Rapid improvement of living standard of the masses was the prime goal of Bangladesh liberation struggle in 1971. This vision for higher living standard for the masses has been enshrined in the Bangladesh Constitution. The state of Bangladesh through its Constitution (article-15) committed to a higher living standard for its people by providing basic needs to all its citizens through planned development. With this objective of planned development for the country, the Bangladesh Planning Commission was established in January 1972.The Bangladesh Planning Commission had its roots in pre-independence Bangladesh. In the mid 1950s a Provincial Planning Board was established under the United Front Government of the then East Pakistan (present Bangladesh). It was an important agency for formulating investment programmes and for negotiating with the Central Government of Pakistan for an adequate share of the financial resources for the development of East Pakistan. The Planning Board undertook the task of appraising and evaluating East Pakistan development projects of a certain size. Later the Bangladesh Government in exile during the war of independent in 1971 established a Planning Cell, which was an embryonic start of the present Bangladesh Planning Commission. The Planning Cell established during the war of liberation was mainly concerned with formulating a programme of reconstruction and rehabilitation of the economy of post-independence Bangladesh.

One of the first decisions the Bangladesh Government made after returning from exile was to establish the Bangladesh Planning Commission and to appoint the Deputy Chairperson and members of the Commission in 31 January, 1972. The Cabinet Decision in establishing the Bangladesh Planning Commission laid down ten functions for the Commission. This can be brought down to three broad sets of functions.
• to prepare the short and mid-term and long-term plans viz. Annual Development Programme, Five Year Plan and Perspective Plans;
• to make recommendation as well as being involved in the process of deliberation on a range of policies and institutional changes which were necessary for the implementation and realisation of the Plan objectives; and
• to co-ordinate the economic policies, both short and long-term, to be under taken by the various ministries.
In addition the Bangladesh Planning Commission was to serve as the Secretariat for major economic policy questions and for initiating the appraisal of development projects and programmes by the National Economic Council (NEC). The NEC was created to serve as the economic mini-cabinet, consisting of the main economic ministers of the cabinet and headed by the Prime Minister.