Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said her government will implement the 20-year-long second perspective plan to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country in South Asia by 2041.
At a recent presentation, she said the country is set to implement the second perspective plan 2021-2041 after successful implementation of the first perspective plan which will end this year.
It may be mentioned that the fifth and sixth five-year plans have been successfully implemented while the seventh five-year plan is under execution. Alongside the five-year plans, the government has formulated a long-term perspective plan 2010-2021, the first of its kind in the country.
Planning Minister MA Mannan, in the same meeting, termed the perspective plan "a dream document" to transform Bangladesh into a developed and prosperous country as dreamt by the Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The government has, in fact, taken a target to achieve 9.90 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the terminal year of FY2041 as revealed by the Perspective Plan (PP) FY2021-FY2041 which has been unveiled very recently.
However, this is a clear shift from its earlier stance of achieving a double-digit economic growth to a more realistic approach in the newly-envisioned paper by FY2041.
In the last plan from FY2011 to FY2020, the government set a target to achieve double-digit growth in the terminal year, which was not achieved.
According to the new plan, the government wants to achieve an upper-middle income country status by FY2031 and high income country status by FY2041.
For meeting the target, the economy has to be expanded at an average rate of 9.02 per cent during the 20 years period, the paper said.
But some economists termed the target ambitious and challenging amid the present base of Bangladesh's economic scenario, especially its poor investment to GDP ratio.
In fact, the government wants to lift the Gross national Income (GNI) per capita to US$3,271 in FY2025, $5,906 in FY2031 and $17,229 in FY2041.
Analysts, however, said the average 9.02 per cent growth rate target in the next 20 years was ambitious. According to them, the country's investment base is very weak. With this investment scenario, it's not possible at all to attain the target. The country will have to raise its investment base.
For this, heavy regulatory reforms, quality physical and human capital productivity, competitive business environment for local and foreign entrepreneurs are indispensable for the desired investment scenario.
Economists say, China had been growing at more than 10 per cent rate and its investment-GDP ratio was more than 50 per cent over more than a decade. So, the country is now on track to be a developed nation. Bangladesh also needs to follow the 'Look East' policy in its development thinking ratherthan mimicking the western countries, they added.
The government needs to follow China, South Korea or Singapore's development strategy, rather than following that of slow-growing India or any western countries.
As has been said, the target to achieve the goals as per the Perspective Plan is really ambitious and challenging given the weak base of the country's regulations and infrastructure.
For example, the government has approved one single window law for getting all the services in one place for the investors more than two years ago. But if anybody wants to get even electricity connection now, it's not possible from a single point.
Yet this is a reality that some new opportunities have been created for Bangladesh now. The demand for new products like healthcare and software and equipment has been created globally. Bangladesh can grab the market share as it has a better infrastructure to produce those.
Although foreign direct investment (FDI) could plunge by 40 per cent across the world due to COVID pandemic, global investment restructuring could help Bangladesh attract investments improving business climate.
All these encouraging events are expected to help the country attain the targets set in the new perspective plan. What is needed is that everybody should render their best services in the interest of the nation.