Experts at a webinar on Saturday observed that the The 8FYP (eighth five year plan) will play a key role over the next five years to achieve broader development goals, such as, becoming an upper middle-income country and eliminating extreme poverty by 2031 and implementing the perspective plan 2041.
They said the 8FYP will be launched in 2020 when the world has been affected by an unprecedented economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apart from exposing and heightening the pre-existing challenges in the economic and social sectors, the pandemic has created new sets of challenges as well.
The webinar on “Expected Reflections of youth and gender issues in the five-year plans in light of the pandemic” was organized by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) in support with ActionAid Bangladesh.
Planning Minister MA Mannan joined the program as chief guest with Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, Farah Kabir in the chair.
Dr. SaymaHaqueBidisha, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka moderated the webinar while EshratSharmi, Senior Research Associate, SANEM presented the keynote on the occasion.
Speakers suggested that the key sectors to be focused in the 8FYP are Education, Employment and Income, Health, Poverty and Social Safety Net.
Experts, while exchanging views in the webinar opined that the nation has been experiencing a demographic window of opportunity, which will diminish around 2040. While investing more on the human capital development, particularly on the youth will be crucial to utilize demographic dividend, failure to comprehend and incorporate pandemic related challenges faced by the youths in the policy discussions will compromise broader development goals.
Thus, in the wake of the pandemic, the way the 8FYP might address the challenges faced by the youths and females, will be crucial elements towards sustainable recovery.
They opined that youths contribute to an economy as wage earners and entrepreneurs, educators and innovators, health professionals, volunteers, and political leaders. Moreover, globalization, technological advances, and the spread of social networking offer a new window for youth to contribute, connect, and actively participate in economic and social development.
The keynote paper mentioned that being one of the main contributors to the economy, youths can drive an economy forward.For Bangladesh, the demographic window has created the opportunity of seizing hugeyouth-potential to achieve sustainable development.
“If the majority of the youths can significantly contribute to economic, social, and political life in a way that helps to reduce poverty, ensure greater stability, and promotes healthier societies, the development will be accelerated. But, there are some challenges too. If the government is unable to address the needs of the youth, the peace-progress-prosperity of the nation will be compromised”, keynote said.
Besides, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the difficulties faced by youths and creating new ones in terms of long-term health complications, educational disruptions, wage moderations, job losses as well as increasing cases of domestic violence.
Thus, theactual impact of the demographic window will depend on how the government regards the youths. Therefore, the youthful demographic landscape should be a central part of any development policy like five-year plans.
Speakers also said the 8FYP, the crucial development plan document of Bangladesh, is knocking at the door to be launched.
The 8FYP is expected to provide a footprint to avail the maximum potential from the countries’ young population. So, there is a crucial need to assess the expectations from the Eighth Five Year Plan from young people’s perspective in the present COVID-19 context.
The webinar also discussed the lessons learntfrom the past Five Year Plans, where the gaps lied, and where the situation might worsen given the nature of the pandemic. It will also discuss the priorities that should be given in the next Five Year Plan under the present scenario. This would be a very timely and necessary discussion, which will have policy implications and may help in the modification of the 8FYP.