Wednesday, 29 March, 2023

Tale of a True-up Life Line for Bangladesh

  • Anwar A. Khan
  • 2nd January, 2023 04:08:17 PM
  • Print news
Tale of a True-up Life Line for Bangladesh

She is no other than Bangabandhu’s high-flown daughter Sheikh Hasina, the Premier of Bangladesh. To whatever place we look at, all-round development has been striking the planet of the country continually at full strength or intensity creating sensational in appearance or thrilling in effect under her able and dynamic leadership. Heartiest congratulations to her Highness!

Happy and prosperous New Year 2023, new resolutions, hopes and aspirations are expected from her. Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu.

Because of her unflagging work for her people to improve their lot, many international observers have also hailed her as the modern-day Joan of Arc.  She may be called the "Idol of the Masses.” It is aptly said, “If Rabi Thakur is the poet of thinking, reflection and thought, if Bangabandhu is the poet of politics, then Sheikh Hasina is the poet of development.”

‘The first metro rail in Bangladesh was inaugurated in Dhaka by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 28 December. This is part of the ambitious Bangladesh project of Mass Rapid Transit to be completed by 2030. Thus, Bangladesh entered another glorious era in its developmental journey today with the inauguration of the metro rail in Dhaka. Inaugurating the metro line in Dhaka, Prime Minister Hasina said that with the opening of the country’s first-ever metro rail, another feather was added to the crown of Bengali’s pride and Bangladesh’s development.’

On the 14th anniversary of Digital Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (December 12, 2022) announced to transform the country from Digital to 'Smart Bangladesh' by 2041 - which will be implemented by this time. An infrastructure of how Bangladesh will progress from 21 to 41, accordingly plans is formulated for all levels of people to build them accordingly.

“We will make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041, and that Bangladesh will be Smart Bangladesh,” she further added. ‘She also said that the government has set four bases to realise the Smart Bangladesh goal. These are: Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Government and Smart Society.’

Through the engagement and re-engagement policy, the government is opening a new chapter in our relations with the world, underpinned by mutual respect, shared principles and common values. Hasina has repeatedly pledged to lead Bangladesh to a more democratic era. We are promised a new dawn; the potential, under PM Sheikh Hasina’s party command, that a warm light will shine into the dark corners of society, banishing exploitation, joblessness, corruption and crime. We hope this will not be a delusive dawn at a time of gathering darkness.

Sheikh Hasina has enlivened people to make a difference in whatever way they can. To be the change-maker she wants, to be kind to everyone, and to always be ready with a hug, but most of all she has taught us to light up every day with a smile! She has never backed down from a challenge. We admire her perseverance; she always has kept her head up during the hardest times. We look up to her because she has the strength to never give up hope. She is a composer of politics in the landscape of Bangladesh.

But the spread of power away from the centre to local branches or governments is not taken as yet by Hasina’s government. So, everything is centralised to the Metropolitan Dhaka City. Dhaka is now an unfit or unsuitable to live in it. So, administrative decentralisation of the country is a dire emergency needed one now.

Its track record of growth rather makes people hopeful of achieving the status. Bangladesh showed significant development in many sectors that need to properly manage and nurture. To ensure growth, and faster improvement, there’s no alternative to robust investments, development of manpower and increased productivity. One may hope to address the above-noted predicaments shall find a place in the near future.

Under PM Hasina government, many infrastructure projects have been initiated in Bangladesh. Considering the size, budget, and economic impact, many of these projects have been termed mega-projects. The government has also identified a few of them as fast-track projects. Among these, the Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Bangladesh’s first metro rail project MRT Line-6, and the Karnaphuli Tunnel, the first and longest underwater road tunnel in South Asia, are expected to be completed by the end of this year. In addition, to strengthen the country’s economy, the government has started giving importance to new projects and ongoing projects. Today’s picture of Bangladesh will tell you about several such completed and ongoing mega projects.

With the highest budget allocation, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Ishwardi, Pabna District is the largest megaproject in Bangladesh having 2400MW capacity, up to now completed about 80% with a cost of US$12.65 billion. It will be the country's first nuclear power plant, and the first of two units are expected to go into operation in 2023. Upon completing this project, Bangladesh will also join the elite group of 33 nuclear power generating countries globally.

The Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Rail Link is one of Bangladesh’s ongoing fast-track projects. In addition to being connected by road and air, the project will also provide rail connectivity to this tourist city. As a result, it will increase the scope of Cox’s Bazar tourism as well as trade and communication.

