During the last year and a half pretty much the only subject for discussion has been the tenure of the caretaker government and how soon we can return to democracy. The national discourse has been dominated by commentary on the performance of the caretaker government, its relationship to it backers in the cantonment, whether and when we would have elections, under what circumstances the main two parties might join the elections, and what the political landscape might look like post-election.
Don't get me wrong. These are important, even crucial, issues to discuss, and, indeed, given the fact that we are just ending our 18th month under emergency rule it is understandable why there is so much discussion as to the political framework of the country.
Nevertheless, no country can remain in limbo indefinitely. One of the costs of the year and a half long state of emergency has been that there has been very little discussion of economic policy. Sure there have been critiques of the budget and of government policy, but the fact of the matter is that the current government is by definition a short-term, stop-gap one and has no say over the long-term prospects for the Bangladesh economy.
The time has come for us to focus on the future. To chart out a long-term plan for our economic advancement. This will be the first agenda item of the newly elected government we hope to welcome in January 2009. The reforms of the caretaker government, if all goes well, will have succeeded in fixing the institutions and instrumentalities of governance such that the governing infrastructure will at last be in place for Bangladesh to move forward.
What we need to now focus on and what an elected government must make the first order of the day is how to craft policies that will allow for the kind of sustained development that Bangladesh is capable of. What we have learned over the past several years is that the economy is far more robust and resiliant than anyone had expected or anticipated. Now the time has come for us to build on this, to look around and take heed of the lessons of the other countries in the region and to see what we can learn from their experiences.
The one advantage of being a developing country is that we can learn from the examples and mistakes of others. Another advantage we have in Bangladesh is to live smack in the middle of the most dynamic region in the world today. There is no reason why, with intelligent and well-thought-out policies and honest and competent government, that we cannot in short order take our place at the world table as the newest and most dynamic Asian tiger.