Finance Minister AMA Muhith says Bangladesh’s six percent plus annual GDP growth and significant improvement in social indicators has come in for praise all over the world.Just after World Bank president Jim Yong Kim showered praise on Bangladesh for its economic and social achievements in his inaugural speech at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting at the Peruvian capital on Friday, Muhith told bdnews24.com in an exclusive interview that ‘times have changed’.”Wherever we go now, we are treated with respect. We are getting that here (World Bank-IMF annual conference)”, said Muhith.The finance minister described as ‘significant’ the World Bank President’s praise for Bangladesh in presence of 188 finance ministers, central bank governors and other senior officials from different countries.”Bangladesh is being regularly referred as a role model for inclusive growth in international conferences. This is a recognition of our considerable achievements in economic and social spheres,” said Muhith.Muhith claimed that Bangladesh’s relation with the World Bank and the IMF were now ‘very cordial’. “We have no problems with the World Bank now. Our relation with the IMF is also very good.”The relations with World Bank came under some strain after the global lender raised graft allegations in 2012 over a $1.2 billion loan it had promised for the Padma bridge project.The Bangladesh government denied the charge and a probe by the Anti Corruption Commission failed to find any evidence of irregularities.
In 2013, Bangladesh withdrew its funding request and decided to fund the project from domestic resources.Pointing to Bangladesh’s performance during the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the finance minister said, “We have shown the world how to keep the economy running amid a global crisis and how to achieve over 6 percent growth consistently.”Muhith said that Bangladesh has to mobilise its domestic resources to fund increased spending for human development.“When I was Bangladesh’s finance minister 27 years ago, the tax-GDP ratio was 8.8 percent and it remained the same when the Awami League came to power in 2009. But now it’s over 10 percent.”The finance minister said that Bangladesh’s economy is growing at a fast pace referring to the size of current Tk 3 trillion budget.The Awami League government is working for stability and development, said the finance minister. “We have been trying and succeeded also.”He said that Bangladesh has been investing a lot on education. “We are distributing free textbooks for students. This is a big thing, which a lot of developed countries are yet to achieve.”Bangladesh has been able to create an example for the world in how to tackle the issue of climate change, he added.“Last but not least, Bangladesh economy has been able to grow over six percent in the last few years, which has been not possible for the largest economies in the world. And this is our achievement, something to be proud of,” said Muhith.