Feature Img
photo: Mustafiz Mamun

The present Awami League government is suffering from a serious contradiction. The contradiction is between its enthusiasm for pursuing litigations against the opposition and lackadaisical approach in putting the economy on the growth path. This is nothing new with this party. Its skill in politicking far exceeds its capacity to ensure good governance. In the election manifesto the party promised a change in the order and showed the nation Vision 2021. The pace and sincerity with which things are proceeding it is well nigh apparent that it is nowhere in the visibility zone of fulfilling those promises. To meet the aspirations of the people the present regime needs to pay undivided attention to the economy rather than victimising the opposition. The opposition does not get weakened by victimization rather by the positive results achieved by the government on the economic front.

The current economic scene of the country is highly disturbing. No new job is being created and those who had jobs are losing them. Everything has come to a standstill. There is no flurry in developing activities. However, in the backdrop of global economic recession it was expected that the government would gear up state led development activities when private initiative became inert. Unfortunately that is terribly lacking. The government has already spent almost one year of its five year term. Nothing tangible on the economic front has been done for which the government deserves congratulation. During the first five months of the current fiscal only 10 percent of the ADP has been implemented. At least twelve ministries could not spend a single farthing out of funds allocated for development in the first quarter of the fiscal. In the last financial year ADP expenditure was Tk 3125 (three thousand one hundred twenty five) crore during July-Sept period. This figure is slightly higher than 10 percent of this year’s total allocation of Tk 30500 (thirty thousand five hundred) crore. During Pakistan time East Pakistan’s share in development allocation had for most of the time been lower than that of West Pakistan. At that time we complained against step-motherly treatment towards East Pakistan. The central government retorted with the observation that East Pakistan’s absorptive capacity was poorer. Are we not proving the observation of the Pakistanis through poor implementation of ADP. The government should take all possible measures to overcome the slothfulness in ADP implementation.

The investment scenario of the country is dismal. Industrial investment is almost zero. In the absence of productive investment opportunities people are leaning towards the share market and buying saving certificates. Both imports and exports are in doldrums. Manpower export trend is also not encouraging. Our garments export market is being captured by China, Vietnam and India. Our export basket is very small and its lion’s share is occupied by the garments. If that too gets out of our grip then there would be both economic and social collapse. What will be the fate of 30 lakh garments workers, who are mostly women? China now occupies 29 percent of the garments market in the United States. Vietnam occupies the second position in this market sector in the USA. Bangladesh’s position has come down to 12th.

FDI presents equally dismal picture. A large industrial house of Japan recently showed interest in investing US$ 70 million in several sectors. The precondition given by this Japanese firm for investment in Bangladesh is that the host country has to ensure uninterrupted power and gas supply within 17 months of signing the contract. The question is, can it be done in the short term?

However, the predicament that Bangladesh faces on the economic front is partly a creation of global economic downturn, partly of inaction of the previous governments and surely misplaced priority of the government of the day. Revenge seeking can never be the part of the valour.

25 November 2009

photo: Mustafiz Mamun
photo: Mustafiz Mamun

The current economic scene of the country is highly disturbing, says the academic.

49 Responses to “Please set the priorities right”

  1. Somnath GuhaRoy

    I studied economics as part of curricula of engineering and later management education, and some of my professors were associates and senior people with the Planning Commission of India and the World Bank. However, I am not an economist and hence like other lesser mortals have always been in great awe of economics and economists.
    I feel that probably Mr. Mahbubullah is a professional economist, since I could not make out at all what was the meaning and import of his write-up.
    Incidentally, one of my professors, who had been chief executive of a branch of the World Bank and was held in high esteem by us for his integrity and knowledge, once told our class: “90percent of my professional brotherhood work in the interest of their own economy. You pay them and they write an article in favour of you, next day the other guy pays them more and they put out an article condemning you. Never believe an economist.”
    Would you please let me know if this author is an economist or a writer of articles, since nothing is mentioned.

