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Muhith for innovation to sustain development

abul-mal-abdul-muhit1Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday (17 August 2014) urged the country’s civil society and economists to come with an innovative idea to boost wage employment in order to help sustain economic development.

He said at present the size of Bangladesh’s labour force is 78m, of which below 20% are non-wage employee.

“Now it is time to do something new to bring an end to the unemployment problem,” he said.

He said the RMG industry generates huge employment opportunity but people have to move from one place to other.

“We also need rustic industry for employment generation.”

The minister was speaking at a three-day-long Bangladesh Summit titled “Sustainable Development 2014” in Dhaka with a theme — “Mission for 100 Years”.

Citizen Forum on Sustainable Development and Eminence organised the Summit from August 16 to 19.

The minister said to iron out unemployment problem is a big challenge in the post-2015 period.

 “The challenges before us in the coming days are two — finding out a model for solving unemployment problem ….and reducing purchase power disparity compared to international standard,” he said.

Calling upon civil society and economists to look at the present purchase power per capita income formula, he said it is not correct.

The difference between per capita income and purchase power per capita income is huge, added the minister.

“We need to bridge this gap for reducing inequality among people.”

The concept of sustainable development came into being in 1984, he said, adding that it is very magnificent idea.

Microcredit programme is playing a strong role in the economic development of the country but the idea of microcredit is not new.

It started in Bangladesh from the beginning of 20th century and gathered pace following the Cooperative Act.

Dr Mohammad Yunus has institutionalised microcredit in Bangladesh, said the minister.

“From this, we can find that microcredit has made immense contribution to improving people’s livelihood.

But microcredit is not the only solution for poverty alleviation and for sustainable development, Muhith said.

He added that many things like education, which is  per-requisite for sustainable economic development, are necessary.

Currently unemployment rate in Bangladesh is 14.2%, according to the World Bank. Some 47% graduates of Bangladesh are unemployed, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

In his address, Convener of the Summit Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad put emphasis on ensuring inclusive development and removing infrastructure constraints.

He said in spite of notable and positive progresses, many issues of development are yet to be addressed in the context of developing and underdeveloped countries.

Bangladesh and other developing countries are still struggling with many challenges, especially in the areas of nutrition; maternal health; education; agricultural, environmental and ecological sustainability; and social inequalities.

He said the world is transforming into a new framework of development which will be built upon the principles of Sustainable Development Agenda.

Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said Bangladesh is currently going through a phase of economic development.

“The country cannot wait anymore when the agenda is sustainable development.”

UNFPA Country Representative Argentina Matavel Piccin said Bangladesh needs to invest more in the health sector particularly in maternal and child health.

In absolute terms, investment has been increasing but not on a par with the increase of GDP.

The three-day summit features plenary sessions, parallel sessions, digital poster sessions, trade and exhibition marketplace and a digital storytelling competition.

It will serve as a platform for the civil society members, key government actors, donors , academics and national and international researchers for sharing and justifying their views on a post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda and policy framework.

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Source: Dhaka Tribune

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