'Embracing free market principles driving force behind economic success of Bangladesh'
The success of Bangladesh as one of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia Pacific and in South Asia currently is the result of embracing free-market principles, a Bangladeshi official has said. "Bangladesh has become one of the low-cost and high return manufacturing hubs in Asia," Salman Fazlur Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister, Hasina Wajed, told a Washington DC audience here.
Observing that millions of Bangladeshis no longer live in poverty, Rahman, who was speaking at the Hudson Institute think tank here, said that according to Price Waterhouse Cooper, Bangladesh will be the 28th largest economy in the world by 2030 and 23rd largest by 2041. The poverty rate in Bangladesh has fallen to 21.8 percent in 2018 from 56.7 percent in 1991, while the extreme poverty rate has dropped from 44.2 percent to 11.3 percent, he said.
Rahman, who is a prominent entrepreneur with investments in banking, textiles, and pharmaceuticals, attributed the country's economic success to the vision of Bangladesh's leadership. "Shaikh Hasina has invested in improving Bangladesh's infrastructure, ensured regular availability of energy, and provided the political stability that makes economic prosperity possible," he said.
Former Pakistan ambassador the US and Hudson Institute Senior fellow, Husain Haqqani, said that Bangladesh was showing the path to its South Asian neighbors by avoiding conflict and focusing on human capital development. "At independence in 1971, Bangladesh had a literacy rate of only 17 percent but now 73 percent of its population is literate," Haqqani pointed out, adding that higher female literacy and participation in the workforce enhances Bangladesh's productive capabilities.
He compared Bangladesh's human capital with Pakistan, from which it won independence and noted that in 1971, Pakistan's literacy rate was 23 percent but has risen only to 57 percent in the last five decades. Fazlur Rahman said that Bangladesh ranks at 48 in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index of 2018, higher than Singapore (57), the United States (51), and higher than any South Asian neighbor - Sri Lanka is 100, Nepal is 105, India is at 108, Bhutan at 122 and Pakistan at 148.
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