World Bank lauds Bangladesh growth story, calls for diversification of export, deepening of financial Sector

Bangladesh is one of the world’s greatest development stories as it has moved from being one of the poorest at its inception to one of the fastest growing countries of the world, says World Bank (WB) Managing Director Axel van Trotsenburg.

Speaking at an event to mark 50 years of partnership between the WB and Bangladesh in Dhaka on Sunday, WB Managing Director said that the country's 6 percent average economic growth per annum since 2000 has lifted millions of people out of poverty. From a status of poverty in 1972, it became a lower-middle income country in 2015 and it is now on the way to becoming an upper-middle income country.

Axel van Trotsenburg commended Bangladesh’s achievement in the fields of women’s empowerment, investment in people, and moving decisively on climate adaptation and resilience. He pointed out that from the status of being at the bottom of the educational attainment level for girls in 1991, Bangladesh has achieved gender parity in school enrollment through its innovative steps like the female stipends program. It reduced fertility rates from 6.1 births per woman in 1971, to 2.1 births in 2018.

Bangladesh’s achieved an improvement in life expectancy from 46.5 years in 1972 to over 70 years now due to its policy of investing in people, said the WB Managing Director. He also lauded Bangladesh as a ‘frontrunner in Climate Adaptation’ as reflected in its ‘home grown approach of early warning systems, cyclone shelters, embankments and afforestation’ which has led to 100 fold reduction in deaths from cyclones since its independence in 1971.

Outlining the ways in which Bangladesh can achieve its intended goal of doubling the per capita income, Trotsenburg suggested that the country needs to strengthen reforms in the areas of macro-fiscal management, export diversification, the financial sector, energy, and climate resilience.

He said that rationalising its tariff system to reduce the nominal protection rate, removing non-trade barriers and liberalising trade in services will be critical in achieving its goal. He further said that Bangladesh will need to deepen and diversify its financial sector to mobilise additional resources. The World Bank MD urged for maintaining stable macroeconomic conditions with sound fiscal management to safeguard the country’s successful development outcomes.

He assured that Bangladesh and the World Bank will work together to help the country continue to be a model of green, resilient and inclusive development.

Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program of more than USD 15 billion. Since 1972, the World Bank has committed about USD 39 billion in 362 loans to address the country's development challenges in areas such as infrastructure, human capital development, social protection, rural and urban development, as well as the country’s digital agenda.

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