Bangladesh’s economy fares better in FY21: experts

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DHAKA, June 2, 2021 (BSS) – Country’s two leading economists and a business community leader today said that the economy of Bangladesh has fared better in the outgoing fiscal year (FY21) braving the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the healthy trend of inward remittance, export earnings and agriculture.

On the eve of placing of yet another national budget for FY22 during the pandemic, they said that Bangladesh has showed enough successes in macroeconomic management although the COVID-19 has put a big toll on the global economy and thus disrupting the lives and livelihood of people.

The economists and business leader said that Bangladesh has been able to maintain the growth trend as well as the development activities. They said when most of the global macroeconomic indices are witnessing downtrend, Bangladesh has done well in most of the economic indicators in the outgoing fiscal year (FY21).

They said Bangladesh has successfully tackled the first wave of the pandemic and is also in the right course to face the 2nd wave while there is a need to strengthen the vaccination programme in the next budget alongside further widening the social safety nets.

Talking to BSS, Bangladesh Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said that the impact of COVID-19 was largely seen throughout the outgoing fiscal year and the main challenge of the government was how to face this pandemic.

“We’ve been able to successfully face the 1st wave of the pandemic. The government had taken some timely decisions like keeping open the factories which has played a positive impact on the economy,” he added.

Dr Kholiquzzaman opined that the government needs to strengthen the ongoing vaccination programme alongside pursuing the countrymen to strictly follow the heath safety guidelines to successfully face the 2nd wave of this pandemic.

“We’ve fared well in exports, remittance and agriculture despite the pandemic. But, the poverty and unemployment rates have gone slightly up during this period for which there is a need to further extend the social safety nets,” he added.

The eminent economist said that the lifeline of the country’s economy is some 1 crore micro and cottage industries, spread countrywide, on which some 2.5 crore people are involved.

“But, those were deprived of the stimulus packages,” he said urging the government to allocate Taka 20,000 crore stimulus in the budget for those industries.

Former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman said Bangladesh is one of those countries in entire Asia which have done well in economic fronts during this pandemic.

He said, “The three pillars of Bangladesh’s economy are agriculture, remittance and exports where Bangladesh have done exceptionally well. The COVID-19 pandemic could not weaken the country,”

He said the announcement of a good number of stimulus packages worth 4.4 percent of GDP by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to offset the shocks of the pandemic as well as the measures to keep the factories open have resulted in recovery in the exports and also in the economy.

Ruling out the allegations of some, about the non implementation of the stimulus packages in the SME sector, Dr Atiur said that around 70 percent of that have so far been implemented. The stimulus packages were implemented fully against the large scale industries.

He also hoped that Bangladesh’s export of RMG items to Europe and the USA would increase in the coming days.

Turning to the Health sector, Atiur said the government would have to complete the ongoing vaccination drive as early as possible through keeping separate allocation in the budget. He opined that there would not be any crisis of financing for procuring the COVID-19 vaccines.

The former central bank governor also demanded for keeping special allocation for the non formal or tourism sector.

Former president of DCCI Shams Mahmud said Bangladesh would be able to get back to its previous trend although the dynamism of the economy was affected to some extent due to this deadly virus.

“We’ve performed well in exports and in remittance. We’ll have to give special attention to the workers of services sector as many of them have become unemployed,” he added.

In the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, exports fetched home $32.1 billion, up 8.7 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau.

Between July last year and April this year, expatriate Bangladeshis sent home $20.7 billion, up 39 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank.

Besides, Revenue collection grew 11.8 percent in the 10 months till April of this fiscal.

As of April, the tax authority collected Taka 197,583.4 crore, up 12.9 percent year-on-year, according to data from the National Board of Revenue.

Both the agriculture and manufacturing sectors registered growth.

The inflation rate remained within 5.5 percent while exchange rate has been stable for a long. The current account balance also came to positive trend.