Denmark committed to support Bangladesh’s aspirations for climate-oriented economic growth: Danish Minister
Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jannik Jørgensen on Wednesday signed an agreement in Bagerhat to extend the Local Government Initiative on Climate Change (LoGIC) project for two years from June 2023 to June 2025. Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Winnie Estrup Petersen and UNDP Resident Representative Stefan Liller were present. With a funding support of 40m Danish Kroner (USD 5.6m approximately) from the Danish government, the extension phase of LoGIC will be implemented in two districts of the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) – namely Rangamati and Bandarban. Also Read: Bangladesh, Denmark launch action plan to strengthen partnership on green transition The purpose is to strengthen communities’ resilience to the impact of climate change through locally-led adaptation strategies. The dignitaries from Denmark, along with representatives of UNDP and UNCDF, visited Mongla in Bagerhat to observe and understand the impact of climate change and how both agencies are building climate resilience through innovative and locally-led solutions. Minister Jannik Jørgensen, during his visit to climate-affected areas in Mongla took note of the adaptive measures taken by the affected communities to strengthen their resilience against climate change. Also Read: Bangladesh, Denmark joint action plan for 2023-2028 to be launched soon He said Denmark values the strong and longstanding bilateral relation with Bangladesh. "Recognising that Bangladesh is at the forefront of the climate crisis, Denmark is committed to supporting Bangladesh’s aspirations for climate-oriented economic growth and green transition in the years of graduation from the group of LDCs. Denmark is also one of the few development partners that have engaged long term in the CHT, most recently with a focus on climate resilience of communities.” Dan Jannik Jørgensen added. Also Read: Bangladesh, Denmark sign Tk 474 crore framework agreement to implement dev programme Winnie Estrup Petersen, Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh, said, “Given the significant climate vulnerability of the region, Denmark will continue to support UNDP and UNCDF in the CHT through LoGIC. This model strengthens the national fiscal transfer systems for the channelling of climate adaptation funding to local governments and ensures institutional and financial sustainability.” Bangladesh is often cited as one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations, and it is the poor who are disproportionately affected, said Stefan Liller, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh. Also Read: Danish Minister Dan Jørgensen in Dhaka "As such, we must focus on increasing communities' resilience to the impact of climate change. To this end, we here at UNDP, Bangladesh continue to work on mainstreaming climate change into local level planning and financing processes by blending scientific knowledge with local expertise to identify climate risks and support effective adaptation measures,” Stefan Liller mentioned. In 2016, the government of Bangladesh (GoB), the European Union (EU), and the Government of Sweden, together with UNDP and UNCDF, jointly designed the ‘Local Government Initiative on Climate Change’ (LoGIC) project to develop a mechanism to deliver climate finance to the most vulnerable households and local government institutions for building resilience and promoting local action on climate change adaptation at scale.
