That the United Nations recommended Bangladesh's graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) is no doubt a historic achievement. The people’s relentless efforts to improve their lot and the government’s proper policy support have made it happen. It is reassuring that we have, after all, been able to free ourselves of the age-old tag of a poor member of the LDCs. And it is no mean feat that recognition comes at a time when we are celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and are on the verge of celebrating the golden jubilee of independence.
Terming the graduation from LDC status as a historic achievement, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed her firm commitment to make the country self-reliant by placing it on a strong economic footing.The recognition came as the country has met, for the second time, all the three eligibility criteria for LDC graduation involving income per capita, human assets, and economic and environmental vulnerability. However, despite the recommendation, Bangladesh will get five more years, till 2026, to prepare for the transition to a developing country.
A note of caution. There is little room for going overboard about the pride of being branded as a developing country. For the real challenge will be to maintain the status, since with the loss of market protection that poorer members of the LDCs enjoy, we should be bracing ourselves for a tougher, a more competitive world. The political leadership will have to live up to that challenge.
With the mainstay of its foreign (export) trade depending on a single commodity, the economy will remain very fragile until its export base is further broadened. Business confidence will need to be restored and transparency and accountability in the governance established. Thrust should be on providing the necessary condition for increased private and foreign direct investment.
Given our past record of stubbornly keeping to the growth path at around 7 percent of the GDP over the past few years, thanks to the hard working peasantry, expatriate wage earners and a thriving private sector, the prospect of meeting this yet new target will not be an impossibility.