Centre for Policy Dialogue on Sunday said that failure in generating adequate employment and unequal distribution of benefits of economic growth were impediments to achieving an inclusive society.
Higher growth could not generate adequate employment while the benefits of growth were unequally distributed which were two major concerns as these threatened the inclusivity of economic growth, CPD said at a dialogue on priorities for the new government.
The independent research organisation arranged the dialogue titled ‘pursuing social development for achieving inclusive growth: issues and priorities’ at Hotel Lakeshore in Dhaka.
At the dialogue, experts recommended improving quality of education and health services, social protection programmes, boosting investment in education, health and skills development along with ensuring disciplines in the sectors to address the concerns and make the development inclusive.
CPD executive director Fahmida Khatun, in her key note on the issue, said that unemployment, particularly among youth and women, and inequality was the key challenges despite impressive growth in the past decade.
She said that inequality in terms of income, consumption and wealth was rising in the country.
Income share held by the richest 5 per cent of the households increased to 27.89 per cent in the fiscal year 2016 from 18.85 per cent in the FY 1992 while income share by the poorest 5 per cent declined to 0.23 per cent from 1.03 per cent during the same period, she said referring to the data of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
In 2010, the richest 5 per cent of the households were 32 times richer than the poorest 5 per cent and this difference magnified astronomically in 2015 when the richest households became 121 times richer, she added.
Every year 21 lakh people join the country’s labour force while only 13 lakh jobs were created for them implying that around 8 lakh join the already significant number of unemployed population, she said referring to the estimation of World Bank and BBS.
CPD suggested raising budget allocation for public health and education, reforming technical and vocational education for enhancing skills of labour force, creating self-employment through building entrepreneurship and decentralising education governance to improve unemployment and inequality situation.
CPD chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan emphasised carrying out a diagnosis to find out the combination and driving forces of growth, instead of portraying growth merely through some figures, for adopting policies favourable to employment generation, inequality elimination and inclusive growth.
High quality public education and health services should be the indicators of development, he said.
Planning minister MA Mannan said that the government had been taking various programmes to provide better jobs for citizens and eliminate inequality.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury stressed the need for decentralising the power through dividing the country into eight to 10 states or going back to the 17-district era for ensuring governance in health and education system which would eventually help the local government control doctors, teachers, judges, bureaucrats and other public servants.
He said that governance was an important indicator of development but laws now became an instrument of repression.
He demanded speedy bail of people accused in fictitious and imaginary cases (gayebi and ajgubi mamla) and an end to extrajudicial killings to ensure governance in the country.
Deputy minister for education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury said that the government would invest much more in education and health services to improve the quality.
Campaign for Popular Education executive director Rasheda K Choudhury said that steps should be taken to make education inclusive to ensure access to education for all, particularly girls and marginalised children.
Education system should be strengthened through increasing investment, providing proper benefits to teachers and equipping classrooms with required materials, she said.
Bangladesh Medical Association former president Rashid-E-Mahbub said that anomalies in health sector should be addressed to bring discipline back in the sector.
Prime minister threatened to make physicians OSD (officer on special duty) who would remain absent in rural workplace but it would not work where doctors considered being OSD as an advantage for carrying out private practice in uninterrupted way, he said. At the dialogue, CPD also launched a new book titled ‘State of the Bangladesh Economy and National Elections 2018 – Priorities for Electoral Debates’.
CPD distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman conducted the discussion session.
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