Freedom and justice cannot be ignored for development as the absence of justice even leads to a negative impact on the development, said SR Osmani, professor of development economics at the University of Ulster in the UK.
He said governments should work to ensure justice through equal resource allocation for all citizens, the rule of law, and freedom of speech as a pathway of a welfare government.
Professor Osmani said this while delivering a keynote speech at the opening session of the Annual BIDS Conference on Development-2023, with the theme of development, justice and freedom at a hotel in Gulshan, Dhaka on Thursday, reports UNB.
Planning Minister MA Mannan was the chief guest at the conference while former adviser to the prime minister Mashiur Rahman was present as the special guest. Binayak Sen, Director General of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), moderated the programme.
“If there is a lack of freedom and justice, credit discrimination occurs and the poor do not get adequate funds, which can lead to social instability,” said Professor Osmani.
Under the situation, according to the economist, the private sector holds back investments, which ultimately deters development.
He said governments should not be fanatical with development. “Rather, they should be obsessed with freedom and justice by ensuring the rule of law and good governance,” he added.
Planning Minister MA Mannan shared examples of countries that have developed significantly despite their governments being autocratic.
He said some people say if a government stays in power for a long time, it may become an autocrat and autocracy deters development. “How Malaysia and Singapore developed if it is really true?”
In Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad was in power for a long time and he led the country to progress. The same happened in Singapore, the planning minister said.
“I expect economists to discuss the impact of the continuity of a government and political stability in development,” Mannan pointed out.
“Life is a product while freedom and justice are by-products, not basic things. We are trying to ensure a better life for people. We have to work more for the people who remain at the bottom of the pyramid,” the minister said.
Binayak Sen said lack of democracy and freedom of minds of people become like stone, and justice is ignored, so these things are equally required for a welfare society.
The conference will continue till December 9. The conference will feature a total of 18 papers, 5 special seminars, and 7 public lectures, encompassing various themes such as macroeconomic challenges and policy options, democratic socialism, post-COVID crisis analysis, Rohingya refugee crisis, ready-made garments (RMG) sector, updated growth experiences in South Asia, global price shocks and food security, megatrends in gender, population, and development, taxation, unpaid care work, evolving global order, geo-economic spectrum, agrarian change in contemporary Bangladesh, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and more.
Esteemed scholars like Wahiduddin Mahmud, Ahsan H Mansur, Binayak Sen, Atiur Rahman, Sajeda Amin, Naila Kabeer, Zaidi Sattar, Hossain Zillur Rahman, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Syed Abdul Hamid, Patrick Alexander Kirby, Siddharth Sharma, Daniel Resnick, James Thurlow, Paul Dorosh, Gaurav Datt, Syed Moinul Ahsan, Dileni Gunewardena, Ahmad Ahsan, M. Niaz Asadullah, Gayatri B Koolwal, Geof Wood, and others will present key insights on pivotal issues in contemporary development discourse.
The conference will conclude with an expert panel discussion titled ‘Economic Policy: Addressing Policy Challenges in the Context of Global and Domestic Uncertainty,’ bringing together distinguished economists, policymakers, civil society members, and stakeholders.