Speakers at a webinar on Sunday said the country needed a right kind of green growth model for its successful transition to sustainable development from a polluting one.
The model should be formulated in consistent with a broad based policy framework involving other policies, they said.
The speakers put forward the suggestion at the webinar titled “Building Back a Greener Bangladesh” hosted jointly by the Policy Research Institute (PRI) of Bangladesh and the World Bank Group, and moderated by PRI Executive Director Dr Ahsan H. Mansur.
They stressed on the importance of giving more attention to the implementation part as many strategies and policies to promote environment-friendly activities remained unused.
They also suggested introducing policy incentives to all the sectors with ensuring availability of long term financial facility to encourage the private sector moving towards green.
Speaking at the event, energy specialist Professor Dr Mohammad Tamim said the path or the model of development that the country has chosen is a polluting one if the current development activities are taken into consideration.
“We really have to take greener approach, but we do not have the right model. It needs to be developed locally,” he added.
Mr Tamim, also former adviser to a caretaker government, said the country had voluntarily declared reduction of carbon emission by 5.0 per cent in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change adopted in 2015.
“We also pledged to reduce another 10 per cent subject to availability of foreign financial and technological support,” he said, adding that it is now an obligation for the developed countries to help us taking the green path.
Citing Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan, Professor Emeritus of Brac University Dr Ainun Nishat said it was now being talked about oxygen, hydrogen-based energy generation.
“But where is the technology? There are also talks about the wind power. Where is that wind? (If we) talk about solar energy, where is that space?” he raised the questions.
He said that there were so many strategy documents, but no attention was given to the implementation part.
“There are many knowledgeable persons, but how the recommendations would be translated into actions by the government that is a question,” he said.
Managing Director of Apex Footwear Limited Syed Nasim Manzur said the micro and macro policies needed to come together, which is very critical.
He also said that there is a 10 per cent special income tax rate applicable for only green certified buildings in readymade garment industry, which is fantastic.
“But why it is only for the RMG? The revenue board should extend the facility to all sectors,” he said.
He said that the lab testing equipment are highly taxed. “Even the catalyst and chemical reagents are taxed at much higher rates than the industrial raw materials. So, we are sending the wrong messages to the companies that want to go green.”
Terming long-term financing mechanism essential for the private companies to go for greener production practices, he said the leather industry is one of the highly polluted one, but South Korea dealt it well and developed its industrial backbone around RMG and leather in Busan where the world’s most sustainable tanneries are located.
“How did Korea do that? The technology Korea is using costs money. The private firms cannot borrow it by paying 6.0 per cent interest in five-year repayment period,” he said.
Mr Manzur called upon the central bank to step in with the development partners to create a fund for lending to the private sector at 1-2 per cent interest rate for 25-year term.
“Otherwise, it will be very hard for the companies to afford it,” he added.
PRI vice chairman Dr Sadiq Ahmed said the strategies and policies to fight environmental challenges should not be considered in isolation.
“We need a broad based policy framework involving fiscal policy, trade policy, industrial policy, infrastructure policy, pricing policy, water management policy and so on. There must have right kind of incentive to encourage the entrepreneurs to make the investment in green way.”
Former BB Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar, senior environmental specialist at the World Bank Group Eun Joo Yi, Dr Atiq Rahman, former BUET professor Dr Sarwar Jahan, H&M Country Manager Ziaur Rahman, among others, spoke on the occasion.