Tasks ahead for the new government

Shahiduzzaman Khan | Published: January 02, 2019 20:50:01

Zero tolerance to corruption, quality implementation of the mega infrastructure projects and lower cost of business should be the priorities of the new government.

After the 'unprecedented' election victory in this week's polls, people's expectations from the Awami League-led government have run high. During the last 10 years, the country has achieved notable developments and now it has to focus more on areas where it lags behind.

In its election manifesto, the ruling party had promised to fight corruption. The people expect the new government will be vigilant and take effective and visible steps to curb corruption.

In fact, ensuring freedom of expression, freedom of Press and getting rid of politicisation are very much important to ensure inclusive development. In order to strengthen these, a reform in the country's constitutional institutions is also deemed necessary.

Despite having a steady growth, the economy of the country in the last calendar year was under pressure due to balance of payments deficit, rising non-performing loan (NPL) and weak local currency. These factors are taking a toll on the macroeconomic health of the country.

On the other hand, the economy has some positive sides which are continuity of higher economic growth with lower rate of inflation. Besides, exports receipts and remittances inflow were buoyant during the year 2018. Exports income was satisfactory in the year as shipment grew more than 17 per cent. 

There is a need to take effective measures to remove the bottlenecks and reduce harassment and bottlenecks that businesses face. One-stop services should be made truly effective so that one does not need to move from one place to another while doing business.

The new government needs to focus on strengthening the project monitoring mechanism. Quality implementation of mega projects should also be ensured. The private sector should be involved in the project monitoring process. Businesses and people will not get the due dividend of these mega projects if those could not be implemented on time.

In recent times, the capacity of our ports has improved a lot but businesses still face problem while dealing with the Customs as well as with the NBR. Services in ports, airports and transport sector should also get priority in order to expedite import and export activities.

On the other hand, repeated changes into project components, delay in project start-up, land acquisition related complexities, sluggishness in procurement and tender and also in appointing consultants and meeting terms and conditions in aided projects, fund withdrawals by development partners are causing delay in project implementation. 

The traditional practice of frequent revisions to annual development programme (ADP) projects happens to be a major source of draining public money and wastage of time. If appropriate action plans could have been chalked out and efficiency in the project management could have been injected, a substantial amount of public money would have been saved. Development projects could thus be implemented much faster.

All said and done, the immediate priority of the new government should be to reduce lending rate, complete the mega projects as soon as possible and curb corruption. The fact remains that a stable government would help the entrepreneurs to be more confident in investing in Bangladesh.



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