Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Economy is the biggest casualty

Political agitation taking a toll

The present political turmoil that has engulfed the nation since the declaration of Sayeedi’s verdict is exacting a heavy toll on the economy. Long days of hartal coupled with deadly clashes claiming lives have disrupted the supply chain of goods in the markets. This has resulted in price spiral of essentials in all wholesale and retail markets of the capital city. By and large all business and productive sectors of the economy are suffering. The worst hit are naturally day labourers and the poorer segments of society.
What economists fear is that should the present political climate continue its descent into sustained chaos, the very foundations of the economy may become unstable. Trade, both inward and outward, has been adversely affected. Disruption in the import of raw materials and capital machinery is taking its toll on industry. Ultimately, the export basket, of which readymade garments forms an overwhelming, portion will be threatened. Another victim of the ongoing political volatility is the tourism sector. The fact that until very recently some 20,000 tourists were stuck in Cox’s Bazaar as road links were cut off, has sent absolutely the wrong signal to prospective foreign tourists that Bangladesh is indeed the country to visit.
It is hardly surprising to see the various chambers of commerce voice concern over the current political impasse. Not only is production suffering, with public perception in government’s control over the situation falling, investors’ confidence (both domestic and foreign) is plummeting. The multitude of negatives is not going to help the economy reach its projected 7.2% GDP growth rate for the current fiscal. The country will not be served well if factory owners are forced to shut down their plants and thousands are left jobless. Surely time has come for cooler heads to prevail on both sides of the political aisle to save the economy and our future.