The High Commission of Bangladesh yesterday celebrated its national day, marking 40 years of independence, with a reception and dinner at Dharubaaruge.
Speaking at the ceremony, High Commissioner of Bangladesh to the Maldives, Rear Admiral Abu Saeed Mohamed Abdul Awal, observed that the Maldives recognised Bangladesh’s independence in 1972, “soon after our independence.”
Bangladesh was “keenly watching the democratisation process” in the Maldives, Awal said, “and it is gratifiying to watch the Maldives consolidate its democracy.”
Awal congratulated the Maldives for graduating from the UN’s definition of a Less Developed Country (LDC) to a Middle Income country, adding that this was one of Bangladesh’s goals and that it hoped to learn from the Maldivian experience.
“I hope the Maldives retains the advantages of being a LDC by using the climate change card effectively, so we can follow later,” Awal said.
Bangladesh was the world’s 21st fastest-growing economy with a US$90 billion economy, and was now the world’s fourth largest exporter of garments, he said. Even during the global recession Bangladesh had retained a growth rate of 5.5-6 percent, he added.
Acknowledging the large number of Bangladeshi expatriates working in the Maldives, Awal noted that worldwide, remittances from Bangladeshi expatriates contributed US$11 billion to the country’s economy.
“At the same time we are working very closely with the Maldivian government to ensure that expatriates can work under proper conditions. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on manpower is in final stage, and the signing will bring the employment of expatriates under greater regulatory approval.”
President Mohamed Nasheed noted that the relationship between Bangladesh and the Maldives extended far into both country’s histories.
“As traders we have always had good contact with Bengalis,” Nasheed said.
“In recent times both our countries have become more strongly joined, not just through just SAARC, but through the immense contribution of Bangladeshi workers to our development efforts. We are thankful for the work done by the Bangladeshi community in the Maldives, and we strongly believe living conditions for migrant workers has to improve.”
Nasheed noted that Bangladesh had worked closely with the Maldives on issues and challenges relating to multilateral agency funding, adding that Bangladesh had very strong experience with the procurement proceedures of international donor agencies.
“Donor agencies funding mechanisms have their own cycles relating to their own administrative affairs, not to the development efforts of recipient countries,” he said. “This has been an issue very widely discussed in Bangladesh.”
South Asia, Nasheed said, “deserves much better. We are one of the fastest growing regions in the world, but very often a large number of people are left behind in development efforts.
“We want to see wider distribution of wealth as well as the provision of safe drinking water and electricity.”