Another major mega project in Bangladesh is the Matarbari Ultra Super Critical Coal-Fired Power Project in Maheshkhali Upazila of Chattogram, mainly known as Matarbari Thermal Power Plant. The combined generation capacity of the two units of 600 MW will be 1200 MW, which will meet the power demand of Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar region. This power plant will play an essential role in meeting the demand of Economic Zones and E.P.Z.s of the Government of Bangladesh in Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar areas.

The 3rd terminal is currently under construction at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka. The terminal, which has a capacity of 37 aircraft, is being constructed. In addition, a 230,000-square-meter building is being built at the terminal, which will carry a total of 12 million passengers. In addition, the metro rail will also be connected to the terminal with a separate station. This will enable passengers arriving in to reach their destination directly via Metrorail without leaving the airport.

Payra Sea Port, Payra, Patuakhali is being built as a regular port. More feathers in Bangladesh’s development cap: Bangabandhu Satellite-1 and Bangabandhu Satellite-2 are the first Bangladesh’s geostationary communications and broadcasting satellites;

Japanese Economic Zone, Araihazar, Narayanganj is being built which will employ around 100,000 at Japanese initial investment of US$1 billion; and

Mirsarai Economic Zone, Chattogram with 30,000 acres of land having initial investment of US$100 Billion is being implemented which will employ huge numbers of unemployed persons.

Matarbari Deep Sea Port at Maheshkhali, Cox's Bazar at a cost of US$2.409 billion is under construction and more than 20% work is already completed. This will be the first deep sea port of Bangladesh. Projected completion is in 2026.

The 6.1 KM long Padma Bridge already completed, has connected Dhaka, the capital, with 21 southern districts through road and railways paving a new chapter in the county’s economic development.

In the last 51 years, Bangladesh has emerged as a role model for developing countries around the world. From incredible economic growth to vast strides in education and public health, to major contributions in culture and sports, Bangladesh has transformed into not just a leader amongst countries in the global South, but a truly global player.

Despite huge unfavourable circumstances and constraints on resources, Bangladesh has made spectacular economic and social progress over the last five decades. For one, the growth rate of its Gross Domestic Production (GDP) has been impressive. On average, the GDP of Bangladesh has risen from about 3 percent in the 1970s to 7 percent in the 2010s, and had crossed 8 percent just before the Covid-19 pandemic set in. Though the pandemic has slowed Bangladesh’s growth, its GDP growth is projected to rise faster than that of other countries. High growth has pushed per capita income upwards by 23 times in 2020, from where it was in 1973.

The characteristics of a modern economy — that is, a graduation from being agriculturally-dependent to growing through the industry and service sector — are also being observed gradually. Currently, the share of agriculture in Bangladesh’s GDP is about 13 percent, while that of industry and service sectors are about 35 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

The economy has also been integrated with the global economy. Shares of exports, imports and remittances in GDP have increased over time. Moreover, high imports are possible with the help of impressive remittance flow. On the other hand, dependency on foreign aid to undertake development work has declined by almost half in terms of its share in GDP in 2020 (from that of 1973), indicating a more self-reliant growth effort.

The recognition of such progress has come from several organisations. In February 2021, Bangladesh fulfilled all three criteria to graduate from a least developed country (LDC) to a developing country, for the second time since 2018. The United Nations has recommended Bangladesh’s graduation betides by 2026. Besides, in 2015, Bangladesh became a lower-middle income country from being a low-income country, according to the World Bank’s classification of countries.

It can also be anticipated that Bangladesh would transform to be the 26th largest economy from its current position of being the 42nd biggest economy.

Meanwhile, Hasina has set ambitious targets, including elevating Bangladesh to a higher middle-income country by 2031 and a developed one by 2041. The United Nations’ Committee for Development Policy recommended that Bangladesh be promoted to a developing country, from least-developed. Improvement of the quality of human resources is a must to realise Golden Bangladesh 2041, launching the nation upward as one of the top five biggest economies in the world. Having considered all above, we should fight with no mistakes today for achieving a better tomorrow in Bangladesh, a golden Bangladesh in the near future.

Honourable PM Sheikh Hasina, live life to the fullest. You have to colour outside the lines once in a while if you want to make your life a masterpiece. Laugh some every day. Keep growing, keep dreaming, and keep following your heart. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

(The writer is an independent political analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs)

Source: Sun Editorial