The United Nations launched a $100 million crash program in April when the director of the UN relief operation, Toni Hagan, predicted that Bangladesh was ‘heading for disaster.’ The feared food riots did not materialize, but the price of rice (the staple diet) and all other essential commodities rose sharply under the pressure of hoarding and black market sales.
Though Rahman‘s threats to shoot down clandestine operators have made little impact, he has gone ahead with the economic promises of his 1970 election campaign. Luxury imports were banned; monthly salaries were frozen at $134; and all locally and Pakistani owned tea estates, banks, insurance companies, and jute, cotton, textile, and sugar mills were nationalized. Workers have been promised a share in the management of 253 nationalized factories.
This year’s modest budget shows a slight surplus, while a $668 million development plan for 1972-1973 aims to spend $137 million on the raising of rice. Bangladesh hopes to launch its first five-year plan in 1973.