The proposed budget of Bangladesh in the fiscal year 2023-24 has set an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GPD) worth of 50.06 lakh crore with a 7.5 percent annual growth. The inflation target was set to 6 percent which is now 9.28 percent in the proposed budget. The 7.5 percent growth projection could be deemed as ambitious given the uncertainties in the global economy and various other challenges at home. Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal explained his position on why he is expecting higher growth this time despite the economic pressures. Read more: Finance Minister unveils Tk 761,785 crore national budget “We expect to return to a higher growth trajectory and achieve a 7.5 percent GDP growth, by way of investing in the productive sectors and stimulating productivity and domestic demand,” he said. Kamal focused on investment in the 100 special economic zones and completing ongoing mega-projects to achieve the GDP target. In FY19, Bangladesh achieved a record 8.15 percent GDP growth. Then came the pandemic. The finance minister set a growth target of 8.2 percent in FY20, but the actual growth achieved was 3.45 percent, the lowest in several decades. The growth rate increased to 6.94 percent in FY21 after recovering from pandemic effects. The GDP growth further increased to 7.1 percent in FY22. Read more: Budget FY23-24: Focus should be on tackling macroeconomic challenges, says Dr Atiur Rahman
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas today (March 21, 2023) said his country is committed to working with Bangladesh to eliminate corruption – enabling Bangladeshis to enjoy lives of dignity and drawing more international trade and foreign investment. “If Bangladesh can assure citizens and investors that corruption is less prevalent here than in other markets, it will attract more investment and help the country continue on the path of economic growth,” he said. Ambassador Haas made the remarks at an event, titled “Call to Action Against Corruption Summit”, at a Dhaka hotel, organized by Centre for Governance Studies (CGS) and Center for International Private Enterprises. The US ambassador said corruption exists, to one degree or another, in every corner of the globe, and they are all too familiar with what it looks like. Read More: Excited to see more Bangladeshi students are choosing US: Peter Haas “It’s trying to get a driver’s license and having to pay ‘speed money’. It’s knowing that if you want a passport appointment, it’s going to cost you extra. It’s needing to bribe the right official to register a plot of land you just purchased,” Haas said. Corruption is a parasite that feeds on the resources of a society and drains it of its strength and can devastate every level of business and government, he said. “Sadly, some notorious scandals have occurred in my own country,” said the US ambassador. Yet, he said, exposing corruption and holding perpetrators accountable have catalyzed economic growth in the United States and elsewhere. Read More: New US Ambassador Peter Haas arrives in Dhaka “When societies exert such efforts, they prosper. I am confident this can be the case here in Bangladesh, as well, and the United States is eager to help,” he said. Under President Biden, the US government has established the fight against corruption as a core national security interest, he added. “We support initiatives that help Bangladeshi businesses meet international standards and regulations, making them more competitive in the global market,” said the envoy. “By promoting ethical business practices, we can create a more level playing field for businesses of all sizes and encourage more foreign investment,” he added. Read More: Peter Haas nominated next US Ambassador to Bangladesh The US Agency for International Development, USAID, has partnered with Bangladesh’s Registrar of Joint Stock Companies to launch an online registration process for new businesses. This makes registering new businesses more transparent, faster, and more affordable, Ambassador Haas said. USAID has also worked with the Bangladesh National Board of Revenue to establish authorized economic operators. This endeavour empowers the private sector, instead of the government, to release shipments at ports, he said. As a result, Haas said, the process has become more transparent and raised the level of trust between the private sector and the government. Read More: Prevent corruption in every sector: President to ACC The US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) works with the Private Public Partnership Authority Bangladesh to conduct workshops to improve the legal and business environment of Bangladesh. CLDP also works with Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to improve municipal governance by improving fiscal transparency. Under this program, CLDP invited over a DNCC delegation, including the mayor, to Miami in January. The US Department of Justice trains investigators and attorneys in the Anti-Corruption Commission on topics such as how to investigate and prosecute money laundering, how to use electronic evidence, and how to investigate financial crimes. “It has also fostered a relationship between Bangladesh’s Financial Intelligence Unit and