The government expects Tk77 trillion investment, including Tk58 trillion from the private sector, in the next five years to reach 8.5% economic growth. Creation of 10.5 million jobs, bringing private investment to 28.2% of GDP from 23.54% now, and foreign direct investment to 2% of GDP from 1% now are among the key projections of the 8th Five-Year Plan (FYP) to FY25. All this has been explained to development partners at the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum in Dhaka. Economist Dr Ahsan H Mansur and business leader Mir Nasir Hossain shared their thoughts on the projections with The Business Standard.
Skill training a must for overseas jobs
Dr Ahsan H Mansur
Executive Director, PRI
The projections are all right, but difficult to realise in the present context. The tremendous potentials that we have will mean nothing if we cannot make proper use of them with prudent financial management. We need to put good governance in place and the financial sector back in order.
To take the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate to 8.51% in the terminal year, it is very likely that the government will expect big investment, which will eventually create jobs and contribute to poverty reduction. So, a target of providing 10.5 million with jobs at home and abroad is not unusual. But how will employment opportunities be created at home if there is not enough investment?
The scope of work for skilled manpower is wide open in the overseas job market. There is always a good demand of high-paid jobs for doctors, nurses and other health professionals in developed countries. The demand for household and secretarial jobs is also on the rise. What we need is investment in proper skill training in view of demands in the global high-end job market. The Philippines is an example of countries that are serving developed countries with skilled caregivers, home nurses, nurse assistants, private duty nurses and so on. We need to have such plans for targeted jobs abroad.
Infrastructure projects must go faster
Mir Nasir Hossain
Former president, FBCCI
Jobs will definitely be created if there is a proper flow of investment. The fact is, investment is static at present—there has been no growth in it at all. The good thing is that there is visible improvement in areas like road and rail networks. The government has plans for 100 economic zones. Massive infrastructure work is going on. The city transportation system seems to have improved. If regional connectivity improves as well, it will help to expand economic and business activities as well.
Some subjective conditions still matter if we are to see a boost in private sector investment as projected in the new FYP. Work on developing infrastructure works must go faster, and gas must be made more available to businesses either from local exploration or from LNG imports. The electricity generation capacity has increased, now one has to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity.
Chittagong Port should be upgraded to meet the needs of present-day sea trade. Payra Port, once it is fully functional as a deep seaport, will add impetus to global trade. If plans like building the Matarbari seaport and another one near the Mirsarai economic zone are implemented, foreign direct investment is expected to grow.
We may not be able to complete all these big projects in the next five years, but we have to proceed faster with specific plans.
Problems in the banking system should be resolved without delay. High interest on bank loans remains a disincentive to private investment as it limits the return on money put in businesses.