• Saturday, November 01, 2014

Find ways to solve unemployment, Muhith urges economists

Star Business Report

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday called upon economists and researchers to come up with a model to solve the country's unemployment problem.

The total labour force at present stands at around 78 million, but only 20 million are engaged in the organised sector and the rest are either under-employed or unemployed, Muhith said at a session of Bangladesh Summit on Sustainable Development 2014.

“The challenge post 2015 is to find a model that provides a solution to the unemployment problem -- we have to think how to massively enhance employment.”

The finance minister also called for an overhaul of the calculation procedure for GDP such that it portrays the “real development” the country has gone through.

Although Bangladesh is moving ahead in the Human Development Index for the last 15 years, its purchasing power parity still remains low in international standards, Muhith said.

In this connection, he said he had been urging the country's economists for the last couple of years to examine the base of the country's purchasing power parity index.

“I think it is incorrect. There might be some kind of mismatch in data collection, as the base was formulated back in 1969-70.”

The finance minister said the level of prosperity he has seen in rural areas is absent in many African countries, although their per capita income is much higher than that of Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh is a country of impossible attainments,” he said, while citing three instances of progress that the country has made -- successes in microcredit, non-formal education and demographic transition.

About microcredit, Muhith said the concept is not new in the country; it was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century.

“But it was Prof Yunus who has incorporated a powerful development element in microcredit and given it an institutional shape.”

Muhith, however, said microcredit is not the lone element for poverty alleviation; there is need for more elements such as education and healthcare.

Meanwhile, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation, stressed the need for ensuring inclusive development and much more focus on infrastructural development.

The summit will serve as a platform for civil society members, key government figures, donors, the academia and researchers to share and justify their views on post-2015 sustainable development agendas and policy framework, he said.

Eminence, a non-profit organisation, and Global Citizen's Forum on Sustainable Development are organisers of the summit.   

A total of 26 international and national NGOs including the United Nations development agencies are participating in the four-day event at the Dhaka University's Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban.

Argentina Matavel Piccin, country representative of United Nations Population Fund, emphasised on the need to raise spending on child care and maternal heath on par with GDP growth.

She also hailed the government move to appoint new doctors and midwives. “It is a major step in reducing further maternal and newborn mortality rates.”

The outcomes of the summit will be declared at the end of the conference, said Ahmad, also the convener of Global Citizens' Forum on Sustainable Development.

AAMS Arefin Siddique, vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, also spoke at the session.

Meanwhile, at a separate session of the summit, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal stressed the need for people-oriented technical and vocational education for sustainable development.

He said the planning ministry is now giving more allocation for vocation education. “Currently, when we take any new project, one out of four is a technical education-related project.”  

Published: 12:00 am Monday, August 18, 2014

Last modified: 10:39 pm Sunday, August 17, 2014

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