the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre,” Haas said. Read More: All-pervasive corruption by AL destroys economy: Fakhrul “The United States is committed to holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions. This can take various forms,” said the ambassador. Just as US laws hold American citizens and businesses accountable for corrupt practices, there are US laws and penalties that apply to non-citizens who use corrupt practices in violation of the laws. “What can the Bangladeshi government do to reduce corruption? It could think about ways to empower institutions to tackle corruption and promote transparency and accountability in governance and business,” he said. One idea is to reduce the amount of cash that officials handle by replacing cash-based financial transactions with the government with online transactions, Haas said. Read More: Power tariff being raised frequently to manage corruption: Fakhrul “Citizens could pay bills, fines, and taxes electronically. Such a process would minimize the opportunity for bureaucrats to overcharge or misplace public funds into their own pockets,” he said. Haas recognized the important role a vibrant civil society and free media play in investigating and exposing instances of corruption. Bangladesh has many advantages that potential investors would find attractive, he said. “But as American business leaders tell me: multi-national firms have options on where they invest.” They will choose whichever country has the lowest levels of corruption, the fewest bureaucratic obstacles, the greatest respect for rule of law, and the best logistics infrastructure for their business, he added. Read More: BNP's complaints about corruption 'laughable': Hasan Mahmud
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday praised the World Bank for its continued support towards Bangladesh’s development. He said Bangladesh's growth has increased by 74 times since 1972, and the World Bank had a role to play behind it. “After independence, the country's GDP growth was only $6.3 billion, which has now increased to $465 billion,” he said. Kamal said this while speaking as the chief guest as the World Bank and Bangladesh celebrated its 50 years of partnership at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) in the capital on Sunday. Also Read: WB cuts Bangladesh growth target by 0.9 percent to 5.2 percent The Finance Minister also said that Bangladesh is currently the 35th largest economy, and the poverty rate has come down to 20 percent, per capita income increased to $2,824 and average life expectancy increased to 73 years. Also read: World Bank managing director to arrive in Dhaka Saturday Highlighting the future plans, the Finance Minister said, “Our next target will be to turn Bangladesh into an upper-middle income country by 2031, and a Smart Developed Bangladesh in 2041.” World Bank Managing Director (Operation) Axel van Trotsenbur, World Bank South Asian Region Vice President Martin Riser, Economic Relations Division Secretary Sharifa Khan, and World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan Abdoulaye Seck, among others, spoke at the function.
The World Bank on Wednesday cut Bangladesh's economic growth (gross domestic product -GDP) forecast for the 2022-23 fiscal year further by 0.9 percent to 5.2 percent, due to a combination of factors including elevated inflation, energy shortages and tightening of the monetary policy. The GDP growth has been predicted in the World Bank's 'Global Economic Prospects report released on Tuesday night. The forecast is down from 7.2 percent growth in the previous year. The government has set a target of 7.5 percent GDP growth in the current financial year. The World Bank said that the growth of Bangladesh may increase slightly to 6.2 percent in the next financial year. Read more: Bangladesh wants low-interest loan from World Bank amid economic woes According to the report, the economy of Bangladesh is being affected due to the global context. “Bangladesh’s economy is affected by the global situation and the sharp increase in fuel prices in the international market,” it said. As a result, there has been a disruption in power supply to industries and households. Industrial production has been disrupted. The government had to do load-shedding to deal with the situation. Apart from this, buying of cars has been stopped as well as luxury goods have been discouraged, the World Bank report said. Earlier, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted a 6.6 percent GDP growth in Bangladesh in the current fiscal year. The ADB's growth forecast was based largely on a slowdown in domestic consumption demand, a decline in exports and remittances, and a slowdown in the global economy. Read more: Bangladesh wants open, transparent relationship with World Bank: PM
