Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) recently underscored the need for providing special focus on strengthening domestic resource mobilisation in the Eighth Five Year Plan (8FYP) to address COVID-19 challenges and attain sustainable LDC graduation.
The think-tank observed that Bangladesh needs to increase its tax–GDP ratio by making use of appropriate regulatory framework and technological upgradation.
CPD made the observation at a virtual dialogue on ‘The Eighth Five Year Plan: Addressing COVID-19 Challenges and Sustainable LDC Graduation’.
Planning Minister MA Mannan joined the dialogue as the chief guest while President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Planning Saber Hossain Chowdhury and former minister for Commerce and Chairman of the Sarina Group Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury took part as special guests.
Member (Senior Secretary) of the General Economics Division (GED) under Planning Commission Dr Shamsul Alam joined the dialogue as the guest of honour while CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan chaired the event.
Executive Director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) and Chairman of the BRAC Bank Dr Ahsan Habib Mansur, former Lead Economist of the World Bank Dr Zahid Hussain, Executive Director of the Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) Shaheen Anam, President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Barrister Nihad Kabir, Professor of the Department of Economics at University of Dhaka and Executive Director of SANEM Dr Selim Raihan and President of the Socialist Labour Front Razequzzaman Ratan joined the dialogue as discussants.
CPD Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman moderated the session while CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun made the keynote presentation at the session.
Through effective implementation of the 8FYP, MA Mannan said, Bangladesh will move forward more to attain the development goals, including Vision-2041.
“Bangladesh is moving forward under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This is right time to accelerate the development activities. People have given us the opportunity to make the country as a developed one,” he added.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury laid emphasis on strengthening institutional capacity to make coordination among GDP growth, employment and inequality.
In her presentation, Fahmida Khatun underscored the need for establishing online VAT registration and filing system, digitalising the VAT process and getting more companies into the system.
“Bangladesh should capitalise on G-20’s decision to provide low-income countries with funds at zero or low interest to combat COVID-19 pandemic. Prospects of suspension of debt service payments and debt cancellation may also be available from both OECD development partners and G-20 members in the South. These should be discussed and pursued proactively,” she added.
She said Bangladesh should more actively explore other sources of external finance, including blended finance and South–South Cooperation.
She said the COVID pandemic has no doubt exacerbated many of the challenges facing the Bangladesh economy in 7FYP period.
“These have undermined achieved success in terms of many indicators such as poverty, employment, distribution of income and overall GDP growth. However, our analysis also demonstrates that many of these challenges predate COVID and their negative impacts have accumulated over time. 8FYP must identify the underlying weaknesses and try to address those, mitigate their adverse implications on the economy,” she added.
Fahmida said LDC graduation, in 2024, will require Bangladesh to take adequate preparation so that the country can graduate with momentum and graduation is sustainable.
This will mean that 8FYP foresees needed steps in anticipation of significant preference erosion and demands on raising competitive strength of the Bangladesh economy, she added.
She said 8FYP period covers the mid-way journey towards attaining the goals and targets of the SDGs by 2030. Accordingly, issues of inclusiveness and equity, and leaving no one behind, must be prioritised in the plan document.
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