Speakers at a seminar on Thursday urged the planners not to ignore development of Chittagong Port while planning a deep-sea port for boosting external trade.
Jointly organised by Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), Chittagong Research Initiative (CRI) and daily Banik Barta in the city the seminar deplored that decentralization of administration and power remained political rhetoric.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chief of PPRC presented a keynote paper on "Global Port, Global City: Prioritising Chittagong for Accelerating National Growth".
The study argues whether the government priorities should be prioritised for development of Chittagong, the emerging hub of economic activities which envisage a target of $50 billion in ready-made-garments (RMG) alone.
The seminar was attended by Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, as the chief guest while Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, ex-chairman, Privatisation Commission, Dr Saleuddin Ahmed, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, AMM Nasiruddin, Abdul Majid Khan, chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange, Dr Sultan Hafiz, executive director of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, Dr Abdul Karim, ED of PKSF, Dr Mainul Islam Mahmud, Dr Chris Pablo of the World Bank, Abdul Haque of FBCCI, Shorab Hassan, senior journalist of Prothom Alo also spoke.
The seminar was attended by representatives of trade and business bodies, social leaders, academicians, media practitioners and youth leaders.
Dr Rahman, former adviser to last Caretaker Government said Chittagong the second largest city generates 25 per cent of national revenue alone from the natural seaport, which dates back to 9th century. The port city enjoys rich hinterland in the region, he said.
With the maritime boundaries have extended, Chittagong has the potentiality to grow to exploit blue economy resources. Along with emerging industries of shipbuilding, oil refineries, steel and tourism, Chittagong will remain a second tier city of Bangladesh.
Dr Rahman, an development economist is dismayed to observe the departure of business and administration headquarters.
Dr Abdul Karim echoed Rahman's observation and advised to move Department of Shippings, Coast Guard headquarter, Railway and other relevant government offices to Chittagong.
It was also suggested to form a task force headed by Ministry of Commerce to recommend strategies to decentralise the government offices, departments and ministries which has direct relevance in management and development of Chittagong infrastructure for increasing economic progress, Dr Karim said.
Zillur Rahman speaking on blind spots in growth policy stated that severe governance setbacks, which compromise operational autonomy, rampant corruption and political influence have caused hindrance in developing Chittagong from global port combined with global city.
"There are ample opportunities to develop Chittagong into global standard in improving handling time efficiency, technical automation, governance of operating performances. Chittagong remains between gap and expectation of reality," Dr Rahman argued.
The vision for development of the ancient seaport could be organised through robust civic dialogue process. The planning process should be in reverse mode. Instead of creating a supply-driven white elephant, it should be demand-driven prioritisation of development agenda, the development economist said.
He, however lamented that global port cannot co-exist with moffussil city (Chittagong). The importance of city attractiveness in terms of education, culture and quality of life, he added.
The seminar spelled six urban priorities for Chittagong 2030. A holistic waste management, water-logging reduction action plan, improve public transportation, optimal land utilisation that priorities zoning opportunities, branding recovery initiative through city landmarks and civic culture campaign and establishment of civic platform to promote global city ambitions of Chittagong towards a sustainable urbanisation in Bangladesh.