The government should minimise the barriers to private sector development including sluggish infrastructure, energy crisis, unplanned urbanisation and lack of quality education to attain its sustainable development goals by 2030, said experts and businesses at a roundtable discussion.
The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the roundtable discussion titled ‘potential roles and challenges of private sector to achieve SDGs’ at the DCCI office in Dhaka on Thursday.
Prime minister’s Office principal coordinator (SDG affairs) Md Abul Kalam Azad was present as chief guest and Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nihad Kabir and Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Mahbubul Alam attended the programme as special guests.
DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan said that the private sector was the forerunner and critical partner in realising the SDGs.
It is estimated that the investment to gross domestic product needs to be scaled up to 40 per cent equivalent to $400 billion by 2030 to achieve the SDGs from the current 31.47 per cent, he said.
‘The private sector in Bangladesh faces a number of challenges including unreliable energy sources, inadequate technology, expensive compliance, outdated infrastructure facilities, weak regulatory framework and lack of institutional capacity that should be addressed,’ Kasem said.
He also said that the country would need around $928 billion in additional resources up to 2030 for achieving the 17 goals, and the private sector had to take a major share of the resources to finance for the SDGs.
Adequate policy support, policy due diligence and policy reforms must be undertaken wherever needed from trade to taxation as the private sector is to play a real partnership role in the successes of the SDGs, he observed.
Kalam said that the government continued providing supports to the private sector as every development issue was directly or indirectly connected with the private sector.
The PMO SDG affairs principal coordinator also noted some of the challenges including resource mobilisation, skill development and quality education, natural disaster and 11 lakh Rohingyas for achieving the SDGs.
To overcome the problems, Kalam suggested a number of solutions that
include increasing investment in human development, investment in economic zone, one-stop services, improving governance, diversifying exports and ensuring quality education.
Kalam also said that the private sector needed to adopt the upgraded technology to accelerate quality production and revenues by manifold.
Using the technology would not reduce employment; rather it would increase the area of employment, he said.
He also said that the government should take long-time tax policy (more than five years) to avail more foreign direct investments as the foreign companies were hurt by the tax policy changes in every year.
The rules, regulations and policy should have consistency for longer period to bring foreign investors’ trust in the country, he said.
Kalam also suggested the businesses forming a unique platform with the leaders of all business organisations to raise same issue in the same way.
Nihad Kabir said, ‘We should implement the SDG targets on priority basis in accordance with our capability and resources.’
She said that the private sector should have access to the technical business information to analyse and assess the current business environment.
The MCCI president suggested that the education curriculum should be upgraded and should be rapidly changeable to catch up the global pace.
She said that the enterprises were no longer limited to profit making, rather they intended to contribute to the economy of the country.
Mahbubul Alam said that the private sector played direct and indirect roles in achieving SDGs; therefore it should be utmost importance for the government to address the challenges faced by the private sector.
Multimode Group director Tafsir Mohammad Awal at a panel discussion mentioned corruption and lack of waste recycling initiatives as two barriers to achieving SDGs.
Centre for Policy Dialogue senior research fellow Towfiqul Islam Khan said that the private sector should be engaged in the government’s development agenda, stating that it would increase coordination between the two sides.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Nazneen Ahmed presented the keynote paper where she said that the extent of the effectiveness of the activities of the private sector in achieving SDGs
would depend on congenial policy and business environment.
Greater emphasis needs to be given on attaining local and sector-focused marketable skills of young workforce in support of industrial growth, she said.
The private sector investment has remained stuck at 22-23 per cent of the GDP that should be improved, Nazneen suggested.
International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh president Mahbubur Rahman, former DCCI president Asif Ibrahim and Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh research fellow MA Razzaque were also present, among others.
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