It gives me great pleasure to greet my fellow citizens in this special edition of The InCAP, an international business magazine that is rapidly making a foray in making a name for itself.
The old year, which has passed in a blur, is rapidly drawing to a close, and the new year is beckoning. This year has been one of the most momentous ones in our living history. We are well aware of the havoc it has created in our lives, physically, mentally, and economically. Many precious lives have been lost, and yet the darkening clouds are ominously hanging like the proverbial sword of Damocles.
So what does the New Year portend? Despite the cataclysmic event that is still unfolding, Bangladesh is a resilient country that has always been in the world news for natural disasters or humanitarian crises. Since independence in 1971, the fledgling nation has experienced and successfully overcome many natural calamities, including floods and cyclones, as well as economic crises such as the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. The South Asian riverine nation is on the frontline of the adversities of climate change and is home to one of the world’s largest refugee camps housing more than 1 million Rohingya victims of genocide in Myanmar.
The government of Bangladesh has shown the leadership in tackling this crisis by announcing a slew of stimulus packages that are now bringing out the economy from the doldrums of the first half of this year. The Central Bank has been quick to infuse liquidity into the banking system. The stock market is now showing robust growth, with the economy limping back to normal. Remittances are buoyant, with foreign exchange reserves hitting an all-time high of 42 billion USD.
The mighty Padma bridge is nearing completion, ushering an era of hope and optimism for the South West region of Bangladesh. Exports are stuttering with the second wave of Corona, but optimism lurks with the introduction of the vaccine in the western world. Most industries are now showing growth. The roads of Bangladesh now sport the usual hustle and bustle with the informal economy back on track. Consumers have shrugged off their initial pessimism with credit card spending back to the pre Covit levels. Agriculture that provides 40% of employment has shown strong growth. The SME sector that provides another 40% has slowed down but is expected to revive with the revamped stimulus package of the government.
I am therefore optimistic the New Year will again see a resurgent economy. Bangladesh has proved again and again to the world that it is a rapidly rising tiger about to become a middle-income country with a thriving domestic economy combined with a robust external economy. The government continues to pump large sums in infrastructure projects that will soon see the benefits in spurring the GDP to greater heights.
Chief Advisor of the Board – Crown Cement Group
Chairman of Unilever Consumer Care Limited