Mahfuja Mukul: Recently, the topic of famine is coming up in various discussions. The prime minister is speeding up the talks by expressing apprehension. At the government level, instructions have been given to reduce expenditure. Sheikh Hasina called for savings as well as reducing expenses at the individual level. He is expressing such concern considering the global situation.
How indicative is the Prime Minister’s apprehension and what should be done to overcome the crisis, Daily Industry was confronted by the former adviser to the caretaker government and economist Dr. AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former governor of Bangladesh Bank and economist Mohammad Farasuddin and Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed.
Dr. AB Mirza Azizul Islam said, “The situation will worsen if food production decreases in the world. We import food products. All rice and wheat have to be imported. Production in the world has decreased. The Russia-Ukraine war has driven up food prices.
Corona pandemic has brought down the collapse. All over the world the economy is in extreme condition. The effect of corona is still there. Poverty rate is increasing. Marginalized people are further marginalised. This situation cannot be called normal under any circumstances. If the crisis continues, famine is not uncommon. But even if there is a famine, people will not die like in 1974.
Mentioning that famine can also be caused by man-made causes, he said, ‘Natural causes are responsible for famine. But man-made factors are also responsible. A lot of money went out of the country.
Still being trafficked. People are sitting on the road before turning around due to corruption and irregularities. Money is going into the hands of a few people. Discrimination is increasing. Purchasing power is falling. Inflation is rising. Again, money laundering and defaulters are also increasing. Whose money is being taken, he has no idea. The government has to address these.
I have been talking about such inconsistencies in the economy for a long time. International organizations have been publishing information about money laundering and corruption in various ways. Not really taken into account. If measures were taken from the beginning, today’s situation would not have stood.
The Prime Minister is repeatedly talking about savings. Just as personal saving is the demand of time, so is nationally. There are many questions about development. Depopulated development will accelerate famine. If corruption and money laundering are not prevented, the situation will be more dire. You should not neglect one over the other. Mirza Azizul Islam added that the situation should be handled by taking all aspects into consideration.
Dr. Mohammad Farasuddin said, “The Prime Minister has basically expressed the fear of famine by taking into account the whole world. Bangladesh is not a country outside the world. The effect will fall. Famine will happen if we are not careful. You see, the import of goods has decreased in the last few years. Again, the production of food products has decreased in the country. The Prime Minister basically said this. He means that we have to give more effort. The production should be increased despite the hundred obstacles.
In the context of what to do, this economist said, ‘If we can protect mother nature, then nature itself will protect us. We have to increase our faith in nature. Everything should be done by robots or machines, this principle should also be abandoned. If we can use our vitality, labor power, then it is easy to deal with the crisis. Because it will bring equality among people. Everyone’s work will be evaluated. People will get the strength to live.
“The crisis is magnified in our media. This does not mean that I am trying to minimize the problem. there is a problem but there is a solution. If fear is shown too much, people lose energy. Let people return to nature, there will be no famine. Above all man is true, above him there is none. Farmers, workers should be given due respect. If necessary, more subsidies should be given to food production. To bring back communism, labor must pay the price. Workers’ rights should be established in production, transportation and marketing.
Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed said, “Our institutional weakness is bringing the danger closer.” Government sacrifices and private sacrifices no longer work from the inside. Look at the activities of last few years in institutions like Bangladesh Bank, BIDA, Bepza or Energy Regulatory Commission. will be disappointed Thousands of crores of rupees are being stolen and smuggled. There is no accountability. Some bank or person is involved in trafficking.
Arranged. Instead, he does not accept responsibility. You will not get the solution just by talking routine. It has to be addressed in a coordinated way.
Our ability to address has also decreased. This requires a democratic environment. Accountability has to be done to the people. It remains to be seen whether the government will do that. To reduce corruption, you have to come under accountability. Radical institutional reform is needed and it is everywhere.’
Referring to the global crisis, he said, ‘We have to import almost all food products. There is a crisis in the whole world. Sylhet’s flood has exceeded the level. At this time Sitrang rampage! All are effects of climate. Untimely floods, droughts. On the one hand, production has decreased in the world. On the other hand, our purchasing power has decreased. This is a challenge. People are actually worried. Famine may be the next discussion. People are not well right now. Reducing food. Not getting nutrition.
Time will tell if the prime minister is talking about famine. But caution is necessary. We need to prepare without political considerations.
Food imports should be increased and stocked. Increase agricultural subsidies. Social security must be ensured. Preparations should be made to deal with floods and droughts. There’s a lot to learn from the predicament I’m in now. We will get rid of famine only if we can get education.
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