GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS INDEX: Bangladesh moves up 1 notch in slow progress

Staff Correspondent
Mustafizur Rahman speaks

Centre for Policy Dialogue executive director Mustafizur Rahman speaks at a report launching programme in Dhaka on Wednesday. CPD additional research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem was also present, among others. — New Age photo

Bangladesh has moved up one notch to rank 106th among 138 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2016 mainly on better performance in basic requirements such as infrastructure and institutions but the country is stuck in lower-end segment of the index.
In 2015, the country ranked 107th in the index which is prepared by the World Economic Forum every year.
The overall score of Bangladesh in 11 selected topics has also improved by 1.06 per cent to 3.80, on a scale of maximum 7, this year from 3.76 last year, according to the Global Competitiveness Report-2016 released worldwide on Wednesday.
The report also said that Bangladesh moved only one step up in last six years as the country had ranked 107th in 2011 though the country’s score increased by 7 per cent in the period.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue, the local partner of the Geneva-based WEF in preparation of the report, unveiled the Bangladesh part of the report at a press conference held at the CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
At the briefing, the CPD also released the Bangladesh Business Environment Study which the think-tank prepared analysing the findings in the Bangladesh part of the GCR.
Among the Bangladesh’s competing countries, India has made remarkable progress, advancing by 16 steps up to 39th position this year from the last year’s 55th position.
Bangladesh is doing well in gaining score in the competitiveness index but the comparable countries like India are doing better, the CPD said analysing the performance of the countries.
‘We are making progress in walking pace in the sectors which are essential for enhancing global competitiveness while other countries are running,’ CPD additional research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem said.
In other word, Bangladesh’s performance is improving in domestic competitiveness but not in global competitiveness compared with its competing countries that has kept the country stuck in lower-end segment of business competitiveness, he said.
CPD executive director Mustafizur Rahman said that the extent of improvement in ranking was not adequate enough to graduate the country into higher middle-income economy from the current lower middle-income one.
‘The country will have to improve competitiveness to achieve the targets of becoming higher middle-income and productivity-driven economy,’ he said.
The report was prepared based on an executive opinion survey on topics important for businesses.
The Bangladesh part of the report was prepared on the responses made by executives of 89 medium and large companies to the questionnaire framed by the WEF.
The survey was conducted during January 1 to May 1 this year.
The index was prepared on performance of a country on the 12 pillars of competitiveness under three sub-indices — basic requirement, efficiency enhancer and innovation and sophistication.
The pillars include institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health, primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and market size, business sophistication and innovation.
The overall performance of Bangladesh in basic requirements and innovation and sophistication improved in the year while performance in efficiency enhancers declined, the report said.
The performance, however, deteriorated in some major pillars for competitiveness including macroeconomic stability, health and primary education and financial market sophistication.
Bangladesh slid to 65th in macroeconomic stability pillar this year from 49th last year mainly because of declining situation in terms of government budget balance, gross national savings and country’s credit rating.
The financial market sophistication deteriorated to 99th place from 99th place.
According to the report, like previous year, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States have occupied top three positions in 2016.
Except Sri Lanka, all south Asian countries have moved up in the ranking. Bhutan has advanced to 97th from 105th, Nepal to 98th from 99th and Pakistan to 122th from 126th.
Sri Lanka has been degraded to 71th this year from 68th last year.
According to the Bangladesh Business Environment Report, the country’s businesses identified 16 most problematic factors including top five problematic factors such as inadequate supply of infrastructure, corruption, limited access to financing, inefficient government bureaucracy and inadequately educated workforce for doing business in the country.
In last year, the businesses identified corruption, inadequate infrastructure and government instability as the top three problematic factors for doing business in the country.
Governance was the weakest part of Bangladesh’s competitiveness as most of the indicators still remained in ‘bad’ or ‘worse’ categories, the report said.

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