Policymakers to take steps to head off troubles

The political observers are predicting that the present situation is like a temporary truce between the ruling party and the BNP. They say the BNP, exhausted and rethinking on its future course of action, has allowed its rival some respite from continuous agitation. But centering on alleged irregularities in the recently held upazilla polls and to renew its demand for cancelling the results of the January 5 national polls and holding these polls afresh, plus hoping to build up a wave of anti-government feelings over the recent incidents of abduction and killings in Narayanganj, the BNP leadership might go back to the path of agitation sooner than later. This could mean a situation like the one that prevailed from the last quarter of 2013 to January of the present year, reappearing in full force. As a matter of fact, BNP’s supreme leader Khaleda Zia has threatened such a move after the coming Eid.
Thus, there is no reasonable assurance to be received from where it could count that the present political serenity will be a lasting factor and this is the aspect to which all investors, local and foreign, are paying most attention. The basic precondition for economic growth is investment. Investors of all kinds must make investments in the economy to start up the engine of growth and drive it forward. But essentially, investors everywhere in the world like to be assured that they would not risk their resources by investing in a country which gives no signals that it would be blessed by continuing political stability.
Even the best of infrastructures, most favourable fiscal and monetary policies, plus other incentives, will still keep the investors undecided and sitting on the fence watching the situation, if political conditions fail to create a conviction in their minds that they would get good returns from their invested resources in due time. Needless to say, no investor will be so crazy as to go for fresh investments in Bangladesh if those in charge of governance in this country are not quite up to the mark in guaranteeing that conditions such as endless hartals, violence, blockades and other economy disrupting activities will not once again become an integral part of the scene here. Only on getting credible positive assurance to this end, the investors can be expected to roll up their sleeves and engage in investment activities with zest which in turn will lead to economic growth to benefit all stakeholders in the economy.
Therefore, it is imperative for the policy makers in the government to go to work right away in effectively addressing this most important factor on which depends the too vital economic future or economic security of Bangladesh. It is noted that especially after last year’s economy ruining political action programmes, a kind of consensus has emerged among all stakeholders in varying degrees that somehow politics must be kept separate from the running of the economy. Or politics must not be allowed to stand in the way of economic governance of the country.
Utilising this groundswell of public opinion favouring a lid on ruinous politics or violence filled politics, government should now essentially go for legislation to be able to face up to any situation of the sort that we witnessed in different degrees of intensity in 2013. The most useful step in that direction would be a comprehensive legislation to cope with hartals, blockade and related activities.
There is no need to pass legislation banning these activities as some quarters are likely to say, the moment such a move is made, that the same would be infringing on democratic rights of the people. But without depriving people of such rights, laws can of course be made and enforced to ‘regulate’ them as distinct from banning them. For example, legislation can be adopted that hartals, etc., can be called and their observance voluntarily and peacefully by people would not be counted as illegal.
But none would have rights to kill and hurt people or destroy private and public resources and justify the same as enforcing hartals, blockades, etc. The same would be legally counted as unauthorized destructive activities and violating the inherent natural rights of citizens to retain their mobility or willingness to work ignoring the urging of the callers of such political programmes.