PM Hasina for utilising untapped potentials of ‘Blue Economy’

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses the ECNEC meeting held at NEC conference room in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area, Dhaka, on 11 April 2023BSS

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday asked the authorities concerned to put emphasis on utilising the untapped potentials of the ‘Blue Economy’.

The prime minister gave the directive while chairing a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) held at the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Ministers, state ministers, planning commission members and secretaries concerned attended the meeting.

Later, Planning Minister MA Mannan and State Minister for Planning Shamsul Alam briefed the newspersons about the outcome of the meeting.

The planning minister said the day’s meeting approved a total of 11 projects involving an overall estimated cost of Taka 13,655.98 crore (nearly Tk 136.56 billion). “Of the total project cost, Taka 3,129.87 crore (nearly 31.30 billion) will come from the government while the rest of Taka 10,526.11 crore (over 105.26 billion) as project assistance.

Alam said the issue of ‘Blue Economy’ mainly came into the forefront when the government was framing the ‘Delta Plan 2100’.

He also said that a separate chapter has been dedicated to the ‘Blue Economy’ in the Delta Plan while they have also proposed earlier for launching Blue Bond to bridge the funding gap for materialising the Delta Plan-2100 since the issuance of such kind of ‘Blue Bond’ could be very much attractive while many countries have also issued it.

The state minister noted that although many years have elapsed after the country’s maritime boundary verdict, but the progress towards tapping ‘Blue Economy’ is not so much due to lack of coordinated efforts to some extent. He also informed that a Delta Wing is also being formed to expedite the process in this regard.

General Economics Division (GED) member of the Planning Commission, Md. Kawser Ahmed, said that the prime minister is not in favour of forming the separate ministry on ‘Blue Economy’.

He further said that they are framing a report on how to institutionalise the initiative of ‘Blue Economy’ and how to add the contributions of such economy to the GDP.

The planning minister also said that the prime minister was apprised about the summary of the latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey which will be unveiled on Wednesday.

Mannan said that prime minister was happy to see the outcomes of the report especially the downward trend of the poverty rate despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine War.

Regarding the issue of uncounted contributions of women to the GDP, the prime minister said this is not acceptable as had the contributions especially the household contributions of the women been added, the GDP would have been much higher.

He also said that the females usually do many works like as washing clothes, cooking adding that the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) has been directed in this regard to make some work.

Shedding lights on the issue, Alam said that the BBS estimates the GDP following the system of national accounts in light of the Statistical Commission of the United Nations.

Due to limitations in international formula, he suggested for forming a shadow satellite account and thus estimating the contributions of the women through pricing their labour in the financial terms.

Turning to the issue of building sluice gates in the haor regions, the planning minister said that the prime minister has expressed her concerns over such infrastructures and asked the authorities concerned to come out gradually from building such sluice gates.

Sheikh Hasina also directed the authorities for not constructing any permanent road in the haor region rather for constructing all-weather roads.

While repairing the flood affected roads, she directed the LGRD minister for building culverts in those areas of the roads where the pressure of water was immense.

The planning minister said that the prime minister has also directed the Secondary and Higher Education Division as well as the Technical and Madrasah Education Division to prioritise the orphans of the Shishu Poribar in imparting technical based education.

When asked whether the price hike of fertiliser would put an impact on inflation, Mannan said there might be an impact, but it was not possible right at the moment to determine the extent of impact.

Supplementing the planning minister, Alam said there would be no impact of this if there is high yield of food grains.

Replying to a question, Mannan said that the prime minister is not in favour of recruiting many consultants in the development projects as the local human resources has improved a lot.

He also informed that the trend of incorporating consultants in the projects would decline in the coming days.

Answering to another question, planning division secretary Satyajit Karmakar said that the project for constructing Chancery Complex in Islamabad has been revised again since there has been huge inflation in Pakistan side by side the government of Bangladesh wants to make it more scenic and a ‘flagship project’.

Of the approved 11 projects, seven are new while four others are revised.

The approved projects in the meeting are: Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J), 2nd revised with an additional cost of Taka 931.5 million, construction of some 34 buffer warehouses in various parts of country to facilitate preservation and distribution of fertiliser, 1st revised with an additional cost of over Taka 3.65 billion, Bangladesh Environmental Sustainability and Transformation Project (BEST) with nearly Taka 29.96 billion, Emergency assistance to rehabilitate flood management with Taka 7 billion, affected rural infrastructures rehabilitation due to flood in 2022  with emergency support from ADB with Taka 11.23 billion, development of Sylhet-Charkhai-Sheowla highway with Taka 42.57 billion, rehabilitation of Sylhet Chatakbazar section of Bangladesh Railway severely affected due to flood in 2022 with over Taka 2.41 billion, emergency assistance to reconstruct water supply and sanitation system affected due to flood with nearly Taka 3.44 billion, construction of Bangladesh Chancery Complex at Islamabad (4th revised) with an additional cost of Taka 175.6 million, development of Bangladesh Land Survey Education (1st revised) with an additional cost of Taka 614.3 million and accelerating transport and trade connectivity in eastern South Asia (access)-Bangladesh, phase-1 (BLPA component) with over Taka 34.57 billion.