Finance Minister AMA Muhith, middle, speaks at a discussion on the economy at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in Dhaka yesterday. Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, extreme right, and FBCCI President AK Azad, second from right, are also seen. Photo: STAR
The government will constitute a taskforce to tackle three major risks to the economy: a price hike, stress on balance of payments and slow growth in foreign direct investment, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday.
A decline in foreign aid and poor use of such grants or assistance are another setback, however minor, Muhith said.
“We will form a high-powered taskforce to find solutions to the problems,” said the minister. Muhith spoke at a discussion on the economy of Bangladesh at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in Dhaka.
The deficit in current account balance may widen to $884 million in the current fiscal year from an estimated surplus of $564 million a year ago, according to a projection in the central bank's Monetary Policy Statement.
The minister's comments underline fears that the current account balance will slip into deficit after 11 years, if the projection comes true.
FBCCI President AK Azad, who moderated the discussion, said a stable political environment is necessary for economic growth as the country needs huge employment opportunities and foreign direct investment.
“Political leaders must resolve problems through dialogue,” Azad said.
Muhith said he will take measures to address the ailments besetting the textile sector and release the fund of the stimulus package for exporters, which he promised two years ago as a measure of facing the recession fallout.
Muhith said the government is planning for coal-based electricity as the known reserve of gas is depleting. At least 2,500 megawatts of power will be added to the national grid by the year-end.
The minister credited farmers, workers and entrepreneurs for their outstanding contribution to the national economy.
Muhith also criticised capital market investors and said they are not real investors. “They are gambling. As investors, they cannot expect profits everyday,” he said.
The minister pointed to the unbearable traffic jam and its negative effect on the economy. The minister said it is possible to avoid heavy traffic on the roads even without constructing the elevated expressways if everybody follows the laws strictly.
“You should also avoid reckless driving to avoid traffic jam and accidents and the person who drives erratically should be punished,” he said.
Criticising the statistics of different organisations regarding population growth, the minister said the country's population will not cross 20 crore by 2050.
Urging the opposition parties to keep their electoral pledges, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said the government will extend the deadline for generating opinions from the businessmen for amending the trade organisation law.
A plan for new banks also hit the spotlight at the discussion. Former Bangladesh Bank governor Farashuddin Ahmed said those who oppose new banks want an oligopoly in banking. “We need new banks for higher economic growth.”
Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed, vice-president of Bangladesh Association of Banks, urged the government to allow more banks and insurance companies for economic growth.
He said the banking sector is in a stable position. “We have no liquidity crisis in the banking system.”
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said politics turned into business and the businesses turned into politics as majority of parliamentarians are businessmen.