There is a tendency in Bangladesh to only excel on different global indices but, in doing so, key problems often are less attended, causing hamper to attain real development, complain experts.
The government should work to resolve the real problems instead of concentrating only on improving in the indices, they recommended.
They made the remarks during the second episode of the webinar series, AJKER AGENDA, organised by the private research institute, Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC), on Saturday.
Former World Bank Lead Economist S Akhter Mahmood, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh Farah Kabir, and Chairperson at the Department of Architecture of Brac Adnan Morshed took part in the discussion moderated by PPRC Chairman Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman.
Akhter Mahmood said Bangladesh lies at the bottom in the Ease of Doing Business index of the World Bank. To attract more investment, the government only works to improve different indicators of the index but allegedly does not concentrate on resolving real problems of businessmen.
"They are trying to go up on the index by solving some tad issues through tokenism, but the business environment has not improved actually," he said.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman added to this, saying real problems are often shadowed by the politics of development and of index improvement.
He said the government is working on the development of big businessmen due to their pressure but problems small traders remain unsolved.
"There are also questions about the definition of traders in creating the index. There is a dilemma as to whom we will call businessmen: food vendors on roadside or big businessmen who are very close to politics?"
Zillur Rahman called for attention on measurements and outcomes along with indicators.
Mentioning that some countries have done manipulations in an effort to show their improved status on the index, Akhtar Mahmud said the issue of giving wrong information using data is worth noticing. Four countries have manipulated. As a result, the report is currently postponed.
It has a psychological aspect because these indicators are used for self-development as compared to others. The issues that are causing lags should more attended than only doing better in indicators, he opined.
New DAP not scientific
The speakers criticised the Rajuk's recent Details Area Plan (DAP). Mentioning that various conditions and measurements of the DAP have been made in the interest of certain individuals, they proposed to amend it.
Adnan Morshed said the new DAP has stipulated not to construct higher than 8-storey buildings, giving a hypothetical data that it would help to control populations. But it has no basis at all.
Rather, the DAP has created an opportunity to approve other places, including wetlands, for building constructions.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman observed that there is a tendency to judge a society by its economic growth. One should measure the actual picture of a society by going beyond this tendency, he said.
"Wellbeing should be given priority. Citizens' welfare should be thought about while discussing about the city."
Protesting against the construction of flyovers everywhere and anywhere, Adnan Morshed said, "Flyovers are not a yardstick to measure urban health. Many countries are demolishing flyovers. We have to think anew. We've to see if the flyovers are being constructed based on necessity."
Proposal to include women's labour at home in GDP
In addition to discussing development indicators for women, Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, proposed including women's labor at home in the GDP.
"In the discussion of women, we talk about inequality, gender discrimination and empowerment. However, it is not being said how we can recognise the time used for women's work. We are trying to include it in the GDP."
"We are being asked how we will evaluate the mother's work, how much it will cost to drink milk and cook. It is difficult to determine the price by answering these questions. But it should be done by reaching a solution."
Responding to a question from Hossain Zillur as to how and why this work of women should be included into the economic thread, Farah Kabir said, "We are working to bring in social changes and changing the people's outlook. We're also proposing inclusion in the GDP for its national recognition."
There is a connection between politics and GDP, she said, adding, "There is a distribution issue behind our demand. The budget is allocated in the light of the contribution of the government to the GDP. Evaluating women's labour will also see a reflection in the budget."