We all know that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an economic recession and a global health crisis. The pandemic was an unexpected disaster that no country's government could prepare itself to deal with. As a result, just as the health sector was hit hard by the pandemic, the economy was under heavy pressure to absorb the damage. The major economies of the world have struggled to cope with this disaster. The government of Bangladesh took various initiatives to deal with the disaster as the country's economy was under a lot of pressure during the Corona period. However, the encouraging fact is that the Bangladesh government has dealt with the effects of the corona pandemic better than many major economies. Bangladesh government's success has been recognized globally. The government was also very successful in collecting enough vaccines to vaccinate most of the country's population, thus reducing the health and mortality risk of the coronavirus. As a result, the people of the country have started living normally.
As people began to return to normal life after overcoming the effects of the corona pandemic, and when the government began to take steps to ensure sustainable development in other areas, including economic recovery, the outbreak of war between Ukraine and Russia created a kind of uncertainty around the world. As thousands of Ukrainians have died in this war, millions have fled the country. At first, it was thought that this war would not last long. However, the war did not stop despite the various actions of the international community. As a result, the US and several European countries put different sanctions on Russia. These sanctions were meant to get Russia to stop exporting gas, oil, fuel, and other goods to other countries. Therefore, the prices of gas, oil, fuel, and other daily necessities have increased several times in the international market.
Various countries face economic threats as they deal with the economic recession triggered by the war between Ukraine and Russia and the post-corona pandemic. Due to the length of the war, the effects of the recession in different countries may be more substantial in 2023. Sri Lanka's economy was bankrupt. Various international organizations have predicted that the economies of many other countries will face threats in the coming days. Due to the various measures taken by the Bangladesh government, our economy is in a strong position. However, due to the increase in the price of goods in the international market, there was a shortage of dollars in the domestic market to pay for the price of imported goods, so the country's currency has been devalued several times against the dollar. At the same time, foreign exchange reserves were strained a couple of months ago.
Our country's foreign exchange reserve was around fifty billion dollars, but now it is below 40 billion dollars. The foreign exchange reserves have been in a reasonably good position so far due to various measures taken by the Bangladesh Bank and the government to discourage the import of luxury goods. But if the situation worsens in the coming days, the recession's impact could significantly affect the country. The honourable Prime Minister has repeatedly tried to warn fellow citizens that if this global recession continues, its impact may threaten our country's economy. And if that happens, a famine like situation can be created in the country. But one encouraging fact is that the trend of sending foreign currency by Bangladeshi expatriates is still positive.
The government has taken various decisions to deal with this situation. The price of fuel oil was hiked in the country's domestic market and subsequently re-adjusted due to the decrease in oil prices in the international market. As a result of the increase in the price of fuel oil, there has been a negative impact on the production of electricity, so the decision to achieve frugality in the use of electricity has been implemented, which has reduced the sufferings of fellow citizens. One thing to note is that when the country is facing various problems due to this war, a business syndicate is taking advantage of this opportunity to increase the prices of daily necessities, causing suffering in public life. Their main motive is to profit by holding people hostage at any cost, which is not desirable.
We noticed before Eid that, even though the country had enough edible oil, different groups of traders created an artificial oil shortage to drive up the price. In the same way, there have been reports that sugar is scarce on the market even though there is enough sugar in the country. As a result, if we get out of the grip of this syndicate, it will be easier to deal with the national disaster. However, if the responsible organizations of the government monitor the market seriously, then fear will spread among unscrupulous traders, and stability will return to the market.
As the honourable Prime Minister works on different plans to deal with the effects of the coming days, she has requested the countrymen to save more from what they have. She called upon her fellow citizens to cultivate fruits or vegetables in the yards of everyone's houses or on abandoned land. In this way, our food shortage will be met to some extent during times of danger. She called for the same thing during the early stages of the Corona pandemic. The national economy will be affected positively if one can meet one's needs by growing vegetables on land. We must remember that just as it is the government's responsibility to run the country, it is also the responsibility of the people to help the government run the country. Those who own a lot of wealth should come forward to help the poor in times of disaster.
Just as the coronavirus pandemic was a national disaster for our country, we should also consider the economic downturn caused by the war in Ukraine and Russia as a potential national disaster. This disaster cannot be tackled by pointing to the successes and failures of the government. Therefore, if everyone deals with the disaster through coordinated initiatives without giving importance to the success or failure of the government, then it is possible to deal with the disaster quickly. Various countries in the developed world have already fallen behind economically due to this disaster. Bangladesh has been dealing with the situation quite forcefully so far.
It is difficult to say at this moment how strongly the impact of the global economic recession will affect Bangladesh in the next year. But, on the whole, we should be prepared for a recession. We hope that the government, under the able leadership of the Hon'ble Prime Minister, will successfully deal with any situation, as it has done during the Corona pandemic. But given the overall situation, the year 2023 will be very challenging from an economic point of view for the world. Therefore, the government, citizens, and other actors must work collectively to overcome the recession. We will successfully deal with such situations if we all work together through collective initiatives.
The author is a professor in the
Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi