National progress report lauds poverty cut, some other advances while attributes much of lacking to scarce aid
Bangladesh has outshone many others in accomplishing many of the MDGs tasks with national poverty cut to 24.8 per cent against the targeted 29 per cent by 2015, government evaluation report said Wednesday.
The progress report, however, recognizes that the country still needed some more attention to fulfilling all the targets under the eight MDGs or Millennium Development Goals as many of those had fallen short of target during the stipulated time up to 2015.
The General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission released the 'Millennium Development Goals: End-period stocktaking and final evaluation report (2000-2015)' at a function in Dhaka.
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal presided over the report-launching ceremony while Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Mashiur Rahman, UNDP Country Director Sudipto Mukerjee, Planning Secretary Tariq-ul-Islam, World Bank Lead Economist Dr Zahid Hussain and Economist Rezanul Islam spoke on the occasion.
GED Member Professor Shamsul Alam presented the MDG progress and evaluation report through a power-point presentation, highlighting the achievements and also shedding light on the flipside.
The United Nations had set some indicators in the universal development paradigm called MDGs for its member-countries for improvements within the period between 2000 and 2015.
The eight goals were (1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (2)Achieve universal primary education (3) Promote gender equality and empower women (4) Reduce child mortality (5) Improve maternal health (6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases (7) Ensure environmental sustainability and (8) Develop global partnership for development.
The evaluation report mentions that under the Goal-1, Bangladesh has cut its poverty (upper poverty line) to 24.8 per cent till the terminal year, 4.2 per centage points down the line against the 29 per cent target set in the MDGs.
Extreme poverty declined to 16.4 per cent against the target of 14 per cent in 2015.
The poverty-gap ratio has declined to 6.5 per cent against the target of 8.0 per cent in the MDGs 2015 and the prevalence of underweight children (under 5yrs of age) has also dropped to 32.6 per cent against the target of 33 per cent, the report showed.
It claims most of the targets under the Goal-2, Goal-3, Goal-4, Goal-5, and Goal-7 met and some on track while some scored substantial progress.
In the Goal-6 and Goal-8, Bangladesh needs to give more attention to fulfilling the targets.
Prof Shamsul Alam said the developed countries had not released adequate financial assistance for the poorer countries like Bangladesh and that caused the country to lag behind the MDG-8 target.
In the meantime, the UN has introduced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 through phasing out the era of the MDGs 2015 in a bid to build a hunger-free world by way of achieving improvements on different indicators under the separate goals.
A total of 17 goals are set in the SDGs, adopted at a summit meet of world leaders at the UN headquarters.
UNDP Country Director Mr Mukerjee said although Bangladesh has had impressive achievements in the MDGs, it still needs focus on some issues like environment, education, child nutrition and so.
Economist Dr Rezanul Islam said Bangladesh needs to give more attention to income inequality and improving quality of education.
"Although the country's achievement in poverty reduction is laudable, but it still has some poverty pockets and vulnerable groups. Those poverty pockets should get more focus by the government to achieve SDGs," he said.
He suggested that the government upgrade the rickety infrastructure at the schools, especially in the primary-and secondary-level schools, in a bid to improve the quality of education.
Dr Zahid Hussain said although Bangladesh has made a remarkable progress in poverty alleviation, achievement of the SDG goal (ending poverty to zero) is an ambitious one.
The country needs to boost its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to more than 8.0 per cent to cut poverty to a rate below 3.0 per cent under the SDG target 2030.
Economic Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman said, "Our investment, especially foreign direct investment, requires to be boosted significantly to overcome the shortcomings in the MDGs and achieve the SDGs by 2030."
He urged the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) to calculate the acts of the informal sector in the economy, saying that it would increase the GDP growth by nearly 1.0 percentage points.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said very few countries excepting Bangladesh in the world achieved the MDGs by the terminal year 2015.
He said although the USA had not given Bangladesh the Generalised System of Preferences, its export is growing. "We are hopeful of increasing our export to US$50 billion."