October 13, 2004


Last year the country's population stood at about 138 million and its labor force 68 million including child labor (+10). Out of which about 27 million people (39.9% of total workforce) are either unemployed or unemployed. For reference, the members of the labor force not doing any work at all or working less than 15 hours are considered unemployed and one working less than 35 hours considered underemployed. About one million job seekers are added to the statistics every year.

According to World Bank, to achieve a substantial reduction in unemployment & underemployment, Bangladesh needs to create over 50 million jobs in the next 25 years. To achieve that Bangladesh needs double digit growth and according to Debapriyo Bhattacharya, executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) :

"We will have to engage the labor force in waged jobs, particularly in the labor-intensive manufacturing sector.”

China has made the above possible to a great extent. So why can’t Bangladesh. What Bangladesh lacks is more foreign investment rather than aids. But these are the detriments of attracting foreign investment:

1) The political unrests in the country
2) Deteriorating law and order situation
3) Bureaucracy and corruption in establishing business ventures
4) High cost of doing business: compared to China, India and Pakistan, the cost of doing business in Bangladesh today is considerably higher. Among others, the judicial system and law enforcement have been cited as major factors that add to high cost in doing business.

Sadly our political parties are not addressing the situation correctly. The throne is the center of their attention. They will soon the situation out of control after phasing out of the quota system. A recent study of IMF said that Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) might fall by 1.5 per cent after the abolition of the quota system.


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