Working towards Vision 2020: The Hasina Govt
Md. Joynal Abdin
The Daily Independent on July 25, 2010
The present Awami league lead government ensured the highest ever majority in the parliament during last parliamentary election due to their visionary election manifesto. Vision 2021 is the most effective slogan during the election and people of Bangladesh dreamed with that vision and compare Awami League Chair person Shekh Hasina (Current Prime Minister) with the dynamic Malaysian leader Mahatheer Mohammad and his Vision 2020 in Malaysia. Mahatheer wanted to develop Malaysia within 2020 so that 1st January 2020 comes in a Developed Malaysia. Dr. Mahtheer achieved a remarkable milestone by this time and Malaysia is a rapid growing country now. As a result new generation voters believed Shekh Hasina’s word and voted in her mark without a second thought.
There were two major types of commitments in election manifesto e.g. economic agenda and political agenda. Generally economic agenda are for the mass people and political agenda are for the party itself.
Now come to the points what can be done for achieving the vision. Following initiative can enhance investment and attract FDI which means increasing employment, income, savings and mass people are happy –
01 Energy Sector: The most important barrier to investment today is crisis of energy. Shortage of electricity, gas and other industrial utilities stops moving wheel of investment. Where local investors are incurring looses by paying idle labor during load shedding period foreign investors are not supposed to think about it. In the mean time government organized road shows to attract FDI in energy sector in different cities around the world.
02. Transportation & Infrastructure: Second most important barrier for investment is insufficient infrastructure and transportation. Only one two lane highway and active port is not sufficient to facilitate international trade in Bangladesh. All EPZ, SEZ and industrial clusters should be linked with two port cities with at least two four lane highways. Information and communication technology should be cheaper for increasing business connectivity of the country. Train infrastructure should be strengthened for commercial good transportation between the major cities and ports. Extortion in transportation sector is another major problem and it’s doing by the youth and student wings of the ruling party
03. Ensuring South Asian Linkage through the land road: We have a free trade agreement in South Asia but we are not linked with major cities of South Asia. We do not have mutual access to each other cities via track. We do not have direct air or sea connectivity between all the major cities and port cities around SAARC. Transit, transshipment is not getting momentum for a better linkage of the people. Government should take active initiative to link up Bangladesh with Asian highway, Asian Rail Road, and strong diplomatic action is required to get access to Indian cities with our tracks for promoting export to India so that trade imbalance reduces with our large neighbor. Bangladesh allowed Nepal, and Bhutan to use Mongla port but it has to be ensured that India is allowing to use its land for this purpose otherwise Mongla port never be activated.
04. Reducing cost of access to finance: Limited access to finance as well as high cost access to finance made Bangladesh business environment unsustainable for the entrepreneurs. About 99% SMEs are fighting to get access to finance where micro level entrepreneurs are not dreaming to get business loan. Some NGOs and banks are providing SME loan but not in normal banking system.
05. Strategy for Asian Economic Integration: SAARC is a Bangladeshi initiative, we are proud of it. New initiative may be taken through SAARC to enlarging SAARC by providing membership to China, and interested ASEAN countries. In other way SAARC can be merged with ASEAN +3 initiatives for promoting integration of Asia
06. Promotion National Economic Decentralization: Days are coming soon when Dhaka would be the most crowded city of the world. It makes problems like traffic jam, destroying environment, increasing health hazards, all reducing peoples life expectancy. All these hazards people are bearing due to employment facilities in Dhaka and other citizen services.
07. SME Financing Strategy: Recently Bangladesh bank has published its SME financing policy. It is a very important guideline for SME financing in Bangladesh.
08. Industrial Cluster Development Strategy: Industrial cluster have to be established for boosting up SME development. This cluster zone will be developed by a company under PPP program, where different blocks will be allotted for different sectors. Individual SME owners will take allotment of plot in respective sector with soft loan from the government. After implementing the Cluster the remaining administrative structure of the cluster will be equipped with a Product Display Center (PDC), Conference Room with Tele-conferencing facility, Buyers Sellers Meeting Room (BSMR), and an Information Booth to facilitate proper match making for each sectors. On the other hand ensuring utilities in a cluster is comparatively easier than the scattered SME throughout the country. These clusters will play a pivotal role in coordinated development of SME sectors of Bangladesh.
09. Enhancing RRC & BBF activities. But scope of that commission has greater utility to ensure a business friendly policy environment in Bangladesh. BBF is not working actively; I do not get memory of abolishing it. Now new government can establish a public body to play the role of RRC and BBF comprising people from top bureaucrats and successful businessmen with a new name under the PPP umbrella.
10. Improving ADP implementation rate: I saw news that our Prime Minister expressed her satisfaction over ADP implementation rate this year. It is because of increasing the rate but not over the quality of implementation of ADP. So government should be efficient enough to implement ADP by ensuring quality of the project components.
11. Food Security, food safety and inflation control: Government may face a very complicated challenge to maintain food security, food safety and controlling inflation of essential foods. Maintaining food security is under active monitoring of the government but food safety is not getting enough priority. As a result peoples are suffering from chemical treatment in food items as well as monopoly price setting by the middlemen. Growers are not getting justified price of food grain but consumers are paying high. Government has to rethink for controlling such injustice and ensure a justified environment in this regard.
12. Monitoring Climate Change: Climate change is another hidden challenge for Bangladesh. Government has taken enough step to address this issues in international forum appreciation goes to them. But now is the time to think for rehabilitating such a huge victim group from the most adversely affected areas otherwise all development may goes back if a natural disaster takes 10 thousand lives from the coastal region.
13. Export diversification and new market search: One single item is bringing maximum foreign currency during last two decades and no other sector is coming forward is very upset news for any economy. Sustainability of that economy after saturation of that industry is under threat. In such a condition government initiative is absent to diversity export basket and exploring new markets for exporting goods and manpower. Dedicated agency should be established for diversification of export items and market. Those sectors will help Bangladesh economy to sustain during garment market saturation.
14. Continuation of Government Policy in economic regards: Ruling party may change with change of government but policies, and economic priorities should not be change for the sake of greater public interest. ETV was permitted for territorial broadcasting as the first private territorial TV channel of the country. It bring FDI but next government shutdown it and through out the FDI investors with so many harassments. Closed up territorial TV broadcasting forever by enacting new law. Thus we can achieve Vision – 2021, to be a developing country by this period. Otherwise we will remain an LDC even after 21 years of the visionary period.