The Financial Express

Connect economics with morality to build poverty-free society

Says Rehman Sobhan, identifies many ethical failures

Prof Dr Rehman Sobhan speaks at the 20th BEA conference in the city on Thursday.	— FE Photo Prof Dr Rehman Sobhan speaks at the 20th BEA conference in the city on Thursday. — FE Photo

Prof Dr Rehman Sobhan identified on Thursday a number of areas of ethical failures, including capital market, banking sector and functioning of commodity market.

He also found ethical failures in other sectors like apparels, public service, access to healthcare and quality education.

"There is also ethical failure in the country's democratic system, and the democracy needs to be democratised," said the renowned economist, who is the chairman of the country's oldest private think-tank -- Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).

He was speaking as the guest of honour at the 20th biennial conference of Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA), a group of over 4,000 members.

The three-day conference with the theme 'Economics and Ethics' was inaugurated by the National Parliament Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury at Institution of Diploma Engineers' Bangladesh in the capital.

BEA President Prof Dr Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury presided over the inaugural session, participated by a large number of members. Convenor of the conference preparatory committee Dr Abul Barkat delivered the welcome address.

Criticising the capital market, Dr Rehman Sobhan said the market is now run through speculations, and it is like a 'casino' where gambling is a common affair.

He was also critical of the default loan culture, and blamed the political patronisation behind it. He said such type of financial situation is causing high interest rates. 

He noted that the RMG entrepreneurs are enjoying the first-world facilities here, while the people, who are helping them to build their assets, are living in third-world country.

The RMG entrepreneurs are cashing in on the surplus labour market, leading to offering poor wages.

Dr Sobhan further said if the current politics of money were previously in practice, Bangabandhu and Tajuddin would have failed to join politics.

"Bangabandhu and Tajuddin came from modest families, and they could have never come under the existing political system of money."

He also said people do not get their due public services, including services from the law-enforcing agencies. But some people get these, which creates a disparity.

Dr Rehman Sobhan opined that there is a need for introducing ethical macro-economy, and called for ethical measurement of the gross domestic product (GDP).

He further said there is also ethical failure in accessing quality education system.

Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said there are many areas where the country has progressed much. The poverty rate has declined to 23 per cent from 40 per cent, and Bangladesh has improved in the fields like exports, remittances and foreign exchange reserves.

She also said ensuring coordination between economics and morality is necessary to build a poverty- and discrimination-free society.

"Building a poverty- and discrimination-free society will be possible when morality will be integrated with economics."

The Speaker, however, said there are also disparities in different socio-economic fronts in the advanced nations, and focused on the need for reviewing some areas (to reduce the disparity in the country).

At the function, three renowned economists were given Bangladesh Economic Association Gold Medal Honour 2017 in recognition of their outstanding contributions in various fields of economics. The economists are -- Dr Mahbub Hossain (posthumous), Prof Rehman Sobhan and Dr Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury.

The Speaker handed over gold medals to two recipients and the daughter of late Dr Mahbub Hossain.

During the three-day conference, five papers will be submitted in four plenary sessions, while some 115 papers will be presented in 12 working sessions.

Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury speaks at the inaugural session of the 20th biennial conference of the Bangladesh Economic Association at the Institution of Diploma Engineers Bangladesh in the capital on Thursday. — FE Photo

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