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2024-03-06 15:24:12

What is ‘bottleneck’ of development?

Birupaksha Paul

What is ‘bottleneck’ of development?

Professor recruitment season is underway in many American universities. George Agye, a Ghanaian came to give a job seminar in the Department of Economics. It is part of the recruitment process. After the seminar of three such people, the final candidate is selected based on discussion and voting. George's PhD research topic was how to speed up a manufacturing process. How caste and gender diversity can balance production. Anywhere there is a 'bottleneck' the entire production process is blocked. Other materials also fail. George gave the example of an airport where if just one counter is slow, everyone else's performance fails. Delays in plane journeys add to public suffering.

With this image of Dhaka Airport I shake as I am familiar. Unnecessary queues of passengers while traveling abroad. When arriving, waiting for the luggage is kills the joy of going home. The word 'bottleneck' means the narrow neck of a bottle - i.e. an obstacle, obstruction or buttock. Bangladesh's development in the last 15 years is quite visible, but their bottlenecks are dimming the benefits of development to a large extent. The government should identify these bottlenecks and allocate planned resources to them. There is no harm if the size of the development budget is small. The development budget needs to be kept small until the tax-GDP ratio rises to 12-14 percent. Now is the time to remove small bottlenecks to increase the efficiency of large projects. Only then will the return of the mega project increase. Debt repayment will be easy. Otherwise, mega projects will cloud the future - as they have done in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

In autumn, I went to the country and got off at Dhaka Airport and called my brother. It took an hour and a half for the car to arrive from Mohammadpur Town Hall. That too after using Farmgate-Airport Expressway with toll. Even without the expressway, it would have taken the same or less time. What is the benefit? This means there is an outage or bottleneck in the project. This is the story of building a bridge on a lake and not building an approach road on both sides of it. Added to this is poor road administration, which is one of the main causes of traffic congestion. Now is not the time for mega developments, the big task is to ensure coordination and dynamics of those that have taken place. It is a sign of prudence to undertake small collaborative projects to speed up the entry and exit channels of an expressway. Otherwise, the high blood pressure of the heart will burst the veins.

When I went to in-laws from Dhaka towards Tangail, that highway seems smart enough. It rises above the road when a bazaar is near. Beside it is a separate road for slower vehicles - which is a necessity in the reality of Bangladesh. But when I started from Dhaka on the way to Nalitabari, I fell into torture. The highway from Gazipur to Mymensingh has been built at great expense. I didn't know that it would eventually turn into a parking lot for countless trucks, village bazaars, balcony of shops, the opposite path of rickshaws, a resting place for mango-jackfruits or a passenger collection center for local buses in a frenzy. After entering the city of Mymensingh another pain occurred. There doesn't seem to be any administration. The Brahmaputra Bridge is another one. It is important to cure heart block before curing skin disease. At least in the next two budgets, the work of the finance ministry will be to remove these 'blocks'.

Before George, another job seeker Wendy Wang arrived from the University of Chicago. Wendy's PhD topic is India's bureaucratic rural projects. Wendy also took a class of bureaucrats who came to train at Harvard's Kennedy School of Public Policy. Since then she is interested in this matter. She has given proof of how increased audits lead to increased efficiency and reduced costs in social security schemes. When Wendy came to my office for an interview, I raised the issue of development in Bangladesh and asked for her opinion. She doesn't know much about the details of Bangladesh. However, her teacher in Chicago, Mike Kramer, introduced the famous 'O-ring' theory of development. Cramer won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019. In January 1986, the US space shuttle Challenger was destroyed 73 seconds after launch. The unfortunate seven astronauts died instantly. President Reagan addresses the nation expressing grief. This accident has a great impact on people's thoughts. Cramer based his development theory on it.

The accident occurred due to the failure of an English 'O'-shaped ring or circle - its mechanical name is a 'gasket.' Kramer learned from it and presented his 'O-ring' theory in 1993. Any complex and large project can fail due to the lack of even one component or its faulty location. This is the bottleneck of development. In any development project, the surrounding environment has to be done with equal importance. Otherwise the project itself becomes meaningless.

Instead of taking up 10 projects by pouring 10 million dollars, seven projects should be undertaken. With the remaining 3 million dollars, the completion and security of those seven must be provided. The Padma Bridge project is not just about building a bridge. The cost of construction of highways and maintenance of bridges on both sides of it. Airport-Gazipur Rapid Expressway is affected by multiple pitfalls. So much suffering. The government has launched many projects ahead of the elections. These should now be mobilized and minimal 'backup' or ancillary investments should be made. Chattogram-Cox's Bazar railway line suddenly flooded why? Bottlenecks were left behind by constructing fewer culverts. Officials said they did not expect such a flood. Living in the reality of climate change, if the wise builders are proven wrong in just a few years, then who will do the visionary projects? Bangladeshi planners have recorded the waste by ensuring the highest construction cost per kilometer.

The tragic loss of life in the high-rise on Bailey Road sent a warning. As anxious as we are about development, we are too reckless to ignore these development bottlenecks. Such development brings more misfortune than happiness. Why are people sometimes burned in clothing factories? Bottleneck, misunderstanding, or willful neglect. Stores have massive discounts during Thanksgiving in November—known as Black Friday. I went to Walmart in Binghamton early in the morning and saw a huge line. Not allowing everyone to enter together. I looked pitiful at the face of the female security guard. I said, I am suffering in winter. Let me in. She said, because of the fire code, no more than a certain number of people can be kept inside. After shopping, 10 people will go out, 10 people will enter. That is, no bottleneck can be created inside. It can be done safely if everyone suddenly needs to go out together.

We do not intend to remove this bottleneck in our development thinking. So many people think before getting on the flyover - lest I fall into a trap! Many times bottleneck is created for the sake of extra income. That is why the higher the pile of files on the boss's desk, the more important the officer. This is inefficiency and punishable wrongdoing. It is possible to ensure the benefits of development if the budget and construction work are managed in such a way by identifying these bottlenecks of development first. Now is the time to look into it.

Writer: Professor of Economics, State University of New York at Cortland.

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