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World Bank on Bangladesh January 15, 2008

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, ECONOMY, GOVERNANCE, World Bank.
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The following is the report of World Bank on Bangladesh, though made months back but is still relevant.

Bangladesh has recorded impressive economic and social gains since the 1990s:

  • Steady economic growth of 4-5% annually, relatively low inflation (which may not be true for 2007 under the caretaker government in its first year) , and fairly stable domestic debt, interest, and exchange rates.
  • This growth performance, coupled with an impressive decline in the population growth rate from 2.5% in the 1980s to 1.7% in 1990-2004, has led to a doubling of annual per capita GDP growth, from 1.6% in the 1980s to 3.3% in 1990-2004.
  • In terms of per capita GDP growth, Bangladesh out performed both IDA-only countries and low-income countries in this period. This growth record was also accompanied by more stable growth, itself a function of Bangladesh’s improved disaster management capacity.

[ an ordinary citizen: inflation rate in 2007 does not hold true with the above fact under the caretaker government in their first year where the inflation rate touched the double digit]

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The country has outperformed most low-income countries on a range of social indicators.

  • It increased gross primary enrollment from 72% in 1980 to 98% in 2001 and has already attained the MDG of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary enrollment.
  • With the sharp decline in infant mortality from 145 to 46 per 1,000 live births between 1970 and 2003, and in child mortality from 239 to 69 per 1,000, Bangladesh is set to achieve the targeted two-thirds reduction from 1990 levels by 2015.
  • Food security has improved markedly, even for the very poor. There have also been steady gains in income poverty: the share of the population in poverty declined from 59% in 1990 to 50% in 2000, with rural areas accounting for nearly four-fifths of this decline.
  • Bangladesh’s actual values for fertility, infant and child mortality, contraceptive prevalence, and crude birth and death rates are much better than would be predicted for a country at its income level. These gains have occurred despite widely held perceptions of poor governance. Bangladesh scores low on most global governance perception indicators, and investors rank corruption among their most serious concerns.

[An ordinary citizen: food security is again tested by the Hurricane Sidr- the fiercest cyclone that passed over the country and government is faced to ensure free food supply to 2.2 million devastated families.]

How has Bangladesh done so well despite such poor governance?

Explaining this conundrum requires unbundling governance, recognizing both successes and failures. Bangladesh has shown slow but steady gains in public accountability, with successive free elections, an increasingly assertive Supreme Court, a rapidly growing and active civil society, and a relatively free media. The state has encouraged the emergence of a vigorous private sector through sound macroeconomic management and trade liberalization. Financial sector governance is improving, and successive governments have allocated budgetary resources wisely, emphasizing pro-poor expenditures.Governments have made room for and forged strong partnerships with NGOs, which have contributed to the impressive development gains. On the other side are the governance failures.

Major Weaknesses in governance:

The increasingly unhealthy competition and lack of trust between the two major political parties sours the political climate and is a major governance weakness. The high cost of elections feeds public corruption. An overly centralized state reduces public accountability in the delivery of services. An inadequate revenue effort and weak public financial management undermine the effectiveness of pro-poor spending policies and foster corruption. A weak civil service and justice sector compromise the delivery of essential services, including law and order. 

[An ordinary citizen: Though the report is of  2006, the facts are still significant and an opportunity came to change the political climate and to improve the governance.Hope that the current Election Commission will take measures to lessen the cost of election and thereby reduce the corruption. The Caretaker Government is also taking measures to decentralize the government and measures are taken to strengthen the local government institutions and we hope that the elections for the local government bodies will be held under this caretaker government to keep it free and fair. Government has also taken measures to improve the revenue collection and the total revenue in the last one year surpassed the annual target which is also encouraging. The ordinary citizen is not aware of any measure for improving the poor financial management of the public sectors. But Government campaign against corruption through Anti-Corruption Commission will improve the situation in indirect way. ‘The civil service is weak’, the beaucracy in Bangladesh will not accept the statement. It is more red-tapped than weak and one may blame it corrupt. Recently Judiciary has been separated from the Executive which is a revolutionary step for Bangladesh and will have positive impact on the politics and governance of Bangladesh.

And the World Bank is also not always updated- the report is of 2006 and yet not reviewed.]

Ref: World Bank: Bangladesh country overview 2006

An ordinary citizen

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