News Published: Sunday, Nov 09, 2014
Perfect planning, data ‘can aid economic dev
Prof Nurul Islam for putting right person in right place
Prof Nurul Islam, emeritus research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), suggested on Saturday placing knowledgeable persons in institutions working on economic development planning.
The suggestion came as a galaxy of economists at a discussion said cooking statistical books in this matter was producing just puzzles.
Former caretaker government adviser Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud at the discussion pointed out that institutional development as well as economic development of the country was being hampered greatly due to "political interference”
Speaking at the high-profile meet in the economic field, Prof Nurul Islam highlighted the urgency of making the Planning Commission more effective for the country's overall development in this era of technological advancement.
He also stressed the need for equipping the country's statistical organization-Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)-with proper manpower so that it can provide necessary statistics to ease the government's decision-making process.
Monitoring development activities and maintaining coordination with main ministries were also highlighted in his speech at the discussion on 'Policy Making and Institutions in Bangladesh'.
The Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI), a private think- tank, organised the discussion at its Banani office. It ultimately turned into a gathering of the country's leading economists as most of them were either students or fellow colleagues of the speaker, who also played a maior role in the nation’s struggle for Independence.
A research scholar, who has been selected for BDI Lifetime Achievement Award 2013, prof Islam narrated his experiences and shared views with his students and former fellows.
The programme was attended, among others, by former caretaker government advisers Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud, AB Mirza Azizul Islam and Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman, PRI Chairman Dr. Zaidi Sattar and Executive Director Dr. Ahsan H Mansur, Dr. Mustafa K Mujeri, Dr. Zaid Bakht and Dr. Binayak Sen,
Drawing upon his experience as the first Deputy Chairman of the Bangladesh planning Commission, Prof. Islam narrated the history of the country's overall economic development and the challenges it faces,
He shared experiences from various developing countries, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, which experienced similar challenges and conquered the obstacles,
Dwelling on various development and policy issues, he opined that an effective planning commission, an
Independent statistical organisation and monitoring of development activities were key elements for economic development.
Speakers at the meeting observed that lack of good governance and absence of democratic practices were hindering proper functioning and development of government institutions.
"The government very often uses the institutions"', said an economist, adding that accountability of the government was also essential.
Lack of policy continuity and knowledgeable people was also identified as the factor hindering proper planning.
"People with proper academic knowledge are not being deployed in proper places," said another academic.
Many of them also deplored that data was being manipulated for a lack of proper monitoring.
"Good policies become worthless due to lack of democracy and the rule of law," said Dr. Wahiduddin Mahmud, also a student of the economist.
Institutional development as well as economic development of the country was being hampered greatly due to political interference, he added.
Highlighting the urgency of striking a balance between any target and the reality, Mirza Azizul Islam said that the issue should be given a serious thought. He criticised the role of politicians in this matter.
The economist urged authorities concerned to be more careful about implementing the rules and regulations in case of the capital market.
BB Governor Atiur Rahman, however, noted that despite different obstacles, including world financial meltdown, the Bangladesh Bank made good progress in the financial sector over the years.
"BB's relentless regulatory efforts," he said, "would continue to increase the banking sector's capability to stave off any future blow and to ensure financial stability."
Former governor Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, however, pointed out that proper initiatives were not being taken to create new entrepreneurs.
Earlier, PRI Chairman Dr. Zaidi Sattar introduced Nurul Islam, who was the Deputy Chairman of the first Bangladesh planning Commission, portraying his role during the liberation period, his contribution to policymaking and the country's economic development.
The work of the economist during the period from 1950s to mid-1970s makes a fascinating story with substantial lessons even for contemporary Bangladesh.
Prof Nurul Islam has been selected for the BDI Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 for his outstanding contribution in the filed of economy and policy research.
Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI), a non-partisan research and advocacy group of independent scholars based in the United States, will formally present the award at its international conference organised with the Institute for South Asia Studies on the UC Berkeley campus, tentatively scheduled for November 2015.
"The" award, established in 2012, is designed to "honour outstanding individuals who, through their scholarly and/or policy and civic engagements, have contributed significantly to understanding the challenges, and pursuing the ideals that would lead to development of Bangladesh and improving the quality of life for its citizens," said a press release.
Prof Nurul Islam completed his honours and master's degrees in Economics from Dhaka University. He then went to complete another master's degree and did his PhD from Harvard University.
He was a Nuffield Foundation fellow at the London School of Economics and at Cambridge University. He also served as a Rockefeller fellow at the Netherlands School of Economics, and was a fellow at St Anthony's College, Oxford University.
He has served as a professor of Economics, and also as the chairperson of the Economics department at DU. Prof Nurul Islam also published many books, including A Study in Political Economy and Making of a Nation: Bangladesh-An Economist's Tale.
He also received the Bangladesh Bank Award in 2009.