Eighth Five-Year Plan to focus on rural economy

Hasibul Aman

17 October, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The upcoming 8th five-year plan will attach special importance to making urban facilities available in rural areas in line with the government’s electoral pledges.

General Economics Division (GED), the apex public sector think tank, is now passing a busy time to prepare the mid-term development plan to be implemented during 2021-2025 period.

For a transformation in traditional rural settings lacking civic amenities, the new plan is likely to bring diversity into the rural economy, planning commission sources said.

The 7th five-year plan is now in operation with a special focus on stoking growth predominantly driven by a vibrant private sector. Its term will end in 2020.

After taking office in early 2009, the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government rolled out a perspective plan called Vision 2021 with a promise to lift the country to a middle-income country status by the timeframe.

In contrast to short-term plans followed by previous governments, the AL government formulated two mid-term development plans –Sixth Five-Year Plan and Seventh Five-Year Plan—to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, the UN sustainable development agenda has come, which will have to be executed by 2030.

In course of serving for three consecutive terms, the government has also come up with a much broad-based development aspiration called Vision 2041.

The new vision seeks to turn the country into an affluent nation when it will celebrate 70 years of independence.

In its electoral manifesto for December 30 national polls last year, the government pledged for sending urban facilities to rural areas with a call—‘My Village My Town.’

The national budget announced for FY20 has already accommodated it and made necessary allocations in line with the electoral pledge.

The upcoming eighth five-year plan has to address all these issues like SDGs, the Vision 2041 and rural transformation with keeping intact its original characteristics.

“The plan formulation process is going on. A foundation of the plan has already been laid on which the whole plan will be based. It will put special focus on narrowing the rural-urban gap,” commented Dr Shamsul Alam, the GED Member.

According to him, better communications network and ICT has helped narrow the rural-urban gap in the country in recent times.

The new plan will try to intensify the momentum of this transformation process, he said.

“We’re emphasizing two things in the plan—one is accelerated prosperity and the other is inclusive growth, although some progress has been made to this end,” Dr Alam said.

A concept paper has been prepared to cover all these things and it will be placed before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her observation regarding the new plan, he informed.    

The GED concept paper says higher growth has helped increase per-capita income gradually both in urban and rural areas.

With the increase in remittance inflow, rural trade and a rise in demand for different services like transport, health and education, a scope on non-agricultural jobs have been created in rural areas, it pointed out.

As a result, job opportunities in the agriculture sector has been shrinking day by day while the wages of farm labours have increased.

Moreover, the increasing per-capita income has contributed a lot in already starting the rural transformation process, the concept note says.

Even after the remarkable contribution of remittance and non-farm income in the ongoing rural transformation, still, the farm sector is the highest employer with creating 40 per cent of jobs at the national level.

The new plan will emphasize increasing productivity of agriculture with bringing diversity to its production pattern.

GED thinks that more research, expansion and investment in agriculture is necessary for the context of shrinking arable land due to the rise in population and urbanization.

The new plan seeks to enhance the production of high-value agro-products to lure large investment in the farm sector.

Priority will also be given to earning foreign exchange, inter-district transport service, mobile banking and ICT service that are already contributing to the initial stage of transformation.