The title of my today’s write-up is the comment of the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva. She said so on 29 April 2023 while she called on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is now in Washington on an official tour to attend the celebration of Bangladesh’s 50 years of partnership with the World Bank. The IMF Chief lauded the leadership of Sheikh Hasina in transforming Bangladesh into a role model of development that already attracted the world. She highly praised the unprecedented advancement of Bangladesh in various sectors under the dynamic and bold leadership of Sheikh Hasina, which has made country’s economy stable even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
While appreciating Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva said that the leadership like her is necessary to go ahead with prosperity confronting all hurdles. She also said that Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress due to massive infrastructure development, widespread connectivity and maintenance of the law and order. The Bangladesh premier briefed the IMF Chief of her government’s activities for the country’s overall development, including initiatives to face the effects of climate change and ensure women empowerment.
On May 1, while addressing the plenary session on ‘Reflection on 50 years of World Bank-Bangladesh partnership’, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina placed five specific suggestions before the World Bank that need to be taken into consideration by the global lender. She sought cooperation from the World Bank for Bangladesh’s smooth transition towards a developing nation, subsequent graduation to upper-middle income country and implementation of its Delta Plan-2100. Mentioning the ongoing global crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts in different parts of the world and climate emergency, she said that these have put many countries under economic stress. She urged the World Bank and other development partners to find viable alternatives so that economies of those countries can come out of the emerging challenges.
Sheikh Hasina informed the session that Bangladesh has emerged as a global role-model in disaster management. While describing Bangladesh as a living laboratory of climate adaptation, she said, “I invite the World Bank and other development partners to join us in implementing the projects under our Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100.” She raised the Rohingya issue and said that not a single Rohingya could be repatriated though Bangladesh has been working with the UN and other international agencies for their safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation to their own land, Myanmar. There must be a permanent solution to this issue. However, she thanked the World Bank for its grants for these Rohingya people.
The World Bank has committed to provide US$2.25 billion in credit support to Bangladesh to facilitate its five development projects, according to the agreement signed during the visit. The World Bank President also reaffirmed its fullest supports and cooperation for Bangladesh that has been navigating unprecedented global challenges. Expecting World Bank’s support, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “In the past 50 years, the World Bank remained a steadfast development partner and supported our aspirations. We hope to work together with the World Bank as Bangladesh progresses to achieve higher-income country status by 2041.”
After opening of a photo exhibition there, the Bangladesh Prime Minister and the World Bank President walked through some of the key elements of the exhibition. The exhibition, in fact, has placed, in front of the world community, the determination of her government in turning Bangladesh into a resilient and prosperous land. Sheikh Hasina said that the exhibition is also about the importance of making the right political choices. She also recalled that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wished to see such kind of smile on the face of his distressed people.
We know that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, after paying her four-day bilateral visit to Japan, is now in the USA at the invitation of the World Bank President David R. Malpass. She is scheduled to leave the USA on 4 May for the UK, where she will attend the coronation ceremony of King Charles III to be held on 6 May. She will return on 9 May.
I am not going to describe other events of her visit to the USA. If we analyse the discussions of only the two meetings (one with the IMF and the other with the World Bank), we can clearly observe that how much confident they keep on the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This trust has not come automatically or through other means, she has to earn it through her charismatic and uncompromised leadership. Her role in the international field has also been praised by the world leaders and international institutions. They certainly believe that Sheikh Hasina is such a leader who has the courage and foresights to transform Bangladesh into a developed country. She is working in the right track to make a ‘Smart Bangladesh’, where her people will pass a dignified life without hunger or poverty anymore. Being a leader of the general mass, she has taken the responsibility to make her people smile, as dreamt by the Father of the Nation. They will not agree in any way that their leader will desert them. They want Sheikh Hasina to run the country for their own interest, which is nothing but a better life, a fearless environment and a bright prosperous Bangladesh.
There is no doubt that Sheikh Hasina’s enormous economic development and welfare activities have proved that Bangladesh needs a leader like her. That is why the people of Bangladesh have elected her to lead the country four times, which is the testimony of her able leadership. For her courageous and visionary role at the regional and international levels, Bangladesh is now considered as a role model of development for the whole world.
As Sheikh Hasina has urged the World Bank to continue their supports towards Bangladesh in its exciting journey ahead to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’, we believe that the people of Bangladesh will also remain with her in that journey through their mandate in the coming national elections. And as said by the IMF Chief, Bangladesh needs the leadership of Sheikh Hasina to achieve prosperity. There is no alternative, at least at this moment.
The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary