Although Bangladesh is considered to be one of the emerging Asian economies, it would still require 40 years to break the shackles of poverty, said Martin Rama, acting chief economist of the World Bank South Asia region, yesterday.
“Bangladesh would require 40 years to break away from the poverty cycle, if it does not take measures to reduce the gender gap in income”, said Martin, during his key-note presentation at a seminar entitled “Making Economic Progress: Inventing a New Agricultural and Industrial Revolution”, held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC), on January 21, the second consecutive day of the three-day international conference on “Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change”, organised by Asian University for Women (AUW).
Martin said the country should go for an all-out effort to achieve its GDP growth target.
He said foreign direct investment (FDI) remained the most important factor for Bangladesh, than other emerging Asian economies, as it boosts growth of the manufacturing sector, which is directly linked to job creation.
He said that gender gap in income can not be reduced without attaining persistent growth in the manufacturing sector.
“FDI is a less-volatile source of finance than portfolio investment or banking credit, and it would stimulate the growth of the manufacturing sector, creating a large number of formal jobs,” he added.
He also said that, in principle, FDI should flow to countries with stable macroeconomic policies, good infrastructure, sound business environment that is conducive to investors, and low levels of corruption.
“In Bangladesh, lack of infrastructure, especially in relation to power, is the main constraint for FDI inflow,” Martin said.
Kathy Matsui, chief Japan strategist and co-director of Asia Investment Research of Goldman Sachs Japan Company Limited, also took part in the discussion, and said that Bangladesh should reduce gender inequality in income by increasing women’s participation in education and employment, in order to achieve economic progress.
“The ratio of women’s participation in employment, at present, is 37 per cent,” Matsui pointed out.
Chief Economist of Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, David O’ Rear, chaired the seminar and said that a large proportion of Asian population still lives on less than USD 2, each day.
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