2016-17 Fiscal Year

WB projects 6.8pc GDP growth for Bangladesh

14 May 2017, 17:44 | updated: 14 May 2017, 21:11

Online Desk

Dhaka: The World Bank has projected that Bangladesh will see a 6.8 percent growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the outgoing 2016-17 fiscal year.

"The growth will be sustained at 6.8 percent in 2017 fiscal year... Bangladesh economy is performing well in all the indicators except three -- export, remittance and import of industrial raw materials-compared to the previous fiscal year," said World Bank lead economist Zahid Hussain.

He was revealing a report titled 'Bangladesh Development Update, May 2017' at the World Bank's Dhaka office.

Zahid Hussain said Bangladesh has the potentials to add about three percentage points to the baseline growth over the next 15 years by taking some measures, particularly enhancing efficiency in public investment and women participation in labour market.

Noting that there are three key factors - export, remittance and investment-- for the country's strong economic growth, he said the growth, however, declined in export and remittance in this fiscal year.

According to the Bangladesh Development Update, May 2017, the economy is likely to grow between 6.4 percent and 6.8 percent in 2017 and 2018.

However, it said, the country must not be too complacent as it would require dealing with domestic and external risks.

The risks on the domestic side include further deterioration in the financial sector stability, slippages in addressing fiscal reforms, and political uncertainties in the run-up to the 2019 general election, the report added.

The update said the Bangladesh economy remains stable in the face of global uncertainties and continues to reduce poverty.

The economy is currently facing challenges of slowing export growth, falling remittance, rising food inflation and early flood in some parts of the country. However, the growth outlook in the medium term is projected to remain robust.

Mentioning 19.6 percent growth in tax revenue and 13.6 percent growth in import of construction materials, it said the economy is well on course to maintain a robust growth.

The report said the US and Europe, the country's largest export markets, and private investments are projected to improve in 2017.
Bangladesh can boost its economic growth considerably by removing the barriers to female participation in the labour force and paving the way for investment and innovation, it said.

The global lending agency observed that Bangladesh can add about 3 percentage points to baseline growth over the next decade by removing structural impediments to investment and innovation, improving the production, pricing and distribution of energy, ensuring corporate governance in the financial sector, increasing global integration, and revenue mobilisation.

The World Bank suggested that the government, businessmen and civil society need to work together to promote gender equality in labour market, which is prerequisite to higher and faster growth, by undertaking some measures.

The measures are reducing the prevalence of early marriage, strengthening girls' early orientation to career development, improving jobs orientation of education providers, ensuring gender equity in labour legislations and fostering non-discriminatory workplace environments.

Despite an increase in the number of women joining the labour force, the number of working women is still much lower than their male counterparts, the report said, adding that in 2013, only 33.5 percent women worked where as 81.7 percent men worked in productive sectors.

The World Bank said Bangladesh needs higher growth rate to accelerate its journey on the middle-income path. The country will need an investment-led strategy coupled with improvements in the efficiency of public capital.

Achieving higher than 7 percent annual growth on a sustained basis will inevitably require increased productivity growth as well as much higher female labour force participation, it observed.

World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan was also present at the launching programme.