I do not think the ADB estimate is unreasonable. In fact, I would tend to agree with their growth rate estimate.
The brunt of the impact of the pandemic on the economy lasted for only two months at most – during the period of the lockdown/holidays. Economic activities began to recover quickly soon after, as clearly indicated by trends in power generation, exports, remittances and bank credit as well as other forms of financial transactions.
It could, in fact, be claimed that economic recovery is well underway.
So, thankfully, the risk of a massive hit on the economy – that we were all apprehending – has diminished greatly. If there are no further surprises – external or internal – I see no reason for us not to reach the ADB-estimated growth rate.
In terms of risks, we do still have to remind ourselves that the virus is still around and could easily mutate to pose a much bigger threat, and, therefore, we cannot allow ourselves to lower our guard – not at all.
On the external front, there are new pressures emerging in the horizon – from globalisation, increased protectionism, fallout from the worsening tensions in the region (China-India) and globally (US-China/Russia/Germany, Turkey-Greece/EU), and so on.
It would, therefore, be very prudent for Bangladesh to reimagine and redesign its economic and trade strategies in the light of these new, emerging realities, both in our vicinity and further afield.
At the end of the day, however, we cannot allow the GDP growth rate to dominate how we think about economic development. While it is quite handy in some ways, there are serious shortcomings that make this over-dependence quite dangerous, especially when we might want to focus much more heavily on human welfare.
My personal favourite is Bhutan's "happiness" measure – something that we too could adopt perhaps.
Dr KAS Murshid is the director general at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (Bids).