To ensure proper wage shares on production, economists and researchers Friday recommended maintaining fairness in the economic recovery process from Covid-19's fallout.
They said that tension has already been escalating over reviving growth, so badly that it could undermine the sustainable development goals (SDGs). They suggested not aiming for economic development with a low-cost recovery method.
A session of the ongoing Sanem International Development Conference on "Covid-19 and Development Challenges" made the recommendations on the second day of a three-day conference.
Four papers were presented at the session "Macroeconomic Impacts", which was chaired by Dr Dushni Weerakoon, executive director to the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.
With supply chains and labour markets disrupted, Dr Dushni Weerakoon said economies across the globe are facing virus shocks. Firms and businesses are struggling to generate revenue while job losses are reducing both people's income and spending.
Dr Dushni observed that lower income countries have limited fiscal spaces which is putting their healthcare systems under immense pressure.
Economic issues in poor and developing countries are worsening as a large number of people in those countries are employed in informal sectors with lower job protection and an absence of social security, she added.
At the session, Visiting Professor of Institute for Human Development, India, Dr Dev Nathan presented a paper titled "Is Covid-19 Really an Exogenous Shock?"
He said responses of the governments, in all countries, are mostly of adjusting to the pandemic, digitisation and lockdowns. Mitigation is confined to developing vaccines to reduce the infection rate and changing behaviors – using face masks and maintaining social distancing.
He added that even if the virus comes under control, there might be other zoonotic disease-led pandemics in future. He said de-globalisation will not be able to deter the outbreaks as the plague managed to spread even in the 14th century across Europe, and then kept transmitting through land and sea routes.
The second paper of the session, titled "Covid-19: The Impact and the Impetus for Policy in Asia and the Pacific" was presented by Dr Sweta C Saxena, Chief to Macroeconomic Policy and Analysis Section, UNESCAP, Bangkok.
She said Covid-19 has brought unprecedented socio-economic challenges for Asia and the Pacific to achieve the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, which was already on track.
She believes proper economic policies to support vulnerable people and businesses would ensure achieving the SDGs, but it will be very challenging to do so.
Dr Sweta Saxena said about 125 million people in Asia and the Pacific lost their jobs in the first quarter of 2020, about 7.5% of full-time equivalent jobs. The number doubled in the second quarter.
South Asia, including Bangladesh and India, faced the issue seriously due to inequality and less access to education.
Dr Indrani Manna, assistant general manager, Research, Reserve Bank of India presented a paper titled "Growth-at-Risk (GaR) in India amidst Covid-19 Uncertainty."
She, in her paper, said seasonally-adjusted real GDP dropped to 2.98% during the last quarter of 2019-20 fiscal year. The rate declined by 23.6% in the first quarter of the current fiscal.
She added that 17.7 million jobs were lost in April and another 0.1 million people lost their jobs in May this year.
She further said demands for durable and non-durable goods dropped significantly due to job losses, a fall in income and wage-cuts.
Dr MA Razzaque, director (Research), Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh said governments need to think about mitigation and reducing economic risk while adapting to the pandemic-led situation.
He said economic growth could ensure economic development but it would be insufficient to ensure sustainable development. To achieve the SDGs, the governments should emphasise decent work to ensure the proper share of labour on production.
Dr Razzaque said there were shortages of resources to achieve the SDGs even before the pandemic. The situation deteriorated and the resource gap widened after the pandemic. He said global leaders must think about from where the investments would come in the post pandemic-era.
Another eight papers were presented at two separate sessions of the event on Friday.
Organisers said a total of 24 research papers from different countries are being presented at the conference which is being organised by Sanem.
Sanem Executive Director and Dhaka University Prof Dr Selim Raihan was the convener of the conference. On the first day of the programme, on Thursday, a total of four papers were presented.