Bangladesh, once known as the world’s “basket case” by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, may boost growth to a record 8 % within 3 years, according to the governor of the nation’s central bank.
“Bangladesh is an unsung hero,” Atiur Rahman said in an interview in his office in Dhaka. “If we can easily get some more help in terms of infrastructure development and connectivity, we can do much better. We're in a buoyant mood.”
The South Asian nation, where more than half of the 166 million people don’t have access to electrical power, plans to spend $10 billion, or 11 percent of its gross domestic product, in a decade to improve power capacity and leverage on cheap labor costs to attract investment from abroad. Bangladesh, often ravaged by cyclones and rocked by political unrest, boasts lower labor costs than India and China, attracting firms such as General Electric Co. and International Business Machines Corp.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is banking on the cost advantage and energy projects to spur the economy, which expanded 5.8 percent in the year ended June 30. The paucity of power slows growth by one % point each year, according to the central bank.
“The only thing that is constraining is power,” said Rahman, speaking in his office in Dhaka’s Motijheel business area, where cycle rickshaws vie for road space with second- hand Mitsubishi Pajeoros. “We were a bit late but we have started dealing with this infrastructural issue.”