Bangladesh needs to calculate Green Gross Domestic Product (GDP) instead of traditional national income accounting system to consider valuation of subsoil minerals by using System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA), speakers said.
They, however, said the country needs to balance between taking care of environmental degradation and development.
Bangladesh does not afford to follow all standard producers of environmental aspect in the path of development, they added.
Replying to the concern raised by a number of speakers about the possible damage that might happen to the Sundarbans after the implementation of Rampal Power Plant, state Minister for finance Abdul Mannan said the Sundarbans is certainly "our priority but saving future generation is more important."
"We committed to people to make development, provide electricity, build roads etc and we have to do that even by doing some damages to our environment," the state minister said.
He was speaking as the chief guest at the seminar on 'Natural Resources, National Income and Planning in Bangladesh'.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the seminar at its office in the city.
BIISS Senior Research Fellow Mahfuz Kabir presented keynote paper titled 'Valuation of Subsoil Minerals: Application of SEEA for Bangladesh'.
In his keynote paper, Mahfuz Kabir said his study aims at undertaking valuation of three most important sub-soil minerals, viz. natural gas, coal and hard rock using SEEA, which has not yet undertaken in Bangladesh.
He said the valuation of selected sub-soil minerals provides a few powerful insights into conventional national income accounting.
"The resources are extracted or depleted to earn income for the life of their respective stocks, and revalued for increasing or decreasing the value of the stock…," he said.
He also said there might be unexpected events like depreciation or catastrophic losses in which the physical stock is also depleted without earning income, which are also deducted from the physical and monetary balance sheets.
He said the paper reveals that the GDP in current market price calculated in SEEA is much higher than that of traditional System of National Accounts (SNA) which is currently followed by BBS.
Director of National Accounting Wing of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) said if the country had followed environmental degradation into account during planning of projects, many development projects would not have been successful.
Dhaka University Geology Professor Badrul Imam said environmental damage is inevitable in any projects. "The question is how much we would allow it to happen."
Terming Rampal Power Plant a destructive one, he said destroying the Sundarbans for only a 1,300MW power plant is totally absurd, while Bangladesh is planning to produce 20,000-MW power from coal-based plants only by 2030.
DU Development Studies Professor Rashed Al Titumir said this issue has to be addressed by politicians. Shifting from GDP calculation to Green GDP is a political decision.
He also criticised the BBS for producing unreliable and politically-motivated data.
BIISS Director General AKM Abdur Rahman chaired the seminar.