The government can strengthen the private sector by capacitating the trade bodies
According to the Global Wealth Report 2019, the amount of global aggregate wealth is USD 360.6 trillion, which means per capita wealth is USD 70,850 and each living adult is supposed to have USD 70,850 of his own.
Nobody should be poor; no hunger should be there around the world. But the reality is only 1% people own 45% wealth of the world and the top 10% people owns 82% of the global wealth.
From macroeconomic perspective, the 16 wealthiest countries own the maximum wealth of this planet.
This uneven distribution of wealth is not happening deliberately, there are many reasons for that.
Social scientists, policy makers, government and development partners are trying to reduce this disparity and make a poverty-free, hunger-free world for us.
To achieve this objective poverty alleviation is the number one target. This single target cannot be achieved by a single stakeholder i.e. government, private sector, development partners etc. United effort of all the stakeholders is required to achieve it.
Private sector development is the easiest option to alleviate poverty and reduce social disparity. Making everyone economically rich is not possible but ensuring livelihoods and economic empowerment for all is essentially an achievable target.
A country is developed when its private sector is developed. Economic development is essential for social security, safety net, better standard of living, good governance so on and so forth.
Private sector development is also the number one objective of the government. Government is trying to formulate pro-private sector policies and facilitate private sector participation in decision making.
Stakeholders consultation has been essential before enacting any law or policy during the last couple of years. The government recently has been taking stakeholder's opinion into consideration,
To reflect the private sector's voices in the government policies, private sector needs to place recommendations with authentic statistics, research-based facts and proven economic models.
However, it is impossible for a company to conduct self-funded sector studies, advocating with concerned ministries, joining in the meetings to formulate a favourable business policy relevant to their sector.
Business promotion activities such as organizing a seminar, stakeholder's consultation meeting, hosting foreign trade delegation or sending a trade mission abroad etc. is not possible for a single company to conduct.
Therefore, trade bodies, namely chamber of commerce such as DCCI, MCCI and sectoral associations such as BGMEA, BKMEA etc. have emerged.
The main objective of the trade bodies is to promote private sector development in the country and develop liaison with the ministries and public agencies to formulate business-friendly policies of the government.
Trade bodies in many countries are part of the government and play the role of a catalyst to create and maintain a businessfriendly policy environment. But unfortunately, trade bodies are treated as bargainers or brokers in Bangladesh.
Limited acceptability of trade bodies to the government may be for three reasons.
Firstly, trade bodies lack the capacity to place their recommendations with proper factual statistics or the language bureaucracy that ministers want.
Secondly, the typical poor reputation of the labour union or bargainers have left a mark in the minds of the policy makers that impact the image of trade bodies as well. As a result, bureaucrats or political leaders have the perception that no matter how much trade bodies bargain, the government will formulate its policy on its own, regardless of their recommendation.
Thirdly, trade bodies are placing self-conflicting recommendations which leads the policy makers towards indecision; again, trade bodies are unable to justify what is needed for the greater interest of the country.
From the above three points, the fact that trade bodies need to be strengthened in terms of their capacity building can be inferred.
However, capacity building of the trade body personnel will come at a cost.
Most of the trade body personnel do not receive any training in a year.
Personnel working in the district chambers of many sectoral associations lose their edge due to lack of practice and the limited scope of their work.
As a result, research-based factual presentation of recommendation is beyond the capacity of many district chambers in Bangladesh.
District chambers have a wide presence in all district headquarters of the country and serve as a unique platform for of grassroots businesses of the country. They can easily function as a centre of business information and a hub for one-district-one-product type of economic development projects.
Therefore, government shall allocate budget for training and upskilling the personnel working in district chambers to make the chambers effective.
Similarly, there are around 400 sectoral associations. Government can allocate budgets for capacity building of these associations to foster product diversification in the country.
Enlarging Bangladesh's product basket with diversified products is imperative today. Single product dependency for export earnings may be a major threat to Bangladesh economy soon.
Government cannot bear total expenses of the trade bodies from public money, but government can easily assist them to increase their income-generating activities and broaden their sources of income.
Government can transfer some of its business relevant regulatory functions from government agencies to the trade organizations, such as issuance and renewal of trade license, dealership license (for freely importable commodities), IRC and ERC, indenting registration certificate, and issuance of work permits for the foreign employees working in respective sectors etc.
Government can initiate policy support such as making district branches of the scheduled banks member of district chambers, and urging LGED, REB, Agriculture Extension Office, district food office, hospitals etc. to become member of the district chambers to increase their income.
Other possible income-generating means of trade bodies could be establishing English medium school, exhibition center, community center, shopping mall etc. Organizing trade fair in home and abroad also could be an income source for trade bodies. A financially rich trade body can recruit more qualified professionals and increase the capacity of the sector.
Finally, a capable trade body can uphold the interest of that community or sector and promote justified development of that segment of the private sector.
Thus, capable trade bodies throughout the nation is required for promoting private sector development throughout the country. Therefore, the government should actively contribute in capacity building of the trade bodies for its own interest.
Md Joynal Abdin. is a secretary, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI)