THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has projected Bangladesh's gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate during FY2005-06 at 6.5 per cent. This is 0.5 percentage point higher than what the ADB had estimated in its last Quarterly Economic Update for July-September 2005.
The relatively favourable projection was made because the bank felt that some of the main sectors such as agriculture, industry and services have been performing well showing positive trends. The ADB Country Director Hua Du has pointed out that despite the sharp rise in oil and food prices globally, it will still be possible for Bangladesh to achieve 6.5 per cent GDP growth if political situation remains peaceful in the next few months leading to the coming general elections.
The government, however, is faced with an enormous problem. The import bill for petroleum products is likely to exceed US$2 billion during FY2005-06 compared to $1.6 billion last year escalating fuel subsidy to exceed $520 million. This does not take into account the effect of the recent hike in fuel prices.
It is encouraging that with 16.7 per cent increase in the Aus and 10 per cent in the Aman crop production during the first quarter of FY2005-06, the agriculture sector is poised for a significant recovery. But, production
trend of the Boro, the largest of all rice crops, is still uncertain as it largely depends on the supply of agro-inputs such as fertiliser and diesel for irrigation. When agriculture still remains the best performer we hear that farmers are not getting the inputs on time. This is really unfortunate that farmers are being beaten by the police as they demand regular supply of fertiliser, diesel and other inputs. The situation should improve soon.