With three to four months left before the next national election, the government is gearing up for an impressive display of its achievements, with no less than nine megaprojects encompassing roads, bridges, railways, and aviation scheduled for inauguration in the intervening period.

The first and most visible of these is the Dhaka Elevated Expressway, to be followed in due time by the Metrorail project's remaining segment, the Purbachal Expressway, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel (Karnaphuli Tunnel in Chattogram), the Airport's Third Terminal, the Khulna-Mongla Rail Project, the Cox's Bazar Rail Link,the Akhaura-Agartala Rail Link, and the Padma Bridge Rail Link. The pomp and fanfare with which they are set to be inaugurated suggest an electoral campaign in which the Awami League presents concrete (or steel, as the case might be) evidence of the work it has done for the country, and why the people should stick with them as the most solid guarantee of a bright future in the years ahead.

It seems they would certainly need the shine provided by these projects, to offset a feeling of growing discontent amongst the general populace. A just-published report-based on a survey titled "The State of Bangladesh's Political Governance, Development, and Society," jointly conducted by The Asia Foundation, Bangladesh, and BIGD of BRAC University-sheds light on Bangladeshi citizens' perception of the political, economic, and social atmosphere of the country. The survey collected data from 10,240 adult men and women representing all 64 districts between November 2022 and January 2023.

The survey respondents were asked whether they thought that the country is heading in the right direction- socially, politically, and economically. Socially, a modest majority (58%) agreed that Bangladesh was headed in the right direction, while 39% disagreed. Politically, only 39% thought the country was headed in the right political direction, and about 48% disagreed. But what would really worry the government is that this perception was the lowest when it came to economic direction: only 25% thought the country was headed in the right economic direction, whereas 70% disagreed. These rates for heading in the right direction, across all three domains, are significantly lower than what they were in 2019, the last time the survey was held, indicating a considerable deterioration of the public's perception about the country's future, according to the survey report.

It appears that the lower income group's positive response regarding the country's economic direction, in particular, decreased considerably compared to the higher income group. In 2019, about 84% of respondents with a monthly income of Tk 5,000 or less said the country was headed in the right economic direction; only 32% said so in the latest survey, which is a 52% drop.

The results of the survey also dovetail nicely with those of another survey carried out by the International Republican Institute, which said 57% of the respondents felt the country was headed in the wrong direction overall. These are the perceptions the government will be looking to overcome in the days ahead, and no doubt, its penchant for implementing an impressive array of megaprojects will play a major role in these efforts. Whether they are enough or not, only time will tell.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts