Speakers at a discussion yesterday stressed the need for rule of law, good governance and functional democracy for ensuring sustainable development in the country.
Pointing to the government's huge arrangements for celebrating Bangladesh's eligibility for graduating to a developing country from a least developed one, they said the UN announcement would be meaningless without sustainable development.
They also said development and democracy were “very much related” and that development without good governance and accountability was not sustainable development.
Nagorik Oikya organised the discussion, titled “Graduating to developing country and descending to autocracy”, at the Dhaka Reporters Unity with Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of the party, in the chair.
On March 15, a United Nations panel announced that Bangladesh became eligible to graduate to a developing country from a least developed one as it met all the three criteria for the first time for getting out of the LDC (least developed country) bloc. The UN later handed over a certificate to the Bangladesh government.
The UN's Committee for Development Policy (CDP) will review Bangladesh's progress in 2021, and the country's official graduation from the LDC category will take place after a three-year transition period.
If the country maintains its position in all the three categories for the next six years, it will eventually graduate from the LDC bloc.
On receiving the certificate, the government organised a two-day-long wide range of programmes across the country to celebrate the feat.
At yesterday's discussion, Salehuddin Ahmed, former governor of Bangladesh Bank, said the country would not benefit from the certificate unless it ensured sustainable development and accountability, and establish rule of law.
“A country without transparency, rule of law and sustainable development will be like a coulourful palace without strong pillars,” he said.
Talking about the celebrations, he said, “The government should not take credit for the development, including self-sufficiency in producing food grains, taking place in the country. It is the farmers and labourers who should get the credit. You should invite farmers and workers to the celebrations”.
He also questioned the authenticity of different indicators of development and economic sector presented before the UN to get the certificate. He said much of the information and many of the indicators were “manipulated”.
Salehuddin said different regulatory and government body, including Bangladesh Bank, Security and Exchange Commission, and Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission, were being destroyed.
“How will you go forward with such a state of various government bodies?” he asked.
Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, alleged that the government did not want to listen to the people.
Former ambassador M Serajul Islam said those having no political affiliation must speak out that an autocratic rule, not democracy, was prevailing in the country.
He advised the government to hold participatory elections, saying the country's “existence” would be at stake without free, fair and inclusive polls.
Political analysts Prof Dilara Chowdhury alleged that the government was using a “propaganda machine” to divert people's attention from its misrule.
Prof Asif Nazrul of Dhaka University said he never saw any country -- except Bangladesh -- celebrating such an announcement from the UN with public money.
He alleged that there was no democracy in the country as opposition parties were not being allowed to hold rallies. Also, killings and enforced disappearances were taking place frequently.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal General Secretary Abdul Malek Ratan, Gonosanghati Andolon Convener Junaid Saki, among others, spoke at the event.