The country should focus on job-centric growth in the post-MDG era to ensure equitable justice in the society, analysts said yesterday.
The post-millennium development goals should be set for achieving an equitable and inclusive society where all people would enjoy human rights and equal opportunities, said Mustafa K Mujeri, director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.
The post-2015 development agenda refers to a process led by the United Nations with the aim to help define the future global development framework that will succeed MDGs, a set of eight global development targets which will come to an end in 2015.
“An urgent priority for Bangladesh is to establish the basis for the future through pursuing prudent policies.”
Such prudent policies include creating fiscal space to improve macroeconomic stability, avoiding crowding-out effects of public investment and ensuring financing of infrastructure and social protection, he added.
Mujeri spoke at a discussion on poverty reduction strategies and policies at the Bangladesh Economists Forum conference.
The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Bank organised the two-day event in association with HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and the Association of Bangladesh Bankers.
In the post-MDGs world, a realistic development agenda for Bangladesh must confront the issue of gaps in resources in a more transparent manner, according to Mujeri.
He said the current financing framework does not include financial resource flows towards the priority sector explicitly.
Closing the development gap in the post-2015 era will require a substantial rise in expenditure on education, health and sanitation, he said.
Siddiqur Rahman Osmani, an economics professor at the UK's University of Ulster, said the country should focus on the heath sector in the post-MDG development plan, adding that the government should take appropriate steps to bring the poor under the health insurance coverage.
“Health-related shocks can have a long-term effect on the families. So it is time to focus on heath insurance.”
Osmani also urged the government to include more employment-based schemes in the social safety net programmes in an attempt to alleviate poverty.
Salman Zaidi, lead economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office, called upon the government to develop special economic zones immediately for creating more jobs.
Many global companies are relocating their factories from China due to higher production costs, he said, adding that Bangladesh can grab this opportunity if it can develop the special economic zones soon.
MAM Kazemi, adviser of Bangladesh Bank, stressed the need for developing crop insurance in the post-MDG era, as it is needed to protect marginal farmers from shocks. Binayak Sen, research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, urged the government to increase the threshold for safety net schemes so as to eradicate poverty.
Most of the safety net programmes, say widow allowance or old-age pension schemes, are examples of “tokenisms”, as they provide only Tk 300-Tk 500 a month to each beneficiary, he said, adding that the government should come out from such practice. Azizur Rahman Khan, professor emeritus of the University of California's economics department, moderated the session.