Bangladesh has an agrarian economy with 14.2% of GDP coming from the Agriculture Sector. Major agricultural products are rice, jute, wheat, potato, pulses, tobacco, tea, sugarcane, etc. The country is the largest exporter of jute and jute goods in the world. Readymade garments are among the most exportable items. Tea, frozen shrimps, fish, leather goods and handicrafts are also major exportable commodities.
The country has undergone a major shift in its economic philosophy and management in recent years. On its birth, it embraced socialism as the economic ideology with a dominant role for the public sector. But since the mid-seventies, it undertook a major restructuring towards establishing a market economy with emphasis on private sector-led economic growth.
During the nineties, the country has completed a major stabilization program which has reduced inflation as well as fiscal and current account deficits and established a healthy foreign exchange reserve position with low and sustainable debt-service liabilities. With modest economic growth, the basic indicators related to health, education and poverty have all shown sustained improvement
According to a World Bank estimate, Bangladesh has the 36th largest economy in the world in terms of GNP based on purchasing power parity method of valuation, and 55th largest in terms of nominal GNP in U.S. Dollars. However, because of the population size, per capita income was US$ 280 in 1998(1 US$=Taka 48.50).
Bangladesh has pursued the path of planned development since independence. Short term Annual Development Programs. Medium term Five-year Plans and Long term perspective plans have been used for the purpose. The First-Five year plan (1973-78) was launched in 1973, while the Fourth-Five year plan concluded in June. 1995.
The Fifth Five Year Plan has been launched by the previous government covering the period 1997-002 in order to enable the country to face the challenges of the 21st century. Export-led economic growth through a liberal free market approach, alleviation of poverty and empowerment of the poor, industrialization, agricultural growth and human resource development have been attached topmost priority in recent Development Plans.
During the l990s, the government policy has focused on strengthening the government's role in social and infrastructure development, with the private sector playing the leading role in directly productive activities. The roles of the government are mainly confined to regulatory and promotional ones.
Participation of target people at the grassroots level in the planning process has been emphasized by the present government. Grass-roots institutions and individuals are expected to get a prominent role in future in plan formulation and implementation.