Creating substitute sectors in the national economy
Bangladesh is moving fast in the course of development. After the grand celebration of benchmarked fifty years of being an independent nation, the list of achievements is undoubtedly long. Recently the country has achieved the milestone of gaining its GDP up to 8 surpassing the neighbouring countries. The term development implies a broader concept which encompasses the domain of advancements concerning people's inclusiveness and their interest in a flattened manner.
Our country is largely dependent on its garment industry which affords the major portion (almost 80%) of the total export earnings to the national economy. Nearly four million men and women are directly reliant on this sector. A huge number of manual workers work here for their livelihood and make quality garment wears for the western world's brand outlets and thus contribute a lot in the flow of national income by securing foreign currency.
There are several reasons to be thoughtful that Vietnam, now is in the third position, a very close contestant to Bangladesh in garment manufacturing, and has been heading quicker to be the dominating garments exporting country in the world. Vietnam has sound labour-welfare and fair-wage policy, national commerce policy, standard compliance modality, skilled human resource, and of course own technology-driven modern machinery.
In contrast, we have a comparatively cheap labour force. By and large, we have to undergo unrest, chaos, and conflict of interest between workers and owners, substandard compliances, and worker's welfare policy. Yet we still are making quality garments beating-up Vietnam. This is to be noted that in the future this tech-giant Vietnam will be the topmost country in this sector within its augmented capacity.
Our country must establish a national wage policy, competitive fringe benefits, safety, and compliances for the workers to create a congenial environment to be the market-dominating country in exporting garments in the entire world. We have also noticed the whimsical and sudden layoff early in 2020 in this sector. Many workers demonstrated to have their job back and to be well-paid blocking the roads. Several incidents like- fire and collapsing factory buildings have been manifested over the last decade. Henceforth, owners have to work for the worker's safety and total betterment as workers are an integral part of the industry.
A lion's share of the garment's raw materials and accessories is to source from China. Rather than being dependent on China, the concerned quarter has to think of becoming self-sufficient in the field of managing quality raw materials and accessories within the country's territory. If it happens, the industry will be able to thrive with maximum earnings in the years to come.
Another contributing sector to the country's national income is foreign remittance which is generated by our expatriate workers. There is a huge requirement for workers in the Middle-East including Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, Greece, South Korea, and South Africa. This is to say that our expatriate workers are mostly manual workers. Enduring physical and mental agony they send their hard-earned money to the country. After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the life-reality of the expatriate workers has been found miserable as many had faced forced discontinuance by their recruiting authority, and some of them experienced a ban over the transition. As the overseas recruitment policy of the concerned countries fairly changes, so complying with the reformed as well as newly adopted policies our migrant workers hardly draw a moderate salary for their bread and butter. Facing multiplex adversities and challenges many of the expatriate workers remain engaged with backbreaking jobs.
Bangladesh needs to create substitutes for expatriate workers and the garment industry. At least the country should have five other sectors except the prior two to keep consistency with the flow of the national earnings. Since Bangladesh has graduated from the status of a least developed country (LDC), it has numerous challenging states ahead. In this respect, policymakers and economic think-tanks need to address and determine other core wings for generating gross income rigorously strengthening the country's national capacity. On the other hand, predetermined two sectors of receiving foreign currency should be reshaped and must come under specific guidelines and pragmatic policies to sustain balanced economic growth and robust total income.
Bangladesh is approaching the fourth industrial revolution which requires a set of unique criteria to face the multifarious challenges in a bid to cope up with global competition and forthcoming trade-war. To embrace the inevitable perceptiveness of becoming a middle-income country and to keep the tempo with the planned development, the building of national capacity is significant. So, comprehensive development of the policies should be initiated about making humans a worthy capital, ensuring optimal utilization of natural resources, and structuring economic capacity by introducing substitute sectors on the ground of intense necessity.
The writer is a teaching professional