Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Former governor of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) Atiur Rahman has urged the policy makers to develop a common strategy for working towards sustainable economic growth for the benefit of poor and future generations in the Bay of Bengal region.
The recommendation was made at a two-day long conference titled ‘Indo-Asia Connectivity for Shared Prosperity’ held at Oberoi Grand Hotel in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Dr. Rahman, founder chairman of Unnayan Shamannay, spoke on the benefits and challenges of connectivity in the sub-region of BBIN and BIMSTEC in the conference where American ambassadors of the region, business leaders, academics and journalists participated, according to a message.
The inaugural session was also participated by Pradeep Mehta of CUTS, Ambassador Richard Verma and Consul General Craig Hall in Kolkata.
“….there is a need to build a common strategy to work towards sustainable economic growth for the benefit of poor and future generations in the Bay of Bengal region,” Dr. Rahman said in his inaugural address.
He also said: “This is not just a concept. It must be a reality. I believe it and for this we must stay together and build a common platform for engagement.”
Thus, initiatives like ‘Kolkata Summit’ are crucial to exchange evidence, ideas and thoughts on regional cooperation and get on all stakeholders on board to develop a common strategy, Professor Rahman explained.
“My recommendation will be to adopt a gradual yet time bound approach to enhance regional connectivity with the implementation of specific projects where it is not necessary that all member countries of the BBIN or the BIMSTEC region need to be always on board,” the former governor noted.
Let there be bilateral, trilateral as well as plurilateral cooperation initiatives, he added.
“We could start by exchanging ideas on small projects, develop and execute them with stakeholder support, gain experience and then expand and deepen on complicated areas of regional cooperation. Let us experiment, learn and replicate,” Dr. Rahman added.
He also said there is also a need to customise the regional cooperation strategy in the Bay of Bengal region according to a country’s context and priorities and work within those boundaries.
“Development of a stakeholder alliance to document and share different country practices and building a common platform over time are necessary to design and execute this strategy, which is essential to achieve the goal of shared prosperity,” he noted.
The former governor also talked about financial connectivity in the Bay of Bengal region, saying that trade and investment connectivity cannot flourish without financial connectivity and be effective for generating prosperity.
He particularly talked how advantages of maritime and riverine connectivity plus energy connectivity can be exploited with adequate political will and cooperation amongst different segments related to government and businesses.
Besides, Dr. Rahman joined a panel on harmonizing electricity grid cooperation in the region.
This session was chaired by Ambassador Tariq Karim.
At the session, Dr. Rahman elaborated on the benefits of energy cooperation in terms of cost reduction, consumer benefits, reduction of emission of GHG (greenhouse gas) and enhancement of complementary businesses.
He also talked about hurdles mostly in terms of technical grid diversity, pricing and bureaucratic complexities. Yet he was optimistic about joint grid and cooperation enhancing in the region.
He also mentioned about possibility of Energy Exchange like Nordic Energy Exchange if this push for regional cooperation continues for some more years.