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Bangladesh's Future Development: Agenda for Reform

Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) hosted a book launching event on 16 May 2024 in the BIDS Conference Room. The event was jointly arranged with East West University. The unveiled book “বাংলাদেশের অগ্রযাত্রায় আগামীর করণীয় (Bangladesh's Future Development: Agenda for Reform)” is authored by Dr. Mohammed Farashuddin, Former Governor, Bangladesh Bank and Chief Adviser, East West University.

Dr Mashiur Rahman, Economic Affairs Adviser to the Honorable Prime Minister, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the event as the Chief Guest. Professor Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud, Chairman, Economic Research Group (ERG) and Former Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka, and Professor Dr. Shams Rahman, Vice-Chancellor, East West University were the Special Guests. 

The event featured distinguished discussants, including Professor Dr. M M Akash, Faculty, BIDS Graduate School of Economics (BGSE), BIDS and Former Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka; Dr. Kazi Iqbal, Research Director, BIDS; Professor Dr. M. A. Sattar Mandal, Professorial Fellow, BIDS and Emeritus Professor, Bangladesh Agricultural University; Dr. Zaidi Sattar, Chairman and Chief Executive, Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh; Dr. Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD); and Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque, Professor, Department of Economics and Dean, Faculty of Business and Economics, East West University.

During the book launch event, Dr. Mohammed Farashuddin highlighted that, despite approximately 1.2 million people emigrating from Bangladesh annually, remittances have not increased due to the existence of multiple exchange rates. He added that an overvalued taka, capped interest rates, and these multiple exchange rates have caused significant long-term damage to the economy. Dr. Farashuddin suggested that no public project should proceed without pre-feasibility studies.

As the Chief Guest, Dr. Mashiur Rahman stated that the central bank operates independently, and its governor enjoys considerable autonomy. He noted that only one governor resigned due to an inability to make decisions because of political interference.

Special Guest Wahiduddin Mahmud recommended reducing politicization in critical areas and prioritizing merit. He also emphasized that human resource development is as crucial as infrastructure development.

Another Special Guest, Professor Dr. Shams Rahman, commended Dr. Farashuddin for his straightforward discussions in the book, making technical topics accessible to the public.

Distinguished discussant Fahmida Khatun remarked that the banking sector's governance has weakened due to insufficient information and lack of credibility. She criticized the central bank for inconsistent policies and failing to take necessary measures to curb inflation.

Dr. Zaidi Sattar, another distinguished discussant, stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). He proposed that the BBS be made an autonomous constitutional body to ensure efficient and fair data collection.

Professor Dr. M. M. Akash questioned the suggestion of making the governor position at Bangladesh Bank a constitutional one during his speech as a distinguished discussant.

Distinguished discussant Professor Dr. M. A. Sattar Mandal acknowledged the rise of commercial agriculture in the country. However, he cautioned against assuming the sector is profitable and ready for taxation, suggesting it is not yet the right time to impose taxes on it.

Dr. Kazi Iqbal emphasized the book's call for reforms in the banking sector, the National Board of Revenue (NBR), and the central bank.

Dr. A. K. Enamul Haque noted that while it is not necessary to agree with all the suggestions in the book, it is important to consider Dr. Farashuddin’s ideas.

Dr. Binayak Sen, Director General of BIDS, moderated the event. He expressed optimism that the current economic downturn would soon reverse but blamed the recent depreciation of the taka for the rapid increase in essential prices.

Meeting recording link here

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