  2. N Monie

    As a young student of DU I remember Dr. Ullah when as a student leader in the late sixties he and his hard-core leftist friends were prescribing bitter doses of communism and socialism to us. Now, after the demise of Soviet Union and setback of socialism these same people became ‘born again Christians’and joined and formed the bulk of the right wing ultra reactionary groups in Bangladesh. They have no scruples and no principles. They are like chameleon who change colour as they wish.

  3. shottovashi

    TH, you expect civility? ha ha!! Let me quote Kobiguru Rabinranath Tagore.. Something like “Shat koti bangaleer he bongo jononi, Rekhechho bangalee kore manush koroni”. It is in our gene. Why blame the Pakis and the British? According to Abul Fazal, most of us belong to the 4th to 5th generation of converted schedule cast. Looking at the number of critics against BDNEWS24, one thing is obvious that the digital Bangladesh is working well at least among the supporters of the incumbent rulers, though there is not enough electricity supply for the general population to use computers.

  4. Farhan M. Khan

    Another bullshit by ex-leftist (he was a leftist student leader at the same time as Motia Chowdhury) but now-rightist Mahbub Ullah. So misguiding.

  5. Saroj Shabaj

    “To meet the aspirations of the people the present regime needs to pay undivided attention to the economy rather than victimizing the opposition.” writes Dr. Mahbub Ullah.

    In making the statement convincing no specific incidents were quoted. Apparently this is a sweeping remark and is self-defeating because it leaves reader to wonder in speculations.

    In my reckoning, there is collective apprehension that worst than 21st August, 2004 grenade attack may happen seeking vengeance by the people worst affected from dismantling of the tripartite structure of rein of terror, corruption and extra-governmental interference practiced by the defunct Hawa Bhaban. We find some paid intellectuals crying hoarse against actions taken by past CTG and the criminal cases continued against Tarique Zia and the gang, in loathsome effort to brand the actions to be political motivated. No matter how loud Khaleda Zia and his sycophants beat drums in favour of the corrupt gang of Hawa Bhaban there is no reason to dream that actions being taken against them will be considered as political victimization.

    Reactionary elements in the opposition bench politically affected by the most sensitive issues of the trial and punishment of the killers of 1975 and the war criminals of 1971 are also coming out with complaints of political victimization. The religious right’s terror tactic is also posing a threat on the Government. Presence of all possible alliance of these affected groups is a formidable security challenge of the current Government. Agenda of security by nature would always come at the top of the agenda, particularly in the background of situations like BDR mutiny.

    Political stability is of vital importance to move ahead with the economic agenda. To achieve political stability the contentious issues had remained unresolved for long need to be solved once for all. At the same time newer threat of terrorism rising heads to destabilize the state must be addressed. Those who had been giving political shelter to these elements are in the opposition who has taken up issue of political victimization as diversionary tactic.

    In spite of the pessimism expressed about AL’s performance in the economic field which Dr. Mahbub Ullah had showed in the past and will continue to do so in future, record in between 1996-2001 regarding AL’s performance on economic front as of now shows that it surpassed all the prevailing records and as such there is no reason not to expect that with an experience of a term in Government AL would do better than their previous record, in future, too.

    As regards alleged deficiencies of implementing ADP, without having given proper chronological record as to the size of Pakistani days ADP and subsequent growth in size of ADP vis-à-vis size (in amount) of implementation in recent times in Bangladesh, Dr. Mahbub Ullah’s observation evidently is subjective and also extremely objectionable as far as quoting Punjabi bureaucrats’ comments on this issue. I think Dr. Mahbub Ullah will remember that Pakistani Military Junta always claimed that Bagalees are not of martial by nature to justify recruitment in the Army in poor numbers.

    In conclusion, I would mention that no doubt AL has to set its priorities because of budget constraints. While taking uncompromising steps on security issues, side by side, efficiency of implementation of ADP also need to be enhanced to increase the rate of economic growth near to 7 -8 % which AL envisages to upgrade and secure position of Bangladesh in middle-income country group in UNDP list.

    The British and Pakistanis took up tactic to instill inferiority complex into the national psyche of the Bangalees, so that we get lost in slumber, in disbelieving that we can think independently, self-determine and develop our nation and they may continue to exploit our labour and resources unchallenged. The birth of independent Bangladesh, promise of egalitarianism and multiculturalism against feudalism and religious fanaticism is not liked by few Pakistan lover intellectuals. When they continue to beat their drums let us march ahead united chanting, “Yes, we can”.

