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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Bangladesh growth under threat
Children scavenge on a city dump near Dakar
The World Bank says political stability must continue to reduce poverty
Political instability and infighting are threatening Bangladesh's economy, the World Bank has warned.

The country's opposition party, Awami League, has accused the government of failing to tackle corruption and of being wasteful and repressive.

It has threatened "unspecified action" unless the government resigns by the end of the month.

The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has called for talks to prevent the situation escalating.

Expansion

World Bank figures released Monday, show that Bangladesh's economy looks set to grow by 5.5% in the 2003-2004 fiscal year after good harvests and increased export demand.

That would be a 0.2% rise from the previous 12-month period.

Exports, meanwhile, have increased by 16% in the past seven months from a year earlier.

Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated countries and sustained economic growth is needed to help eradicate deep and widespread poverty.

With its people crammed into a delta of rivers that empties into the Bay of Bengal, the threat of monsoon floods destroying the hard labours of Bangladesh's most important sector, agriculture, is never far away.

The country has, however, made progress in reducing population growth and improving health and education.

And it is trying to diversify the economy, with industrial development a priority. Overseas investors have been attracted and they have pumped money into the manufacturing and energy sectors.

Anxiety ahead

The current political instability, however, has led to warnings by the World Bank and other overseas donors.

On the surface, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and the BNP has a two-thirds majority in parliament and appears firmly in control. Elections are not due until 2006

But news agency AFP reported on Monday that thousands of the League's supporters took to the streets of the capital Dhaka on Monday in protest.

And according to Awami general secretary Abdul Jalil "it has been possible in the past to topple governments through just a few days of mass upsurge - I believe we will be able to do it again".


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Bangladesh
26 Mar 04  |  Country profiles
IMF pledges Bangladesh funds
21 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Bangladesh seeks $2bn in aid
15 May 03  |  Business


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