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Good governance 'driver' for allotting growth benefits to all

Economists opine at BIDS almanac


FE Report | December 03, 2019 00:00:00


Economists at a programme in Dhaka have opined that 'good governance is a driver' for distributing benefits of the economic growth to all people across the country.

They also cautioned that the current 'neo-liberalised development strategy' may not ensure the country's becoming a developed nation.

The said these at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS)-organised Research Almanac 2019 at a city hotel on Monday, with its Director General Dr K A S Murshid in the chair.

Planning Minister M A Mannan was present as the chief guest in the closing session - 'Reviewing Bangladesh's Development Strategy' - of the almanac.

Economists Dr Rizwanul Islam and Dr Zaidi Sattar, former lead economist of the World Bank Dr Zahid Hussain, Research Director of the BIDS Dr Binayak Sen, and former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, among others, took part in the discussion.

The planning minister in his speech acknowledged that all people are not duly getting benefit of Bangladesh's higher growth.

"Sometimes we are forced to sacrifice some economic variables, considering the country's huge population. Those things may be affecting proper distribution of the growth benefit among all."

He, however, assured that the suggestions of the discussants and the BIDS will be considered in preparing Bangladesh's development strategy, aimed at ensuring equitable growth distribution and making the country a developed nation.

Dr Zahid Hussain said: "Growth is the vehicle of an economy. Governance is the driver of growth. If good governance is not established, people will not get the benefit of growth."

"Bangladesh knows how it can expand its economy. Now it will have to ensure how quality infrastructure, human capital, macro-economic stability, and resilience could be established for graduating as a developed nation," he added.

Dr Rizwanul Islam raised question on Bangladesh's 'Neo-libaralised development strategy', asking whether or not it is still visible anywhere in the world.

Expressing his doubt about Bangladesh's over 8.0 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth data, he said how a country can graduate to a developed nation without expediting its investment, and ensuring quality employment and human capital.

"Bangladesh, with its higher growth and good poverty reduction pace, has been able to prove that it is no more a bottomless basket. But now it has become a country of higher inequality."

For example, the government may ensure quality education in the cities like Dhaka and Chittagong. But has it been able to ensure such education in Gaibandha and Kurigram, Mr Islam questioned.

"Bangladesh's economy has expanded at more than 8.0 per cent rate, but poverty in 23 districts has not reduced. So, is the growth benefit reaching to all the population properly?" he said.

Dr Binayak Sen said Bangladesh's present state-sponsored growth is a risky one for the country.

"The poverty reduction scenario and present growth momentum are laudable. But we have to ensure skilled human capital for turning the country into a developed nation," he added.

Dr Zaidi Sattar, the Policy Research Institute (PRI) chairman, said without integration of Bangladesh's trade with the global arena it is not possible to grow the economy at a sustained rate.

Dr K A S Murshid said the country's macro-economic scenario is not risk-free at this moment amid the persisting global scenario.

He emphasised better governance in the country for establishing an equality-based society as well as for ensuring a balanced growth.

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