FOUR YEARS OF AWAMI LEAGUE GOVERNMENT, A REPORT CARD
Under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh last year witnessed stunning successes in infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, power generation, nutrition, maternal and child health, primary education, women empowerment etc.
Bangladesh has been upgraded from low income country to lower middle income country as per World Bank’s classification based on per capita income.The present government has already adopted the 7th Five Year Plan in a bid to build a hunger- and poverty-free Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s economy posted a GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate of 7.28 per cent, a foreign currency reserve of $32.1 billion, and exports worth $38.50 billion in 2016-17 fiscal year. Per capita income has surged to $1,610 when the inflation was 5.03 per cent in December. Poverty has been slashed from 57 per cent to 22 per cent in less than two decades, while life expectancy increased to 72 years.
The government is working on several mega projects including the Padma Bridge, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the Metro Rail, the Rampal Power Plant, Payra Seaport, Matarbari Power Plant, Padma Bridge Rail Link, and the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar-Gundum Rail Line, which gathered momentum last year.These mega development projects are well underway and are expected to have significant positive impact for the country.
Digitization of government services and expansion of Bangladesh’s IT economy was a core principle of Awami League’s election manifesto. As part of election campaign, the prime minister launched “Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021,” a plan to fully digitize Bangladesh by 2021. The government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ initiative transformed the country now into a modern, knowledge-based society. The country has made remarkable strides in its information technology sector. Bangladesh’s digital breakout is already improving the lives of its people. Around 20% of all government procurements are now being done through e-system. Bangladesh is set to launch its first commercial satellite Bangabandhu-1 in March this year. Also, the government is setting up 28 IT parks and Sheikh Kamal IT Training Centres throughout the country which will help create two million jobs by 2021. The country’s telecom sector has witnessed a robust growth as the total number of mobile phone subscriptions reached 143.106 million at the end of November, 2017, while the total number of internet clients rose to 80.166 Millions.
To bring out poor people from poverty, especially in rural areas, social safety net programmes can play a considerable role. To support the poor and vulnerable, the Government of Bangladesh implements a number of public social safety net programmes. The government expanded the coverage of its safety-net programme and increased allocation for it to provide financial support to 57.67 lakh people helping them come out of poverty.
Bangladesh is now recognised as role model for the fight against militancy. The Sheikh Hasina government has finally resolved to root out terrorism from Bangladesh. After the targeted killing of secularists, foreigners and members of ethnic minority and the deadly Gulshan café attack, a massive anti-militant crackdown was launched. Soon Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) of Bangladesh Police will start its journey against militancy and terrorism across the country. The full-fledged unit with advanced technology and arms will work to resist the terrors and radicals outfit organisations and maintain the law and order situation for public safety. However, enforced disappearances are on the rise in Bangladesh. Well, many of them are also returning back willingly. Noted intellectual Farhad Mazhar went missing and later he was found loitering at the New Market in Khulna.
The utility electricity sector in Bangladesh has one National Grid with an installed capacity of 15,379 MW as on February’ 2017. Bangladesh’s energy sector is booming. Recently Bangladesh started construction of 2.4 GW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant expected to go into operation in 2023. But still the per capita energy consumption in Bangladesh is considered low. As many as 83 per cent people of the country are now getting electricity as Bangladesh’s total electricity generation capacity has reached nearly 16,000 megawatts.
The present government started distributing free textbooks from 2010 academic year. But the leaking of question papers of public examinations has been one of the most talked about issues during the government’s current tenure.
Different media of Britain termed Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a ‘Mother of Humanity’ for her humanitarian role on the Rohingya issue. The daily Khaleej Times, the most popular newspaper of United Arab Emirates, also termed the Prime Minister as a ‘New Star’ of the East. Besides, her (Sheikh Hasina) five-point demand at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on the Rohingya crisis stirred the world community. Academics of renowned universities of the world opined that Sheikh Hasina should be the leader of world peace for her contribution to the establishment of world peace. They described Sheikh Hasina as an ‘ambassador of global peace’ and the ‘main leader of the humanitarian world’ saying that she acted with unprecedented humane instincts for the sake of humanity and tried to mitigate sufferings of the victims of one of the world’s worst persecution happening outside the Bangladesh border.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been successful in ensuring political stability and providing decisive leadership with bold decisions. In a short span since independence, Bangladesh has proved the sceptics wrong. From an ‘international basket case’ and a ‘test case of development’, Bangladesh has become an example of success. Of course the government has some failures. Inequality in every aspect has always been referred to as a major problem. Still 6.2 per cent families own 40 per cent of the total land in the country. According to Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2016, the rich 10 per cent of the population is now having more than 38 per cent income share while the poorest 10 per cent is having only one per cent income share.
Bangladesh has made significant improvements in the fight against corruption in the last decade. But still both political and official corruption is pervasive. According to a senior leader of Awami League, ‘Politicians are behind the half of corruption in Bangladesh. It is the politicians who should be blamed for widespread corruption in Bangladesh. If politicians refrain from corruption, the problem will be reduced by half’. Corruption and harassment also occur at various points of interaction with the judicial system.
Awami League is the oldest and largest political party of Bangladesh. With the founding and operating principles of democracy, nationalism, socialism and secularism, the party has become synonymous with progress, prosperity, development and social justice. Politics of Awami League should be performed for the welfare of common people.
JANUARY 28, 2018
The author acknowledges with gratitude the different sources of information.