How can the idea of compact townships be established?
Allocation of funds from the budget will not help create compact townships. A separate law has to be enacted to develop this concept. It will contribute greatly towards the country's growth. Bangladesh will easily jump up to the level of middle income countries if we set up compact townships in rural areas. I know that several ministers have already talked about the concept of compact townships, but this is not yet at an implementation level.
So you think higher investment in cities can impede the country's growth in future?
If you look at Bangkok, they have developed a great amount of infrastructure there; like underground and overground metro rails and flyovers. But they still have the same kind of traffic jam and vast numbers of rural people flock to Bangkok city. We do not need a Bangkok in Bangladesh.
So budget allocations and private investment should be focused on the development of compact townships in rural areas.
If the government spends more funds to create facilities like flyovers for city dwellers that will only create crowding in the cities.
Are you sure we have a comparative advantage in agriculture?
I am quite sure that we have comparative advantage in the production of paddy. We can export rice in massive volumes. My research has revealed that local rice production will increase by 30% if farmers get the opportunity to export their crop. I know that cheap rice from india enters our local markets, which makes an adverse impact on local rice production.
If we have townships in rural areas, instead of going to big cities, farmers who cultivate the Rajnigandha flower in Jessore can export their ware to Japan using Internet from the township.
Why is Bangladesh lacking in big foreign investments?
It is probably the uncertainty that is the major reason behind the lack of local and foreign investment in Bangladesh. Everyone knows a free and fair and participatory election can change the country's investment situation. Big and flagship firms do not want to come to Bangladesh due to uncertainty.
How does the government growth projection look?
The criticism of the government is facing from development partners over its GDP growth projection can be resolved if we can look into Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data. We need to know how they weigh data from different sectors of Bangladesh for the growth projection.