Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) jointly organized a stakeholder dialogue on “Dhaka’s Economic Future: Prospects and Challenges” at DCCI on 23 February, 2017. Executive Chairman, PPRC Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman moderated the stakeholder dialogue. Chief Economist of World Bank South Asia region Martin Rama shared some key issues of Dhaka’s economic potentials.
DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan said Dhaka’s traffic congestion alone is costing the country about taka 20,000 to 30,000 crore every year. He also said it is estimated that about 40% of total urban population live in Dhaka.He said we need to reduce the Dhaka centric urbanization. A planned and systematic overall urbanization is needed and therefore, we feel that serious thought process needs to be given in the decentralization of Dhaka city from both economic and administrative prospective.Dhaka Chittagong Economic Corridor can be one of the solutions to decentralization of Dhaka, he told. He said it is a common perception among the mass people that ‘Dhaka is Bangladesh and Bangladesh is Dhaka’ as every wants to come to Dhaka for livelihood. We have to come out of this perception. For economic activities government should focus all over the country irrespective of urban and rural area. He urged the government to formulate a long term strategic plan for inner Dhaka, outer Dhaka and greater Dhaka. He also urged for an effective and well covered rail network across the country.
Executive Chairman of PPRC Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman said Dhaka has a great economic potential which is still untapped. He also said that Dhaka could be the best connector to link other parts of the country. He said livability in Dhaka is an economic concern. He also said that RAJUK should consult with the business community to include economic plan in its master plan. He also said that equal development of Dhaka as well as all suburbs of the country would reach us to attain the middle income country status. Dr. Zillur emphasized for cluster based economic zones in Dhaka to make it a connectivity hub in the country. According to a study conducted by PPRC last year, a family in Dhaka incomes BDT 38,000 on an average, he said. He also said despite Dhaka’s livability is less but its economic vibrancy is high and untapped. He also said if health, education, transportation and housing system improve, other cities of the country will gain the same economic potential like Dhaka. So the government should have growth governance in policy formulation.
Chief Economist of World Bank, South Asia Region Martin Rama presented some key issues of Dhaka’s economic concern. Dhaka is one of the fastest growing cites in the world, he told. He said too many authorities and bureaucracy sometimes hamper speedy infrastructure development. He also said that the economic potentials of greater Dhaka is immense and a proper policy guideline can tap this opportunities.
Eminent urban planner Prof. Dr. Nazrul Islam, Chairman of Ganashastha Kendro Dr. Zafarullah Chowdhury, Prof. Nurul Amin of North South University, former DCCI Director AKD Khair Mohammad Khan, General Secretary of Institute of Planners Akter Mohammad, President, Bangladesh Institute of Planners Prof. Abul Kalam, DCCI member MS Siddiqui, former Chief Engineer of Dhaka City Corporation Md. Nurullah, DCCI Director Kh. Rashedul Ahsan, former Director, FBCCI Abdul Huq also spoke on the occasion. The discussants said that many RMG factories have already been shifted outside Dhaka, Tanneries will be relocated to Savar. But these businesses should be replaced by other businesses in a planned manner to keep Dhaka’s economic possibilities. Dr. Zafarullah said we have to eradicate policy inconsistencies and have to give focus on health sector. Prof. Nazrul Islam emphasized for a comprehensive study on the economy of Dhaka including the informal economic sector. The discussants also pointed out that government should facilitate private sector for the real growth. Akter Mohammad, General Secretary Institute of Planners urged for implementing a mass transport system in Dhaka. He said in last seven years 30,000 apartments remained unsold. They all opined that Dhaka’s economic future is bright but still untapped. President, Bangladesh Institute of Planners Prof. Abul Kalam said there should be coordination between RAJUK and business community so that RAJUK could realize the business prospects of Dhaka while planning. Dhaka is doing better than Barisal or Rajshahi but compared to Seoul or Bangkok is not. We have to think over it, the discussants opined. Prof. Nurul Amin of North South University said we have failed to convert our population density to economic density.
DCCI Senior Vice President Kamrul Islam, FCA gave vote of thanks. DCCI Vice President Hossain A Sikder, Directors Asif A Chowdhury, Imran Ahmed, K. Atique-e-Rabbani, FCA, Kh. Rashedul Ahsan, former Director Rizwan Ur Rahman and Secretary General AHM Rezaul Kabir were also present during the meetng.