23 May 2024

Government will Face Various Challenges Based on the Election Manifesto

Hiren Pandit

Published: 12:32, 22 January 2024

Government will Face Various Challenges Based on the Election Manifesto

Photo: Hiren Pandit

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government will bring back rules and order in the socio-economic field, curb corruption, bring back a break in market management, and create employment. The education system will create skilled human resources and will have a positive impact on the wider population. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has changed the face of Bangladesh, which was once unbelievable and unimaginable. Compared to that, this year's 11 sectors have been identified and expressed their determination to bring changes.

The world economy faces four major challenges, climate change, youth employment, economic development, and the search for an acceptable framework for globalization. We need to find new creative effective solutions. Climate change is at its worst. Initiatives are needed to decarbonize the global economy. Each country will proceed by shaping its agenda and implementing policies that best account for its particular political constraints. Inequality, the shrinking of the middle class, and the polarization of the labor market are equally deteriorating our social environment.

Social transformation and the welfare state can help, but what is most needed is increasing opportunities for good employment for low-educated workers and creating new jobs. We need to create more employment opportunities, providing such employment requires only investment in education and strong action to protect the rights of workers. Globalization must be represented by a new understanding, which rebalances national needs and the requirements of a healthy world economy and facilitates international trade and long-term foreign investment. The change that Sheikh Hasina has been able to bring about in Bangladesh was once unimaginable.

Sheikh Hasina has taken over as the Prime Minister for the fourth consecutive term as the head of government. There was criticism about the activities of the ministry, but new faces have been brought in all the ministries. It can be assumed that during this term, he has assigned the Ministry of Finance, Commerce, and Foreign Affairs to face tough challenges. Apart from this, he also gave special importance to corruption and good governance. In the party manifesto published before the elections, it became clear that the government wants to make changes in 11 important issues during this term.

The manifesto mentions 11 important public challenges, namely, control of commodity prices, ensuring employable education and employment of youth, creation of smart Bangladesh based on modern technology, integrated agricultural system for profitable agriculture, increasing investment in mechanization and processing, expansion of industries by taking advantage of visible infrastructure and increasing investment. Increasing efficiency and capacity in the financial sector including banks, making healthcare for low-income people affordable, including everyone in the universal pension system, ensuring the effectiveness and accountability of law enforcement agencies, preventing communalism and all forms of terrorism, militancy, and promoting the protection and practice of democratic systems at all levels.

 The new government has been formed considering her talent and experience as reliable to deal with the current economic crisis of the country. The economy is facing many problems including rampant inflation, the dangerous decline in foreign exchange reserves, continued appreciation of the dollar against the taka, stagnation of remittance flow in normal channels due to the increasing impact of hundi business due to expatriate Bangladeshis sending remittances, inability to open import LCs due to acute dollar crisis, In the carb market, the price of the dollar jumped from 87 taka in 2021 to 125 taka in January 2024.

About 28 percent devaluation of the foreign value of the Bangladeshi taka, over-invoicing in imports and under-invoicing in exports, complaints of massive capital smuggling from the country abroad, purchase of houses and businesses abroad without bringing the export income back to the country, continued inaction of the government regarding corruption and capital looting, the balance of the country A severe deficit situation in the Current Account of Payments for four consecutive years, a dangerous deficit situation in the Financial Account of the Balance of Payments after many days.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and through the teamwork of the entire cabinet, the new finance minister has been assigned an all-powerful task to immediately address the above-mentioned issues. The first focus is on halting the appreciation of the dollar and curbing the severe inflationary problems arising from the taka’s 28 percent depreciation. LC opening has decreased by 16 percent in the 16 months from August 2022 due to the adoption of various import control measures in the country.

But sending remittances through the Hundi system cannot be discouraged in any way. The booming condition of the hundi business is the main reason why it is increasing day by day. Corruption is still a major problem in Bangladesh. In the 2018 election manifesto, the Awami League promised to adopt a 'zero tolerance' policy towards corruption, but the government has not seen much success in fulfilling this promise in the last five years. People's lives are disrupted due to the unbearable increase in the prices of daily necessities worldwide and the dollar-fuel crisis.

