Terming the first 100 days of the present government as uninteresting, effortless, initiativeless and joyless, the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) yesterday asked the Awami League (AL)-led government to fire its guns for the next 100 days before placing its first budget in Parliament.
The CPD also expressed doubt about the feasibility of achieving the current year"s estimated growth of 8.13 per cent, as it found incoherency in several indicators and lack of factual data on several economic markers. The think-tank shared its view after the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics projected that the economy would cross the 8 per cent growth mark for the first time in the country"s history.
The CPD organised a discussion titled “The First 100 days of the present government” to review the present economic growth trajectory of Bangladesh to understand its source, reliability and sustainability.
Speaking on the occasion, CPD distinguished fellow Dr Devapriya Bhattachariya said the think-tank did not see any new initiative or new ideas that could help the country attain its desirable economic growth in the first 100 days. “What took place is just the continuation of previous plans as the Awami League was in power in the last two terms. Policymakers and economists must get rid of discussions centring economic growth only,” he added.
The CPD economist said that economists around the word agreed that though economic growth was importan, it was not enough measure the economic condition of a country. "That"s why emphasis is being put on the human development index or the standard of life index," he observed.
Citing examples, Bhattacharya said sustainable development goals were being seen as the standard of development. “Implementing SDGs don"t depend on economic growth alone. Rather, they depend on a holistic implementation of different economic indicators,” he added.
“We haven"t seen any significant growth in the private sector. We haven"t seen any significant development in realising taxes from individuals. So, the variables which should have scored higher along with the growth of the economy are not performing satisfactorily,” he noted.
He said the wealth gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" was also increasing.
He also said it was becoming difficult to get reliable data on different economic factors. “We want full disclosure of all the factors that were used to determine the estimated economic growth. We don"t want any manipulation in data,” he added.
CPD distinguished fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman said that a sustainable double-digit growth rate could not be achieved without putting a check on the widening gap of income inequality. “Inequality in the distribution of wealth ultimately affects the economic growth rate,” he added.
“Recent economic research in Harvard University has shown that inequality in wealth distribution affects the economic growth rate. So, we are worried that if there is not enough emphasis on this aspect, economic growth might witnesses a slump in the near future,” he observed.
Earlier, presenting a study, Dr Tawfiqul Islam Khan, a CPD research fellow, said the projected GDP growth of 8.13 per cent was largely driven by the growth of the manufacturing sector, followed by the service sector. He said the manufacturing sector was estimated to register a record-breaking growth of 14.73 per cent because of the performance of the large- and medium-scale manufacturing industries.
The manufacturing sector"s large growth is backed up by data of the quantum index of industrial production, which posted 16.38 per cent growth for large- and medium-scale manufacturing industries during the July-November period of FY19.
According to the finance ministry, the tax-GDP ratio of 1.93 per cent in September FY19 stands lower than the figure of FY18, which was 1.97 per cent.
VAT collection at 6.1 per cent was much lower than the estimated 12.7 per cent growth rate of nominal GDP. Besides, private sector credit registered a growth rate 12.5 per cent as of February FY19, which was six percentage points lower than the previous year.