Bangladesh has to meet two out of three criteria for the second time to graduate from the LDC group. The three conditions as we know are the per capita Gross National Income, the human asset index and the vulnerability index. The vulnerability index covers both environmental and economic vulnerabilities.
In 2018, Bangladesh met all the three criteria and is still going well even amid Covid-19 pandemic. There was an apprehension that the pandemic impact will push us behind. However, my own study shows that Bangladesh will possibly meet all criteria for the LDC graduation in the evaluation of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Now, the necessary condition is the country's willingness to graduate. All practical purposes and signals show that the government is keen to graduate. In that case, it is highly possible that Bangladesh's LDC graduation will happen in 2024. The corresponding decision is expected in the CDP's plenary meeting in February next year.
If it is a political decision, Bangladesh can argue for its deferment for another three years. But, considering practical purposes, it is not viable. In this case, the better advice for Bangladesh is that it should look for international support so that its LDC benefits continue even after the graduation.
Given the Covid-19 related consideration available all around, Bangladesh should capitalise on that, and given the composition of the LDCs, it should also play a leadership role in this respect.
Bangladesh has already crossed one milestone in 2015, achieving the lower-middle-income country status from the World Bank – graduating from the lower income country group.
Now, we are having the LDC graduation milestone. Alongside that we have another milestone to achieve – Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.
All these three major milestones need to be reflected in our midterm and perspective plans. The eighth Five Year Plan should have a policy framework for reaching all the three milestones – the transition from the lower-middle-income country status, the LDC graduation, and the SDGs implementation.
Thankfully, all the goals are unidirectional. And the three goals are mutually complementary. We need a strategy in the eighth Five Year Plan to facilitate all the three transitions together. And, the country will not fall into a so-called middle-income trap.
Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, member of UN Committee for Development Policy (CDP) and distinguished fellow at CPD