Economic justice

Dhaka, 17 Feb 2018: In a national seminar on “LDC Graduation and Sustainable Development Approach
Bangladesh Perspective” held at CIRDAP auditorium Dhaka, civil societies recommended government to take preparation sustainable graduating from LDCs (Least Development Countries). They also urged to adopt appropriate measures in tackling the current inequality in this regard.

The seminar is organized by EquityBD and LDC Watch jointly and participated by, Rd. Quiz Khaliquzzaman Ahmed, Chairman PKSF as the Chair of the seminar, Dr. Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary of GED and member of planning commission as special guest, Md. Anwar Hossain, Additional Secretary of ERD and Md. Hafizur Rahman, Deputy Secretary and Director of WTO Cell were in the panel of speakers. Mr. Gauri Pradhan of Nepal, the International Coordinator of LDC Watch was also present in the seminar. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, the Chief Moderator of EquityBD has moderated the seminar while Syed Aminul Hoque presented the keynote paper.

In the keynote paper presented by the Deputy Director of COAST Trust, Syed Aminul Hoque raised the official recommendations of EquityBD and LDC Watch for Bangladesh including (1) Increase domestic resource mobilization through stopping of tax dodging and illicit financial outflow that would support the government to increase her own investment capacity. (2) Expedite pro-poor budgetary allocation for health and education to develop skilled human asset to face the challenges of LDC graduation. (3) Focus climate resilient critical infrastructure to save coastal people and asset. (4) Effective governance to improve development effectiveness.

In his speech Dr. Quazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed said, the most important issue of this graduation is the dignity of our nation. We deserve this status and it is not anyone’s kindness for us. We have achieved this based on our hard work and performance. We might lose some facilities and advantages that LDCs enjoy in the world’s economic activities. But, we need to look ahead as we can do better by ourselves. Dr. Shamsul Alam, the Senior Secretary of Bangladesh Government said, Quality Education could be the key focus to face the upcoming challenge for Bangladesh while graduating the LDC status as the current way of Education is not meeting the need of Development challenges. We really are not looking for ODA anymore as an LDC when Bangladesh is expecting to be an investing country after this graduation.

Md. Hafizur Rahman, Director of the WTO cell under the Ministry of Commerce said, as a LDC we are not fully enjoying the Special and Differential Preference neither from the Developed Countries like USA, Russia etc. nor from some Developing Countries like India and China. We are looking forward to the greater opportunities as a middle income country.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, the Chief Moderator of EquityBD said, biggest challenge toward the sustainability in LDC graduation are climate disaster and inequalities, we need to develop climate resilient infrastructure.
Mr. Anwar Hossain, Additional Secretary of External Resource Division of Bangladesh Government said, while we will be graduating we might loss some LDC facilities but there are opportunities for us too, we have to develop our competitiveness through quality education.
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NGO participants from Bangladesh were thankful to the Govt Delegation for not signing in the e-commerce rules though there was big push from the proponents. A group of 70 countries, chaired by Australia, Japan and Singapore, agreed today to start exploratory work toward future negotiations on electronic commerce rules.

The experts said that, E-commerce talks in the WTO have repeatedly stalled and the Buenos Aires conference did not deliver a breakthrough on this issue either. Members even failed to extend a nearly two-decade-old agreement barring the implementation of customs duties on electronic transmissions.

The World Trade Organization’s 11th ministerial is expected to close without the issuance of a ministerial declaration after the U.S. and India clash over language on development i.e. whether to include a reference to the Doha Development Agenda.

The 11th Ministerial of WTO starts with a criticism that, over 60 civil society delegates to the conference, who had been accredited by the WTO, were banned from participation by the Argentinian government. Two of them were deported after arriving at the airport. NGO participants in their joint statement mention that in view of the important public policy issues that are being discussed at such international conferences, the citizens of the world need ways to ensure that their problems and concerns are appropriately listened to and taken into consideration.

