by 2024. The Padma Rail link having a projected cost of US$ three billion, executed by the Chinese would be in operation by 2024. It will connect Dhaka to Jessore by train via the Padma Multipurpose Bridge. Then there is the Malabari Deep Sea Port that will enable large Master Vessels to enter, anchor and unload 2.8 M TEUs.

There is a lesson for Pakistan from this 53 years journey of development of Bangladesh that economic growth, political stability, employment generation and investment in quality education fs vital for development.





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