As Bangladesh enters the next phase of its development, it must deal with the twin challenges of sustaining economic growth and managing the changes that come with it. A young, tech-savvy population, with higher levels of education than has been the case for previous generations, is entering the workforce. The ready-made garments sector is a world leader, and there are signs that other industries are ready to follow suit. Infrastructure mega-projects are removing bottlenecks in economic transformation. The country is ready for take-off – but how can policymakers ensure it has a secure launching pad?

Manufacturing diversification is a must, according to Gustav Papanek. In his interview, he outlines how industry-focused job creation can lead to poverty elimination in populous countries like Bangladesh. Drawing on his decades-long experience of macroeconomic policymaking in Asia, he puts forward a set of reforms that can help manufacturing industries flourish.

Small and medium size enterprises are a key driver of any developing economy but they can only thrive within a suitable regulatory framework. Ferdaus Rahman and Shenin Sherjin Promi argue that a modern insolvency regime is the need of the hour, and a good place to start is reforming outdated laws.

Atiqul Islam and Nausher Rahman tackle the issue of rapid urbanisation through a Dhaka lens. Using the capital mega-city as an example, they outline how streamlining the existing multi-agency approach, and its cross-cutting jurisdictions, can create an urban governance paradigm for the future.

Tobias Pforr advocates more proactive use of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights allocation for Bangladesh, while Tasmeem Chowdhury Bonhi and Sharmistha Deb address the issue of mental health literacy in schools.

Bangladesh is one of the emerging Asian countries experiencing economic structural transformation. Industrialisation and urbanisation are core to this process. To avoid growing pains, policymakers must act fast and decisively to make sure an environment exists in which cities and commerce can flourish. There are no easy answers, but at WhiteBoard we will continue to address these difficult questions.

Radwan Mujib Siddiq
Radwan Mujib Siddiq is a trustee of the Centre for Research and Information. He is a strategy consultant and youth advocate. He is also the patron of ground-breaking political history projects such as the graphic novel Mujib and Hasina: A Daughter's Tale, a docu-film. He advises various international organizations and government agencies on strategy and communications. He pursued his graduate studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.