The global economic system is plagued by multifaceted problems including the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine wars. This crisis is not going away anytime soon. Anarchy can also be seen in the garment industry, which keeps the country's economy running. Some opportunists try to carry out unintended activities. One after another, the import and export activities of goods have been severely disrupted. The political instability of the country has brought together crises that have never been faced in the past. That hurts us. We will not be able to prevent this kind of crisis from outside. We don't want any kind of political unrest; we don't want a strike-blockade.

All this has deepened the economic crisis. Therefore, for the sake of the country, and the sake of the industry, necessary steps should be taken to solve the crises. After the election, the new government is facing various challenges in overcoming the current economic crisis. It will be difficult to get rid of the alarming situation that has arisen with the revenue and banking sector apart from reserve remittances, and export earnings, unless effective measures are taken quickly. Bringing the economy to a stable state will be the big challenge of the new government.

Commodity prices, currency exchange rates, and bank loan interest rates have to be dealt with. Some short and medium-term programs need to be implemented quickly. Care must be taken to ensure that there is no structural crisis in the country's banks or any other sector due to irregularities and mismanagement and that no problems arise in the payment of foreign liabilities. If the government is unable to meet the challenge of implementing the reform conditions under which it is receiving loans from the IMF and other donors after the election, there are fears that the economy will turn around.

It will be difficult to deal with the economic crisis without any major reforms. Therefore, several new steps are required to set the wheels of the economy in motion, the transition of the economic crisis will depend on that. Political stability requires a change in political culture. We need to focus on quality and technical education. Millions of young people who finish their education cannot find jobs due to lack of skills. As there is a huge demand for educated and skilled manpower within the country, there is also a demand for skilled and skilled manpower from Bangladesh abroad.

There is no substitute for discipline, management, and skilled and talented trained teachers in the education system. Our agricultural system has undergone massive changes. However, through the introduction of modern science and technology-based agricultural systems, multi-purpose crop production, supply, marketing systems, processing, and application of modern mechanized systems have reached the goal. Emphasis should be placed on linking the agricultural system with the market system through modernization.

There is no alternative to a favorable environment to remove the crisis and advance the country on the path of development. Without political stability and tolerance, economic development is never sustainable. Proper planning and good governance are needed to keep economic activities running by facing various types of adversities. In solving any problem, every citizen has to play a proper role from their position, regardless of party opinion, in rational discussion and compromise. In this case, it is important to form public opinion along with public awareness. Elected representatives should focus on nation-building by preventing all inactions.

Corruption like a deadly disease is prevalent everywhere including in society, and administration. The Prime Minister has also announced a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. Her declaration should be properly implemented. Commodity prices have been rising relentlessly for the past two years. There was public outrage about this. The government activated TCB to ease the suffering of low-income people by enabling them to purchase certain products at fair prices for a year. As a result, a large section of the marginalized population has benefited to some extent.

But the government couldn't bring everyone under it. The global economic crisis, the dollar crisis, and the manipulation of monopolies led to uncontrolled prices of imported goods in the market. But my point is that right after the election Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked about commodity prices. She also expressed her concern about commodity prices in the first meeting of the cabinet. The Minister of State for Commerce took responsibility and said strongly that there would be no syndicates in the market.

However, since the elections, the price of rice in the market has increased despite the season being full. Essential commodities enter the market in two ways, the first is imported from abroad and the second is domestically produced goods. The business and commerce of the country must be brought into a culture of compliance with ethics, laws, and regulations. There is no alternative. Bangladesh should not only depend on the ready-made garment industry but should now focus on diversification of the industry and diversify exports.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has created 100 economic zones in the country. The Ministry of Industry can work with stakeholders on how to utilize them, attract foreign entrepreneurs, and encourage investment. Corruption like a deadly disease is prevalent everywhere including in society, and administration. The Prime Minister has also announced a zero-tolerance policy in this regard. Her declaration should be properly implemented. Corruption has spread in our society in many ways. Eligible talented, skilled, and experienced people should be created opportunities to play a role in society. Transparency should be brought in all types of institutions, trade, import-export, and services.

Hiren Pandit is a columnist and researcher