Our World Is Not For Sale Network, who brings together 250 organizations from 50 countries in the global North and South, called on government delegates to change existing WTO rules that are constraining policy space for job creation and development and to reject the wrong agenda to expand the failed model of the WTO to new issues.
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Dhaka, 30 November 2017. Today CSO (Civil Society Organizations) representatives and right based activist has demanded for Domestic Protection Policy for SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) before introducing E-Commerce in Bangladesh. They made this demand in national seminar title “E-Commerce & Domestic Protection: Issue of WTO Ministerial Conference 2017” that held at National Press Club, Dhaka. They also demand to declare government position on E-Commerce issue in upcoming WTO ministerial conference.
The seminar is moderated by Aminul Hoque of EquityBD and key note presented by Barkatullah Maruf form same organization. Mr. Abu Naser, Director-FBCCI, Md. Fazlul Karim, Director-DCCI, Mr. Asjadul Kibria, Member-Bangladesh Economic Association, Dr. Mesbahuddin Ahamed-Jatyo Sramik Jote, Mr. Abul Hossen, Convenor-Labour Movement Forum, Salauddin Bablu, Chief Reporter- SA TV and Mr. Badrul Alam, Bangladesh Krishak Forum spoke in the seminar.
In the key note presentation, Mr. Maruf said that the proposal and intention developed countries on e-commerce issue is to transform the mandate of discussion of 1998 non-binding rules into mandate of bilateral negotiation and legally binding options. The proponents of the proposal are 5 giant data companies Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft of USA, Japan Canada, EU an few developing countries. African union and LDC are strongly opposing the proposal as it ruins the right of the consumers throughout the world along with the security of personal data. So Bangladesh govt. must take position for our own safeguard and also need to prepare to save small business entrepreneurs and save people.
Asjadul Kibria said that WTO didn’t able to set-a side the Doha Round discussion on especially Trade & Investment, Rules of Origin and Meaningful trade facilities those are very important for LDCs (Least Developed Countries) and need to decide. Than come to the e-commerce and in that case, Bangladesh has needed strong preparation indeed in WTO to face the imbalance situation further.
Dr. Mesbah uddin said that Ecommerce has been running based on disruptive technologies and rapidly evolving in developing countries like Bangladesh due to lack of competitiveness and market failure, but governments don’t have any effective mechanism or institution in regulating this sector for preventing market failures and protecting the consumer. Private car service “Uber” is one of the examples at present who might be a cause of local unemployment and become headache for government in future.
Mr. Abu Naser said that growing inequality is one of the major concern in Bangladesh which exacerbate in WTO deal through E-Commerce. We expect, government will think it very cautiously and discuss with us along with other stakeholder to prepare for upcoming ministerial conference.
Md. Fazlul Karim said that E-commerce is a premature action and initiatives for Bangladesh where governments will not be able to control unfair trade practices, such as predatory pricing, tax dodging. Thus domestic enterprises will lose their opportunity and capacities in competition. So govt. should not go with E-Commerce until development of adequate legal structure for domestic protection regarding digital trade, Internet governance and cyber-security.
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Dhaka, 25th October, 2017. Today in a dialogue held in a hotel in the capital global CSOs expressed their concerns as spaces for CSOs is shrinking in the global development processes. On the other hand, Bangladeshi CSOs urged an effective and enabling environment as equal level development partnership. They placed these concerns and urges from the event titled, “Bangladeshi CSO Dialogue with GPEDC, Realizing Enhancing Development Cooperation and the SDGs : Bangladesh Perspectives.” The seminar was jointly organized by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) group in Bangladesh and COAST Trust. The dialogue was chaired by Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman, Chairman, PKSF, the Honorable State Minister for the Ministry of Finance and Planning Mr. Muhammad Abdul Mannan MP was present as the Chief Guest and of the event was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, COAST Trust. The Development Effectiveness Wing (DEW) of the Economic Relation Division (ERD) supported the dialogue.

CSO leaders from various countries and some Steering Committee Members of the GPEDC (Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation) participated in the meeting. Bangladeshi CSOs like representatives of ADAB, FNB, CAMPE, CDF, BNNRC, Citizen’s Platform 4 SDGs also participated in the event. Among others Mizanur Rahman, Deputy Secretary, Development Effectiveness Wing of ERD, Maria Theresa, Vice Chair of CPDE, Nabine Gbossa, Head of Division, Global Partnerships & Policies, OECD, Marcela Martinez from El Salvador, Ashekur Rahman, UNDP Urban Specialist, Ms Janet from Canadian Govt., Mr Udo from German Govt also spoke at the occasion. Bangaleshi CSOs reptesnettaives including Anisatul Fatema Yousuf, Director, Dialogue & Communication, Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Dr Tofail local govt specialist, Mr Jashim from ADAB and CDF, Mr Tapan from CAMPE, Mr. Morshed from POPI, Mr. Ahmed Swapan from VOICE placed their comments during the dialogue.

Rezaual Karim Chowdhury placed the welcome speech and he also presented the historical journey of the aid effectiveess to development effectiveness. He presented the glimpse of the various process like the International Conference on Financing for Development, Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, High Level Forums on Aid Effectiveness, The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation etc. He said, climate change and Rohingya refugees will be two major development challenges for Bangladesh while Bangladesh embarking to achieve SDGs.

