The two-day long Bangladesh Development Forum concluded on Thursday with pledges by development partners for the eighth Five Year Plan (FYP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The government also sought duty and quota free access of products to developed countries to face the challenges of graduation from Least Developed Countries category, and technical support to build strong human capital to meet the fourth industrial revolution.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal chaired the concluding session. He said development partners should extend all-out help for the long-term development plan of the government.
The representatives of several development agencies made commitments to finance in achieving priority-based development agendas. They also recommended Bangladesh to explore its own resources through innovation and finance in infrastructural development.
The development partners also suggested boosting tax collection to increase the revenue-GDP ratio. They also recommended utilising foreign support by accelerating implementation of development projects.
The finance minister said, "Revenue collection is comparatively low in Bangladesh. But it is not that bad as talked about."
"The area of tax rebate is highest in Bangladesh. Incentives for business and trade are also high in the country compared to others. Incentives and rebates are generating business and other outcomes," the minister said.
He added, "The government will record the value of tax rebate from next year to calculate the exact tax GDP ratio."
Mustafa Kamal also assured development partners that the government has taken up several initiatives to overcome the obstacles to low revenue collection.
He said, private investments are yet to increase to the desired level. The government has taken up several initiatives to attract private and foreign direct investment. As many as 100 economic zones will be set-up, and some of those are already in operation. These zones with several facilities will help generate about 10 million jobs.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen recalled the commitment of developed countries to provide 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 percent of GNI to least developed countries.
He urged development partners to provide financial and technical help to Bangladesh without any presciption and conditions.
He said Bangladesh is now on the path of development due to massive GDP growth in the last couple of year. But the country still has to develop areas like proper enforcement of rules, regulations and procedures.
He also said Bangladesh requires big investment for development of railways, energy, power and infrastructure, and asked for support from development partners to this end.
Dr Mashiur Rahman, economic affairs adviser to the prime minister, said Bangladesh will achieve the SDGs just as it attained the Millennium Development Goals following the recommendations of the United Nations.
He termed the Private Public Partnership (PPP) method as a tremendous innovation of the government, and emphasised the use of this approach.
Mia Seppo, UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, said private sector investment should be increased to a suitable level to maintain stable economic growth.
"The government should do everything to attract private investors," she said, and recalled the commitment of development partners to achieve SDGs. She recommended utilising foreign aid with transparency and faster implementation of projects.
Replying to a query by journalists, Mia Seppo said, "The development agencies are providing assistance by ensuring the highest level of transparency.
The finance minister also took questions and told the media that Bangladesh will face some challenges after graduation from the least developed countries category.
"However, we have to stand on our own feet. We have no scope to remain poor forever," he commented.
The minister also said that Bangladesh has secured its position among the top growing countries for the last decade. Bangladesh will overtake Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and many others by 2024.
He said that the BDF was organised to present the eighth Five Year Plan before the development agencies and to seek their support and recommendation.
The ministries presented their mid and long-term development plans in various priority areas like quality education, inclusive healthcare, innovative financing, rural transformation, sustainable urbanization, climate financing, private sector engagement and trade facilitation at the forum.
The Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance organised the event.