Vol. 5 Num 194 Thu. December 09, 2004  

No aid needed at cost of national pride
Saifur tells BEA biennial conference

Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman yesterday said Bangladesh does not need foreign aid at the cost of its dignity and pride.

"I do not want to see Bangladesh crying like a child in the international forum for aid. We are no more interested in that sort of aid," he said while addressing a session of the fifteenth biennial conference of Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) in Dhaka yesterday.

Saifur observed the international aid should not be sought surrendering national dignity.

He said the country does not lack resources rather it lacks capacity of resource utilisation and policy implementation.

He said Bangladesh has reason to be proud of as it is feeding over 140 million people with a small land of only 55,000 square kilometers.

"Still we have huge unutilized resources which can create extra dimension in our economy if explored properly, Saifur said.

He underscored the need for good governance, good politics, bringing reforms in various sectors and internal resource mobilisation for a self-reliant Bangladesh. "Good governance cannot be ensured without good politics in the country. But, we have to generate more resources to meet development expenditure."

The finance minister also highlighted on developing the agricultural sector through diversification of crops, adoption of high yielding varieties for increased production and development of human resources through education and training for sustaining in the twenty-first century.

He also underscored the need for a neutral and informative press, freedom of Bangladesh Bank, healthy political environment, strengthening National Board of Revenue's authority in tax collection for macro economic stability in Bangladesh.

The minister said the challenge for Bangladesh's economy is to decide whether it should spend money for infrastructure development for job creation or for education and health care services.

He noted that the education programme for women received appreciation throughout the world.

Saifur who returned from India after attending a world economic forum meeting told the seminar that many delegates showed interest in Bangladesh's education programme for women. "We are ahead of many countries in this regard."

Referring to inter-trade agreements among Saarc countries, the finance minister ridiculed various trade negotiations which are going on in the name of FTA, Safta and BIMST-EC and termed those as 'talk shops' without generating any meaningful result.

"I urged the Indian leaders to allow all goods from Bangladesh instead of accepting a preference list for taking a lead in economic development in the region."

Regarding poverty reduction strategy of the government Saifur said the target of poverty reduction is a short-term goal but the final goal is to create job opportunity and increase people's earnings.

He also underscored the safety net measures for the ultra poor and vulnerable groups for survival in a free economic society. He said the vulnerability in the economy began in 60s and it is still prevailing.

Eminent economist Prof Musharraf Hossain inaugurated the biennial conference in the morning while BEA President Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad presided over the session.