The year 2020 was an acid test for the economy and all its stakeholders. It forced individuals and businesses to take a deep dive into their financials and re-assess their course. The perfect "rainy day" scenario!
There was so much to learn throughout the storm. Rest assured, it can be assumed that businesses that survived through this are destined to have a strong financial foundation in the future as they learned the hard way that a total economic stall is possible and what its consequences are. As the saying goes, "What does not kill us makes us stronger".
In a recent interview with CalTech, the famous billionaire of Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger, said that he expects the economy to make a U-turn in about a year when vaccines will be rolled out. He mentioned how he had seen the deadly poliovirus losing its severity after the invention of its vaccine. I agree with his views.
The technology and logistics we have now are light-years more advanced and the distribution of vaccines will be faster than the world has ever seen before. We need to grow past the fear factor and look at this scenario objectively. There was a time when the flu wiped out countless people and now it is not even a concern.
Speaking optimistically, we can soon expect to arrive at a time when this pandemic will be a thing of the past and there will be a major upswing in economic activities, just the way it had usually been after any major financial collapse. Looking back on the major financial crisis of 2008 now, it looks like a small dip, though we at the time thought that the world was coming to an end.
Human beings have always had this extraordinary capacity of coming out of crises and doing better than they were doing before. The perfect example of this is the economic boom after World War II.
Time and again, Bangladesh has proved its resilience against any adversities. We weathered through the famines post our Liberation War, faced and survived the deadliest of cyclones, and now have one of the sharpest rises in GDP at a time when the rest of the world is seeing only modest growth.
Our government did better to get our economy back on its feet faster and more efficiently than most countries. The pandemic has shone a light on the fact that we need to diversify into more technologically advanced products.
I recently read an article by a colleague of mine at the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry that they realised how a blockade in the supply chain in the RMG sector had made them realise that they could easily manufacture zippers and buttons domestically without relying on foreign supplies. This means more employment and improved manufacturing capabilities for Bangladesh. Within my organisation, we are seeing a sharp rise in demand which is a tell-tale sign that the economy is yearning to get back to its stride.
I truly believe that we will only be reorganising even better and making our economy stronger than it was before. This fear of gloom and doom is, therefore, needless to say, temporary. The government actions have been astute and the policies in place are in favour of industrialisation.
I believe, with such pragmatism, our manufacturing sector will be stronger than ever, and we are steadily striving towards generating more employment and economic growth for our beloved Bangladesh.
Shahriar Jahan Rahat, deputy managing director, KSRM.