Widening job market a challenging prospect | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 29, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:19 AM, January 29, 2020

Widening job market a challenging prospect

The government’s target to create 1.13 crore new jobs in the next five years does pose a significant challenge, despite the country’s high economic growth rate, according to a revised five-year plan from the planning ministry.

The planning ministry will highlight their goal to inflate the job market in today’s session of the Bangladesh Development Forum, currently taking place at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka.

Bangladesh’s tremendous economic growth has disproportionately failed to create job opportunities over the past decade, raising questions on the actual significance of economic growth for a chunk of the population.

Besides, female participation in the labour market has shrivelled, especially in rural areas, in the last nine years, according to a government study on employment, productivity and sectoral investment.

In the eighth draft of their five-year plan, the planning ministry said about 20-22 lakh new jobs will be created each year from fiscal 2020-21 to 2024-25.

Over this course, the unemployment rate will hold at 3.1 per cent instead of the previous 4.2 per cent, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ 2016-17 survey.

Bangladesh’s future prosperity will rely heavily on how effectively the youth can take leadership roles and act accordingly for the nation’s benefit. They must be well equipped with standard education and skills and be fit physically and mentally. However, a large portion of the population is yet to enjoy proper education, training or employment.

A major issue that needs addressing is how to create employment opportunities, provide training and the required skills that match market demand. Most importantly, increasing entrepreneurship would greatly impact the growth of employment.

The two-day Bangladesh Development Forum will mainly discuss the five-year plan, said Monowar Ahmed, secretary of the Economic Relations Division, at a press briefing at the NEC auditorium in Dhaka on Monday.

Development partners will extend their support after the five-year plan is finalised, he added.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) rate will hit 8.23 per cent in fiscal 2020-21 and will further increase up to 8.51 per cent in fiscal 2024-25, according to the draft.

To help materialise their plans, the government will require Tk 7,741,800 crore in investments in the next five years, around 75 per cent of which will come from the private sector while the rest will be publicly funded.

Although public investment has surpassed targets for the past couple of years, private investment has fallen behind, which in turn downsized the overall investments as compared to the GDP. The government’s aim to reach double digit growth figures is largely dependent on private investment.

The country has a considerable scope to improve in terms of the ease of doing business, enabling an environment for investment and enhancing business competitiveness.

The targets for sustaining higher growth demands effective partnership between the government and businesses to scale up investments, technology transfer, capacity building and facilitating trade.

About 40 per cent of the investment GDP ratio will require a massive drive to enhance the revenue base, which can be eventually used for public investment.

In the current seventh plan period, progress remains to be unsatisfactory despite reform measures.

In general, investments in health, education and social protection relies largely upon the size of government revenue. And so, the eighth plan will aim to put emphasis on further reform measures to address the gap between the actual results and the initial target.

It will play a crucial role as this will require massive changes across the various institutions engaged in revenue collection, law enforcement agencies and most importantly, the mind-set of the masses.

The government aims to increase revenue collection to 16.21 per cent of the total GDP in fiscal year 2025, which is currently at 10.6 per cent higher in the current fiscal year.

Tax revenue will also be increased to 14.2 per cent in fiscal year 2025, which is 9.3 per cent in the current fiscal year.

Although the role of development partners play has become less significant over time, they are still considered as major players as far as socioeconomic development is concerned.

Foreign aid and investment could provide support by strengthening the role of development partners for the localisation of their social development goals and realigning their country’s strategies with enhanced fund provision. This can be done by building resistance to climate changes and natural disasters and implementing the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100. Besides, they could also continue to support duty and quota free market access for developed countries as well.

A major theme in many election manifestos featured the ‘My Village-My Town’ strategy which aims to bring modern civic amenities to every village to ensure the rapid transformation of rural Bangladesh in terms of information, communication, technology, transport facilities, modernisation of agriculture, healthcare and education facilities, infrastructure, financial inclusion, entrepreneurship, domestic consumption, training and capacity building.

Partnerships will be developed with government and private sector entrepreneurship and between the government and NGSs, CSOs and development partners investing in human capital.

Public-private partnership will be strengthened.

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