Bangladesh has witnessed substantial economic growth in the past decade, primarily driven by central government strategies. Nevertheless, there remains an opportunity to enhance these efforts by complementing them with local economic development initiatives. This approach is crucial for fostering sustainable economic growth at the grassroots level and ultimately raising the living standards of local communities. To achieve this, it's essential to draw lessons from successful local economic development (LED) endeavors in other nations. The Philippines stands out as a prime example, having effectively implemented LED initiatives since the early 2000s. As a result, it has become a valuable destination for learning and capacity development in this regard.
The mission consisted of visits to multiple destinations, starting from Manila, to Cebo, and then Bohol. One of the essential areas of focus was LED finance. The Bureau of Local Government Finance, Department of Finance, Philippines, had implemented innovative financing mechanisms for LED initiatives, such as revolving funds, local economic development loans, and innovative up- and down-scaling exercises for loan products. By benchmarking these initiatives, the Bangladeshi core LED team learned about effective financing mechanisms that could be adapted to the local context in Bangladesh. This provided insights into financing models that could facilitate public-private partnerships and encourage private-sector investment in LED. Additionally, the visit to Bohol also shed light on tourism and investment opportunities, especially in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the significance of public-private partnerships to strengthen LED.
The mission revolved around a series of meetings and visits to The Local Government Academy, Bureau of Local Government Finance under the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Head Office, and Manila LGU, in Manila; moving to visit to Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry with DTI-Cebu Provincial Office and Board of Investment in Cebu, and finally to the Bohol Provincial Government.
The visiting delegation represented the Local Government Division, which is regarded as the largest, most powerful, and influential ministry in Bangladesh. Moreover, the opportunity to observe and learn from various stakeholders about the reasons behind this collaboration and how they cooperate was enlightening for the mission participants. This experience is expected to help establish essential components of such mechanisms and processes within the country.