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Mario Pezzini: Growth needs to be backed by citizens’ well-being

  • Published at 10:13 pm December 10th, 2019
Mario Pezzini, Director of OECD Development Centre, Paris, delivers his lecture on ‘New Perspective of Global Development’ at a local hotel on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

'Social discontent and protest movement have recently flared across the globe'

Economic growth alone would not mean sustainable development of a country unless it was supported by the well-being of its citizens, said Mario Pezzini, director of OECD Development Centre.

Pezzini, also special advisor to OECD secretary-general on development, said the developing countries around the world witnessed rapid growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in recent period and other economic indicators. 

But, he observed, their social tensions remained active due to policy failure.

The visiting Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development leader made the remarks while giving a lecture on ‘New Perspective of Global Development’ at a local hotel.

The event was organized by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) to mark its fifth annual lecture.

“Social discontent and protest movement have recently flared across the globe. While Chile saw its economic growth upward, its development model failed to share the gains among all its citizens. This has resulted in the income and wealth inequality. A few weeks ago the country experienced the largest protests in its history, which could lead to reforms of their constitution,” he said.

Mario said with rapid economic growth a country gets a new group of middle-income people who upgrade from the lower tier of poverty.

“These people want better services from public sector and when they don’t get it, social tension is created. Also when the policy makers can’t find solution to people’s problems, the tension intensifies. These social tensions often are reflected on countries  political environment,” he elaborated. 

“On the other hand, it was seen that educated manpower of these countries are struggling to find jobs. The development policies should include education and productivity strategies into consideration to tackle unemployment problem. The developing nations should focus on technical education more,” he continued.

According to Mario, the income inequalities are on the rise in recent times.

“In the case of the US , the share of the wealth owned by top 0.1%  doubled from less than 10% in 1980s to 20% on Wednesday,” he said. 

To increase productivity, the countries concerned should consider segregation of development policies for urban and rural economies.

“All  people want to come to big cities for work which might increase productivity but creates other strains. If the policies are formulated considering area or location and strength of particular area then it will be more sustainable,” said Mario.

He suggested changes in the roles of donors and development partners active in the developing countries.

“Earlier there was just donor-receiver equation to eradicate poverty being the main focus. Now as the economic situation has changed in the developing countries, a new model to negotiate the development assistance is now a priority,” he said.

CPD Distinguished Fellow Mustafizur Rahman said the situation of Bangladesh was very similar to the case studies presented by Mario.

“The GDP fetish, productivity trap and social tension mentioned in the lecture were much related to our country perspective. We are facing similar challenges and new policy tools are required to tackle the situation,” he said.

The lecture was chaired by M Syeduzzaman, member, CPD Board of Trustees while CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun also spoke in the occasion.