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Bangladesh must focus on labour productivity

Economists say at BIBM event

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 16 November, 2021 12:00 AM
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Bangladesh must focus on labour productivity

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Bangladesh has to shun over dependency on cheap labour and try to become a productive labour based economy for making more progress, economists have suggested.

The suggestion came at a plenary session on Innovation in Monetary Policy, Economic Development and Five Year plan on the Celebration of Birth Centenary of the Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) on Monday.

“Bangladesh has to transform from cheap labour-based economy to a productive labour-based economy,” former adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said.

The noted economist called for focusing on agriculture anew as it is one of key economic drivers after RMG and remittance.

Many economic sectors have faced severe setback by Covid impacts. The main deficiencies of people should be identified first and measures have to be taken accordingly, he pointed out.

Dr Zillur said: “There have been drastic changes in the rural areas but we have not sufficient information about rural areas. It is important to be aware of our goals to know the rural information to achieve our goals.”

Former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Atiur Rahman; Executive Director of Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) Dr Mustafa K Mujeri and former vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh MA Sattar Mandal, spoke as distinguished guests.

Dr Atiur Rahman said, policy support given by the central bank, most of the borrowers of tiny loans from MFIs have by now transformed into MSMEs, for which the recent growth story of Bangladesh looks so robust and thriving.

However, it is encouraging to note that Bangladesh government with the refinancing support of the central bank has come out with a number of stimulus packages focusing on agriculture, SMEs and informal unorganised sector to keep these small and medium entrepreneurs on the move, he stated.

“If well implemented, these packages can certainly help the economy at the bottom of the pyramid not only afloat but as well as vibrant at the end of the day,” he added.

Dr. Mustafa K Mujeri said Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in raising economic growth and reducing poverty since its independence in 1971. After independence, Bangladesh was one of the poorest countries in the world with a war-ravaged economy. Its economic prospects were regarded so unpromising that it was considered as a ‘test case for development,’ he recalled.   It was argued: ‘If development could be made successful in Bangladesh, there can be little doubt that it could be made to succeed anywhere else. It is, in this sense, that Bangladesh is the test case for development,’ he added.

Prof Barkat-e-Khuda and Chair Professor at BIBM Dr. Muzaffer Ahmad moderated the event, chaired by BIBM Director General Dr. Md Akhtaruzzaman, Director General of BIBM.

Dr. Barkat-e-Khuda said that high growth is being achieved due to the inclusive activities of the banking sector. Bangladesh has shown special success in alleviating poverty, which is now the role model in the world.

Sattar Mandal said that formal introduction to planned economy in Bangladesh began with the launching of the First Five Year Plan (FFYP) 1973-78 from July 1973.

It is a historical record that the FFYP was prepared in an unusually short period of one and a half years time, he added.

“It was actually a broad road map toward economic development following a socialistic path in line with the fundamental principles laid down in the constitution of the newly independent country,” he remarked. 

The need for a planned economy was underscored by Bangabandhu in his pronouncements for the emancipation of people from poverty, hunger and injustices.

He had mobilized a group of dedicated professional economists of high international repute to form the first Planning Commission immediately after he took over as the Prime Minister of the country, Sattar informed. 

Dr. Md. Akhtaruzzaman noted that Bangabandhu considered the financial sector as a catalyst for economic development. As such, BIBM was established in 1974 to cater to the training, education, research, and consultancy needs of the financial sector of the country.

Dr. Prashanta Kumar Banerjee said that immediately after the glorious victory in the Liberation War, Bangabandhu inherited a war-ravaged economy and a shattered banking sector due to exodus of massive bank deposits, capital transfers and outmigration of the then Pakistani bank owners during the War of Liberation.

All private banks, owned by erstwhile Pakistani entrepreneurs except foreign banks at that time, had to be subsequently nationalized by Bangabandhu without any waste of time. “These prudent steps were timely and in the right direction to restore economic vitality in the newly independent Bangladesh he also added,” he observed.

BIBM has published a special issue of the quarterly journal 'Bank Parikrama,' falgship publications of BIBM, to celebrate the Bangabandhu's birth centenary, Where 10 articles of eminent economists, academics, bankers and researchers of the country have been published.

The celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu started on March 17, 2020 and will continue till 16 December 2021.

As part of the event, BIBM has published a special issue of its flagship journal, Bank Parikrama.