Introduction
 

The Fifth Five Year Plan (1997-2002) has been formulated with a vision as a guide. The dream of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Sonar Bangla from where poverty and deprivation will be banished forever has served as a beacon to the plan formulators. For too long this dream has remained unrealised. Adverse international situation affected our efforts to take a place of pride in the comity of nations. The brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation in 1975 took the nation away from the charted course of attaining prosperity in freedom. Our steps faltered. We continued along the trend lines. We did not yield ratchet effects through conscious, dispassionate and determined endeavour. On the contrary, the countries, to our east, which decades ago had per capita income equal or lower than ours have forged ahead, brought about a structural change and accelerated the pace of development and many are now known as tigers. They are now the newly industrialised countries entering the league of the developed. This transformation has been brought about by a sense of patriotism and a favourable policy environment based on twin principles of democratisation and marketisation. The government and the private sector have worked hand in hand to bring this about.

 

The Fifth Five Year Plan is thus about our national determination to prosper in freedom. This is reflective of a commitment extending beyond oneself and not being daunted by the dwindling foreign aid. With considerable dexterity and innovativeness, the Fifth Plan is going to generate resources to a level which will make possible an investment to achieve an average target growth rate of 7 per cent. The Plan outlay is projected to be about Tk. 1,960 billion. Out of this, the public sector outlay will be about Tk. 859 billion i.e. about 44 per cent of the total outlay and the rest 56 per cent will be invested by the private sector. The Plan aims to achieve a high degree of self-reliance. About 78 per cent of total Plan outlay is projected to be financed from domestic sources. The Plan will take several steps to establish an environment where a dynamic private sector can thrive and grow. The government will act as a partner to the private sector in all its development efforts. The Plan will give priority to the agricultural sector so as to maximise its contribution to overall growth of the economy and food security. Industrial sector, which does not suffer from diminishing returns, will be our key to the twenty-first century as a modern growing economy.

 

While poverty alleviation is the over-riding objective of the Plan, generation of productive employment, achievement of food self-sufficiency, human resources development, development of infrastructure, curbing population growth, provision of social amenities, strengthening of technological base, protection of environment, closing the gender gap and establishment of better social justice through a more equitable distribution of income are the national level objectives of this Plan. Under its aegis the national level objectives have been effectively linked with the local level ones in order to garner improvement in the quality of life at all levels as well as to ensure mobilisation of the rural masses and resources for productive investment yielding equitable and sustainable growth.

 

To achieve these objectives during the Plan period, accelerated agricultural production, participatory rural development, population control and mother-child health promotion, development of human resources, encouragement of private sector, export-led industrialisation, good governance and public accountability will be the constituent elements of the strategy. As it can be seen from the Plan document, human resource development is both an objective to aim at as well as a strategy to follow. It holds key to the maximisation of social welfare through acceleration of growth encompassing all areas and classes of people.

 

In this Plan an attempt has been made to put together strategies and policies to bring into reality the dream we, as a nation shared, on, ahead and behind the front, when the liberation war was being fought. A national consensus needs to be built around our commitment for realising this dream and with full commitment we have to move towards the day when we will be able to take our place of pride in the comity of nations.

 

I will like to thank my colleagues and associates working with me in the Planning Commission on preparation of this Plan. All of them worked hard to make this document possible under a severe time constraint. Our friends and critics in the academia, the business, the government, the NGOs and the development partnerships, contributed to give shape to our ideas. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the Chairperson of the Planning Commission and the National Economic Council supported and encouraged us all the way. My colleagues in the cabinet co-operated, collaborated and cohesed and helped us sharpen our focus on the relevant contexts, narrow down and eliminate differences in approaches and identify and embody measures emanatable therefrom. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina now is the time for all of us to work together to achieve the long cherished dream of our founding father for realising the Golden Bengal.

 

Joi Bangla

Joi Bangabandhu

 

(Dr. Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir)

State Minister

March 26, 1998. Ministry of Planning