Experts and economists on Sunday advocated ownership of the poor and excluded groups of society in public and private assets in a bid to remove poverty and inequality and promote an inclusive growth in the country.
Workers, rickshaw pullers, slum dwellers and other marginalised groups may be provided with ownership in factories and other industrial and infrastructure projects such as the under-construction Padma Bridge, they said at a dialogue at the BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue organised the dialogue on its chairman Rehman Sobhan’s recent publication titled ‘Challenging Injustice in South Asia: A Work Programme for Promoting Inclusive Development’.
Rehman, in the introductory speech on the study, proposed six specific work programmes including broadening ownership of assets through collective action for promoting inclusive development in Bangladesh.
The other programmes include promoting agrarian reform, enhancing the market power of the excluded through sharing in the value addition process, democratising educational opportunities, establishing accountability and transparency for poverty eradication through budgetary policy and financial policies.
The economist suggested some pilot projects such as providing equity stake for readymade garment workers where they work and forming cooperative enterprises by and for migrant workers, small producers, rickshaw pullers and slum dwellers.
‘The government, political parties, private sector and civil society should come up with the pilot projects to take the idea forward,’ he said.
Designing policies and institutions for providing an equity stake for people displaced or affected by natural resource development projects in the very projects can be considered, Rehman said.
In the case of the Padma Bridge and other large infrastructure projects, the government can issue bond to give ownership to people, he said.
Former adviser to an interim government Mirza Azizul Islam said that small and medium enterprises would play an important role in empowering the poor.
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed said establishing local-level resource mobilisation would increase access to finance for the rural people.
South Asian Network on Economic Modeling executive director Selim Raihan said that Bangladesh RMG workers had been deprived of their due facilities for years due to low wages, poor standard in workplace and rights.
Providing the right share to workers in the value addition process is important, he said.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury said that no initiative proposed by the author could be implemented without democracy and good governance in the country.
He demanded introduction of ration system for apparel workers like the Army and other agencies enjoy for improving their (RMG workers) health and productivity level.
Prime minister’s economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman, CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman, former International Fund for Agricultural Development lead strategist and policy coordinator Atiqur Rahman, Dhaka University economics department professor MM Akash, BRAC University professor emeritus Manzoor Ahmed and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Nazneen Ahmed spoke, among others, at the programme.
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