The government should take immediate measures to remove barriers to promoting the private sector with a view to achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) on time, speakers said yesterday.
Reducing the cost of doing business, strengthening the skills of human resources and joint programmes by both the government and private organisations are essential to achieving the goals, they said.
The government cannot attain the SDGs alone without full-fledged participation of the private sector, they said at a seminar styled “Consultation on Private Sector Engagement in Attaining Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh: Bonding and Beyond Thoughts”.
General Economic Division of the planning commission organised the seminar in cooperation with United Nations Development Programme at InterContinental Dhaka.
Shamsul Alam, member of the GED, presented a keynote paper at the seminar.
Bangladesh will require an additional $928 billion to fully achieve the SDGs between fiscals 2016-17 and 2029-30, he said.
Of the total required fund, public sector would account for 34 percent whereas the private sector’s share has been determined to be 42 percent, said Alam, also a senior secretary.
This means the private sector will play a crucial role in providing funds for attaining the SDGs, also known as the 2030 Agenda.
The SDGs rest on economic, social and environmental factors to ensure that development is sustainable, inclusive and holistic.
At the heart of 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs is the principle of leaving no one behind, that is reaching out to each and every one who is deprived.
The ongoing seventh five-year plan (2016-2020) estimated 77.30 percent financing from the private sector of the total outlay, Alam said.
The role of private sector in achieving SDGs is highly crucial as it accounts for 80 percent of total investment in the market, he added.
The government will have to provide all sorts of logistic support to make the private sector vibrant as there is no scope for fulfilling the goals by way of using only public funds, said Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute.
Ensuring macroeconomic stability is also important to sustaining the GDP growth, which help achieve the SDGs timely, he said.
The authority concerned should monitor both the private sector development and achievement of SDGs round the clock, said Mansur, also a former economist of International Monetary Fund.
The cost of doing business will have to be reduced immediately or else the private sector will face hurdles in going forward, said Benajir Ahmed, chairman of the board of trustees of North South University.
Businesspeople have to spend more to renew their trade licence than what they paid to get a new one, he said, adding that such practices are not suitable for businesses.
There has been a lack of skilled workforce in the country, which is a challenge to achieving the SDGs, said Asif Ibrahim, a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
More than 14 million Bangladeshis are working abroad but many of them are unskilled, said Shekil Chowdhury, chairperson of the Centre for Non-Resident Bangladeshis.
They send large amounts of foreign currency, which gives a boost to the economy, he said, while urging the government to arrange workshops for them to strengthen their skills.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said both the public and private organisations would have to step forward to implement the SDGs.
Public-private partnership can also play a significant role in lifting the private sector, which will ultimately help attain the goals, he said.
Sudipto Mukerjee, resident representative of UNDP Bangladesh, and Md Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator (SDGs affairs) at Prime Minister’s Office, spoke among others at the event.