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M

orning shows the 
day, or so the saying 
goes. On the first day 
of February (2018), 

several Bangladeshi local newspaper 
reports published worrying articles. 
One concerned the poverty rate among 
migrants’ households. A study conducted 
by the Refugee and Migratory Movements 
Research Unit (RMMRU) found that the 
poverty rate among migrant households 
had not decreased in the three year period 
between 2014 and 2017. The founder chair 
of RMMRU attributed this to the fact that 
remittances sent back to Bangladesh by 
migrants’ to their near and dear ones had 
not increased much during that period as 
the migrants’ incomes had not increased 
much (only 3%) during that time period, 
due to the fall in oil prices, the major 
source of revenue of the Gulf countries, 
the major destination of migrant workers 
from Bangladesh and South Asia in 
general.

However, the good news was that 
remittances into Bangladesh during 
January 2018 reached a five-month high, 
which many attributed to the continuing 

depreciation of the Bangladesh Taka 
against the US Dollar. Migrant workers 
sent back US$ 1.37 billion in January 
2018, an increase of 37% from January 
of 2017 and 18.55% higher than the 
incoming remittances of December 2018, 
according to Bangladesh Bank data.

An even more alarming news story 
related to the European Commission 
warning of potentially taking steps against 
Bangladesh, including but not limited 
to the withdrawal of the existing trade 
facility under the Generalized System 
of Preferences (GSP) if the labor rights 
situation, especially related to the freedom 
of association, mainly in terms of forming 
trade unions, in the readymade garment 
sector of Bangladesh, does not witness 
significant improvements in the near 
future. It is noteworthy that more than 
60% of Bangladeshi RMG exports go to 
the European Union; thus, withdrawal of 
duty-free benefits under the GSP facility 
would be a major hit for RMG exports 
from the country, which account for 
over 80% of the total export basket of 
Bangladesh.

According to another news story 
published on February 01, 2018, the 
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked 
Bangladesh in 92nd place with a score of 
5.43 out of 10 in 2017, as it's score on the 
state of democracy dropped eight notches 
compared to 2016 when the country was 
ranked 84th with a score of 5.73 in 2016, 
according to a report of the Democracy 
Index-2017. The EUI categorized the 
Bangladesh media as "partly free" ranking 
it 49th in media freedom status among 
167 countries. The EIU Democracy Index 
report mentioned many journalists and 
bloggers came under attack in Bangladesh 
in 2017, while several were murdered. 
Bangladesh was ranked 102nd among 113 
countries in the 2017-2018 World Justice 
Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index. 

The Dhaka Stock Exchange continued 
bleeding into February 2018, in the 
aftermath of the Bangladesh Bank 
Monetary Policy announcement in 
late January that most investors found 
investment-unfriendly, especially for the 
stock market. On February 03, 2018, the 
DSE main index, the DSEX, witnessed a 
decline of 133.15 points, the highest fall 
in more than four and half years, amidst 
a rather severe liquidity crisis and fear 
of rising political tensions in an election 
year. The same day, the DSEX plunged 
below the 6,000 level for the first time 
since October 30, 2017.

By the end of February, the DSEX fell 
to the 5800 level, from the 6300 range 
it had achieved in early January, 2018, 
witnessing an approximately 8% fall in 
under two months. Turnover also started 
falling significantly, compounded by 
rising interest rates brought about by the 

Wajid Hasan Shah

The Not So Rosy Development Scenario

The EUI categorized the Bangladesh media as "partly 

free" ranking it 49th in media freedom status among 

167 countries. The EIU Democracy Index report 

mentioned many journalists and bloggers came 

under attack in Bangladesh in 2017, while several 

were murdered. Bangladesh was ranked 102nd 

among 113 countries in the 2017-2018 World Justice 

Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index.

OPINION