Opening of Padma Bridge to usher in development of southern region

The country’s southern region will experience rapid development after the opening of the proposed Padma Bridge, which will help remove the existing regional inequalities by stimulating growth, Food Minister, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque said.

“The government is committed to having the Padma Bridge functional by 2013,” the minister said, while addressing a seminar as chief guest in the city Wednesday.

The Institute of Microfinance (InM) and Save the Children, UK, jointly organised the seminar: ‘Regional Differences in Poverty Levels and Trends in Bangladesh: Are We Asking the Right Questions?’

“The government is fully aware of the slower pace of poverty reduction in the country’s coastal belt,” Mr Razzaque said adding that the government was now giving much emphasis on water management and conflict resolution to address the existing inequalities.

He said there is the need to tap the potentials of haor areas, Chittagong Hill Tracts and in the coastal belts of Barisal, Khulna and Bagerhat.

He also emphasised on nutritional priority when discussing poverty.

Sajjad Zohir, director of Economic Research Group, presented keynote paper.

There are four frontiers of poverty in the country, Hossain Zillur, former adviser to the caretaker government said.

The Monga areas, Haor areas along with the coastal belts and the urban areas experience different types of poverty, he said adding that poverty has gradually broadened its domain and extended itself to non-food items over the years, as well as human development aspects.

“Poverty is not just about per capita income,” Abul Barkat, professor of Economics of Dhaka University said and added it was rather more about what he termed the ‘Three D’s- distress, deprivation and destitution.’

Speakers said the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) should be strengthened to curb corruption and also emphasised the importance of increasing exports in order to spur economic growth and country’s development.

They also stressed the need for the country’s development path to be mapped by local experts, as opposed to the plans prescribed by the World Bank, the IMF or other international donors.


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