    • N Monie

      I like Saroj Shabaj’s rebuttal of Dr. Mahbub Ullah’s objectionable and subjective analysis of AL’s rule.

  6. Butterfly

    The comments seemed to be very myopic and unprofessional. The commentator did a lamentable misjustice to his highly marketable PhD and this huge traffic-drawing site as well.

  7. zaber

    The opportunist writers are always against the development of the masses. This writer is not an exception. BDnews is actually unveiling their position as a pro opportunist media. Please don´t waste the digital world with these crappy writers. They have no idea of the country and only like to criticize AL. BNP should stop endorsing them or they will not get out of the stone age mentality. Bangladesh is back on track. It will take some years to change the gear though and we also need to caution ourselves from these anti Bangladesh so called scholars.

  8. charbak

    Dear Mr. Hashmi,

    You have raised an important point. I was the second one to post a comment on this article and honestly it was personal. And the reason is it is not worth giving counter-arguments to the likes of Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh in Bangladesh politics. In contrast, when I read right-wing views from David Brooks of New York Times, I always spend sometime challenging my opposing views. It is not that people want the columnists to be less critical or anything like that. Your own article on Bangabandhu’s killing raises some important and difficult questions and despite my disagreements I have liked the article. But a news outlet that claims itself to be neutral should not publish “only” the views from the likes of Shafik Rehman or Mahbub Ullah. If they do so then then there should be someone representing the opposite side.

    I am not commenting on Mr. Mainul Islam’s comments. You can’t just react on someone’s expression of sheer frustration. You can only pray for him to get back his senses.


    Absolutely trash article. True … some of the comments are far better than the article itself.

  10. Shamim

    Mr. Taj Hashmi( i have no idea who you and Dr. Mahbub are)…referring to your comments earlier… one should understand that a person with highest degree does not necessarily mean that he or she is a respectful individual. Its a shame that so-called educated individuals think high about themselves specially in our society. I have nothing to do with politics nor I am interested.But what I gather from your colleague’s article is absolutely a false picture.

    My question to you is what is the contribution of the so-called highly educated people to the real economy of Bangladesh? Unfortunately, so-called educated people are the people behind the corruption in our society.

    The following comments of yours—-“You have ten Bangladeshis and three associations or groups in one town! One Canadian gentleman (a former colleague of mine at the National University of Singapore) asked me one day: “Why you Bangladeshis always speak not-so-nice things about each other behind their back? And again you can’t live without each other?” I did not (don’t) have the answer. Do you know why? I think, it is lack of urban mindset. Things might change one day, may be after another 50 years!”—-what a shame! you could not defend your people by replying in a righteous manner. Are you not one of our own country people? or are you one of those who want to change their identities as not being a Bangladeshi.

    I have already wasted a few valuable minutes of my life writing this.


  11. Rudra Firakh

    It seems we tend to forget the difference between testimony and argument. What Dr. Mahbub Ullah wrote was a testimony, not to mention a very week one too. As Mr. Akash pointed out clearly…..”When an analysis begins with a conclusion, it is not an analysis but a polemic.”. Most of the criticism that raised in this topic, have more arguments & statistical facts than Dr. Mahbub Ullah’s article itself.
    And Mr. M Mainul Islam….you have to realize the burden of proof rests on the first party, who actually claims or tries to propagate something. Being a Columnist, he should be more precise & responsible. And being the general audience/reader, …we the public can say anything, absolutely anything. Its called Public Response. Mr. Mainul, branding everyone as BAL supporter, is audacious, to say the least. Among all the comments your “HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL, PATRIOTIC COLUMNISTS? IT’S SIMPLE. PLEASE FOLLOW:” is the most disgusting.
    I completely agree with Mr. Taj Hashmi, when he says ….”I think is correct without caring about what critics say about my opinion”.
    Question is, do we the readers, want to read such articles [like Dr. Mahbub Ullah’s] on http://www.bdnew24.com or not? It’s the issue of quality.

