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Private sector needs domestic support

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05th-Sep-2018       
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Mushfiqua Mosharref Shiloo :
Bangladesh has a significant sign of private sector's active presence, that made the country as highly developing and it is declared as a middle income country as well. Private sector (PS) is a sundry group of financial institutions, intermediaries, multinational companies, micro, macro, small and medium-sized enterprises and co-operatives which operate formal and informal sectors and obviously they do have profit-seeking activities. Private sectors are potential for resource and knowledge generation & innovation hub.
There is a catch phrase like "Private sector engagement in programme" in Government Organization (GO), NGO and International NGO sector. These sectors are knocking at private sector to engage in development initiative to make development a quality one and sustainable.
In Bangladesh, private sector is systematized over and done with various business associations, including at city and country levels such as the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh.
Sector specific associations also exists here, such as the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Banking sector, Leather industry, cement factory, stone, textile, tourism, plastic companies, food & beverage companies, still & furniture industry and so on are playing leading role as private sector in Bangladesh and contribute to Bangladesh economy and allocate their CSR fund for development initiative.   
BGMEA started its journey in the late 1970 with a small investment. Readymade Garment sector impact a lot in our economy as large portion of gross domestic product (GDP), and contributes to Gross National Product (GNP) and the sector empowered women financially and brought dignity for them because almost 80% workers are women in this sector.
The pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh is one of the most developed hi-tech sectors within the country's economy. There are 240 registered companies in Bangladesh, whereas there were only 33 pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh in 1971; now the sector is providing 97% of total medicine requirement of local market. This sector contributes 1% of GDP and it is playing second largest revenue of government royal treasury.
Some reputed private sector organizations-Unilever, national polimer, bengal plastic, Social marketing company, PRAN-RFL, bKash and many more had participated to a market based programme that was an emergency response project of a renowned INGO through their business competencies as; they ensures their product quality, maintained the supply chain smooth and ensured product to the affected community and local market without doing any harm to other.
In that emergency response, the local markets were keeping their selling high during flood with cooperation of Private sector actor, and affected community felt dignity for not standing in a que to collect their entitlements; they bought their necessary item as they choose from shops where that INGO injected e-cash (money) and engage private sector to the project.
They set idol to watch the relief distribution to the affected community because the relief items were centrally purchased before. A reputed private sector played very vital role for producing sanitary napkin for adolescent girls as they need; that is a quality product considering the materials, size and price.
Some like-minded social worker groups are contributing to School level Implementation Plan (SLIP) and Risk Reduction Action Plan (RRAP) of specific community. An Individual also is funding in SLIP and Community RRAP. But the fund is not enough as need!
Grants of private sector is being used for constructing school, college, madrasa, Hospitals, clinics, internal road and personal grants for education, treatment and livelihood restoration. Development initiatives from both foreign funding and the PS funding are going parallels and unfortunately there is no prominence of our own private sector's engagement! Private sector looks for opportunity to work with GO, INGO and NGO with less interest to direct funding for a specific programme.
There are challenges for Bangladesh to bring into line private sector priorities with national priorities. Hither to Bangladesh focused on some key themes in 7th five year plan as, GDP growth acceleration, employment cohort and rapid poverty reduction; with a view to empowering every citizen to participate in and benefit from the development process and Creation of a sustainable development conduit resilient to disaster and climate change, with justifiable use of natural resources and proper management of urbanization. There was huge scope to allocate PS's CSR fund; but it was not properly assessed.
The private sector can contribute in some ways; maintaining sustainable supply chains, consumer management and produce quality product; by setting up accountability frame works and through collaboration.
However there is political accord exists on role of private sector in supporting sustainable development outcomes transversely government, the business community, development partners, research institutions and civil society.
The private sector needs to improve the business enabling environment, improve access to finance, in particular in rural and remote locations, and address infrastructure constraints.
NGO and INGO have different language for funding; Donor have different types of direction to expend money for a specific project. There are some controlling apparatuses to protect misuse fund! Foreign donor wants to ensure quality service with their fund. Donor permits a specific percentage for overhead cost and other cost, they have guide lines to use exchange money, unspent money and so forth.
Whereas private sector do not care much for so called fund regulations but they have their own direction to use the money. If NGO/INGO designs project and programme market based that obviously ensure private sector's active engagement. Such as a market based emergency response programme does no harm to the local market and community.
A traditional emergency response usually purchase relief centrally and distribute to the affected community and the market seat idol but watching the distribution without no selling their variety product that may cover for the affected community maintaining the supply chain system! And private sector can play vital role and create win-win situation in the local community or in national context.
Foreign donors may back from Bangladesh gradually; though donors are donating a huge amount of money for rohingyas at present; but in regular development initiatives, foreign donation may decrease subsequently the country is declared as middle income country.
The Non Government Organizations (both national and local) are going back from regular development initiatives rather they started income generating activities as such training center for corporate sector and other, service with credit-water credit, credit for livelihoods, and credit for skill development and so on! Due to lack of foreign fund!
It is high time to allocate Corporate Social Response (CSR) fund directly to a specific development initiative for the private sector and it is important to be sensitize, understanding on partner's language, specific project and be a domestic donor to ignore for a bulk of foreign donation because Bangladesh is going ahead with its developing spirit!

(The author is working with an international NGO).

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