The Financial Express

Attaining SDGs by 2030

Challenge lies in resource mobilisation, say experts

| Updated: November 11, 2018 16:55:57

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Experts sceptical of attaining SDGs by 2030

Experts at a seminar on Saturday expressed scepticism about achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by the country within the stipulated timeframe.

They listed a number of factors that might pose as serious challenges to the job of meeting the goals.

The factors include growing inequality, huge funding deficit, corruption, poor performances in the ease of doing business index and unavailability of one-stop service (OSS) to attract both local and overseas investors on a large scale.

Hailing Bangladesh's steady economic growth over the last one decade, the experts observed only a section of the people were being benefited from the growth, thus, widening the level of inequality further.

The observations came at a national seminar on '2030 agenda for sustainable development' organised by Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) at Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB).

Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman at Dhaka School of Economics (DScE) and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), presented a keynote paper at the event.

He said mobilising required funds for achieving SDGs will be a massive challenge for the economy. The country needs US$ 928 billion within the stipulated timeframe of 2030. On that calculation, the country annually requires US$ 66 billion, he added.

"Our national budget for this fiscal year (FY'19) is equivalent to US$ 42 billion, which is far short of the requirement," he said.

Citing the data on Credit Suisse's global wealth report, Mr Ahmad said half of the world's wealth is captured by 1.0 per cent people, showing a huge gap between the superrich and others.

"The situation is not too bad in Bangladesh, but the gap is still huge here. Our success will depend on how fast we reduce the gap," he said.

He said some quarters say the country achieved nothing while some say it achieved everything. "They are just lying. We achieved many things but these are not enough to achieve SDGs," he said.

Terming corruption another serious problem for the country, he said there are reports of financial fraudulence in the country's financial system but measures to deal with such incidents have not been that satisfactory.

"We have to ensure stern action against wrongdoers," he added.

BEA president Dr Abul Barakat, who moderated the event, said the country would not be able to meet SDGs if inequality in income continues to widen further.

"Can we ensure equal benefits of the growth for everyone? We have to think about it," he said.

Criticising the goal-10, he said it aims to reduce inequality but it indicates only financial inequality in the targets. "What is about cultural and social inequality? Without these how will it be sustainable?," he added.

Speaking as the chief guest, former chief justice Md Tafazzul Islam said project costs often go up manifold here which creates huge pressure on the resource-starving economy.

"We need to stop the trend of cost overrun," he said.

Former ambassador Abdul Hannan said Bangladesh is on the right trajectory as far as its export earnings (US$ 36.6 billion without service sector) is concerned, but it needs to further accelerate the growth.

For raising the export volume, he said the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was supposed to complete the Doha round, but that is now stalled.

"It was supposed to continue with preferential trade agreements but the USA has stopped it.... rules of origin is yet to be simplified. Then how will we increase export at the required pace," he added.

He said US$ 9.0 billion from external sources will be required to take the economic growth to 9.0 per cent. But the flow of official development assistance (ODA) from development partners remains uncertain.

"So, we've to concentrate more on internal resource mobilisation," he said.

Chief executive officer of BUILD Ferdaus Ara Begum highlighted three issues -- export diversification, private sector engagement and ease of doing business for achieving the SDGs.

"We're lagging behind in the ease of doing business. Even Afghanistan is ahead us. We should make policy, concentrating on the cost and time which are considered while making such index," she added.

Former secretary to the government AHM Rezaul Karim and DScE Prof Dr Muhammad Mahboob Ali, among others, spoke at the seminar.

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