Incorporate green accounting in GDP calculation: experts

They say Rampal power plant to be disastrous for Sundarbans

Staff Correspondent
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies director general Major General AKM Abdur Rahman speaks at a seminar organised by the BIISS and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics at the BIISS auditorium in Dhaka on Wednesday. State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan was also present, among others. — New Age photo

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies director general Major General AKM Abdur Rahman speaks at a seminar organised by the BIISS and the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics at the BIISS auditorium in Dhaka on Wednesday. State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan was also present, among others. — New Age photo

Experts and economists on Wednesday said green accounting considering environmental losses for economic activities should be incorporated in gross domestic product calculation for a better sustainable development planning.
At a seminar on natural resources, national income and planning in Bangladesh, they also urged the government to consider the impact of economic activities on environment before initiating any development project.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies and South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics jointly organised the seminar at the BIISS auditorium in Dhaka.
Energy expert Badrul Imam, also a Dhaka University geology department professor, said environmental concerns in economic activities remained highly neglected in the country though calculating environmental losses for implementing development projects was important.
He said the Rampal coal-based power plant would be disastrous for environment of the Sundarbans.
‘The government has planned to produce 20,000 megawatts of coal-based electricity. So why you are going to destroy the Sundarbans for only 1,320 megawatts of electricity?’ he questioned.
‘Environmental degradation is inevitable because of the coal-based power plant. Those who argue against it (the negative impact) are wrong. Now the question is to what extent the impact can be limited,’ he said.
He also criticised the government officials and experts who are in favour of the Rampal power plant for not sitting face to face on the issue with the environmentalists who are opposing the plant.
‘The issue should be solved as the country needs both development and protection of environment,’ he said adding that both the issues should be balanced.
State minister for finance and planning MA Mannan said that balance between development and environment was needed as the government promised the citizens development.
‘Saving the Sundarbans is our priority but saving our future generation is more important,’ he said.
Private research organisation Unnayan Onneshan chairman Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir opined that incorporation of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting would increase the country’s GDP.
‘But politicians first will have to address the issues relating to production sharing contract for natural resources, definition of rent of natural resources and environmental accounts,’ he said.
He also raised question about the authenticity of the data of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
‘These [BBS data] are political figures at the end of the day as GDP data can win a government and lose a government,’ he said.
BBS national accounting wing director Abul Kalam Azad said that the BBS needed decision from policy makers for incorporating the SEEA in accounting system.
He, however, said that the government might not allow many economic activities if it had calculated the environmental losses for those projects.
At the seminar, BIISS senior research fellow Mahfuz Kabir presented the keynote paper on valuation of selected sub-soil mineral in Bangladesh and application of the SEEA.
Mahfuz said that the traditional national accounting did not calculate environmental degradation in the country.
‘So, green accounting is important for measuring the environmental degradation for economic activities,’ he said.
Currently, contribution of natural resources including natural gas, coal and hard rock remain undervalued, he said adding that the rate of GDP would increase if the SEEA is incorporated in the system of national accounting.
Director general of the BIISS Major General AKM Abdur Rahman spoke at the seminar, among others.

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