Friday, 21 January, 2022

Three Years of the Government: Achievements and Challenges

Pranab Kumar Panday

Three Years of the Government: Achievements and Challenges
Pranab Kumar Panday

The Bangladesh Awami League (AL), under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, came to power for the third time in a row on January 7, 2019, with an absolute victory in the Eleventh Parliamentary Election held on December 29, 2018. In 2009, the AL under Sheikh Hasina started its journey with the charter of change. In continuation of the government's previous success, winning the 2018 election was significant. Prior to 2018, 10 years of increasing development motivated people to have confidence in the AL. After winning the 2018 elections and coming to power, Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her fortitude to continue the trend of development of the country and at the same time pledged to establish good governance by eradicating corruption from the country. Above all, she expressed her conviction to establish Bangabandhu's Sonar Bangla by making everyone smile irrespective of rich and poor.

Although the government has passed three consecutive years in the third term, the last two years have been eventful. Shortly after taking office on January 7, 2019, the Prime Minister announced a zero-tolerance policy against corruption. Following this, measures were taken to punish people involved in corruption. Despite the prime minister's firm conviction against corruption, the campaign against corruption has been stopped from time to time for some unknown reasons.

We know that continuity of power is an important precondition for the development of a country. In a country like Bangladesh, the lack of trust between the political parties has led to a major shift in government policy with the change in power. From this perspective, it can be said that the AL government has been in a better position to take steps required to establish the country as a role model for development as a result of being in power for the last 13 years. Bangladesh has been recommended for inclusion in the list of developing countries due to some of the drastic actions of the present government in the last decade. Bangladesh is far ahead of many of the world's largest economies in economic growth rate. Various types of megaprojects are being implemented in the country. Overall, Bangladesh is recognised worldwide as an emerging economy or an Asian Tiger.

However, despite the mammoth success in the economic field, one of the achievements of the present AL government was to save the country and the people from the terrible grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been going on since early 2020. We have already noticed that the world's largest economies are struggling to cope with the health and economic catastrophe of wrought about by Covid-19. Sheikh Hasina's visionary leadership in standing up in that situation to save the people of Bangladesh from this terrible grip of pandemic and move forward towards achieving economic growth has been appreciated worldwide. It goes without saying that in the last two years, when the world's most powerful countries have failed to achieve more than 3 percent growth in GDP, Bangladesh's GDP growth rate was around 6 percent, which in many cases is an unprecedented event. In addition, the health sector in Bangladesh was not ready to deal with the devastation triggered by Covid-19. Under the Hon'ble Prime minister's guidance, Bangladesh has successfully tackled the first and second wave of Corona, transforming the health sector.

It is worth noting that the biggest way to get rid of Corona infection is to follow the Corona safety rules recommended by the World Health Organization. But most of the people of Bangladesh are indifferent to the safety rules. Even then, under the Hon'ble prime minister's direction, the country has successfully overcome two waves of the Corona. Even in vaccinating people against Coronavirus, the current government's success is greater than many other major economies. Although many countries of the world have not yet been able to organise an adequate amount of vaccine for their people, over seven crore people in Bangladesh have taken the first dose of the vaccine and more than five crore people have taken the second dose of the vaccine. The government has also started giving booster doses of the vaccine to the people over sixty years who have received two doses already and the front line fighters. Therefore, it can be said without hesitation that dealing with Covid-19 is a great achievement of the AL government.

During the Corona emergency, the government implemented a long-term lockdown to control the contamination. Ensuring a balance between the lives and livelihood of the working poor during the implementation of that lockdown was a major challenge for the government. But the government has done it very successfully as they could manage to provide adequate assistance to these classes of people. Even after a long lockdown period, progress on various development projects has remained satisfactory. About 95% of the work of the Padma bridge is almost completed. Work on the Dhaka Metrorail project is nearing completion. Even the other big projects in the implementation process are nearing completion, which is a great achievement of the government.

We all know that the education sector has been the worst affected sector by the pandemic after the health sector. In a country like Bangladesh, it was a great challenge for the government to keep the activities of this sector going. But the government has tried to solve this problem by expanding online education. Due to the issues associated with internet connectivity and the lack of necessary devices, the complete transformation of online education at the primary or secondary level has not been possible so far. However, it has been possible to overcome the losses at the higher education level through online teaching. The government is to be applauded for taking drastic actions in this transformation.

The government has provided student loans to purchase devices and taken measures to ensure their participation in online classes by reducing the cost of the internet for students. For this, Hon'ble Prime Minister and Hon'ble Minister and Deputy Minister in charge of the Ministry of Education deserve appreciation. However, we have not yet transformed the education system online to the desired level. With this in mind, we should rebuild the education system keeping both the online and offline methods. With this in mind, the Hon'ble Prime Minister has emphasised expanding online education facilities at the primary level. If these activities are implemented, it will be another achievement of the present government.

In the third term, the government's success in various fields has been appreciated in Bangladesh and abroad in the last three years. However, the government needs to make stronger decisions to curb corruption and establish good governance. We know that the establishment of good governance will be consistent if corruption is reduced. Although the Prime Minister has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against corruption, the campaign against corruption has been stopped at various times and thus needs to be re-launched. I strongly believe that taking effective decisions to establish good governance in the country should be the government's main goal in the next two years.

Indeed, the AL's election manifesto to the nation in the 2018 elections expressed its determination to bring about unprecedented changes in several sectors. Although the government has not been able to achieve the desired goals in some cases so far, if we try to evaluate the government's performance keeping in mind the experiences of the last two years, we will see that the government has achieved great success. And for this, the Prime Minister and her government must be applauded. We expect the AL to come to power for the fourth time in 2023 by gaining the people's confidence through the implementation of the remaining commitments under the Hon'ble prime minister's leadership. When the AL is completing three years of its third term, the omicron variant of Corona is wreaking havoc around the world. This is why it is unlikely that Bangladesh will not be affected by this lethal variant. That is why the countrymen should abide by the Corona Safety Rules to tackle the third wave of Corona devastation and help the government ensure the continued progress of Bangladesh.


The writer is a Professor of Public

Administration at the University of