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Resource mobilisation, skill enhancement and good governance should be highlighted in the upcoming BDF: Mustafizur Rahman

Published in The Financial Express  on Monday, 9 October 2017

BDF meet set for January next

Govt to seek fund support for SDGs

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan

Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF), a common platform of the government and development partners, is set to meet in January next year after a gap of more than two years.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the two-day event scheduled on January 17 and 18 at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the capital, top government officials said.

The government-donor dialogue is taking place at a time when the country is in its mid-stage of implementing the Seventh Five-Year Plan (FYP) spanning a period from 2016 to 2020, and is looking to gear up external support for the UN-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As per the official figures, the resource envelope needed for implementation of the FYP will be Tk. 31.9 trillion (US$ 409 billion) at FY2016 prices — an estimated 78 per cent of which would come from private investment while 22 per cent from public investment.

The highly-anticipated event will focus on reviewing the progress of the FYP implementation with particular emphasis on strengthening the multi-stakeholder partnership for attaining the SDGs, said the officials.

“Given the timing of the event, this BDF will give us an excellent opportunity to review the progress of the FYP implementation,” said Monowar Ahmed, additional secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD), the government agency that will be responsible for steering the forum.

The event comes just months after the government’s adopting a financing strategy for the SDGs — around US$ 928 billion worth of additional resources is estimated to be required over the next thirteen years for achieving the 17 SDGs.

Of the amount, around $ 96.68 billion has to come through foreign direct investment while around $ 35.69 billion has to be channeled through foreign aid and grants.

On an average, an additional US$ 2.55 billion in foreign aid and grants would be required for implementation of the SDGs in Bangladesh.

“As such, this BDF will give us an opportunity to look for ways to align our national development planning with the SDGs while garnering the donors’ support for implementing the SDGs where foreign aid and grants would be crucial,” Planning Commission member Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam said.

According to sources, thematic areas that are likely to be covered at the BDF would include poverty, food security, climate action, FDI, ensuring an enabling environment for private sector, market-based skills, quality health and education, public sector capacity building, taxation etc.

The event will also discuss issues like tackling inequality and socio-economic marginalisation, violence against women, inflation, unemployment as well as challenges of LDC transition.

“Other than the opening session, there will be six to eight sessions of the BDF, focusing on a number of thematic areas,” said Mr Monowar.

Economists and development practitioners opined that in the current development context of Bangladesh, issues related to effective use of foreign aid and the smooth graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status should get the priority in the BDF discussion.

“In addition, issues like domestic resource mobilisation, skill enhancement and good governance should also be highlighted extensively in the upcoming BDF”, said Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) — the country’s leading research body.

The last BDF, took place in November 2015, came up with a communique featuring recommendations for a number of priority areas including agriculture, food security, climate change, energy, Infrastructure, governance, health, quality, education, social protection and gender mainstreaming.

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