The Eighth Five-Year Plan projecting ambitious targets of 1.13 crore new jobs with average 8 per cent yearly economic growth and a reduction of poverty rate to 15.6 per cent by substantially increasing tax-GDP ratio was approved on Tuesday.
An online meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council presided over by prime minister Sheikh Hasina from her official residence Ganabhaban approved the most important strategy paper by the General Economics Division under the planning commission.
The Eighth Five-Year plan is already delayed by six months as the COVID-19 outbreak, which badly affected lives and livelihoods, forced the GED to bring about some major changes before finalising the strategy paper at the last moment.
Special attention was given to the COVID-19 outbreak to set various projections, said planning minister MA Mannan while highlighting key features of the new Five-Year Plan in the briefing at the planning commission auditorium.
He said that an estimated Tk 64.95 lakh crore would be required for implementing the recommendations of the paper with 88.5 per cent of it to be mobilised from domestic sources and the rest 11.5 from external sources.
Mentioning that the composition of domestic and foreign funds almost reversed in the first Five-Year Plan during the 1973-1978 period, Mannan said that the private sector would be given ample policy support to take the lead in implementing the plan.
He also reminded all of the PM’s directives to give priority to job creation first at home and then abroad and saving arable lands by drawing up a master plan at the union level.
Out of the projected 1.13 crore new jobs, 32.5 lakh would be created abroad, said GED member Dr Shamsul ALam during the briefing.
Average GDP growth in the five-year plan was projected at 8 per cent with the highest 8.51 per cent shown in 2024-25 while with tax-GDP ratio, which is now at 8.90 per cent, the GED predicted an increase to 12.30 per cent by 2025, he said.
He also said that the plan, the first of its kind under the 20-year perspective plan between 2021 and 2041, is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Answering a question about whether the projected tax-GDP ratio to 12.30 per cent in 2025 from 8.90 per cent was achievable given the fact that taxmen had failed to fulfil the target in the 7th five-year plan, Shamsul Alam said that this time they would achieve it.
He added that they relied on data provided by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies to project the reduction of poverty to 15.6 per cent by 2025 from 20.5 per cent in 2019.
He noted that poverty reduction rate slowed down to half against 1 per cent of GDP growth in recent years because of less elasticity in the current approach to poverty alleviation.
He also noted that most targets, including GDP growth under the 7th Five Year Plan, were achieved despite the late onslaught of COVID-19 outbreak that pulled down GDP growth to 5.2 per cent from 8.2 per cent projected in the last fiscal year.
Like previous ones, the new Five-Year Plan has emphasised the necessity of good governance and addressing mismanagement in the financial sector.
Focusing on the power sector, the new plan recommended shutting down costly rental power plants and reducing subsidy to the sector.
The country’s first Five-Year Plan was launched in July 1973 and it was followed by a Two-Year Plan for 1978–80.
In 1980, the Five-Year Plan framework was reinstated.
From 2002-03 to 2009-10, a three-year Poverty Reduction Strategy was pursued.
The present government switched back to the Five-Year Plan strategy after coming to power in 2009.
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