A threat still exists in the economy although peace was restored in the country eight months ago through the January 5 national election, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said yesterday.
“The place of peace is a very important factor for development. We suffered a lot last year for the absence of peace. Fortunately, people rejected the secret killings… but there is a threat in the economy,” Muhith said.
The minister, however, did not elaborate on what kind of threat the economy is facing.
He spoke at the opening session of a two-day seminar on 'regional integration in South Asia' organised by South Asia Network of Economic Research Institutes (SANEI) at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka.
The minister said regional integration is a key to further economic development of South Asian nations.
TN Srinivasan, professor emeritus of Yale University of the USA, said integration means regional economic integration.
Our politics prevent our people from enjoying benefits of regional integration,” Srinivasan said, while speaking about the poor state of integration among the Saarc countries.
Regional integration is one dimension, but multilateral integration should be the primary goal so that the other regional integrations can also be benefitted, he said.
“Our regional integration (in South Asia) is the least in the world. We should integrate at our home first for greater global integration,” Srinivasan said.
“We need a strong Saarc economic commission like the EU economic commission to implement important issues for the development of the region,” said M Syeduzzaman, a former finance minister of Bangladesh.
“Growth is necessary for reducing poverty in the region, but growth itself is not enough, we need better inclusive economic growth,” he said.
Political will is the determining factor for better integration in the region, Syeduzzaman said, adding that greater regional integration is possible if there is inclusive growth in the country. He also said country-specific policies are extremely important for regional integration.
“Given the widening gap within the region and state of the global economy, the region will need to overcome any bilateral tensions and move on the path of achieving greater collective self-reliance,” according to a paper of Hafiz A Pasha, professor emeritus of Lahore School of Economics.
M Ali Khan, the Abram Hutzler professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University of the USA, read out the paper in absence of Pasha. Pasha proposed integration in eight important areas for greater regional connectivity among the South Asian nations.
Mashiur Rahman, the prime minister's economic affairs adviser, and Mustafa K Mujeri, coordinator of SANEI and director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, also spoke.