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Poor infrastructure, lack of land for new industries and unskilled manpower are the obstacles to Bangladesh becoming a middle-income nation in a decade, the World Bank said yesterday.
To reach the long-cherished target, it said, the country has to accelerate its economic growth to eight percent and sustain the present level of remittance growth at eight percent.
The suggestion came in a WB report, "Bangladesh: towards accelerated, inclusive and sustainable growth, opportunities and challenges," unveiled at the Westin Hotel in the capital.
Both GDP (gross domestic product) and remittance would play an important role in improving the nation's income status, the Washington-based anti-poverty lender said.
Speaking at the event, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said that to attain the status of a middle-income country by 2021, Bangladesh has to attract more investment, mainly foreign direct investment.
"Of course, there are different ways of looking at this: some see the glass is half empty while others see the glass is half full," he said in response to doubts whether the country could achieve the goal.
Last year, the country had a pretty good sum of $1.1 billion in FDI but that was not enough, Muhith added.
Admitting that a lack of infrastructure was a major hindrance to the development of Bangladesh, he said decentralisation of the administration was also necessary to boost the economy.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, however, was critical of the WB report for downplaying the importance of the domestic economy.
He said the consumption of the middle-class in this year was projected to be $44 billion, which was much higher than the GDP of many countries.
The targets, mainly raising productivity and investment, set in the WB report would be difficult for Bangladesh to achieve by 2021, he added.
Ellen Goldstein, WB country director, Bangladesh, said the country has to engage in more businesses to achieve its 2021 target.
She said Bangladesh needed to continue serving the global migrant market and promote safe migration in order to accelerate growth and reduce poverty at home.
Zahid Hussain, a senior economist of the World Bank, who presented the report, said that to push the GDP growth to eight percent, there has to be an increase in investment in physical infrastructure and human development, an accelerated productivity growth and the outward orientation of the economy.