There is no alternative of individual and institutional income generation for economic development and poverty alleviation of a country. Ensuring employment is the most effective tool for facilitating individual and institutional income generation. There are about 162 million populations in Bangladesh and about 120.70 million of them are in workable age group. For providing employment to such a huge number of populations government has only 1.7 million positions in civil service, a mentionable percentage of this government positions remain vacant forever; for example 18% of government positions are vacant now in Bangladesh. As per a recent report there are 58.10 million people involved with private sector jobs.
There are no exact data regarding the total number of businessmen in the country but it is stated that, there are about 30 million businessmen in Bangladesh. From the above statements we could find out a summery that there are about 37.20 million unemployed people in Bangladesh now.
Another recent report shows that there are more than 3 million higher educated unemployed populations in Bangladesh with 2.2 million newcomers in the job markets every year. It is easier to manage and employment opportunity for a low educated or uneducated youth but difficult to manage a career opportunity for a higher educated one. Uneducated or lower educated manpower could migrate into Middle East as a labour but higher educated youth could not do so. Thus the number of unemployed higher educated people is rising day by day. If such a trend continues for next few years they could be another burden for the society as well as for the nation.
Before meeting a terrible situation of the above mentioned problem we must have to identify a way out of it. The government has to take the issue as a new challenge and come out with appropriate solutions. The government could mitigate this problem with professional education system, skills development through practical training, creating entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial education, creating entrepreneurship friendly policy regime, creating start-up friendly fiscal and economic policies, self-employment oriented education / training, hands-on training for creating freelancers etc. Such types of projects should get the highest priority in the upcoming national budget of the government.
There are few problems which are impossible to solve by individual or organisational initiative. These problems are subject to be dealt with collective power and unity. To apply that collective power of the business community, effective trade organisation is required. There are about five hundred trade organisations in Bangladesh; among these 101 are chamber of commerce (district chambers, metropolitan chambers, joint chambers, international chambers etc.) and about 379 sectoral associations are mentionable. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) is the apex institution that represents all the trade organisations of Bangladesh.
FBCCI used to negotiate, cooperate and support the government in enacting trade related policies on behalf of the private sector of the country. It represents all the trade bodies in different committee forms by different ministries, agencies, departments, and other organs of the government. It assists all the 500 trade bodies of the country in holding election and other regulatory purposes. FBCCI used to negotiate budgetary facilities for different sectors, products and customs structures with the national board of revenue (NBR) on behalf of the private sector.
To perform all of the above mentioned duties an efficient and functional FBCCI is our national requirement. To make it functional and effective its current manpower has to be increased, professional skills of existing manpower has to be improved and financial capacity of the federation has to be uplifted. There are many countries in the world where federation / national chambers are getting budgetary support from the government.
But till now FBCCI has to depend upon its members’ subscription, building rental and donation of business community. It is not sufficient to employ and retain efficient professionals and expand its services to the economy of Bangladesh. FBCCI will get its new leadership through the upcoming election in next month. We are hopeful that the new management will take necessary initiative to take the organisation as well as its member bodies into new height and serve the nation better. Competing business leaders are supposed to declare respective election manifesto soon. We would like to offer few recommendations as follows for their consideration and include into the election manifesto for making the federation as well as other trade bodies (chambers and association) for functional and effective:
1 Taking necessary initiative to get budgetary support for operating FBCCI from the government.
2 Pursuing the government to involve district chambers closely with the development project implementing in respective district.
3 Undertaking projects to ensure hassle-free visa facility for the business community in consultation with all the foreign missions working here in Bangladesh. It will increase movement of our foreign trade into a new destination.
4 Increasing research based capacity of the federation through undertaking visible interventions along with a time bound action plan
5 Increasing capacity of the federation to undertake projects for private sector development and pursue government and other development partners for funding.
6 Making the initiative of establishing Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) a reality (initiated earlier but failed to get finance). Indian model of EDI, located at Ahmedabad, could be replicated here in this regard.
7 Capacity building of different trade bodies to provide business support services, registrations and licenses. Negotiating with the government to hand over trade license, small and cottage industry registration etc. responsibilities to the trade bodies.
8 Participating in foreign investment / trade fairs with own stall of FBCCI to facilitate B2B business matchmaking.
9 Establishment of product research and new product innovation centre, testing laboratory, and undertaking product diversification initiative to enlarge export basket.
10 Perusing the central bank and other ministries of the government to inspire the corporate houses, banks, NBFIs to support FBCCI development 10fund from respective CSR budget.
11 Developing a research fund for conducting a certain number of systematic researches by the FBCCI research team every year.
12 Providing FBCCI Award to the best growing company, most employment creator company, most Donor Company, best exporting company etc. to recognise their contribution to the society and inspire them to donate most at FBCCI development fund.
13 Establishment of FBCCI’s branches in important business hubs at home & abroad and fixation of an FBCCI contact point in relevant ministries.
14 Opening a news department in FBCCI and all major chambers and associations to assist local entrepreneurs to get quality certification of respective products from respective international or foreign authorities. It will help to get more acceptances of Bangladeshi products to the foreign buyers.
15 Establishing business incubation centre to support new entrepreneurs, perusing the government for start-up financing.
16 Establishing technology and engineering institute to produce skilled manpower as per demand of different business sectors.
17 Motivating government for creating an environment to commercialise local inventions.
18 Undertaking regular research on different international trade arrangements under the WTO, RTA or BFTA to make local entrepreneurs aware about our trade benefits under different agreements and facilitating to utilise the benefits in international trade.
19 Playing more visible role in creating freelancers and adopting outsourcing friendly infrastructure in Bangladesh by the government.
20 Undertaking projects to facilitate adoption and utilisation of e-commerce and e-business facility to make the digital revolution fruitful.
Finally we could state that the private sector has to play a visible role to achieve SDGs by 2030. This role could be played more effectively from a common platform like trade bodies instead of personal or institutional level. Therefore the government has to play its due role for capacity building of the trade bodies. New elected panel of FBCCI leaders could play the role of catalyst here in this regard. A common vision of the business community, government and the development partners is required to ensure sustainable development of the economy and achieving a developed Bangladesh as per our national target.
The writer is a Development Researcher, Columnist and Author.