DHAKA, March 9 Bangladesh needs to step up
investment in infrastructure sectors such as road and energy to
achieve its target of becoming a middle-income country by 2021,
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Thursday after a
visit by some senior officials.
The South Asian country's economy grew by an average of more
than 6 percent a year over the past decade, but economists say
it requires at least 8 percent growth to rise from being a
low-income country. The economy grew 7.11 percent in the
financial year ended June 2016.
"Maintaining the economy's past growth performance will
become increasingly challenging over the medium term, and will
require upgrading the macroeconomic policy-making practices and
institutions to support the country's ambition to reach
middle-income status," said Brian Aitken, who led a three-member
IMF committee that arrived in Dhaka on Feb. 26.
The committee met with senior finance ministry officials,
representatives from business and banking sectors, labour unions
and think tanks, among others.
Aitken said the team and authorities discussed policies and
reforms to "preserve macroeconomic stability and contain risks".
Bangladesh's heavy reliance on exports and remittances
exposed the country to changing external environment, he added.
The country's foreign exchange reserves hit a record high of
$32.56 billion at the end of February on the back of steady
garment exports and remittances from Bangladeshis working
overseas - the key drivers of the country's more than $200
"The investment for infrastructure, particularly energy and
power, is definitely needed to increase manifold and on this
sector, we are in the right direction," said Nasrul Hamid, the
country's junior minister for power and energy.
Supporting the recommendations of the IMF, he said over the
next five years Bangladesh would require up to $35 billion to
invest in this area, and out of that the country has so far
received proposals worth between $10 billion and $15 billion.
"Now, we are scrutinising all the proposals, mainly from
China, and over the next few months we will take a concrete
decision," he told Reuters.
(Reporting By Serajul Quadir; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)