Economy cannot be restored without human capital: Experts
Peoples Time Desk
Several ministers at FBCCI's webinar discussion on Sunday expected major changes in the budget for 2020-21 fiscal year to overcome the COVID-19 impact.
Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) conducted the webinar on Bangladesh's economic sustainability, recovery, domestic investment, FDI and overseas FDI in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said, “With the advent of the pandemic, traders in the country have faced investment issues in the field of trade and commerce in addition to concerns surrounding the ready-made garments (RMG) sector.
“But we should not worry much as we have been successful in sustaining the economy. Besides, major changes are being made in the upcoming budget. We hope that we will soon be able to overcome this crisis and move towards development again,” Munshi said.
A.K. Abdul Momen, the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh stated, “While our budget in the last few years has been helping us to elevate the nation from extreme poverty, the advent of Corona has pushed us back from our trajectory.
“If the stimulus package designed by the government is distributed efficiently, we will be able to cope up with any obstacles due to the advent of the pandemic. Additionally, we have to channel our resources in the most potent sectors of the country such as that of the agriculture sector. With the integration of IT into the sector we can diversify our export sector and at the same time attract FDIs,” he added.
Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, the Minister of Agriculture conveyed, “We are a self-sufficient country in terms of agricultural goods. The agriculture sector has been producing a surplus of consumable goods, even with the advent of Corona. With buying power of the masses taking a hit, we should look into utilizing the sector with the surplus of goods, in diversifying our export basket.”
Salman F Rahman, the Private Sector Industry and Investment Adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said “Before everything else, we have to strengthen our health sector first. The economy cannot be restored without human capital.
“We must integrate IT within the health sector to enable Telemedicine. The Prime Minister has already appointed 5,000 doctors and 3,000 technicians and empowered district hospitals to have ICUs, to face the pandemic head-on,” he also said.
Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, the Minister of Industries said, “The Prime Minister is taking the country's health sector and industrial sector forward by keeping the economic wheel of the nation running amidst the pandemic. Corona has brought about a massive change in world economics. Bangladesh needs to take this change forward. We need to have both short and long term goals.
“We will also look into the shortcomings in some areas and discuss ways to reduce VAT and taxes for the industrial sector,” he added.
Mercy Miyang Tembon, the World Bank (WB)'s Country Director for Bangladesh, stated: “It is crucial to enhance the use of technology to facilitate supply chain finance. Additionally, the stimulus package transition should be transparent and it is crucial to keep trade open.
“Our engagement of the World Bank has been crucial at this point by facilitating liquidity to support millions in accessing healthcare, processing financial support to economical zones, and much more. Cooperation is crucial, as we are working with Bangladesh Bank to create a kind of risk-sharing, as most policies are dependent on financial institutions.”
Salahuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank said, “The stimulus package of the government is highly dependent on the banking sector of the country which already has a number of ranging issues.
“To ensure the proper implementation of the stimulus package we need to focus on those gaps in the banking sector. We must have short term plans as well as formulate long term plans through the upcoming budget and five-year plans. This is going to take time and we should be patient,” he added.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, the President of FBCCI on the webinar conveyed, “In the present context people from all levels have demonstrated exemplary humanity.
”FBCCI has been working to formulate an advisory framework, so discussions with Government leadership stakeholders, economists, academics, and industry leaders are ongoing to identify the potential impact of COVID-19 on Bangladesh’s economy. This is hopefully the first of many consultative engagements between stakeholders- both domestic and international; in helping entrepreneurs in accessing the government’s stimulus package.”
Former FBCCI Presidents Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, AK Azad, Abdul Matlub Ahmed, BIDA Executive Chairman Sirajul Islam, BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury, NBR Member Farid Uddin, Former governor of BB Mohammad Farashuddin, Saleh Uddin Ahmed, ADB Country Director Manmohan Prakash, IDB Regional Manager Mohammad Nassis bin Sulaiman, IMF Country Economist Muhammad Imam Hussain, UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo, FBCCI Director and advisers also spoke there.