The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) yesterday urged the government to ensure the quality of public investment or else many will be left out from the benefits of economic growth.
The think-tank particularly mentioned three major areas -- education, healthcare and social protection -- where the government should give immediate focus to make public spending more efficient.
“The economy needs to enhance the quality of education as well as improve the health care system for all to ensure inclusiveness of economic growth,” said CPD Chairman Rehman Sobhan.
Sobhan's comments came yesterday at a dialogue styled 'Pursuing Inclusive Growth: Priorities for the New Government', organised by the independent think-tank at the capital's Lakeshore Hotel.
The Awami league government is now in its fourth term, so they should make a strong commitment to ensuring the quality of public investment.
Sobhan went on to call for an in-depth investigation to get to the malady of cost and time overruns of big projects.
“This is not just a problem of corruption -- there is a problem of efficiency too,” he added.
The country still lags behind in ensuring quality health care, said Rashid-E-Mahbub, former president of the Bangladesh Medical Association.
“Moreover, there is a blame game on who is responsible for the lag,” he added.
Some students acknowledged in a recent programme that they have passed many board exams but they have little efficiency in English, said Rasheda K Choudhury, executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education.
“This is proof of cumulative deficit of learning.”
Choudhury, a former advisor to the caretaker government, suggests reviewing the curriculum as there are huge non-secular and racism materials in the books.
“It is true that there are some bad communal content in the textbooks, but we are solving it slowly,” said Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, deputy minister of education.
There will be no compromises on secularism as the Awami League is a secular political party.
“But English proficiency of a few can't be a benchmark of an education system of a country. Moreover, our education system is producing efficient population,” he added.
Planning Minister MA Mannan acknowledged that there are some problems in the quality of education and health care as well as leakages in social security.
“But, we are fighting hard to ensure quality, so we need time. We are making some mistakes as we are rushing towards development.”
The minister said they also want equity, equality and inclusiveness in growth, so they are taking advices from many think-tanks and economists.
Fahmida Khatun, executive director CPD, presented a keynote paper at the event.
There are two major concerns about the economy: the higher growth could not generate adequate employment and the benefits of growth are unequally distributed.
To ensure inclusive growth, the government should focus on quality education, which would enhance the efficiency of students.
The government should focus on quality healthcare for all as well as higher coverage of social protection for all, she added.
M Syeduzzaman, a former finance minister, Mustafizur Rahman and Rounaq Jahan, distinguished fellows of the CPD, also spoke.
A publication titled “State of the Bangladesh Economy and National Elections 2018 Priorities for Electoral debates” was unveiled at the programme.