The economy of Bangladesh is expected to remain strong in the fiscal year 2020, with a strong GDP growth rate of 7.8 percent, according to the latest Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
The report, Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020 – ADB's flagship economic publication – forecasts that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Bangladesh is expected to grow by 7.8 percent in FY2020 and 8 percent in FY2021.
These growth forecasts rest on several assumptions of continued political calm, maintained consumer and investment confidence, depressed exports and imports in FY2020 and recovery in FY2021, expansionary central bank monetary policy, and favorable weather. The forecasts do not reflect the impact of the COVID-19.
"Bangladesh's economy continued to perform well despite the global economic slowdown. However, there exists a downward risk due to the COVID-19 global pandemic," said Manmohan Parkash, country director of ADB.
"ADB's preliminary estimates indicate that about 0.2 to 0.4 percent of Bangladesh GDP may be lost due to spillover effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. If a significant outbreak occurs in Bangladesh, the impact could be more significant," he added.
"The outlook will be updated as more information becomes available. To cope with and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19, ADB is committed to support and collaborate with Bangladesh," he added further.
Appreciating the government's recent interventions, Manmohan Parkash said, "Addressing cash management challenges and broader resiliency issues due to COVID-19 related shutdowns and economic knock-ons could help minimize impact on Bangladesh economy."
During the first 8 months of FY2020, Bangladesh economy showed strong performance with growing domestic demand, supported by substantial increase in workers' remittances. Economic activity is expected to accelerate with higher government development spending; higher imports of liquefied natural gas, oil and construction materials; favorable power production, and government's policy support to boost exports. However, the COVID-19 pandemic could hamper such trend due to disruptions in export demands, suppressed consumption, and curbed remittances.
In FY2021, private consumption will continue to drive growth, aided by continued strong remittances. Private investment will revive on a stronger outlook supported by improvements in business regulatory environment and enforcement of single digit lending rates in banks. A planned rise in public investment in large projects should help expansion in domestic demand. Improvement in global growth with expected government policy support will help the industrial activities expand.
Inflation will stay in check in both years, and expected to slightly edge up to average 5.6% in FY2020 on higher food prices as well as nonfood prices on account of higher domestic natural gas prices. In FY2021, it will ease to 5.5% on better supply condition. The current account deficit will narrow in FY2020 due to moderate trade deficit and healthy remittances. With expected faster growth in export than import, and continued healthy remittances, the FY2021 current account will further improve.
The ADO 2020 notes that low revenue mobilization continues to be a key challenge for Bangladesh economy. The low revenue to GDP ratio in Bangladesh diminishes the country's capacity to sustain high economic growth and reduce poverty. Revenues thus need to be raised significantly through comprehensive tax reforms, by expanding the tax base and making resource mobilization more efficient to support much-needed public expenditure on infrastructure, health and social development.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.