Cambodia suggests Sri Lanka to take lessons from Bangladesh to avert its ongoing crisis

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘Bangladesh Model’ can be saviour for the South Asian Island nation Sri Lanka, which is currently going through an extreme economic crisis, to overcome the hard time. During its ongoing crisis, Cambodia’s influential English daily ‘Khmer Times’ has published an identical op-ed on May 20, 2021. The op-ed titled ‘How can Sri Lankan PM overcome the crisis by following Bangladesh’s ‘PM Sheikh Hasina Model ‘saysthat, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka can follow the economic miracle of Bangladesh to avert their economic crisis. As Sri Lanka is going through an economic recession, Bangladesh has been confirmed as a South Asian Economic Miracle’, said an India-based researcher, John Rozario, in a feature story published in a Cambodian news outlet, Khmer Times. Sri Lanka can follow the ‘Bangladesh Economic Miracle’ model to avert its economic crisis. As Sri Lanka is going through an economic recession, its South Asian neighbour ‘Bangladesh’ has been confirmed as a South Asian Economic Miracle’.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘Bangladesh Model’ can be saviour for the South Asian Island nation Sri Lanka, which is currently going through an extreme economic crisis, to overcome the hard time. Bangladesh is currently a wonder of development and it is Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s contribution that turned least developed Bangladesh into a developing nation. She changed Bangladesh from a basket case to a middle-income country.

“Strong leadership is one of the main features behind ‘Bangladesh Model’. . .Sri Lanka can follow this model to overcome its crisis,” reads an article, written by John Rozario from India, published in Cambodian newspaper Khmer Times. According to the article, In his first TV address after assuming office, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe listed the grave challenges ahead of him, but assured the people of his determination to meet them successfully.

“There may be an example for him. He can overcome the crisis by following Bangladesh’s PM Sheikh Hasina Model,” the article reads.
Bangladesh is currently a wonder of development. It is Sheikh Hasina’s contribution that has made a least developed country such as Bangladesh a developing country now, going by economic indicators.”

She changed Bangladesh from a basket case to a middle-income country. Strong leadership is one of the main reasons behind ‘Bangladesh model. The implementation of big projects is now just a matter of time. City facilities have also been ensured in the villages. A Metrorail will be launched in a few days. The long-awaited Padma Bridge is not a dream now, it is real. The implementation of such a project with the government’s own funding was at one time unimaginable.

On various indicators of human development, Bangladesh had shown significant improvement. Life expectancy in 2019 was 72.6 years, a gain of over 7 years since 2000, years of schooling were up from 4.1 to 6.2, and the country’s human development index value climbed from 0.478 in 2000 to 0.632 in 2019. As a result, Bangladesh’s index ranking is now 133rd out of a total of 189 countries.

Nobody disputes the economic credentials of Sheikh Hasina’s government – the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the latest member of a growing list of international institutions attesting to Bangladesh’s economic success. The ADB ranked Bangladesh as the fastest-growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region, eclipsing China, Vietnam and India. When she returned to power in 2009, Sheikh Hasina knew that the energy shortage first needed to be mitigated to a tolerable extent, before embarking on long-term plans. As a temporary measure, she decided to allow private companies to build small-range power plants, known as quick-rental power plants.

The decision received a barrage of criticism from many quarters – from opposition parties and economists to the press and think tanks – intimidating many in the bureaucracy.
But Sheikh Hasina refused to back down from what she thought was the right step forward. She defended her decision forcefully, making necessary amendments to clear any legal ambiguity, and focused on its implementation. Nearly 10 years on, no one doubts that the decision was instrumental in solving the persistent energy crisis.

While in power, Sheikh Hasina has opened up many sectors traditionally reserved for the public sector to the private sector, including health, banking, higher education, TV and even export-processing and economic zones. At the same time, her government has substantially widened and expanded welfare programmes to lift the poorest and most neglected section of the population and increased subsidies for other crucial elements of the economy such as agriculture. Her development philosophy is a blend of capitalistic and socialistic virtues. Propelled by a robust manufacturing sector and an enormous boom in infrastructure, Bangladesh has set a target of becoming a developed nation by 2041 to coincide with the platinum jubilee of its independence.
Many commentators have called the goal ambitious, but even the government’s staunchest critics would think twice before questioning its plausibility.

Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves now stand at more than $45 billion, despite rising import costs. Bangladesh’s growth rate was way above Pakistan, even before the pandemic; in 2018-19 it was 7.8% compared to Pakistan’s 5.8%. Various international organisations, including the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the Economic Intelligence Unit, have identified Bangladesh’s economic development as a “wonderful puzzle”.

Sheikh Hasina has achieved full potential to move from a least developed country to a developing country. It has been possible because of people’s hard-working, strong leadership, political stability, the flow of FDI, empowerment of women, unique poverty alleviation model and inclusivity of economy. That is the story of a South Asian country: ‘Bangladesh’ is a ‘miracle story’.
Bangladesh was once regarded as a “bottomless pit” and a recipient of international aid. It is now a lending and donor country.

It demonstrates how all of South Asia’s countries can rise from the ashes. Bangladesh sets an example for South Asia on how to achieve economic growth while balancing diverse socio-political factors. Debt-ridden Bangladesh has achieved extraordinary debt alleviation success in recent years. Bangladesh had demonstrated its worth as a donor country by assisting Sri Lanka with medical needs. It has the honour of standing by Sri Lanka during times of crisis as a friend and close neighbour. It has provided emergency medicines worth 2.32 million USD.

Bangladesh also donated debt-ridden Sudan, a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).The help to Sri Lanka and Sudan from foreign exchange reserves has improved Bangladesh’s image.What occurred, though, that Bangladesh has been surprising everyone? Economists think there are some causes behind this: exports, societal progress and economic foresight.
Aside from economic skill, there are three more factors to consider: sympathy, economic diplomacy, and political will.

As part of the IMF effort, Bangladesh also gave Tk 80 million to help Somalia tackle poverty last year. The progress of Bangladesh fascinates everyone. Bangladesh’s image and respect for its  people have improved as a result of its financial support to Sri Lanka and Sudan from its foreign exchange reserves. When Bangladesh joyfully accepted 1.1 million forcefully displaced Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, it solidified its image as a humanitarian nation. There are thousands of more cases where Bangladesh was one of the first countries to join the international community.
The question is now valid. Bangladesh has become a lending and donating country! Why can’t other countries in South Asia be self-sufficient, donors, lenders, and economic miracles ? Bangladesh can teach South Asia a lot.

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