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Bangladesh Politics in Times of Economic Challenges

  • Dr. Akhter Hussain
  • 26th September, 2022 04:01:36 PM
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Bangladesh Politics in Times of Economic Challenges

Currently Bangladesh is facing a number of challenges, especially in the economic front. These include increased gap in the balance of payment situation, disruption in the supply chain, fall in remittance and depreciation of the currency, Taka against US Dollar. Two unforeseen and extraordinary situations are said to be responsible for such a challenging situation. The Covid-19 caused havoc around the globe. For quite sometimes, the production process remained disrupted or stopped due to lockdown and other measures adopted by countries to stop the widespread spread of the virus among the people. This was done to save lives of the people. This caused abrupt fall in the production of goods and services across countries. This also caused disruption in the global supply chain. With the development of effective vaccines against the Covid-19 virus, normalcy started to come back. But the damage has already been done. In almost all countries, excepting a few, the economic growth rate became negative. Bangladesh is one of those very few countries whose economic growth rate always maintained a positive one though it slowed down. With ushering in of normalcy in the world, the economic activities started to gain momentum. Bangladesh also took many affirmative measures to accelerate the economic growth rate to cover up of the loss caused by the pandemic. The Covid-19 also slowed down the moves towards poverty alleviation. It has been perceived that rejuvenated economic activities will also address the cause of poverty alleviation by creating more jobs and increased income of the marginalized people. The other factor is the Russia-Ukraine war that is causing new shockwaves around the world. Whatever gains could be achieved after the slowdown of the Covid infection and resumption of the economic activities in the full swing, are being lost due to disruptions caused by the war. This is manifested more in the case of the developing nations like Bangladesh. Prices of different products and raw materials including fossil fuel have skyrocketed causing huge deficit in the balance of payment situation. Further supply chain disruption is responsible for such a situation. As consequences, the Taka against the US dollar has depreciated much, import costs of goods have gone up many times causing pressure particularly on the balance of payment. To maintain macroeconomic stability the government had to resort to a number of actions. These cause huge rise of prices of goods, particularly the essential daily necessities of life. This has to a great extent made the lives of the lower income groups difficult and unbearable. However, the government has made a number of market interventions to protect the vulnerable groups. Even then the situation is far from satisfactory causing dissatisfaction among a section of the population, particularly the marginalized ones.

Presently, Bangladesh politics is dictated by these facts. Before the commencement of such a challenging situation in the economic front, the opposition political parties did not have any substantive issue to go to the people and agitate against government actions and non-action. Here it may be pointed out that the next general election is going to be held either by the end of the next year or at the beginning of 2024. It is obvious that the opposition political parties are going to bank on these immediate issues and put pressure on the ruling party to accede to their other demands. The opposition parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the Jamaat-e-Islami (non-registered) and other smaller parties aligned with the BNP and join hands in demanding some electoral reforms. The recent economic stresses generally caused by the external facts will provide impetus to their movements and gaining support from the people. Here it also needs to be noted that the supporters of the above mentioned political parties also received some sort of encouragement to hold rallies and other protest activities which they could not do in the absence of any substantive economic issues concerning lives and livelihoods, particularly of the poor and the marginalized.

It is a well-known fact that Bangladesh politics is extremely antagonistic and physically annihilative in nature. The current major opposition political parties are blamed for harboring such kind of politics since their establishment. Past historical track records of them provide ample and credible evidences of such accusation. These political parties also encouraged and patronized the rise of fundamentalist terrorist movements in Bangladesh causing deaths, destruction and fear psychosis among the people at large. Such alleged activities also created image crisis for the country in the international arena. There is apprehensions and fear that in the pretext of economic stresses caused mostly by external factors, the opposition parties like the BNP and its ally the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh may again resort to politics of destructions and annihilations to serve their purposes of getting hold of the power and the reign of the state. In such pursuit, they will receive support and patronization, as received in the past, from their foreign friends. At the national level, many civil society organizations and individuals will also lend their support to the efforts of these parties for various gains. It is perceived that the coming days will be very challenging for Bangladesh both in the economic and political fronts. It requires prudent and result-oriented initiatives from the government to fend off the country from economic stresses and make the lives of the people easier. Successes in this sphere will deter the destructive politics to get hold of the situation and derail the process of development which we are successfully carrying forward for more than a decade or so benefitting all the citizens of the country.

(The different sources of information are acknowledged with gratitude)

The writer is a teacher and socio-political analyst

Source: Sun Editorial