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Friday, July 3, 2015, Ashar 19, 1422 BS, Ramadan 15, 1436 Hijr

LMIC status to raise BD image, say economists
Mizanur Rahman
Published : Friday, 3 July, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 23
Bangladesh's graduation to a lower middle income country (LMIC)  from a status of lower-income country by World Bank would enhance the nation's image, vibrate its trade and business and boost up confidence of development partners, economists have observed.  
The nation, which was known as a least developed country and economically branded as a lower income country for decades, has now been honoured with the LMIC status after fulfilling WB's all requisite criteria, which also suggested that Bangladesh would definitely attain the Vission-2021 much ahead of the schedule envisaged by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, they said.
However, some economists also think the new status also brings some challenges for the nation and it would not bring any immediate relief for the downtrodden.
AB Mirza Azizul Islam, a former finance adviser to a caretaker government, pointed out that the WB's LMIC ranking is based merely  on Gross National Income (GNI) that also includes remittances.
"Bangladesh's income may come down in near future," he feared.  
"The man who could eat only once a day will not be able to manage two squares of meals a day, today. We don't see any immediate welfare gains for the people as a result of middle income country status," Islam observed.
The economist sees serious disconnect between economic growth and public welfare, saying that quality of education and healthcare services remain a problem area in spite of social achievements.
He explained that Bangladesh still remains a lower income country or what is called least developed country (LDC) in the United Nations' definition.
Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said gaining the LMIC status is positive achievement, as it would enhance donors' confidence. "Businessmen will also feel encouraged for trade," he added.
He, however, cautioned the government must improve social security, education and health sector for achieving the status of a middle income country by 2021.
There are many risks in Bangladesh, Dr Ahmed said, adding that sometimes many countries come to the bottom of the index.  
Abdul Matlub Ahmad, President of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and industry (FBCCI), said, "At present many developed countries are struggling to retain their respective development and economic status because of the global recession. Many have already lost their position because of trade deficit and other internal problems. Against this backdrop, WB's declaration for upgrading Bangladesh's  economic status is a great pride for the entire nation."
He said the way Bangladesh is progressing, especially in trade. commerce and industry, gives an impression that the nation would reach the level of a middle income country much ahead of 2021 as declared by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.   
Mustafa K Mujeri, former director general at Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), said, "It's an achievement that can give us confidence. But this will not change the bigger picture of deprivation, disparity and poverty."
He emphasised that the country's plans and programme must be improved for bringing the fruits of a 'complete MIC' to all people.
Mustafa Mujeri said the LMIC status would enhance the country's image, especially in getting access to commercial loans, but it would not address other challenges such as raising income of all people.
He, however, observed that the LMIC would not threaten the market access of Bangladesh as an LDC to the European Union.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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