Bangladeshi CSOs Sought People at the Centre of Budget 2024-25: Deep Debt Overcasts Opportunities for Sustainability

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Dhaka, 18 May 2024: Unprecedented debt will surely derail the hope of sustainability after Bangladesh’s graduation as a middle-income country.

The civil society organizations who participate in the event led by EquityBD include BDCSO Process, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, CLEAN, CSRL, NDF, Online Knowledge Society, Sundarban Bachao Andolon, Young Change Makers, and Water Keepers Bangladesh.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Foundation moderated the event chaired by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, the Chief Moderator of EquityBD. Hasan Mehedi of CLEAN, Ferdous Ara Rumee of International Rural Women’s Day, Omour Faruk Bhuiya of BDCSO Process, Mamun Kabir of Water Keepers Bangladesh, Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST Foundation, Abul Hasan of EquityBD, Mir Mohammad Ali of Shere Bangla Agricultural University, Sohanur Rahman Sohan of Youth Change Maker, and Pradip K Roy of Online Knowledge Society spoke in the event.

Omour Faruk Bhuiya of BDCSO Process said in his speech that the total FY 2024-25 budget will be 8.05 trillion Taka including a debt of 2.75 trillion Taka. The per capita debt is now 580 USD. The repayment of this unprecedented amount of debt will cause reductions in the lifeline of people.

Ferdous Ara Rumee, the secretary general of the International Rural Women’s Day Observation Committee said that 91% of people are involved in the informal sector employment where 95% are women. We must evaluate the progress of women through the yearly gender-budget reporting system.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Foundation said that the total budget for roads and highways is 875 billion Taka while there is no allocation for safety in the road. The number of deaths in road accidents in 2023 is 8,505.

Mir Mohammad Ali, Assistant Professor of Shere Bangla Agricultural University said that fisheries and aquaculture employed nearly 1.4 million people but the budget hardly considers how would the poor fisherfolk survive during three to four fishing ban periods across the year.

Pradip K Roy of Online Knowledge Centre said that the government must allocate enough budget for skilled human resources if we want to take advantage of the demographic dividend by 2040.

Mamun Kabir, Head of the Communication and Advocacy Department of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, stated, “We have learned that the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources is allocating Tk 38,300 crore in the 2024-25 fiscal budget. Is there a government plan to achieve the target of 40 percent renewable energy by 2041? We urge the government to honor their commitment to the people and work towards the transition to renewable energy.”

Abul Hasan of EquityBD said that internal climate-induced migration is one of the biggest challenges for Bangladesh. Even after five years of migration strategy paper is developed, not enough investment is declared on it.

Hasan Mehedi of CLEAN said in his speech that the government’s 8th FYP planned to achieve at least 10% renewable energy by 2025, which is now only 3%. The allocation for power in the upcoming budget is 450 billion Taka hardly has the allocation to achieve the target.

Rezaul K Chowdhury, the chief moderator of EquityBD said in the closing remarks that the entire process of budget in Bangladesh is undemocratic. Even the participation of the parliament members in the budget process is questionable.

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