SANEM’s IDRC Project Inception Workshop

SANEM organized an inception workshop regarding its three years long IDRC research project on “Changing Labor Markets in Bangladesh: Understanding Dynamics in Relation to Economic Growth and Poverty”, on 8 March, 2014, Saturday at the BRAC Center Inn, Dhaka.

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With the support from International Development Research Centre (IDRC) this workshop brought together academician, researchers, policy makers, donor agencies and diplomats. The workshop focused on closing the gaps in research on labor markets in Bangladesh which have important implications for sustainable economic growth, employment generation and related lessons for other developing countries as well. With a welcome speech, the event was initiated by Dr. Selim Raihan (Executive Director of SANEM). The other renowned personalities were Dr. Shamsul Alam (Member, GED, Planning Commission of Bangladesh), Dr. Edgard R. Rodriguez (Sr. Program Specialist of IDRC), Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman (Executive Director, Institute of Governance Studies, BRAC University), Dr. Zaidi Sattar (Chairman, Policy Research Institute), Dr. Binayak Sen (Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies), Dr. Iffath Shariff (Senior Economist, World Bank) and Mr. Arshad Jamal (Director, BGMEA).

The event was chaired by Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam. Dr. Selim Raihan briefly explained the research goals of this project which mainly focused on labor market issues in Bangladesh. His presentation covered the overview, methodology, objectives, sectors of interest and current status of the project. Dr. Edgard Rodriguez also elaborated on the issues presented by Dr. Selim Raihan.

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During the panel discussion, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman raised the issue of growing labor force of Bangladesh and optimistically expressed that non-rural firm sectors were capable of absorbing this growing potential labor force. Dr. Binayak Sen, Research Director, BIDS, emphasized on how the creation of job with economic growth in Bangladesh helped maintain social cohesion. He highlighted on exploiting country’s comparative advantages in promotion of growth and employment and asserted that good governance would follow such development process. Dr. Zaidi Sattar, Chairman, Policy Research Institute, underscored the need for the promotion of export orientated policies and also letting FDI in RMG and other sectors. He emphasized on the positive lessons learnt from the RMG sector in Bangladesh and extending such lessons in other sectors for export diversification. The need for an institution, for independent studies on labour issues, was pointed out by Mr. Arshad Jamal, the BGMEA Director. He also elaborated on the success stories of the RMG sector in Bangladesh. He pointed to the gradual rise in wage in the RMG sector in recent years, despite political unrest and problems faced by the sector. According to him a practice of effective social dialogue could resolve the critical issues related with RMG sector. Dr. Iffath Shariff, Senior Economist, World Bank, Dhaka, reasoned poverty, marriage, social restriction for slower growth in females’ labor market participation.

IDRC Workshop

The workshop was interactive as the participants shared their opinions and recommendations on relevant issues. There were interventions from many including Professor M. Ismail Hossain (Department of Economics, North South University), Professor A. K. M. Atiqur Rahman (Department of Economics, North South University), Ms. Simeen Mahmud (Lead Researcher, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development), Md. Ariful Haque ( Deputy Director, Board of Investment) and Mr. Saqib Qureshi (Secretary of MCCI). The workshop concluded with summary, greetings and gratitude from Dr. Selim Raihan.

The news of this workshop can also be found at the following dailies:
Financial Express : http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/03/09/22468
Banik Barta : http://www.bonikbarta.com/last-page/2014/03/09/34332