From donation seeker to donor: Bangladesh's assistance to Sri Lanka is a governance lesson for others

Bangladesh continues to generously host the world’s largest and growing refugee settlement despite the huge burden on economy, food management, limited resources and other circumstances, writes John Rozario for South Asia Monitor

John Rozario May 09, 2022
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Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr.A.K.Abdul Momen hands over a consignment of medicines to the Sri Lankan envoy Dr. Sudarshan (Photo: Newsin)

Bangladesh’s medical and financial assistance to Sri Lanka increases its image and prestige. Once Bangladesh was a "bottomless pit" and a donation seeker. Now it is a donor and a lending country. It shows all South Asian countries how to revive from the ashes.

As a friend and neighbour, it is Bangladesh's privilege to stand by Sri Lanka in whatever way it can during times of crisis.

In this regard, a programme was held on Thursday at the State Guest House where Foreign Minister Dr A.K. Abdul Momen and Health Minister Zahid Maleque handed over a few boxes of medicines as a token to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Prof Sudharshan D.S. Seneviratne.

Miracle story

How is Bangladesh is springing one surprise after another? Economists say there are some reasons behind this: exports, social progress and economic foresight. There are three more factors: sympathy, economic diplomacy and political will.

When Bangladesh provided $200 million in financial assistance to Colombo, the Sri Lankan media wondered that if Dhaka can be self-sufficient, why can’t we? 

In June, Bangladesh gave 65 crores taka to Sudan to reduce the debt burden of the IMF. The country borrowed Rs 510,000 crore taka from the IMF. The economic crisis was so severe that the country could not repay the debt.

The Bangladesh government hopes the funding will strengthen Sudan’s fight against poverty. 

Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka

Bangladesh also provided more than 80 million taka to Somalia, another African country. That was also to repay an IMF loan. Sudan has been crippled by debt and poverty.

Bangladesh has said that it stands ready to support Sri Lanka in all possible ways to help overcome the island nation's worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

Bangladesh in December 2021 announced humanitarian support for the Afghan people while expressing deep concern over its economic and humanitarian crisis. The country announced food and medicinal assistance.

Bangladesh has already portrayed its humanitarian values when she warmly welcomed about 1.1 million forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Despite many diplomatic efforts, the repatriation of Rohingya people has been lingering for quite long. 

Hosting refugees

Nevertheless, Bangladesh continues to generously host the world’s largest and growing refugee settlement despite the huge burden on economy, food management, limited resources and other circumstances. 

Now the question is: If Bangladesh can be self-sufficient, donor, lender and an economic miracle in South Asia, why can’t others do that? South Asia can learn a lot from Bangladesh.

(The author is a strategic and international affairs analyst and researcher. Views are personal. He can be reached at johnrojariojnu@gmail.com)

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