UNESCAP projects GDP growth at 6.8pc

Dhaka,  Thu,  29 June 2017
Published : 29 Apr 2016, 00:10:26 | Updated : 29 Apr 2016, 10:19:05
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UNESCAP projects GDP growth at 6.8pc

'Economy facing uncertainties'
UNESCAP projects GDP growth at 6.8pc
FE Report



The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) projected Bangladesh's economic growth at 6.8 per cent in 2016.

The government set the growth target at 7.0 per cent for current fiscal (2015-16).

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth is also expected to pick up to 7.0 per cent next year (2017), said the ESCAP Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016, released in Dhaka on Thursday.

"It is more likely that growth may be about 6.8 per cent in line with the country's growth performance in recent years and inflation is expected to remain low," said Dr. Shuvojit Banarjee, Economic Affairs Officer, UN ESCAP, Bangkok, while presenting the survey report at a launching meeting jointly organised by the United Nations Information Centre and the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in the city.

The report, however, identified several mid-term challenges, including some external economic factors as well as political uncertainties. The ESCAP economist also said that growth might be pushed up further if these challenges are addressed accordingly.

The report strongly suggested the need for reducing infrastructure and energy shortage, broadening the export base beyond garments and ensuring decent work conditions and labour rights.

"The economic outlook for developing Asia-Pacific economies  is broadly stable but clouded by uncertainties,"  said the report adding that the impact of low economic growth in developed economies continue to linger in the Asia Pacific region.

To overcome the difficulties, the report suggested the countries to strengthen efforts to stimulate domestic and regional demand, diversify the export base and strengthen agriculture giving emphasis on rural industrialisation.

According to the survey, progress in reducing poverty is slowing down and inequalities are rising in much of the region. At the same time, an expanding middle class and rapid urbanisation are posing complex economic, social, and environmental and governance challenges.

The region, the report said, also faces increased financial volatility and capital outflows which have limited the space for monetary policy maneuvering despite overall low inflation.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Distinguished Fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya also expressed his concern over the economic meltdown in developed countries that might affect the country's export as well as remittance inflows.

The rising interest rate in the US, Mr Debapriya said, might encourage outflow of capital from the countries of the region.

According to the ESCAP, a large share of population in Asia Pacific region is experiencing a decelerating trend in the rate of poverty reduction and similarly income inequalities have worsened in recent days.  

Faster growth in previous decades has resulted in a noticeable increase in the size of the middle class in many countries in the region.  

Rapid urbanisation also significantly raised the region's exposure  to natural hazards by exacerbating existing risks and creating new ones.

Dealing with these challenges, the ESCAP said, requires government policies that, among others, would lead to development of necessary infrastructure and improve social support structures.

Mr Debapriya also stressed the need for quick implementation of mega projects to attract private as well as foreign investments and called for taking immediate steps for improving labour productivity.

"Labour quality, which includes knowledge and skills as well as health of the workforce must be ensured to have higher productivity," said the economist adding that huge number of youths and women having higher secondary education remains unemployed as their education is not matching with today's demand.

He emphasised ensuring quality and relevance of education and reducing qualitative gap between education in urban and rural areas.

He also called for adequate allocation for health and education in the next budget.

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Robert D. Watkins presided over the launching programme which was attended by economists, government officials, NGO representatives, academicians and members from the civil society.

UNIC Officer-in-Charge M. Moniruzzaman in his welcome speech pointed out various aspects of the survey that discussed the impact of recent economic slowdown in Asia Pacific region in terms of its effects on poverty, inequality and employment prospects along with challenges posed by expanding middle class and rapid urbanisation.

    mzrbd@yahoo.com

 
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