Economists and business leaders have asked for initiating big projects to produce skilled manpower who are in high demand both at home and abroad.
The economy will remain vibrant if jobs are created, they said while addressing a seminar entitled "National budget and economic pathway" at Hotel InterContinental in the capital on Friday.
In his keynote address at the seminar organised by the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS), economist Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir, chairman of the Department of Development Studies at Dhaka University, said he had expected that the budget for fiscal 2022-23 would incorporate a mega project to boost employment, but there is no reflection of it in the proposed budget.
"We have to focus on increasing employment opportunities. Even before the outbreak of Covid-19, we noticed that the unemployment rate was high among youth, and it was higher among educated youth.
"Then the Covid pandemic caused two years of learning losses. As a result, those who were supposed to enter the job market could not do so. Besides, various private surveys have found that many people have fallen below the poverty line during the pandemic," he added.
Titumir mentioned that Tajuddin Ahmed gave a Tk786 crore national budget for FY1972-73, in which development cost was greater than operating cost, which is noticed to be in reverse nowadays.
"Budget allocations for social security and education have decreased, and that for health is not enough either. Political influence in social security activities results in a lack of inclusion."
Priti Chakraborty, chairman of Universal Medical College Hospital and a director of the FBCCI, said skilled manpower can earn more foreign exchanges, but to attain this there is no substitute for training.
Mentioning that her nursing college has received a demand order for 1,30,000 nurses from the United Kingdom, she said the government needs to pay attention to this area.
There should be guidelines in the budget for developing the private sector, she added.
Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries (BCI), said there are 3,200 technical training centres in Bangladesh, but there is no up-to-date course curriculum for these institutions.
To make these training centres compatible with the present-day world, it is necessary to ensure proper monitoring alongside raising allocations.
CGS Chairman Manjur A Chowdhury suggested that there is a need for controlling inflation keeping a looming recession in mind.
Former minister and BNP leader Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the main strength of the Bangladesh economy is the SME sector but it does not get proper policy attention.
Inequality is rising in society as the government is patronising certain quarters for its own political interest, he alleged at the seminar moderated by CGS Executive Director Zillur Rahman.
Planning Minister MA Mannan said the proposed budget might have a lot of shortcomings but it is just a draft, and there is a scope for discussing all the suggestions in parliament and thus removing the shortcomings.