The government of Bangladesh has projected to upgrade total investment in the country to 33.6 percent of the total GDP on a mid-term basis (in the 2024-25 fiscal year) aiming to overturn the economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war. In this investment, the private sector will contribute 26.65 percent of the GDP while the public sector will contribute 7.0 percent. According to an official document, to attain the gradual acceleration of the GDP, private investment expansion is necessary along with public investment. The estimated investment target for 2023-24 fiscal year is 32.8 percent with 25.91 percent from the private sector and 6.9 percent from the public sector. Read more: Lack of financing, policy support causes of weak startup growth in Bangladesh: Speakers For the running 2022-23 fiscal year, the investment target is 31.5 percent with the private sector contributing 24.81 percent and the public sector adding 6.7 percent. The estimated GDP target for the current 2022-23 fiscal year is 7.5 percent while the target for 2023-24 and 2024-25 is 7.8 percent and 8.0 percent respectively. The document stated that the GDP of the last 2021-22 fiscal year was 7.25 percent while in 2020-21 it was 6.94 percent. The growth in agriculture, industry and service sectors have been estimated at 5.0 percent, 8.8 percent and 7.9 percent respectively for the 2024-25 fiscal year. Read more: Bangladesh's strong growth could be at risk without urgent climate action: World Bank The official document said that About 7-8 percent real GDP growth is targeted over the medium term based on the assumptions of the gradual recovery of the world economy from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the early resolution of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The document put emphasis on private investment, saying that it needs to be boosted along with public investment to increase capital accumulation. Total investment in fiscal 2020-21 stands at 31.0 percent of the GDP where the contributions of private and public sectors are 23.7 percent and 7.3 percent respectively. “But this level of investment is not adequate to achieve around 8.0 percent growth over the medium term,” the document said. Read more: Tier-2 cities like Gazipur, Narayanganj must promote urban growth outside Dhaka: World Bank It also mentioned that public investment could not be increased to an expected level due to the lack of capacity in implementing the annual development programme. Recognising this, the document stated the government has taken steps to bring about some structural changes at both project design and implementation levels. It mentioned that a potentially huge global supply shock that may reduce growth and push up inflation is affecting the post-COVID-19 recovery. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the economic sanctions on Russia that followed put global energy supplies at risk,” it said. Read More: More development projects planned to support trade, investment The document said that Russia supplies around 10 percent of the world’s energy, including 17 percent of its natural gas and 12 percent of its oil. The jump in oil and gas prices will add to industry costs and reduce consumers’ real income, it added, saying that record-high inflation is currently evident, which also affects Bangladesh. The total investment in 2018-19 fiscal year was 31.6 percent of the GDP where the share of private and public sector were 23.5 percent and 8 percent respectively. The investment in 2019-20 fiscal year was 20.8 percent of the GDP (private sector 12.7 percent and public sector 8.1 percent). Read More: “Bangladesh can be the right place for investment from Brunei” "But to attain 8 percent GDP in the mid-term basis” such investment is not adequate, it said. The document mentioned that the government has taken various reforms measures like simplification of the fund release process for accelerating the rate of ADP implementation. It mentioned that the overall agriculture sector, especially foodgrain, vegetables, livestock and forest resources was less affected due to coronavirus. It said that disbursement of agriculture loans played an important role in the satisfactory growth of the agriculture sector in Bangladesh. Read More: Shares vs Bonds: What is the Ideal Investment Opportunity
Beset with Sri Lanka's economic crisis, Pakistan's catastrophic floods, a global slowdown, and the impacts of the war in Ukraine, South Asia faces an unprecedented combination of shocks on top of the lingering scars of the Covid, the World Bank said in its twice-a-year update. Released Thursday, the latest "South Asia Economic Focus, Coping with Shocks: Migration and the Road to Resilience," projects regional growth to average 5.8 percent this year – a downward revision of 1 percentage point from the forecast made in June. This follows the growth of 7.8 percent in 2021 when most countries were rebounding from the pandemic slump. While economic distress is weighing down all South Asian countries, some are coping better than others. Exports and the services sector in India, the region's largest economy, have recovered more strongly than the world average while its ample foreign reserves served as a buffer to external shocks. The return of tourism is helping to drive growth in the Maldives, and to a lesser extent in Nepal – both of which have dynamic services sectors. The combined effects of Covid and the record-high commodity prices due to the war in Ukraine took a heavier toll on Sri Lanka, exacerbating its debt woes and depleting foreign reserves. Plunged into its worst-ever economic crisis, Sri Lanka's real