DHAKA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Bangladesh needs to increase infrastructure spending and keep receiving higher remittances to lift its annual growth rate to 8 percent to meet its goal of becoming a middle income country by 2021, the World Bank said.
In recent years, Bangladesh has grown at least 6 percent a year. The World Bank, in a report on Wednesday, said steady growth has stemmed from macroeconomic stability and openness, rapid financial sector development, population control and achievement of nearly universal primary education.
But to attain middle-income status by 2021, Bangladesh “needs to do more... the economy should grow by 8 percent annually to hit that target,” said Ellen Goldstein, the bank’s country director.
Remittances are pivotal in Bangladesh’s economy, and the bank report said it is important that the amount increase by 8 percent a year.
About 8 million of Bangladesh’s more than 150 million people work outside the country. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, they sent home $12.85 billion, more than 10 percent above the remittance total one year earlier.
The World Bank also said there needs to be more investments in physical infrastructure and human development, as well as higher productivity.
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said that to become a middle-income country by 2021, Bangladesh must attract more foreign investment. Last year’s total of $1.1 billion was not enough, the minister said, adding that lack of infrastructure was a major hindrance to the country’s development.
Independent economists say that without more power generation facilities and other infrastructure improvements, Bangladesh will not be able to raise its growth rate to 8 percent.
Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Anis Ahmed and Richard Borsuk