The deepening global recession, rising unemployment, and high volatility of commodity prices in 2008 and 2009 have severely affected progress toward poverty reduction (Millennium Development Goal [MDG] 1). The steady increases in food prices in recent years, culminating in exceptional price shocks around mid-2008, have thrown millions into extreme poverty, and the deteriorating growth prospects in developing countries will further slow progress in poverty reduction. The prospects for an economic recovery, essential for alleviating poverty, are highly dependent on effective policy actions to restore confidence in the financial system and to counter falling international demand. While much of the responsibility for restoring global growth lies with policy makers in advanced economies, emerging and developing countries have a key role to play in improving the growth outlook, maintaining macroeconomic stability, and strengthening the international financial system.
Economic growth is central to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and related development outcomes, and a vigorous private sector is vital for strong and sustainable growth. The private sector drives job creation, increases in productivity, and economic growth.1 Private sector jobs provide most of the income in developing as well as developed countries. Revenues from private sector transactions and incomes pay for many of the public goods provided by governments. Competition can help spur technological advancements and productivity gains that are the key to sustained long-term growth.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) strongly emphasize human development-related outcomes, with five of the eight MDGs having health, nutrition, and education results as key indicators for monitoring progress. Governments have a special responsibility to their citizens, especially their poorest citizens, to ensure attainment of primary education, basic maternal and child health and nutrition, and control of communicable diseases. Previous Global Monitoring Reports have largely focused on strengthening this government role. Yet experience in many countries, including some of the poorest, shows that the private sector is also extensively involved in the delivery of services that address these MDGs.
The global financial crisis is impacting an increasing number of developing countries. Low-income countries, which had previously been relatively shielded from the immediate effects of the crisis, are now particularly vulnerable. They are facing shrinking export markets, sharply lower commodity prices, and declining growth rates. The global crisis has raised the risk of poverty and hardship for households in poor countries—about 40 percent of developing countries are highly exposed to the poverty effects of the crisis, and a majority of them are in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, the weakening of economic activity is depressing fiscal revenues in these countries, even as social, infrastructure, and other public spending needs are rising. More than half of low-income countries could see a decline in revenue-to-GDP ratios in 2009. But most low-income country governments will not be able to make up the shortfall in their budgets by borrowing domestically or internationally. The increased fiscal pressures are placing the delivery of basic services at risk and constraining these countries’ ability to undertake countercyclical spending.
External competitiveness and access to international markets are paramount for poor countries to realize the development promise of international trade. Pressing ahead with trade openness is a powerful means for countries to help mitigate the impact of the financial crisis and enhance prospects for economic recovery.
The international financial institutions (IFIs) have a crucial role to play in supporting an effective response to the global crisis and the development emergency that now confronts many developing countries.1 As a result, the focus of the IFIs has shifted to counteracting and mitigating the global private credit crunch and recession. This contrasts with 2007, when the impact of the IFIs stemmed largely from their ability to leverage private capital, which reached record levels of about $1 trillion in net terms in that year.
This 2009 Article IV Consultation highlights that Bangladesh’s external position strengthened considerably in FY2009 and the first four months of FY2010. Strong remittances, resilient exports, and weak imports caused the current account of the balance of payments to record a surplus of almost 3 percent of GDP in FY2009, up from less than 1 percent of GDP in FY2008. Amid continued uncertainty about the strength of the global recovery, Bangladesh’s growth momentum is likely to remain somewhat subdued in the near term yet inflation seems set to increase.