Md. Joynal Abdin
The Independent on December 16, 2016
Service Sector is the highest contributor to the Bangladesh GDP. Last year (2015) contribution of Service Sector to Bangladesh GDP was 56.35%. Not only in 2015, it is a steadily growing sector of Bangladesh economy since the independence of the country. Contribution of industry to the GDP is rising too, but in a sloth and ups and down manner. While contribution of Service sector raised without any major downturn. Following curve could make the issue more understandable to us:
The above figure makes it clear that, contribution of agriculture to Bangladesh economy is going down while contribution of industry and service sector is going up. That means the economy is transforming its nature from agricultural economy into industrial one. Government has undertaken a long list of regulatory, legislative, institutional and policy support for the development and promotion of industries of the country. But attention to the service sector is not visible like industrial promotion. Let’s try to discuss what role government, development partners, promoting organization could play to promote service sector of Bangladesh.
Service sector is combination of different sub-sector as follows:
1) Overseas Employment and Migration: It is one of the most contributory sub-sectors under the head of service sector. Last year (2015) it alone contributed USD 15.27 billion to the Bangladesh economy as remittance. This sub-sector earned more than a trillion Bangladeshi taka as remittance since inception. Not only last year this sub-sector is contributing to the poverty alleviation, employment generation and socioeconomic development of Bangladesh since 1980s. But what government has done for development and promotion of these migrate workers? How many institutes working for their welfare? There are few institutes like BMET, Wage earner’s welfare board etc. But most of the organizations related to overseas employment like, Department immigration and passport, Bureau of Manpower, and BMET all are playing role as regulator rather than service providers. Development of this sub-sector mainly private sector driven. Government has many things to do for expedite the number of migrate workers and even professionals and make the process hassle free. Newer professions could be introducing in this list of overseas employment, newer countries could be explored. Bangladesh embassies in abroad could be activated to make the environment hassle free and more migrate friendly. Higher educated professional migration could offer three to ten times more remittance to Bangladesh. Special taskforce could be formed to negotiate and collect demands for professional migration.
2) Banks and Financial Institutions: Banks and other non-bank financial institutions are another major sub-sector of Bangladesh economy. Private sector banking made a revolution is the banking system of the country. Collecting deposit and commercial lending both have been increased over last two decades. But till now private Banking is city based and rich community friendly. Government banking system is involved with a long list of corrupt cases. Therefore private banking service has to be spread over up to union level at the door step of general people. Bkash, DBBL, M-cash etc. online / mobile banking services made a revolution is terms of cash transfer for personal or commercials purposes. Government has to be aware about miss-use of lenders deposit by any banks or financial institutions with the name of industrial loan or at any other means. SME and other subsidized loan facility could be misused by the bankers. Therefore Bangladesh bank has to be proactive to look after the anomalies before it become cause of massive loss or damage.
3) Insurance: Insurance is another major sub-sector of Bangladeshi service sector. This sector grown up in both general and life insurance sections. But till now general people do not have trust on the insurance companies. An insurance agent hide himself with a large amount of premium collected from the clients but does not deposited to the company account. Such incidence made both the company and clients looser. Thus people lost faith on life insurance companies. Sometimes few companies’ practices bureaucracy while they are supposed to make payment to a claim for damage, death, or even to the survivals after the tenure is over. Therefore people do not believe insurance companies in general. Government regulatory agencies like the Insurance Development & Regulatory Authority Bangladesh could be proactive and investigate such cases to ensure proposed amount of payment to the clients to make insurance companies trustworthy. Not only these currently few insurance companies are not attaching revenue stamps with the premium receipt thus government is losing revenue in this purpose. So more attention is required to make insurance companies activities transparent and trustworthy. If people believe them then this sector will be grown further and could be a reserve source of liquid money to invest in any other profitable sector.
4) Hospitals and Clinics: Hospitals and clinics (diagnostic centers) are another major sub-sector of Bangladesh Service Sector. Local demand is much higher than that of the available supply. Healthcare is available through both the public sector and private sectors. Private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers are run according to a 1982 ordinance. There are more than 8,000 registered private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centers in the country. There are 583 government hospitals and 2,501 registered non-government hospitals. There are also many unregistered private hospitals in the country.
The total number of beds in the registered private hospitals and clinics are 42,237. Among the 8 divisions, Dhaka division has the highest number of tertiary hospital followed by Rajshahi with 26 such healthcare facilities. The Government of Bangladesh encourages foreign companies to partner with local companies for producing drugs, especially high-tech and specialized products.There is significant room for market expansion of the hospitals and clinics as the country enters lower-middle income status. But till now specialized health care service for children is depending upon only one hospital i.e. Dhaka Sishu(child) Hospital. ICU facility is out of reach of the lower income people. Therefor government has to spread up ICU, Child Care, and other specialized facilities up to district level in a lower expenditure. Private sector investment could be a way forward but strict supervision is required to ensure low cost quality service in this case.
5) Educational and Skill Development Service: Private universities have a great impact to expand higher education and save foreign currency and brain drainage system in Bangladesh. There is criticism that the quality of private university education is not up to the mark. I would like to ask the same question that is the quality of all public university students same? Do all the public university students equally qualified? At the very beginning the private university authorities were new comer in this field. Day by day they are becoming matured and after a certain period quality will be ensured by them self to survive in the competitive market. But still there is lacking is the curriculum of Bangladeshi higher education sector both in private or public equally. Most of the faculties have curriculum with far connection with job market requirement / industrial demands. Therefore higher educated students are remaining unemployed. Concerned authorities have to be more active to redesign curriculums as per job market / industrial demands. So that a graduate get employment easily and job providers could be faithful regarding utilities of their recruited personnel. Besides long term higher education short courses / certificate courses on different trade to create technicians and operators of modern machineries should be introduced as per sectoral demands with proper curriculum and internationally recognized training instruments. So that a trainee could gets recognition of his training at home as well as at abroad. NSDC has started this job to accomplish but a long way to go.
Not only the above mentioned sub-sectors, other like Transportation, IT Enabled Services, Outsourcing, Telecommunication, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Business Consultancy / Intermediaries, Consultancy Services, Amusement, Entertainment, Testing Laboratories, Infrastructure Development, Filling Stations, Distribution Channels, Aviation Service, Automobile Service, Technical and Vocational Institutes, Advertising and TV Commercials etc. all have great potentials to grow and contribute in a higher scale. Therefor government could look into each of the sub-sector with separate eye and create congenial environment to develop all of these sub-sectors further. Because; tomorrow’s world would be the world of service sector dominating economy, agriculture and industry both will lose market share to the service sector in coming century. Service sector will be the prime mover of the world and all segment of development. Therefore Bangladeshi service sector deserves extra care to nourish, grow, develop, promote and prosper in near future.