  12. Taj Hashmi

    I have absolutely nothing to defend. I wrote, write and will continue to write whatever I think is correct without caring about what critics say about my opinion. My only attempt in vain was to expect some civility from the apparently civil critics. I tend to agree with Mainul Islam that I was over-optimistic about the beginning of mutual trust and respect at least among my literate compatriots. But “expectations oft fail”, so goes Shakespeare. While 40% live below the poverty-line, it is really an arduous task for anyone to prove that Bangladesh economy is on solid track. All the governments since 1972 have failed to alleviate poverty (add all the mega NGOs and garment wallas in the list).

  13. Akash

    Its interesting that Mr Taj Hashmi should descend to defend himself and his fellow columnist in this and his own opinion page. Granted that some of the comments were sheer personal criticisms, and that they should be avoided, but Mr Hashmi should also recognize and respect those comments that spoke to the contents of Dr Mahbub Ullah’s piece and pointed out its poor and politicized analysis. Notice Dr Mahbub Ullah’s line: “The current economic scene of the country is highly disturbing.” When an analysis begins with a conclusion, it is not an analysis but a polemic. In this case, with Dr Mahbub Ullah, it is also a diatribe against the current regime which seems to be the only intention of writing this piece and not help us understand a complex economic situation. This is no longer 1972-75 that cohorts of Sirajul Alam Khan will go around preaching and pushing deliberately distorted facts about a certain polity with a certain disturbing agenda. The readers and general population are far more alert and informed now than those hackneyed analysts with devious and divisive political intentions. And to think that Mr Hashmi is teaching us about cordiality and amity of Bengalis!

  14. M Mainul Islam


    1. Start with – Bangabandhu whatever the subject is.
    2. Try to write how you remember him day and night.
    3. Try to establish that BNP has made this a corrupt country NOT Ershad’s JP which has coalition with BAL since 1982.
    4. Write some about the Razakars who still believe in PAK but do not write about the relatives of the BAL leaders.
    5. Don’t miss the line about the activities of the Islamist militants having ties with BNP and PAK.
    6. Justify the reasons for giving transit to India.
    7. Role of Hawa Bhaban and how sons of Khaleda Zia made money during 2001- 2006. But don’t try to unhide so that people know it.
    8. Try to establish that PAK is the main enemy of Bangladesh although they have no business with us and far from here.
    9. Establish that India is our friend who has given fences along the border, kills general people everyday without any reason and converting our fertile land to desert by building dam.
    10. Avoid the period of military backed Govt. of Mr.Fakhruddin intelligently.
    11. One line about bringing all the killers to court since 1975. But do not demand it from 1972.
    12. At last – try to establish that BNP supporters are fighting with each other and do not allow council in different areas

  15. M Mainul Islam

    Dear Mr.Taj Hashmi,

    I am very pleased to see the well written response by Mr.Hashmi to the comments of the critics. He seems to be very optimistic. But I can assure nothing is going to change in this country. Mr.Hashmi should prepare himself to digest the attacking comments of BAL supporters. This time he is free from risk because of the article which was written on 1975 killings.

    I understand that readers of the bdnews24.com are well educated. Therefore, sensible comments on any article is expected from the readers. Unfortunately, most of them concentrate on humiliating a person who has highest degree of education. Nothing new for BAL supporters. They know destruction, humiliation etc. are the keys to put their party in power.

    In his article Mr. Mahbub tried to say that AL Govt could not set right priorities. It was his opinion. We may not agree with him; therefore, we should write the reasons. It was not an article on economics where statistics are required. The writer tried to point out the approach of the Govt. To see the economic condition of the country sometimes we do not require facts and figures. Visit to different places of Bangladesh is enough to know it. It appears to me that most of the critics do not live in this country.

