Bangladesh has experienced steady economic growth
and made substantial strides in meeting the millennium development goals over the last two decades, but much more needs to be done to ensure inclusive growth if the country wants to gain a middle-income status, experts said.
They were addressing the opening day session of a conference on Bangladesh's development challenges that kicked off in California, USA, on Friday.
Bangladesh Development Initiative (BDI) and the Centre for South Asia Studies of UC Berkeley organised the three-day event -- Bridging the policy action divide: challenges and prospects for Bangladesh -- at the University of California Berkeley.
MGH Group, a leading Bangladeshi business conglomerate, alongside USAID, the Asia Foundation and Southeast Bank supported the programme.
On the country's development challenges, experts said improvements in education, infrastructure and communication, financial markets, and legal systems are needed to attract more foreign investment and encourage the emergence of domestic enterprises.
Besides, the problems of unplanned urbanisation and the need for environmental management must go hand in hand with growth and employment creation in a country that is one of the most densely populated in the world.
Munir Quddus, BDI president and a professor at Prairie View University in the US, said panel discussions were also organised to address diverse topics of current policy interest, including mitigating corruption in Bangladesh; achieving high growth through inclusive development; gender issues; capital goods industry; regional cooperation.
The diaspora has a vital role to play, although many Bangladeshis living abroad are not well known for their entrepreneurial efforts to serve Bangladesh, said Quddus.
The conference will help to highlight the role of the Bangladesh diaspora, he said.
BDI is a USA-based non-profit organisation comprised of independent scholars associated with institutions of higher education in the United States.
The organisation is involved in scholarly exchanges between the US and Bangladesh through establishing educational programmes, and organising conferences that debate policy prerogatives for Bangladesh and its various sectors.
Keynote speakers on the opening day included Prof Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue; Zaidi Sattar, chairman of the Policy Research Institute; Dan Mozena, US ambassador to Bangladesh, and Saad Andaleeb, former president of BDI and professor at Pennsylvania State University, USA.