Md. Joynal Abdin
The Daily Star, September 13, 2009
THOUGH current global financial crisis affects the march of globalization, economists are confident that the world will immediately recover from the problem and globalization will regain its momentum with a new force in action. Globalization holds opportunities and threats at the same time. It offers opportunities for the fittest and threatens the inefficient. It creates new products, provides newer employment opportunities and opens up new markets for the investors. At the same time, it increases competition are technological development and emphasises innovative research work.
To avail the opportunities that globalization is offering to us, we must be prepared accordingly. Otherwise, somebody else may capture it and go ahead of us. We must remember that opportunities wait for none. We should start to implement a number of initiatives to face globalization successfully.
Demand-driven education: We are an overpopulated nation. It may be an opportunity for us in this age of globalization. Because the enterprises need more human resources as the demand for skilled labour and professionals is increasing day by day. We may take this opportunity to capitalise on our human resources and export those to the overseas market. Educating our people is the only alternative. The curriculum for such education should be directly related to the job market. It will serve not only local market, but also the world market. One may fully agree with this writer that skilled professionals must earn more foreign remittances for us than the existing semi, or un-skilled labour.
For example, India is exporting their law practitioners, doctors and IT professionals to the western world. They are earning much higher salaries than those of Bangladeshi manpower overseas. Thus by exporting educated people to the markets where they are in demand, we may increase our earning-person ratio.
Intellectual properties: The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are remembered for the industrial revolution, while the twentieth century has been the century of scientific innovation and information and communication technology (ICT). The twenty-first century will be the century of Intellectual Property (IP). The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is working hard to ensure intellectual property right (IPR) around the world. The World IP Day is observed on April 26 in almost every UN member countries. The US government is signing trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA) with different countries with a compulsory clause on enforcement of IPR by the governments concerned.
So it is quite clear that the scenario will be changed after 2020 following the enforcement of IPR act globally. So time has come to give attention to increasing our intellectual property (IP) to get its benefit after IPR is enforced duly. There are no alternatives to innovation to get IPR. At the same time, we should be aware of getting patents for our natural resources like the mango (Fazli variety) of Rajshahi, Monda (a kind of sweetmeat) of Muktagasa, Rash Malai (sweetmeat) of Comilla, curd from Bogra and a lot of other items. In this way, we can ensure our royalty from those products after IPR is enforced.
Ensuring global presence for our enterprises: The British East India Company is the brightest example of how a country can be branded with the global presence of it enterprises. This example may have some negative aspects, but today Nestlé, Unilever, Coca Cola, Bata etc., are the examples of global brands. They are ensuring positive country image and branding their origin. So to cope with globalization, we must ensure global presence of our local enterprises. But currently our laws are not permitting our investors to do so. We are badly in need of revising the laws concerned to facilitate our companies so that they can establish their operation abroad. Thus branding Bangladesh initiative may become a success.
Export diversification: Our diplomatic missions abroad should be more active to promote our products in the countries concerned so that we can have more market access and earn more export earnings. Offices of the commercial counsellors should have people with the knowledge of marketing. The government can establish Bangladesh Trade Centres in all countries having Bangladesh mission to facilitate the sale and exhibition of our products. Immediate steps can be taken to establish Bangladesh Trade Centre in those countries having Bangladeshis or Bangladeshi workers such as Saudi Arabia, the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, and the USA. These Bangladesh Trade Centres will be in a multi-storeyed building with windows of purely Bangladeshi products on every floor. The centre will act as a permanent exhibition and sales centre for all Bangladeshi products.
Thus we can increase our foreign currency reserve as well as increase our productivity. Ensuring a strong taka: We always think about our exporters and depreciate local currency frequently. But we must have to think that, today we are in such a position of economic development in which import of raw materials and machinery is also significant for our long-term economic benefits. So we must take initiatives to make taka stronger against dollar to ensure adequate import of machinery and raw materials according convenient exchange rate. A strong taka will increase our image abroad which will help brand Bangladesh.
Ensuring global standard technical education: Many countries that have developed rapidly as economic powers have also advanced in science and technology. In Bangladesh, the University Grants Commission (UGC) does not allow foreign universities to operate their branches in Bangladesh. This policy allows our private universities to run a monopoly business. As a result, we do not have branches of foreign reputed universities in our country which are available in Malaysia, Singapore and even in Australia. Our private universities do not have sufficient funding capability and the technical know-how to create an educate generation with practical knowledge. If reputed, foreign universities may be allowed to open their branches to encourage fair competition between our private universities and reputed foreign universities. It can ensure rapid technology transfer to the future generation.
Equity fund for intellectuals: It is a real situation that people having intellectual power may not have enough money to invest and vice versa. The government may ensure availability of equity fund (EF) into the intellectual entrepreneurs. Ensuring utility supply: Government has to ensure electricity, gas and water supply to the factories at any cost.
One-stop service: Once getting a passport was a too long process for the Bangladeshi nationals, but after one-stop service has been introduced, now people are happy about the service. At the same time, government is also getting more revenue than earlier. At present, getting required certificates for a businessman is quite a difficult task.
For example, trade licence is issued by the City Corporation, export import license is issued by the office of the Controller of Export and Import, patent, design and trade mark registrations are being done by the Registrars’ office of patent design and trade mark registration under the ministry of industry, copyright office is under the ministry of cultural affairs and environment clearance certificate is issues by the ministry of environment, where a businessman has to get tax identification number (TIN) & value added tax (VAT) registration from the National Board of Revenue. Getting all these certificates is a too lengthy process and one has to wait for a long period of time.
In the mean time, he may lose interest or get better opportunity to invest. Not only that, our bureaucracy is ready to place barriers at each stage of the process. But to cope with the rapid movement of globalization, all the certification process should be under a single roof and in an automated mode. All these offices may be controlled by the different ministries and agencies, but there should be one single building that can be termed as National Business Solution Centre (NBSC) where every certification is available within reasonable time.
Thus we can reduce Bangladesh’s investment lead-time like the case as in China or other developed countries. Quick implementation of these demands can give a spur to the economy and make us well-prepared to succeed in the race of globalization. We have to implement these issues immediately for the betterment of the country and for a better future of our next generation. We must fulfil our commitment to our child that we are working hard to develop Bangladesh, where they will be able to live with dignity and status.