Sri Lanka Can Learn From ‘Bangladesh’s Thriving Through Mega Projects’ Approach – OpEd


Travel restrictions imposed due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, drawbacks in the economic activities due to restrictions on international trade as well as limitations on allocation of funds due to fluctuation of exchange rates remained as major challenges for the implementation of development projects in Sri Lanka in 2021.

When implementation of mega projects in Sri Lanka during the first wave to third wave of Covid-19 was nearly stagnant, the implementation of mega projects in Bangladesh was and is being continued even in this covid-19 pandemic situation. 

The Bangladesh’s economic thriving through the mega projects during the Covid-19 period helps Bangladesh to revive its economy. Sri Lanka could take lessons from Bangladesh how to revive the economy through the mega projects amidst the Corona epidemic. Lankan government could and should follow the ‘Bangladesh’s model of economic revival during the Pandemic’.

Basically, this model of economic revival helped Bangladesh to recovery from inflation and economic stagflation to boost up its economic wheel for the people. As a South Asian neighbors, Sri Lanka could follow the strategies and tactics of Bangladesh.

People worked hard to implement these projects in Bangladesh. The projects are being implemented by the foreign fund and loan. Bangladesh has been utilizing the maximum outcome of these foreign loan. As a result, it is going to be South Asian Economic miracle. Its inflation is tolerable than that of other countries in South Asia.  Its estimated growth rate by ADB, World Bank and IMF is comparatively satisfied with other countries in the region. 

Basically, the implementation of 10 fast track projects during the Covid-19 helps Bangladesh much to be an economic capable. Now people of Bangladesh are going to benefit from those projects.  Sri Lanka could learn a lot from Bangladesh’s approach.

There are many projects in Sri Lanka. China and India funded projects are being implemented in Sri Lanka. If the authority of Sri Lanka saw the approach of Bangladesh, the projects of Sri Lanka would be completed. To some extent Sri Lanka would be capable to revive its economy.

Bangladesh has written its name in the list of middle-income countries.  Development partners have also been informed about the capacity of its internal resources by implementing large projects like the Padma Bridge with their own funds. Besides, construction work of Metro Rail, Karnaphuli Tunnel, Bay Terminal, Ruppur Nuclear Power Station, Dhaka Elevated Expressway, Bus Rapid Transit, and Third Terminal of the airport is also going ahead in the Corona epidemic.

The workers and engineers are working day and night in compliance with the hygiene rules. Bangladesh is going to rise to a unique height in terms of foreign lending with loans from the reserves. Through this Bangladesh is going to write the name in the list of lenders. The central bank has made almost all preparations to lend 200 million to Sri Lanka. Again, a portion of the reserve will be spent on infrastructure construction.

At one time Bangladesh only borrowed from foreign companies or countries. That day has changed. The capacity of Bangladesh has increased. Bangladesh is now emulating many, especially in terms of economic potential. ‘

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s economy is showing its potential where many countries of the developed world are affected by the Corona epidemic. After managing the first wave, it is now handling the second and third waves. Government officials and experts say that if these mega projects can be implemented, Bangladesh’s status in the world court will increase a lot. It will bring radical change in the communication and infrastructure sector.

 It is learned that after the overwhelming victory in the ninth parliamentary elections and the formation of the government in early 2009, massive development activities started all over the country. As the government remained unchanged in the second term, the development activities gained more momentum. Development activities started in important sectors including roads, infrastructure, power and energy of the whole country including Dhaka.

Unprecedented success in the power and energy sector comes after overcoming long-standing obstacles. Following this, the Awami League formed the government after winning the 11th national election for the third time in a row. Earlier, at the beginning of the second term, the government started work of about a dozen large projects on priority basis in the related sectors including communication, power and energy, with the aim of creating employment and achieving rapid economic growth. Going forward quite fast.

