Entrants into the job market are not getting adequate opportunities as the country's investment situation has not improved, a pre-budget roundtable was told on Monday.
Speaking there, economists, business leaders and civil society members recommended special programmes and targetted budgetary allocations for raising investments and creating massive jobs.
At least 6.6 million Bangladeshis, who are capable of doing permanent jobs, cannot be provided with employment opportunities, according to the Labour Force Survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
Shamsul Alam, a member of the Planning Commission's General Economics Division, said many Bangladeshis do not want to invest at home.
"They love to send their children abroad... This is a problem of our mindset," he regretted addressing the roundtable titled “What kind of budget we expect’. It was jointly organised by Prothom Alo and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) at its Karwan Bazar office in the capital.
Dwelling on the investment scenario, the participants expressed their apprensions that many programmes would be accommodated in the upcoming budget keeping an eye on the next general elections.
However, Shamsul Alam, a senior secretary of the government, said the budget would not focus merely on the elections. "It would not be an ambitious budget either."
He added that focus will be made on safetynet programmes and rural infrastructure development.
ICAB president Dewan Nurul Islam said the private sector investment scenario remains a matter of concern.
“Both foreign direct investment and domestic investment situation is not good and export growth rate is not in satisfactory stage,” he said.
Despite economic growth and certain development in recent times, investment situation has not been rosy, said former chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Faruque Ahmed Siddiqui.
He expressed concern about the growing inequality and a lack of good governance.
On widening inequality, Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman pointed out that wealth inequality is on the rise.
BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman insisted that the main focus of the budget should be on job creation.
“We need to focus on vocational and technical education and special allocation is needed in this sector for job creation,” he said.
Former chairman of National Board of Revenue Abdul Majid said the people’s participation should be ensured in budget formulation and the revised budget should be discussed in detail in parliament.
The CPD distinguished fellow. Mustafizur Rahman. emphasised the need for utilising potential of special economic zones. “We need to speed up the progress (of utilising the zones). We need to invest in infrastructure building,” he said.
Referring to inadequate allocations for education, former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury said it remained at 2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
She underlined the need for skills development.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association executive director Syeda Rizwana Hasan stressed on bringing discipline in the transport sector and also urged authorities to take initiatives to make the waterways operational in Dhaka’s seven rivers and to save the rivers from encroachment.
BASIS president Syed Almas Kabir said there should be no tax on products used for information technology infrastructure development.
Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association president Muhammad Ahsan Ullah, ICBA council members Kamrul Abedin, Parvin Mahmud, AF Nesaruddin, Shahdat Hossain, and Farhad Hossain, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies researcher Naznin Ahmed, and Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Qayyum addressed the roundtable moderated by ICBA council member Humayun Kabir.