GDP is expected to fall by 9.2 percent this year and a further 4.2 percent in 2023. Read: Tier-2 cities like Gazipur, Narayanganj must promote urban growth outside Dhaka: World Bank High commodity prices also worsened Pakistan's external imbalances, bringing down its reserves. The country's outlook remains subject to significant uncertainty after devastating climate-change-fueled floods submerged one-third of the country this year. "Pandemics, sudden swings in global liquidity and commodity prices, and extreme weather disasters were once tail-end risks. But all three have arrived in rapid succession over the past two years and are testing South Asia's economies," Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice-President for South Asia said. "In the face of these shocks, countries need to build stronger fiscal and monetary buffers, and reorient scarce resources towards strengthening resilience to protect their people." Inflation in South Asia, caused by elevated global food and energy prices and trade restrictions that worsened food insecurity in the region, is expected to rise to 9.2 percent this year before gradually subsiding. The resulting squeeze on real income is severe, particularly for the region's poor who spend a large share of their income on food. South Asia's migrant workers, many of whom are employed in the informal sector, were disproportionately affected when restrictions on movement were imposed during Covid. However, the later phase of the pandemic has highlighted the crucial role migration can play in facilitating recovery. Survey data from the report suggests that in late 2021 and early 2022, migration flows are associated with movement from areas hit hard by the pandemic to those that were not, thus helping equilibrate the demand and supply of labour in the aftermath of the Covid shock. Read: Without reforms, Bangladesh’s GDP could fall below 4% by 2035: World Bank study "Labour mobility across and within countries enables economic development by allowing people to move to locations where they are more productive. It also helps adjust to shocks such as climate events to which South Asia's rural poor are particularly vulnerable," Hans Timmer, World Bank chief economist for South Asia, said. "Removing restrictions to labour mobility is vital to the region's resilience and its long-term development."
Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley on Tuesday said preparing for quick access to GSP Plus in the EU market is the next big factor for Bangladesh’s future economic development. The graduation from LDC status in 2026 would also mean graduation from the current Everything but Arms (EBA) unilateral trade preference given to Bangladesh by the EU, which is Bangladesh’s largest export destination. “The graduation would imply a substantial trade loss and serious shock to the country’s GDP, which could be mitigated through inclusion in the GSP+ arrangement,” said the EU envoy while speaking at a programme hosted by International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) at a city hotel. Read:Special economic zone not enough to attract best investors: US Envoy US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, founding President of IBFB Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, Chairman of Policy Research Institute of Bnagladesh Dr Zaidi Sattar, IBFB President Humayun Rashid and its Vice President MS Siddiqui also spoke. Attracting foreign direct investment and technological know-hows would be key to reduce dependency on single basket RMG exports and move towards industrial diversification, said ambassador Whiteley. For this to happen, he said, a level playing field for both local and foreign sectors is necessary. “Addressing the woes of existing foreign investors is also important. We continue to engage with the government authorities in this area in our bilateral business dialogue.” Read BGMEA seeks 10-yr extension of GSP in Swiss market There are some quite stringent requirements for GSP Plus accession and the great thing is Bangladesh has already ratified the 32 conventions that are now required for GSP Plus membership, said ambassador Whiteley. “Now the next stage is implementation. This in particular refers to implementing the National Action Plan for the Labour Sector, which the Government has agreed with the EU,” he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said her government has been developing a modern transport system by implementation of different projects to accelerate the country’s economic growth. “We’re developing a modern transport system,” she said while opening the 1493-metre ‘Bangamata Begum Fazilatun Nesa Mujib 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge’ over Kacha River at Bekutia in Pirojpur, which established the uninterrupted road connectivity between Khulna Division and Barishal Division. The premier joined the opening ceremony of the Bekutia bridge through a virtual platform from her office here in the capital. Read:PM opens Bangamata Bridge over Kacha River in Pirojpur She said her government enhanced the total length of the country’s highways to 22,000km and 718 km highways have already been upgraded into 4-lane or above-lane ones, while the works are underway to