Budget might increase class and income differences

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[Dhaka, 12th June 2010] Speakers expressed their worries in a post budget press conference saying that this year budget would increase class and income disparity instead of reducing the burden of poverty on the most of the population including the poor. The press conference was held today at the national press club in the city jointly organized by civil society organizations and social movement groups namely Equity and Working Justice Group, VOICE, Bangladesh Krishok Federation and La via Campesina-Bangladesh. Among others, Rezaul Karim Choudhury of EquityBD, Ahmed Swapan of VOICE, Badrul Alam of La Via Campesina-Bangladesh, and Ziad Iqbal Kahn of Krishok Federation spoke in the occasion.

Speakers mentioned that integration of climate adaptation in the total budget has been neglected. They also expressed concerns that the budget had not given sufficient importance on resource distribution mechanism, thus this budget might result more poverty and marginalization enhancing the existing nature of income differences. The press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury while the presentation was given by Sayed Aminul Haque.

Badrul Alam and Ziad Iqbal Khan, mentioned that agriculture should not be considered only as a sector, all sectors should be coordinated with agriculture as a whole. While there is a question that whether the subsidy is reaching real farmers, amount of subsidy has been reduced. They also proposed that there should be special agriculture budget for the southern part of Bangladesh, which is still suffering impact of cyclone SIDR and AILA. They urged government to ensure food sovereignty and rights of the farmers. Ahmed Swapan of Voice criticized the safety net program while he demanded coordinated social protection policy, which will facilitate asset transfer and sustainable income building for poor families. He also criticized the extension of VAT net, which would ultimately increase burden on middle and poor segment of the population. He suggested government to take proper measures and to ensure justice so that the poor population could come out of poverty instead of failing its trap again. The spirit of budget should assert the economic independence instead of making the country more burdens through foreign loans, he added. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD mentioned that Bangladesh would face severe problem of climate change, while climate adaptation initiatives of government would remain adhoc and sporadic. He mentioned that no special plans for coastal embankment construction, coastal afforestation were taken. He urged government to facilitate push and pull factor of internal migration rehabilitating the climate refugees. He also suggested the government not to accept any conditional loans and urged the government to involve citizens in planning, implementing program ensuring people’s right to participation. He appreciated the Finance Minister’s concept note on district budget, but he expressed worries about implementing the plan. He also demanded participation road map on preparing perspective and sixth five years plan.

In a written presentation Sayed Aminul mentioned that without reform in education administration, especially in respect of integrating of grass root accountability and quality education whatever the highest allocation in education, it may lead to more corruption in education budget. He also demanded local level accountability of the health administration to assert fundamental constitutional right of the people.

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