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Bangladesh performing well in fulfilling SDGs, but many challenges ahead

  • Published at 11:51 am September 21st, 2021

A substantial increase in inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and remittance can aid Bangladesh achieve the goals

Although Bangladesh is on track and performing well in achieving many of the UN-adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on time, it still faces the challenges of low external resources, lack of global partnership, and low revenue-GDP ratio.

Achieving the SDGs will critically depend on availability of resources and global partnership, according to an official document collected by UNB.

The United Nations adopted the SDGs in 2015 with a global call of action on 17 integrated goals with a pledge to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure peace and prosperity for people everywhere by 2030.

Bangladesh’s performance has so far been commendable in various fields, including poverty reduction, gender equality, child and maternal mortality, nutrition, sanitation, electricity, annual GDP growth and disaster management.

However, it has to overcome a number of hurdles to further improve its performance, the document observes.

“Government revenue as a proportion of GDP needs to be substantially increased through undertaking measures for increasing the number of taxpayers and improving tax collection and management mechanisms,” the document said.

The document calls for a substantial increase in the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and remittance for achieving the goals.

According to official data, the average tax-to-GDP ratio of the country was 9.9% from 2015-2019, as compared to 19.8% for India, 23.9% for Nepal, 14.7% for Pakistan, and 13.5% for Sri Lanka.

Also Read - PM Hasina calls for global roadmap to achieve SDGs

The average tax to GDP ratio was 25.6% for developing countries and 35.9 % for developed countries, according to the data.

The tax-to-GDP ratio is a ratio of a nation's tax revenue relative to its gross domestic product, the value of goods and services produced in a country during a certain period. The ratio is used as an indicator of how well the government controls a country's economic resources.

The document says that Bangladesh has undertaken a comprehensive strategy and actions to effectively internalize the SDGs. The 7th Five Year Plan incorporated 82% of sustainable development targets. As a result, the country is well on track to achieve the SDGs.

Out of 17 SDGs, Bangladesh has made considerable progress in reducing poverty. In 2019, the proportion of the population living below the international poverty line (absolute poverty measured at $1.90 per day) was 10.5%.

The proportion of the population living below the national poverty line was 20.5% in 2019. 

The progress of expanding coverage of social protection and proportion of government expenditure on services as share of total government expenditure has been remarkable during the last decade.

Progress in reducing stunting, which stood at 28% in 2019, is virtually on track at the current rate of reduction. Similarly, the progress on reducing waste, which stood at 9.8%, is also on track.

In the health sector, the document said, the maternal mortality ratio decreased from 165 per 100,000 live births in 2015 to 81 in 2019. The number of births attended by skilled health personnel was 42.1%  in 2014, and it had increased to 59% by 2019.

The under-five mortality rate has persistently declined from 36 per 1000 live births in 2015 to 28 in 2019, and already achieved the SDG target.

Also Read - Environment Minister: Bangladesh to produce eco-friendly ACs by 2022

The official document mentions that in the case of education, the gender parity index (GPI) has remained above 1 for more than a decade at both the primary and secondary levels of education, and in tertiary education the GPI reached 0.72 in 2016.

The primary school completion rate is the highest (82.6%), followed by the lower secondary (64.7%) and upper secondary (29.4%) levels.

It mentioned that Bangladesh has achieved gender parity at the primary and secondary levels. "Adult literacy has also been increased but at a sluggish pace," it adds.

The document said Bangladesh has made significant efforts to reduce its disaster vulnerability and is considered today a global leader in coastal resilience due to its significant long term investment in protecting lives.

A total of 4,318 per 100,000 persons were affected by disasters and the number of deaths was 0.316 per 100,000 persons in 2019, which is a significant improvement over the baseline figure.

The forest coverage of the country now stands at 14.47%. Coverage by protected areas of important sites of mountain biodiversity also reached to 0.35%.

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