turn more than 600 km highways into 4-lane or above-lane ones. Hasina said the government is now implementing different projects including metro rail and elevated expressway projects in Dhaka, 20-km Rapid Bus Transit (project) from Gazipur to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Bangabandhu Tunnel under Karnaphuli River in Chattogram and 10-Lane Tongi Bridge Construction projects. “I think once these projects are completed, our economy will get further momentum,” she said. The construction work of the bridge was started on November 1 in 2018. Read Floating bridge built by school teacher ends suffering of Lalmonirhat villagers The Roads and Highways Department constructed the bridge at a cost of Tk 894.08 crore. The Chinese government provided Tk 654.80 crore as project assistance for the bridge while the Bangladesh government spent Tk 239.80 crore. The bridge also strengthened the road connectivity between Pirojpur and Dhaka. It also strengthened the road connectivity among Kuakata Sea beach, Payra deep sea port, Mongla sea port and the country's largest land port Benapole. Sheikh Hasina said it is her government’s duty to change the fate of the people in the entire country. “We’ve already advanced a long way in the journey of our socio-economic development. Bangladesh attained the status of a developing country. I think we’ll able to achieve further economic prosperity,” she said. Read Padma Bridge: Know Its Amazing Facts, Engineering Wonders She said the people of the southern region had long been deprived due to poor connectivity with the capital. The people of this region used to come to Dhaka for livelihoods by crossing several mighty rivers risking their lives and facing immense sufferings. But now the communication between Dhaka and the southern region became easier as her government constructed many bridges including Padma Multipurpose Bridge, Shikarpur-Duarika Bridge and Gabkhan Bridge, said Hasina. Noting that many other bridges are being constructed in this region, she said the people of the southern region would not be neglected anymore. Read Dickson impressed by joint efforts to construct climate-resilient infrastructure in Bangladesh About the newly opened bridge, the PM said it would help bring economic prosperity for the people of Pirojpur. “The communication between Pirojpur and Dhaka has now become very easy,” she added. The premier reiterated her call to all for boosting the food production amid the global crisis induced by the Russia-Ukraine war. “Even a single inch of land shouldn’t remain uncultivated,” she went on. The PM again urged the people to exercise austerity in the use of electricity, water and fuels during this tough time. Read European company interested to develop infrastructure in Bangladesh Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming also spoke at the opening ceremony conducted by PM’s Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus. Later, the premier exchanged views with the beneficiaries who participated in the two rallies on the two sides of the bridge. Fisheries and Livestock Minister, also Pirojpur-1 MP, SM Rezaul Karim was present at a rally at the west side of the bridge, while Pirojpur-2 MP Anwar Hossain Manju was present at another rally at its east side. Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division ABM Amin Ullah Nuri made a power-point presentation over the newly constructed Bangamata Bridge over Kacha River at Bekutia in Pirojpur. Read Edotco's solar street lamp project launched
Vietnamese Ambassador to Bangladesh Pham Viet Chien has pledged that his country will continue to work together with Bangladesh to achieve higher economic growth in line with the development goals of the two countries. “I strongly believe Viet Nam and Bangladesh will maintain a higher economic growth and keep moving towards realizing the targets to be upper middle-income countries in 2030 and then developed high-income countries in the early 2040,” he said. The ambassador, while speaking at the 77th Vietnamese National Day reception at a city hotel on Friday night, said the two countries will continue to cooperate in living up to the dreams of the Fathers of Nations - Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh. He mentioned that as same as the 2030 and 2041 visions of the government of Bangladesh, the National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam set the national development goals for 2030 and 2045. The envoy said Viet Nam has been and will always be a friend, reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community. “The government of Viet Nam hopes to join hands with Bangladesh and other countries to address traditional and non-traditional security challenges, to work towards a peaceful world of more sustained, inclusive and humanistic development,” he said. Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque spoke as the chief guest at the reception attended by politicians, diplomats, business leaders and cultural activists. Razzaque laid emphasis on enhancing trade and investment relations between the two countries and sought market access of diversified products to Viet Nam from Bangladesh. Read: Declaration of Independence – Will, aspirations of Vietnamese people