    Mainul, 29 Nov 2009

    • Anwar A. Khan

      21st December, 2009

      Dear Mr. Mainul,

      Personal attack will definitely come up if anyone’s background is known to any critics. Here Dr. Mahbubullah is known to most of the critics including me because of his past role. His honesty (I don’t mean his financial honesty. I mean his moral and ethical honesty) will definitely come under fire. His drift from left to right is a sheer immoral act. Because he did never apologise for his past in any one of his write-ups but from his present point of view, he delivers us sermons in the form of political articles. Then it is natural that one should catch him and in this case, he has been rightly caught. I think those who write columns, must have strong moral character because they give us sermons to shape our minds to accept their views, because they should be the role-models for us all. And the political columnists will definitely come under serious criticisms. One more thing those are being written by human-beings and human-beings are full of contradictions. So, there shall be flaws, omissions, one-sided analysis and maybe, many more deficiencies.

      You have branded the critics as BAL supporters. You have also written “I can assure nothing is going to change in this country.” Thus you are also getting very impatient and your attitude is tyrannical. You are using the same language, same style to accept your views. Is it fair? Is it logical? I did never do politics and I will not do it in future also. I am criticising you and Mahbubullah and will do it too in future in strongest languages including personal attacks because you are the column writers, because of the reasons stated above. How will you accept me, a BAL supporter and condemn me? Please do it.

      Personal attack will help in exposing the writer’s moral standard, his or her past misdeeds. Otherwise, they will not change themselves. And this is a good opportunity for them to correct their mistakes. They will then be more cautious about themselves. The critics, who do not know them, will not be able to fairly judge their views. The critics will remain in the same folly and be misguided. So, this will help many in checking the column writers’ past credibility and erosion of values before they accept their views.

      You will also be axed in the similar way from me and other critics. In my comments, you may also find a lot of contradictions because I am a human-being. But I am lucky enough that I am not a columnist. So, my axe will be sharper while launching my criticisms. Beware of it. If you have anything to say in this regard, please do so limiting to me only, do not include other critics.

  16. Taj Hashmi

    Dear Roy (and other critics):

    Unfortunately, what I have read so far in the critiques of Dr Mahbubullah’s article is that far from being critiques they are full of personal attacks and criticisms of the author. why on earth one should critique the author, making psycho analysis and mind reading having no diploma in psychiatry, instead critiquing the author’s arguments, facts and analyses?

    Questioning someone’s patriotism is not a modern behaviour. I cite the late Senator Edward Kennedy’s son, who at the funeral of his illustrious father said: “Never ever question the patriotism of the Republicans. They might have a different approach to solve America’s problem, nevertheless they are patriots (paraphrased).” I look forward to the day (I don’t think it will come in my or you younger people’s life time) when both BNP and Awami Leaguers will only attack each other’s policies without name calling and portraying the others as “enemies of Bangladesh” ; “Indian agents”; “Pakistani agents”; “Taliban”; “Razakar”; and “not patriots”.

    Please look around and try to understand how modern people behave in the developed countries, and even in India and Malaysia. Try to respect and trust each other; this is the first lesson of urban / postmodern behaviour. Only peasants and pre-modern people lack mutual trust and respect; a peasant always believe that “a hidden hand is pulling the invisible string” to harm him or take away his goods. Hence the perpetual bickering, restlessness, violence in Bangladesh and among Bangladeshis at home and abroad.

    You have ten Bangladeshis and three associations or groups in one town! One Canadian gentleman (a former colleague of mine at the National University of Singapore) asked me one day: “Why you Bangladeshis always speak not-so-nice things about each other behind their back? And again you can’t live without each other?” I did not (don’t) have the answer. Do you know why? I think, it is lack of urban mindset. Things might change one day, may be after another 50 years!


    Taj Hashmi

  17. ROY

    Mahbub Ullah is part of the BNP think tank, so all of his words will go against present govt and it’s natural … in fact i really don’t think he is a patriot at all.

  18. kamalmia

    Bdnews24 got what they wanted- torrents of hits on their popular site but have wasted a wonderful opportunity to hear the brilliant Bengali voices from from all over the globe on Bangladesh economy by selecting archaic and effete old school economist who looked for name and fame from political patronage.The readers must have seen some of the angry comments on the writer’s inability to talk with data.
    Dr. Mahbub Ullah got what he deserved for his lack of understanding of modern times specially the computer phenomenon.

