The government has identified 15 key challenges, including giving a fillip to new investment and employment opportunities, for the upcoming 8th five-year plan.
The Planning Commission has already prepared a concept note outlining the foundation for the 8th mid-term plan that will be implemented during 2021-2025 period.The concept paper in line with the ruling Awami League government’s poll manifesto and its Vision 2041 would be placed soon before the Prime Minister, official sources said.
Basic principle of the upcoming plan will be to raise the country’s status to an upper middle-income bloc and eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
The concept note highlighted key issues like structural transformation of GDP growth, reforms to financial sector, identifying infrastructural bottlenecks and export diversification.
Other challenges include boosting SMEs, identifying skill limitations, ending extreme poverty, removing income and regional inequality, ensuring quality health services, fighting climate change, empowering local government and decentralization, and fighting a changing demographic picture.
“The 8th five-year plan has immense importance for the country as it is graduating from LDCs status in next few years, while a development foundation has been laid by cut in poverty and quick sustainable growth,” said Dr Shamsul Alam, Member of General Economics Division (GED).
With the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has been able to secure quick economic progress, lower poverty and ensure human development in the last 10 years, the chief of the public sector think-thank noted.For the success, the country has already crossed the World Bank’s lower mid-income threshold in 2015.
Dr. Alam said the planning process was now underway to get the 8th five-year plan approved by the ECNEC by May 2020.
The concept paper has singled out the slack in private investment as the major hurdle to further acceleration of growth and creating jobs.
The government also attached much importance to enhancing private investment in its 6th and ongoing 7th plans with a target to raise private investment to GDP ratio from 22 percent to 32 percent.
However, the government has so far managed to raise it to 23 percent only while public investment witnessed a modest increase.
The government does not think that this effort to raise overall investment won’t be enough for attaining 9 percent GDP growth.
The 8th plan will put more efforts to increase total investment, particularly private investment, while focusing on FDI that will be helpful for use of new technology as well as creating new export market.
Besides, annual average employment growth was only 1.7 percent between 2010 and 2017 against the targeted 6.6 percent during the period, which was only 0.26 percent of GDP, according Labour Survey 2017.
But the positive sign was that employment in agriculture sector declined from 48 percent to 41 percent while that in the manufacturing sector soared from 12 percent to 20 percent.
However, the employment growth in manufacturing sector compared with the rising labour force due to demographic change and women’s participation in labour force are still low. At the same time, skill deficit is also a major problem.
The 8th plan will be more focused on employment generation in manufacturing sector by identifying skill challenges and technological upgradation.
Although agriculture sector been made more productive in 6th and 7th plans, now manufacturing sector requires 15 percent growth a year and service sector needs more improvement to reach a double-digit growth, according to the concept paper.