Bangladesh, following its outstanding progress made earlier on the key millennium development goals (MDGs), can make similar progress in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Mission Director of USAID Janina Jaruzelski came up with her optimism over the South Asian country’s capacity while speaking at the opening session of the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) in Dhaka on Wednesday.
"Bangladesh has already shown leadership on the SDGs and has been impressively proactive in incorporating the SDGs into its 7th Five Year Plan and other budget and strategic planning efforts," she noted.
She also commended Bangladesh government highly for its tremendous generosity and compassion in sheltering the fleeing Rohingya in Bangladesh and said the development partners stand with Bangladesh in addressing this very severe crisis.
She said many years of sustained six per cent annual growth has already pushed Bangladesh across the World Bank's Lower Middle Income threshold.
With the right choices, the Prime Minister's goal of attaining full Middle Income Status by 2021, the 50th anniversary of independence, is achievable, said Jaruzelski also co-chair of Local Consultative Group (LCG) Development Partners.
The USAID mission director said sustaining high economic growth will require Bangladesh to do more to encourage investments, especially in infrastructure and renewable energy, and to do more to break down the many barriers to regional trade.
"Perhaps even more important is preparing young people for a rapidly evolving world economy by equipping them with the sort of quality education and analytical reasoning skills that will enable them to adapt and excel," she added.
To consolidate Middle Income Status, Bangladesh will need to focus greater attention on modernising its institutions of governance and maintaining ample space for informed policy debate, she said.
BSS said Bangladesh has doubled-nearly tripled-its rice production and significantly improved its nutritional statistics, she said, adding that still, under-nutrition and stunting remain formidable challenges and cost an estimated $1 billion in lost productivity every year, with even higher costs in terms of healthcare.
She said Bangladeshi women have made enormous strides over the last four decades, in terms of political empowerment, better job opportunities, and greater access to education.
Mentioning Rohingya issue, she said, "One of the challenges we all face, collectively, is steadfastly maintaining the momentum and trajectory of Bangladesh's economic and social development even as we all address the special issues created by this sudden large influx of displaced, distressed people".