  19. Zakaria

    Like a typical rightist this author lacks depth and breadth. He adds some irrelevant pieces to make it sound sexy to rightist support base. How does his last sentence relate to the subject and the article as whole. Is he talking about the trial of Mujib’s killers and war criminals as “revenge seeking”? Or is he talking about poor implementation of ADP or as “revenge seeking”? Awful right-wing writers.

  20. Rudra Firakh

    Pointing fingers at others seems to be the easiest of job to do. I have seen Dr. Mahbub Ullah in several Talk Shows, not in any of them he presented a way out of the difficulties Bangladesh is facing. If AL is doing wrong please suggest the correct way….. if not them then at least to the nation and its people. Don’t stop at only criticising them. If you can’t do that than join BNP-Jamaat. At least that way things are in perspective. Its the basics….be constructive! Reading this article I only smell rotten fish….of 4 party alliance.

  21. Akash

    The “professor” is suffering from a serious lack of scholarship! This is nothing new with a certain group of former lefties. Their skill in political mischief-making far exceeds their capacity for sound economic analysis.

  22. S.Khan

    Neither worth reading nor worth commenting.Sorry.Is that what happens to people when they grow older? Personally, i was asking myself, would it happen to me if i have the chance to grow older? Alarming, no doubt. One expression came to my mind: “dead man walking”! May Allah help us from that sort of disgrace.

  23. Anonto

    Why do you publish such ridiculous articles by so called “experts”. How dare he compares Us to that Filthy Fundamentalist Nation of Pakistan. Any Bangladeshi who sings the praise of Pakistan should be sent there immediately with a one way ticket.
    Bangladesh is surviving pretty well in a Global recession , when even such rich nations such as UAE(dubai) are on their knees now!

  24. alarm_clock

    Sir, I fully agree with you. Please keep this up to enlighten all with more facts and figures.

    I think some of the reader’s comments are targeting the writer, rather his article (Crying like small kid, I would request them to grow up). All I could get from this article is:

    A)Current Government priorities – none of these so far we observed (politics of fear, revenge, openly capture/politicization of every sector etc.) related to general public interest, though they promised this time would be digitally different. Can you really eliminate all who doesn’t like the way AL does politics? They tried it before. Let’s try to live together showing respect to others openion.

    B)AL was always and this time also showing all signs of mismanagement of economy as well as all other sectors (ADP that has been implemented so far) which has a dire consequence from which none of us immune.

    This reckless politics of revenge is bringing no good to the nation so far and rest assured it is going to bring no good to this nation in future too.

    Best wishes

    Eid Mubarak to all

  25. Chomon

    Did Mahbub Ullah write that for us? I don’t think so. Some always saw economy breaking down; anyway, Bangladesh survived.


    He is well known rightist man everyone knows. He got no intention to portray AL government in a positive way.The article he wrote lacked basic economic data!!!

  27. Himu

    Dear Sir,

    Please state your opinions about the following statements!

    The economy has grown 5-6% per year since 1996 and expected to keep on growing. Bangladesh’s GDP (PPP) per capita is $1500 according to CIA fact-book and expected to increase this year. Also, the inflation is increasing at alarming rate because of higher purchasing power fueled by low borrowing cost and higher remittance and lack of proper monetary policy !! Bangladesh is no longer the most corrupt nation. I think it now stands at 13th.. (correct me if I am wrong)

  28. Shamim


  29. Amit


  30. Fuad


  31. Junaid

    I don’t know who the writer is.He is writing about our economy without any concrete information.Nowhere in the article I found the GDP figure, Inflation figure, unemployment figure, Remittance trend and trade figures. This is absolutely absurd. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT AN ECONOMY PROVIDE SOME FIGURES TO PROVIDE JUSTIFICATION. I would suggest BDNEWS to be a bit more responsible in selecting writers.

  32. Harun

    Yeah AL is seeking revenge by finding out the truth behind terrorist attacks such as 21 Aug, 2004 (mention of which makes hardcore BNP follower and blindly partisan like Mahbub Ullah very scared) and many others. What were BNP-Jamaat seeking when they were bombing the opposition gathering with the sole aim of annihilating them? What were they seeking in illegaly exporting 10 trucks arms? When they killed two AL MPs? Ans yes, AL is seeking revenge by planning to prosecute some of the worst war criminals in the history of humankind with whom Mahbub Ullah has close ties and by finishing the trial of Bangabandhu and Jail murder cases.