 Significant progress has been made in the work of Metrorail Line-6 has been 67.63 percent. The progress of the Padma Bridge project has been more than 93 percent. It is hoped that the Padma Bridge will be opened to traffic within the stipulated time. The construction of Bangladesh’s first tunnel under the Karnaphuli River has not stopped even during the second wave of the Corona epidemic.

The construction work of Karnafuli Tunnel is going on despite various obstacles including labor crisis and disruption in the supply of construction materials during the Corona epidemic. Although the pace of work is a bit slower than usual, the project participants are optimistic about making it suitable for traffic within the stipulated time. In the meantime, the overall work progress of the mega project has been 70 percent.

According to Bangladeshi media outlets, work is not progressing as usual in the second wave of the corona. Necessary construction materials are not arriving on time due to corona. All in all, the pace of work has slowed down a bit. However, efforts are being made to complete the project quickly.

The overall progress of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project is about 35 percent till September. The Planning Commission of Bangladesh has approved the extension of the project till June, 2022. Besides, overall assistance is being provided to the Roads and Highways Department for revising the DPP of the project, according to the bridge department. Construction of Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Expressway project has also been delayed.

Bangladesh is a role model for many countries in the world in terms of economic development and poverty alleviation. As a result, if these mega projects are completed, the image of the country will be much brighter to the outside world; many Bangladeshi Economists think that this will take Bangladesh to a seat of unique dignity.

Meanwhile, after a long wait, the proposed Bangabandhu Railway Bridge is finally seeing the light of day. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to lay the foundation stone of this project. If the project is implemented, the pressure on the Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River will be reduced. The risk of Bangabandhu Bridge will also be reduced. 

At the same time, transportation of goods from North Bengal will be easier. Cost of transporting goods will be reduced bringing positive changes in the economic situation and social life of the region.

The average progress of the nine projects till December is 56.31 percent. When implemented, it will add about two percent growth to the country’s economy.

Therefore, the Ministry of Finance has also termed the projects as Transformational projects. By 2025, Bangladesh will reach its dream through the implementation of these projects.

Apart from this, construction of single line dual gauge track from Cox’s Bazar via Dohazari-Ramu and Ghundhum near Ramu-Myanmar, LNG terminal, Payra deep seaport and Matarbari power project. Communication development and economy will be integrated. It will make the movement of products and people much easier. Will ensure sustainable power generation. This will result in massive investment and increase in employment.

And all the mega projects together will add about two percent growth to the country’s GDP. Because of this, the goal of the Eighth Five-Year Plan – to achieve 7.50 percent GDP growth by 2025 – will be easy to meet.

These mega projects are helping Bangladesh revive and transform its economy in South Asia, Bangladesh is going to be a South Asian economic miracle. Bangladesh has proved already that it is a rising economic super star. Many countries in the world can take lesson from Bangladesh. Every country can follow the economic model and utilize the approach to revive its economy averting the all-stagnant economic situation for ensuring sustainable economic growth.

Bangladesh shows the path to all South Asian and South East Asian countries.  Sri Lanka can follow the same path of Bangladesh model. For example, the ‘100 Cities’ Development Project in Sri Lanka which was launched last July has now been successfully implemented and most of the development projects are expected to be completed before December 31 this year.

Sri Lankan Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) – Terminal 2 (T2) Development Project, Construction of the Import Cargo Terminal Building, Roads and Canal constructions project, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), Colombo International Airport, Ratmalana (CIAR), Construction of the Airport Facility Complex, Batticaloa International Airport (BTIA), Jaffna International Airport (JIA), developmental projects surrounding Colombo and Hambantota ports are some projects which need to be implemented as soon as possible. The authority of Sri Lanka can implement the projects following in the line of ‘Implementation of Bangladesh’s mega projects model’.

Pathik Hasan

Pathik Hasan is a Dhaka-based NGO activist, researcher and freelance writer on contemporary international issues whose work has been published in many local and international publications. Academic background: BSS (Peace and Conflict Studies) and MSS (International Relations) under the University of Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected].

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