Both the major political parties have come out with their manifestos containing a plethora of promises. Some are restatements of commitments of the past unfulfilled, some new ones. One would have rather wished that these were revealed much earlier than only ten days before the election. There is little time for the voters to internalise these and question the candidates on their promises during the campaign. This only shows how serious the parties are about manifestos and how seriously they take the voters. However, we will take this opportunity to posit a few questions. The list being long, we shall deal only with a few that we consider of extreme importance.
The Awami League (AL) plans to increase GDP growth rate to 10 percent (from current 7.8 percent) within the next five years—where the hundreds of billions of dollars needed to boost growth by more than two points will come from remains a mystery. We have been promised that 1.28 crore jobs will be created over next five years—how this will be done is not clear either because, according to BBS, the industrial sector which is a major employer could only create employment for only 300,000 people in the seven years till FY2016-17. We have also been promised that order will be brought to Dhaka's chaotic transport sector by introducing a mass transport system, etc., work on which only started in earnest this year, having being in the anvil for the last eight years All in all, a whole lot of commitments but not much detail about how to achieve them.
The BNP has its own manifesto with lofty promises too. If elected to power, economic growth is to be raised to 11 percent but there is no timeframe mentioned. Like AL, BNP promises one crore new jobs but fails to say how they'll be created. There is also a promise to raise minimum wage in the RMG sector to Tk 12,000 within two years. At the end of the day, we are left with starkly similar manifestos in that both parties promise a lot without little explanation as to how these major goals are going to be attained.