  33. Anis

    The writer was a veteran student leader(leftist) in Paki time and a reknown versity professor(turned to rightist) in Bangladesh and great opportunist(Chairman Sonali Bank and got posting from CU to DU) in last BNP ruled period.No doubt an Economist. Please suggest your priorities and advise.”A Learner”

  34. imon

    Hello Mr Alam- you got it wrong. One should not compare Bangladesh with the West. Bangladesh’s financial sector is highly autarkic. So impact of the recession should be very different in Bangladesh than the matured economies where they have very developed financial markets. You are right that the world’s largest economies are struggling to retain jobs. The job loss problem actually started before the recession. The reason is the rise of billions, esp the rise of China and India. China is now called the global factory thanks to massive growth in manufacturing activities in the country and India has become a service outsourcing hub. However, what matters most is productivity. If you look at productivity data you will see these two countries, particularly China’s productivity growth is much higher than the West. Indeed Europe (EU 15) and Japan are experiencing declining productivity growth. You have noticed it is China that helping the world to recover from the recession. So, one can compare Bangladesh with developing countries when it comes to economic growth or recession.

    Anyway, coming back to the current state Bangladesh economy, I would like to share my thoughts with some data/facts. First, its savings-investment gap. Professor Mahbub Ullah discussed about the investment drought in Bangladesh in this column. I just like to substantiate the issue with some facts. There is a substantive gap between Bangladesh’s gross domestic savings (GDS) and gross domestic investments (GDI). Generally, imported savings that are reflected in gross national savings (GNS) fill the gap. In the case of Bangladesh, the gap has been bridged historically by GNS but since 2005-06 one can see a growing divergence between GNS and GNI. Here I would say its not merely AL’s fault, the previous two governments (BNP largely and the caretaker to some extend) cant avoid responsibilities. From the macroeconomic perspective, this scenario is seen either as a ‘savings glut’ (that one observes in China) or an ‘investment drought’ (some Asian economies, particularly ASEAN). As evident from the GNI data, Bangladesh falls into the latter group owing to its ‘investment drought’. This is partly due to its underdeveloped financial systems, and partly due to other structural problems in the economy (such as infrastructure bottlenecks, power crisis, inapt bureaucracy etc)– entailing difficulties in properly channeling national savings to investments. This development has led to a surplus in Bangladesh’s current account (BoP) that eventually ends up in reserves accretion (roughly 10 billion now). For this reason the finance minister wants our appreciation! What a success!! If the central bank cant utilize/manage the forex reserves it can be a white elephant. The reason being there are costs and benefits of reserves accumulation. The direct cost of reserves holding is the spread between one-year US Treasury and Bangladesh Bank Treasury rates. The returns from Treasury bonds in Bangladesh are much lower than the yields it receives from forex reserves, (invested predominantly in the US Treasury), due to the interest rate arbitrage. It would be interesting to see what are the economic and social costs of reserves accumulation in Bangladesh. I calculated sometime back (when reserves was 8 billion USD) that the total cost of its reserves build-up for Bangladesh would be approximately US$400 to 450 million. But I don’t undermine the benefit of reserves holding. But the key here is the utilization of reserves in excess of its requirement.

    Now the key point is what the current government should do? It should focus on internal demand growth rather than heavily depending on exports (more alarmingly issue is its narrow export basket). How it can be done? Government should facilitate infrastructure growth that constraint the growth of private sector. Government need to offer public goods and it must play a facilitator’s role so that its private sector can grow. If the govt expedites the power generation, builds road and highways, offers civic amenities (that what private sector cant generate/produce without govt help) then private sector will finds its way to transform nations savings into investment. Here money is the least worried thing nowadays what matters is managerial expertise that we don’t have thanks to our inefficient (and politicized) bureaucracy. We have gas but we don’t know how to utilize this resource. It’s a shame! Imagine a country is known as “land of rivers” but it faces water crisis. Here is a lesson for the country from Singapore which virtually has no water but is now one of the leading providers of water technologies.

