The world is going through an economic and political power shifting from the west to the east during the last couple of years. Reshape of geopolitical forces is resulting in extra tensions in the world politics. Its impact on the economic progress is becoming more visible day by day.
The world economic growth was 3.5 % in 2017 but uneven distribution of wealth increases disparity around the world. As a result, all segments of the society are enjoying the benefits of economic progress. Current economic models are not capable enough to serve needs of different segments of the society equitably. Socialist movement failed to serve its objectives even in its birth places. Similarly, limitations of the capitalism are becoming clearer to the academics and practitioners. Therefore, the World Economic Forum feels the need for a new model of human centric economic progress.
Capitalist concept not only failed in the least developed countries like Bangladesh, it also failed to reduce inequalities in the advanced economies like USA or Germany as well. The world experienced complex impact of globalisation during the last decade. It is creating job in one corner but shifting job from others. Job creation versus job diversion is currently a popular debate of free market economy. The well off segment of the society is enjoying its rapid boom; on the other hand, the neglected segment is suffering more. Therefore, the world is in need of an inclusive and sustainable model of economy which will be inclusive, environment friendly and safe for future generations too. This model has to be human centric, pro-environment and create equal opportunities for all segments of the society.
To achieve the above societal features of economic progress, governments have to enact public-private collaborative policies. A joint effort of the government, business community, academia, and civil society will have to be ensured to get optimum benefit out of it. Countries have to be more competitive to face the emerging challenges of tomorrow.
Bangladesh is focusing upon the issue from different platforms. But in absence of a better coordinated effort we are failing to achieve targeted benefits in time. As per the latest report, Bangladesh ranked the 99th position of the Global Competitiveness Index. It progressed a little from 106th position earlier. But 99th position is displaying our measurable competitiveness around the world whereas we are dreaming to be among the Asian Tigers or Next 11 or Frontier 5 in economic development.
If we look at the current global competitiveness index we could find Switzerland, USA, Singapore, Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden, UK, Japan and Finland in the top 10 respectively. Two Asian representative Singapore and Japan are in the top ten. Our neighbouring countries (other than Pakistan) are also doing quit well than us. India ranked 40th previously they were in 39th position. India’s negative growth is not for their bad performance but it is for others’ better performance. Other members of SAARC like Nepal ranked 88th previously they were in the 98th position. Bhutan ranked 82nd but previously they were in the 97th position. Pakistan ranked in 115th previously they were in 122nd and Sri Lanka ranked in 85th previously they were in 71st.
Global competitiveness index is not only a single featured ranking but it is an aggregate outcome of 12 different pillar analysis. These twelve pillars are institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education as basic requirement of factor driven economies.
The second group of pillars are higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and market size as efficiency enhancer of efficiency driven economies. Finally; business sophistication and innovation are factors of innovation driven economies. Therefore, global competitiveness index is a comprehensive outlook of an economy.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority is working out to prepare ourselves for uplifting Bangladesh’s position in the doing business index.
There is a position called Chief Coordinator for SDG affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office to ensure better coordination in implementation of the SDG related government policies. Similarly, a Commission or Board or Corporation is needed for looking after these 12 pillars related to the competitiveness index. It is more important than other stated issues here due to its coverage and wide range of the scope. Even a dedicated ministry could be established to look after the competitiveness issues to make Bangladesh competitive and face the challenges of tomorrow’s world.
Competitiveness is required not only for economic growth but also for the inclusiveness and sustainability. Economic growth without inclusiveness will increase disparity, social tension and environmental threats. Therefore, we are in extreme need of such economic policies / systems where inclusiveness will be ensured, equal opportunities could be created, and that would be environment friendly and safe for the planet. Without thinking of humanity, consciousness of environmental safety no economic advancement should be acceptable because pro-human and pro-planet policies are demands of the time now; otherwise social chaos and adverse reaction of the nature is waiting for us in near future.
The writer is the Executive Director (Additional Secretary), DCCI Business Institute (DBI).