As nearly 40 per cent of Bangladesh's economic output is interlinked with the global economy, Bangladesh needs to be effectively integrated with the global economic system to help accelerate the pace of its growth.
The country must reap the benefits of regional markets by focussing on services sector, thus reducing the overwhelming dependence on the exports of manufacturing products.
What the country needs desperately is the reconstruction of its "malfunctioning political system" to improve governance, thus ensuring justice to the economy, civil society representatives told a dialogue Monday.
They also demanded that the government redesign the electoral system so that candidates can be chosen on the basis of their competence and integrity, rather than on money or muscle power.
The speakers called for crafting a guideline to prevent the corrupt politicians from taking part in the elections.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a local think tank, in collaboration with the Prothom Alo and The Daily Star organised the dialogue on "National Election 2007: Initiative of the civil society for the accountable development" a at a city hotel, with CPD Executive Chairman Rehman Sobhan in the chair.
Former chief adviser to the caretaker government Justice Habibur Rahman delivered a keynote speech titled "For the country and for its citizens" at the dialogue, also addressed by founder and Managing Director of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus.
In his keynote speech, Rahman tried to define the role of civil society, saying it cannot be an alternative to Jatiya Sangshad.
"They (civil society) can mobilise public opinion, encourage someone to do good things or censure them for wrongdoings, if necessary," he observed.
Turning to foreign investment, Rahman said the government must be cautious about the foreign investors-be it Asia Energy or Tata.
"We shall not sell out future for the sake of today's facilities or profits," he told the elite audience, pointing his finger at the investment proposals from Tata and Asia Energy.
"We've to take risk for the development, but not at the cost of national security. We've to understand that it is fruitless not to reach a decision on the use of gas and coal," the former Caretaker chief said.
The jurist hit out at the privatisation process, saying: "We have kept only-for-profit educational institutions, hospitals and communications system".
Muhammad Yunus called upon the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to frame a guideline to help prevent the corrupt candidates from participating in elections.
"If corrupt and inefficient candidates enter parliament, then level of corruption will go up further, thus exacerbating instability and violence," the microfinance guru told the gathering as he outlined the movement for an eligible candidate.
Rehman Sobhan regretted that a political system dominated by two particular parties was the major source of confrontation that has paralysed the government machinery and parliament.
He likened the country's political division to that of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda.
The unhealthy political system has polluted public educational institutions, civil society and even professional groups, making corruption endemic, the CPD chief said.
Similarly, Sobhan said, the religious-linked violence is now threatening the liberal democratic process.
Law Minister Barrister Moudud Ahmed, Executive Director of CPD Debapriya Bhattachariya, Editor of Prothom Alo Motiur Rahman, Editor of The Daily Star Mahfuz Anam, Awali League leader Suronjit Sen Gupta, among others, spoke at the dialogue.
Meantime, the co-organisers of the dialogue formed a 24-member citizen's group headed by Rehman Sobhan for generating a vision statement for the General Elections 2007.