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Elections big investment, says CPD

Disparity grows on 'lack of political competition'

FE Report | December 10, 2018 00:00:00

Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya speaking at a press briefing on 'Bangladesh's economy and upcoming national election' at the Brac Inn Centre in the capital on Sunday — FE Photo

The economic disparity in the society may have grown due to a lack of political competition during the last five years, a local think-tank said on Sunday.

"There is a lack of qualitative economic development in the last five years despite the fact that there were lots of economic developments took place during the period," a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya said.

He was speaking with reporters at a programme on the state of Bangladesh economy and upcoming national elections in Dhaka.

Dr Bhattacharya noted the economic disparity has surfaced in all segments of the society -- between rural and urban, the rich and the poor.

He said the economic disparity has gained speed since 2014-15.

He dubbed it the "second generation development challenges" on how to ensure qualitative development from the existing quantitative development.

He said addressing the "distortions" of development will be another challenge for the next generation development.

He said the government's move to reform the economic structures was seen weak during its second tenure.

He said there are "some people" who can manage their default loans and become eligible for the elections and there may be "some genuine entrepreneurs" who cannot do the same.

Some people have "grabbed" rules and regulations of the money market for their own interests, he argued

Now, he said, eligible and honest candidates are not getting nomination as polls have become a big investment.

He said wealth statements submitted by the candidates may be a tool for investigation by the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

"The Election Commission has limitations. But why is the NBR not showing its interest to investigate into whether the statements are true or not?" he asked.

CPD executive director Dr Fahmida Khatun moderated the function.

Noting that capital flight was huge, CPD's distinguished fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman said and there was a need for showing zero tolerance to it.

"There were huge looting of wealth and [some people] siphoned off the money," Dr Rahman said.

"We need to address the illicit financial flow," Dr Rahman said.

Dr Rahman said the country's the overall balance of payment has dipped into the negative territory in 20 years since 1999.

"As a result, the foreign loan liabilities are increasing."

On the banking sector, the CPD fellow said there are all rules and regulations but how so many scams took place and non-performing loans soared.

He also said there is a need for strengthening the debt management.

He underlined the need for conducting reforms in the country's subsidy regime.

Dr Rahman also laid emphasis on improving the education system to help build analytical competence of students.

He said political parties must discuss the issues of economic challenges and how to resolve those.

The CPD distinguished fellow said the statistics pertaining to the development has two different pictures from the government's two agencies.

The Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) data suggests the implementation rate has improved since 2014, but the Ministry of Finance's suggests that it has deteriorated, highlighting the discrepancy between two government sources, Dr Rahman said.

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