On January 7, Bangladesh held its 12th National Parliamentary Elections, yielding a new government. On January 10, the newly elected members of parliament took an oath of office. On January 11, Sheikh Hasina, the president of the winning Awami League, assumed office as prime minister of the country for a fifth and fourth term, respectively. The PMs advisers, State Ministers, and ministers have already been designated and appointed. Since 2009, Bangladesh has made great strides under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We warmly greet the newly elected government of Bangladesh and are quite confident that it will continue to prosper and flourish under her direction.
However, the new government needs to address three critical challenges immediately to continue all their good works made in the previous terms.
The first issue that the incoming administration must deal with right away is economic or financial management. Almost every economic indicator has declined sharply. The new government now faces a formidable task in trying to save the economy from the rocks. This situation is caused by both the global crisis and the governments defective policies. The government of the Awami League, now in its fifth term, has a lengthy list of difficulties. It needs to stabilize the macroeconomy first. In this context, keeping inflation under control is crucial. Stopping the decline in reserves and stabilizing the dollar exchange rate are other critical tasks.
Reviving the economys growth trajectory will be the next challenge. For this, there is no other option except to guarantee macroeconomic stability. The fiscal years first half is now complete. Six months remain before the end. Restoring the economy in these six months will be another task for the government. There will be no standard, conventional ways to tackle this catastrophe. Economists believe that special initiatives must be implemented till the next budget as that will send a good message to development partners and the private sector.
The banking sector in the country has developed into a focal point for money laundering and embezzlement. The oversight of the central bank is inadequate. Tackling the several vested interest groups to lift the cloud over the banking industry will be the new governments most challenging task. A commission to supervise the banking industry is required and it is crucial that this body be given unrestricted authority to carry out its duties.
Economists also believe that improvements are needed in a number of sectors. This involves putting the governments loan-taking under control, enhancing the quality of government spending, canceling unneeded projects, maintaining share market openness, and so on. The new Finance Minister is Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali. For the longest time, the Bangladesh Bank governor was in charge of formulating the primary economic policies. It is now imperative that the central bank performs its duties effectively. The primary responsibility of central banks worldwide is to regulate inflation. The primary obstacle facing the central bank is carrying out its duty in an accountable manner.
To urge citizens to invest or keep their money domestically, the newly appointed finance minister has to take a few measures. Even if there will undoubtedly be an influx of illicit money, some people have already acquired part of it, and it won benefit us if it leaves the nation. Therefore, certain sectors where people may invest their money without any questions asked should be introduced by the new administration. With the state of Bangladesh today, this action is necessary.
Furthermore, the new finance minister must devise plans that prioritize repaying principle and interest on loans that Bangladesh has taken out for various development projects over the past 15 years. Bangladesh may overcome its economic difficulties with a well-thought-out plan, particularly if corruption in our system is curbed.
Controlling the high rate of inflation is the second major task that the new administration needs to take on. This needs to be the newly formed governments top priority. The new administration has to keep the economic trend going in order to contain inflation by boosting production in the industrial and agricultural sectors. The price of commodities will not rise if agricultural production rises. It is necessary to boost and level up market monitoring. Additionally, its important to make sure that neither import nor retail syndicates exist.
We are aware that there cannot be many business owners that actively contribute to price increases. The whole import market is an oligopoly, meaning that a small number of corporate organizations control all of the nations imports and are able to set the pricing of necessities at whim. Hence, even if they are honest, the bulk of other dealers, including the retailers, are forced to offer the goods at excessively high rates. It seems improbable that the government is ignorant of this state of affairs, and it is unbelievable that these special interests have surpassed the government in strength. It is expected that the government would take a holistic approach to addressing the issue, rather than just keeping an eye on the market.
The Awami League promised to keep commodities prices within everyones purchasing capacity in their election manifesto for the recently completed 12th national election. In order to create a more competitive market and create a long-term solution to price manipulation by a small number of people, trade and commerce oligopolies should be broken. Strong consumer associations are also crucial because they may function as advocacy groups against arbitrary price increases and abuses of consumer rights.
The “ration card” system should be implemented by the government in order to bring peace and comfort to the population. Instead of making the stimulus a chance for a select few, the government ought to provide it to people directly. The new administration will be very successful if it can incorporate the lower and middle class in the rationing system.
The governments third urgent priority is to step up diplomatic efforts to strengthen ties with all development partners, especially the West, which has consistently opposed Bangladeshs human rights situation as well as past administrations and elections. Bangladesh has grown in importance both locally and globally from a geopolitical standpoint. Furthermore, the globe is once again heading toward bipolarity. As a result, the new Bangladeshi government will have a difficult time striking a balance in its interactions with everyone.
Keeping good relations with all the global powers is very critical as maintaining stability inside the nation depends on that to an extent. Unfortunately, apart from creating economic hurdles, the West has created political and extremist vulnerabilities in different countries for their own interest and Bangladesh cannot take that risk. We need complete stability inside our country in the upcoming years to protect our people from any adversity and uncertainty. Hence, the new government must act quickly to improve our relations with all our development partners.
The newly formed government has adopted many changes in its cabinet. PM Sheikh Hasina has reformed the cabinet considering the past performances as well as putting her faith on the new minister and state ministers. But these positions should go through a yearly review and if any minister or state minister is unable to achieve the goals, then he or she should be replaced with someone more capable. Moreover, the ministers and state ministers should avoid making political rhetoric or any loose comments as that puts the government under useless pressure as well as diverts attention away from work. This is a crucial period and the new cabinet must put all their focus strictly on works.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned Bangladesh into a role model of development during her last three terms. Her government in the past had been successful in improving on all economic indices even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, despite provocation, her government maintained a sound partnership with all its global and regional partners. With a good intent, we believe her government can win against corruption too as that will bring peace for the people. Hence, we are confident that, the new government, under the visionary and farsighted leadership of Sheikh Hasina, has the full capacity to overcome all the mentioned challenges. We put our trust on the new government and hopefully Bangladesh will keep moving towards the peak of development, prosperity and honor.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla