Economists emphasised building human capital, focusing towards the fourth industrial revolution and ensuring sustainable economic growth at a plenary session on Monday.
Addressing the session titled "Innovation in Monetary Policy, Economic Development and Five-Year Plan on the Celebration of Birth Centenary of the Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman" Chairperson of Brac Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said by building manpower skills, the country could move from a cheap labour-oriented economy to a productive one.
With the advent of technological advancement, a skilled labour-intensive economy was needed for sustainable development of the country, he said during his speech at the event held in the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM).
Saying that the garments sector and remittances were the two leading growth drivers, while agriculture was also playing a key role from the very beginning, he noted these were all led by low-skilled manpower.
Zillur, the chief guest of the event, said increasing manpower skills could increase production and amid an economy rebounding from Covid-19, it was time to come up with better solutions.
The Brac chairperson said there had been drastic changes in rural areas, but there was not sufficient information on those. "It is important to be aware of our goals and know information on rural areas to achieve our goals," he said.
The idea of inclusion had also changed, he added, saying nowadays it was not inclusion for one farmer to have a bank account, if they could not use it for transactions.
"We should think about cryptocurrency; we even don't know about this, but we should build a knowledge-driven society to face future challenges," he said.
Former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman also spoke on the occasion, saying that most of the micro institutions had a great impact on the economy, for which the growth story of Bangladesh looked robust.
He also said it was encouraging that the Bangladesh government had come up with a number of stimulus packages focusing on agriculture, SMEs and the informal unorganised sectors to help those small and medium entrepreneurs to thrive.
Atiur said the proper implementation of these packages could help the economy become vibrant.
Former director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Dr Mustafa K Mujeri said for a vibrant and sustainable economy, there should be more focus on technology and innovation in readymade garments (RMG) as it was one of the major export-oriented sectors.
He said it was important to ensure the skills of RMG workers.
Bangladesh had made remarkable progress in increasing economic growth and reducing poverty since its independence in 1971, he said, adding that immediately after independence, Bangladesh was one of the poorest countries in the world with a war-ravaged economy.
Former vice-chancellor of Bangladesh Agricultural University Dr MA Sattar Mandal said the formal introduction to a planned economy in Bangladesh began with the launching of the First Five Year Plan (FFYP), 1973-78 from July 1973.
It was actually a broad road map towards economic development following a socialist path in line with the fundamental principles laid down in the constitution of the newly independent country.
Mandal said now farmers were getting fair prices for some products, like rice and jute, but this was not the case for vegetables, like potatoes and tomatoes.
He said the problem arose due to a dearth of on-the-ground statistics.
Director General of BIBM Md Akhtaruzzaman said Bangabandhu and Bangladesh were essentially the same -- one could not have existed without the other.
Bangladesh was rapidly progressing towards becoming a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, he noted.
The BIBM published a special issue of its flagship quarterly journal "Bank Parikrama" to celebrate the Bangabandhu's birth centenary, where 10 articles by eminent economists, academics, bankers and researchers of the country had been published.