External agents now dictating relative autonomy of the state

| Updated: February 07, 2023 21:00:32

External agents now dictating relative autonomy of the state

External agents like World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are now dictating the relative autonomy of the state as the government has failed to ensure the same, said Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya on Sunday.

"As Bangladesh doesn't have relative autonomy of state in place, now external agents like IMF and World Bank impose relative autonomy of the state what the government was supposed to do," he said while speaking at a session styled "The Power Dynamics between State and Business: How is Capitalism Evolving in Bangladesh".

The session was held on the second day of the two-day 6th SANEM Annual Economists Conference (SAEC), organised by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) at the city's BRAC Centre Inn.Speaking as a panelist, he said the government has now surrendered to IMF and World Bank giving up its principles and made Bangladesh captive.

"We have been talking about bringing in reforms in different sectors," he said.

This is incompatible with the government's development ambition what they have been talking about for long, he observed.

Mr Bhattacharya said whichever system the government is running will not be sustainable and "countervailing force" of the system has been created in the womb of this regime.

"A new middleclass and higher middle class grew over time in the womb this regime is now the new social force and they are ready to challenge the ruling political system," he said.

"Absence of democracy and accountability is also reflected in other stakeholders of the state," he said adding, for example, there has been no election in trade bodies in recent years.

The CPD distinguished fellow said primitive capital accumulation of the country should be discussed if discussion of capital comes of this land.

"We have to keep in mind that abandoned properties and assets after liberation war were key sources of capital accumulation here," he said.

He also said foreign aid funded projects, development financing and capital market manipulation, over-valued state-run projects and misuse of regulatory mechanism were also sources of capital accumulation in the country over the period.

"So it is evident that capital accumulations in the country were actually misappropriation of state assets and mechanism and it will not grow in future without this misappropriation," he said.

Dr Mirza M Hassan, Senior Research Fellow, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) presented keynote paper at the session while Professor Rounaq Jahan, Distinguished Fellow of the CPD, moderated it.

Professorial research associate (Department of Development Studies) at the University of London Shapan Adnan said those who are not in dominant party in the country have been muted to ability to speak and present.

He added lobbyists and businessmen in the country are no more in their class, rather they are now politicians.

"They have become an "amalgamated ruling order" in total," he said.

Central leader of CPB and Professor of Department of Economics, University of Dhaka Dr Mahbubul Mokaddem said how business groups are influencing politics should be questioned.

He added politics should be freed from money power, muscle power and manipulation.

Founder of Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) Dr Nazrul Islam said there are many countries where a dominant party rules a country.

He said Bangladesh is still at a growing stage of a capitalist state.

Dr Ashikur Rahman, senior economist, Policy Research Institute (PRI), said politics should be freed from money power. He added political system in Bangladesh is vulnerable to capitalist system.

"Politics has become very expensive in the country," he said, adding less expensive politics will ensure liberal democracy in the country.

The keynote paper said during post 90s period, as a starter the collective action process of the business has never been a non-partisan affair.

It said larger political dynamics sent signals to the political elites that the existing duopolistic settlement generates political uncertainty and needed to be replaced by the logic of monopolistic partyarchy.

It said successive regimes were able to progressively monopolise the leadership of the association by ensuring that the FBCCI's elections reflect pre-determined outcomes.

The paper said business-state relation throughout the (CPS) Competitive Party System (1991-2013) stage largely exhibited the dynamics of clientelistic incorporation rather than transiting towards a liberal pluralist order as pluralist interest group theory would have predicted. The impacts of post-2014 (DPS) Dominant Party System on the collective action dynamics of the business community seems to be significant," it said, adding that the partyarchal control over the prominent associations appeared to have reached an unprecedented level.

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