Sustainable democratic process, governance, stability stressed

Centre for Policy Dialogue chairman Rehman Sobhan speaks while prime minister’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi, CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya and United Nations Development Programme resident representative Mia Seppo look on at a CPD public dialogue titled ‘Bangladesh’s Graduation from the LDC Group: Pitfalls and Promises’ in Dhaka on Saturday. — New Age photo

Economists and experts on Saturday stressed sustainable democratic process, governance, political and economic stability in the country for sustainable and smooth alleviation from the status of the least developed countries.
At different sessions of a public dialogue titled ‘Bangladesh’s Graduation from the LDC Group: Pitfalls and Promises’, they also said that the government should prepare an exit plan and post-graduation strategy to reap benefits from the graduation.
Centre for Policy Dialogue arranged the programme at a restaurant in the capital.
Committee for Development Policy in its meeting to be held from March 12 to 16 may recommend eligibility of Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC to developing country status. Bangladesh will finally graduate in 2024 after two consecutive evaluations.
The country will get another three years for smooth transition and after 2027 Bangladesh will lose benefits including preferential trade it enjoying as LDC country.
Utilisation of next 10 years will be most critical for Bangladesh, they observed.
Prominent economist, also chairman of the CPD, Rehman Sobhan said the main transition point would depend on the quality of governance, policy makers and institutional arrangements.
Bangladesh would have to improve its debt management system, expand market access, diversify export and entrepreneurship, ensure balanced investment and bring discipline in financial sector to move forward with the graduation, he said.
Quality of governance and sustainability of democratic process would become very important issues for overcoming these challenges, he added.
Prime minister’s international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi also said that political stability would be the most important for smooth graduation.
Bangladesh was able to qualify ahead of schedule because of political stability and democratic institutions, he claimed.
‘If political stability or continuity is challenged or come into trouble, I fear that we might be in trouble,’ he feared.
Reiterating the questions the quality of governance and growing inequality, he stressed more careful handling of the issues.
CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya in his presentation titled ‘Graduation Paradigm: Concepts and Comparisons’ said that the country should focus on formulating policies for smooth graduation.
Graduation from LDC along with middle income country status and pursuing sustainable development goals would create a new momentum with new opportunities for the country’s economy, he said.
He said that proper policies on challenges including suspension of concessional loans and duty-free and quota-free market access, pressure on debt management, boosting export earnings and foreign direct investment, transformation of economy into industrialised one from agriculture-based one were needed for smooth transformation.
Management of ongoing Rohinga crisis would also have impact on the process, he added.
Bangladesh may not be able to fully utilise the benefits and opportunities of graduation in absence of political stability and sense of unity in the country, he said.
Foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque said that the country’s LDC graduation was happening at a critical time when world was undergoing dramatic shifts.
In this context, he identified some challenges including keeping the country’s socioeconomic and political situation stable, addressing the climate change issues and handling the humanitarian crisis over Rohingya influx.
The present geo-political transformation occurring in Asia will deeply impact Bangladesh’s economy and development, and this needed to be addressed in the policies related to the smooth LDC graduation, he suggested.
World Bank lead economist for Dhaka Zahid Hussain said that Bangladesh needed structural transformation to ensure quality graduation and address the risks of graduation, including erosion of preferences, increasing cost of fund and shortfall in export.
Former adviser to a caretaker government Mirza Azizul Islam emphasised attracting private investment both domestic and foreign, addressing problems in financial sector, improving ease of doing business and governance indicators and enhancing women participation in labour force to make the graduation sustainable.
Bangladesh Bank former governor Mohammed Farashuddin said transformation in vocational education was needed for improving productivity of youth population.
CPD executive director Fahmida Khatun, distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman, research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem and research fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan presented four different papers on the issue.
United Nations Development Programme resident representative Mia Seppo and Sweden ambassador to Bangladesh Charlotta Schlyter, among others, spoke at the programme.

Source: New Age.

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