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China`s investment is set to boost BD`s economy but we have to be ready

By Editorial Desk
17th-Oct-2016       
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The landmark visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Dhaka ended in signing of 27 Agreements and MoUs for funding of a total of 28 projects at a cost of 21.5 billion under China's "strengthening investment and production capacity cooperation" abroad.  Both China and Bangladesh have also announced upgrading the two countries' relationship to strategic partnership level. With six more projects and programmes in the list total Chinese pledge stood at $24.45 billion.

Moreover, another list of 22 projects are under consideration, a joint statement said, "The Chinese side agreed to consider and encourage Chinese enterprises to explore cooperation that includes power, ICT, river management, infrastructure and other areas. Many believe that the Chinese massive investment plan in the
 region may be a game changer bringing about new reality in the ground.

Major projects China has taken up for investment include Padma Bridge rail link, Expansion strengthening of power system network, Marine Drive Express Way, Power plant in Payra, Sylhet Akhaura Dual Gauge rail lines and Dhaka-Sylhet four lanes highway, Dhaka-Ashulia Elevated Express Way, Karnaphuli tunnel, power grid and such others which may invariably change the country's face.

Upgrading the manufacturing capacity is one of the major areas; which may create millions of jobs significantly improving Bangladesh's geo-political standing. We are happy China has decided to boost Bangladesh's economy to a new height.

Bangladesh has to forget politicising and employing incompetent people in important positions. The money and projects themselves do not guarantee success for the economy. There has to be competent people to do the job. There is need for the government to realise that the government itself is facing mismanagement all over. All pervasive corruption is hindering efficiency attracting irresponsible people to important posts of the government. 

Indications are that Chinese companies may invest upto $13.6 billion in addition to government to government financing.

Our leadership must prove upto the expectation to  utilize the fund at a time when over $ 22 billion of such bilateral and multilateral development assistance is left unutilized, mainly because of poor political leadership and poor project implementation capacity of our bureaucracy.

The investment of China in such a big way is surely a happy sign, but China alone cannot ensure success of the projects. The government has to create safe condition for investment.

China knows how to implement major reforms in its politics and legal system to attract foreign investment. China is not a socialist country of Maoist days. China calls itself socialist democracy. Market economy is that which has helped China to achieve the miracle.

China is making similar investment in other South Asian and Central Asian countries as part of President Xi Jinping initiative to recreate the old Silk Route and connect Asian markets with Europe by rail and road connectivity and maritime shipping. It wants to create new market to create buyers by expanding economies of the region to sustain its double-digit growth.

It has already offered $53 billion investments to Kazakhstan, besides hefty investment packages to three other central Asian countries. It has also offered $46 billion to Pakistan, $20 billion to India, $1.4 billion to Sri Lanka and 800 million to Maldives.  

Strategic observers made no secret that the Chinese plan is going to create new reality in the region. But Indian leadership is still hesitant to understand the extent of that reality. 

Senior government leaders in Dhaka have been assuring Chinese massive investment in Bangladesh will not affect relations with Delhi. All sides have to accept that the world is inter-connected and inter-dependent.   

Many also apprehend if the government proves incompetent and greedy and if the projects fail then how Bangladesh will be able to repay the huge debts. China must have known the weaknesses of our system. So our expectation will be that China will have to involve closely to see that the money is not wasted and projects do not fail.

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