    We often underestimate our strengths. We have a homogeneous democratic society, a strong civil society, cheap and abundant manpower, alluvial lands- you name it. We don’t have ethnic problem unlike India and China. But what unfortunately we dont have is- visionary leadership. Our politicians often go to Saudi, USA or Singapore for their health check-up or to change their specs for a better eye-sight. It might help them to see the things clearer but doesn’t improve their visions unfortunately!

  35. A reader

    This writer is living in stone age. He has no idea about the current size of Bangladesh economy. Otherwise, he would not have mentioned about the $70 million investment planned by some Japanese company. Bangladesh now earns $1 billion each month through remittance only (1 billion = 1000 million); also another 1.5 billion in export income. Many medium-size company in Dhaka are now worth more than $70 million.

  36. Iftekhar

    I do not agree with comments of the writer at all. While the whole world is struggling with economic downturn, Bangladesh is doing well in maintaining economic stability. Export income is increasing, as well as remittance. Huge influx of remittance helped in preventing spike in call money rate ahead of Eid ul Azha. Referring to an old slander by Paki government is nothing but an attempt to undermine the progress Bangladesh achieved after liberation. Bangladesh achived a lot since 1971 in many fields like women’s education, child health, vaccination, life expectancy, soacial stability and in overall quality of life. Compared to that, Pakistan is almost on the verge of destruction due rise of religious militancy. Guess who is heading on the right direction.

  37. Habib

    I don’t know what the WRITER wants to achieve just in one year? Slow ADP implementation is not the only recent phenomenon, it ties to many other things which is not possible to overcome overnight even over a year. Regarding the economic success–compare BD’s performances with any developing/neighbouring country-the outcome will be, if we understand little economics, surely favour BANGLADESH!

  38. Alam

    Reference to the Pakistan central government’s comment is ridicules, and out of context. All his observations should be supported by evidence. Otherwise, it is nothing different from a Paltan Maidan speech. World’s largest economies are struggling and fighting to retain people in job. Minimizing the impact of global economic downturn on Bangladesh should be considered as a success of government.

  39. Charbak

    What a collection of “neutral” commentators on the government? Shafiq Rehman, MA Taslim and now Dr. Mahabubullah. Who is next? Go one step ahead and bring Motiur Rahman Nizami !!

    • Tofayel Ahmmad

      Actually, I don’t know what CHARBAK is. Is it a name or something to mean not to mention his/her name out of fear. Before making comment on anything, we should at least read it. If after reading, we can’t understand it then, we should take the help of other experts to make us understand. Literature, Mathematics, Economics, Politics etc. are not same. They may have relationships but they are not same. Mr. CHARBAK, could you please tell me exactly where does Mr. M.A. Taslim’s Paper comment on the Government? Do you identify the Daily Star with the Government? Have you actually read his Paper? If not, then why did you make such a comment on a famous economist’s write –up?

      • Charbak

        I agree with Mr. Ahmed that my comment was a bit sweeping and Dr. Taslim is not in the same league as the others. Moreover, his second writing was not on the government. But have you read his first article? Those were on the budget and obviously on the government. It seems from reading BD News that the BNP era chief of the Tariff Commission is the only person to comment on the Bangladesh economy. We obviously want his criticism but he should not be the only one commenting in BD News.

        By the way, what “Charbak” means is not relevant for this discussion. For your information, Charbak was an ancient Indian rationalist philosopher.

      • Somnath GuhaRoy

        “CHARBAK” in Bengali comes from “CHAARVAAK” of Sanskrit language. In Sanskrit and other Indian languages it means “(One of) beautiful speech” and is derived from the conjunction (‘Sandhi’) of ‘Chaaru'(beautiful) and ‘Vaak'(speech).
        Chaarvaak was an ancient rationalist of India and there is a school/discipline of logic named after him. So anyone propagating logical thought, like the above commentator, may well use this name.

  40. jasim uddin

    Yes, I do agree with him completely, this govt. lacks priorities and it seems to me radarless.They have to pay for this. It’s economy stupid! at the end of the day.

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