Mizanur Rahman said, Government is very much committed to ensure CSO participation in development efforts.

Maria Theresa said, There are many important roles of CSOs in development. In development discourses we are experiencing many discourses, but commitments are not fulfilling. CSOs have to do their homework to be engaged with government processes. Nabine Gbossa expressed worries that CSO space are shrinking. Janet and Udo mentioned that , CSO has to be given equal level treatment as like as state actor and private sector

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud said, Govt., INGOs and UN organizations must give equal level treatment to CSO s development partnership, in view of WHS and Grand Bargain policy outcome. Mr Jashim said, UN agencies and INGOs should not be involved in direct operation at the field level as their transaction cost is very high, rather they should do partnership with local CSOs.

Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman said, CSOs engagement in any development process is very much vital in ensuring sustainability and effectivity. Government should create spaces for the CSOs and CSOs should involve and accountable to mass people in all sorts of development efforts as much as possible.

Muhammad Abdul Mannan MP said, Government is very keen to ensure engagement of CSOs in development process, we believe it is very much important to realize the SDGs. To achieve the SDGs international communities have also huge responsibilities on them.
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Dhaka, 19th August 2017. Today Bangladeshi NGOs for WHS (World Humanitarian Summit) and COAST has organized a seminar title “Strengthening Civil Society and Promoting Localization Agenda” in the Lakshore Hotel of the city for observation of 19th August World Humanitarian Day. Speaker’s demands equitable partnership from INGOs (International non-government organization) and UN (United Nations) agencies as it is necessary for sovereign and sustainable growth of local NGOs (non-government organization) or civil society organization (CSO). The seminar was presided by Mrs. Rasheda K Chowdhury, CAMPE, special guest were, Khondokar Rakibur Rahman, Director General, NGO Affairs Beauru (NGOAB) of Prime Minister Office, and Mrs. Saheen Anam, Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), the seminar was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, COAST. Other speakers of the seminar was Shova Rani Das SASUS, Rafiqul Islam DUS, AKM Jshim Uddin ADAB, Mr Ariifur Rahaman YPSA, Iqbal Ahmed PADAKHEP, Abdul Matin SOJAG, Anwar Zahid ICDA, Sonit Gomez SF, Mrinal kanti Tripura of Maleya Foundation, Edouard Weigbour UNICEF, Mark Piere SCF, Orla Murphy Plan International, Reiza Dejto Handicap International, Nipin Gangadharan ACF, Sajid Raihan Start Fund, Nayeem Wahara BRAC and MB Akhter Oxfam. Key note paper which has been prepared based on Development Effectiveness, WHS and the Grand Bargain policy outcome, by local NGOs in last four month through a process have been presented by Shawkat Ali Tutul of COAST.

In his key note presentation the local NGO group given 15 demands which contains following major demands, (i) INGOs and UN agencies must come out from direct operation, rather they should facilitate local NGOs to grow, they must not raise fund in local level, they should prepare partnership policies and code of conduct, (ii) INGOs should not go for formation of new network, they must explore existing network first for work, (iii) INGOs and UN agencies should not import non local NGOs in a locality where there are capable local NGO and leadership are exist, (iv) local NGOs must come forward with self-esteem and accountability to local community.

Arifur Rahman of YPSA said there should not be any effort to formation of new network which is not sustainable. AKM Jashim Uddin of ADAB said that there are a lot of researches in international level that local organization can do the job with low cost. Abdul Matin Sojag said that Bangladeshi NGOs has more than enough capacity to manage humanitarian crisis. Sajid Raihan of Start Fund said they consider that there are little alternative other than support to local NGOs. Nayeem Wahara BRAC said that struggle for localization by local NGOs in Bangladesh is not new. MB Akhter of Oxfam said that local leadership and local capacity is the best answer for development. Mr Edouard the Country Director UNICEF said that capacity and financial management is a challenge in respect of localization. Mrs. Orla Murphy of Plan International underscores the need of promoting local organization, as they are the fast and first responder in humanitarian crisis.

Khonodkar Rakibur Rahman Director General NGOAB said that they are ready to assist local NGOs to grow. Rasheda K Chowdhury CAMPE and the Chair of the seminar said that local NGO has to stand with their self-esteem and self-accountability. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury the moderator the seminar said the campaign will continue to develop knowledge and thereby self-initiative of the local NGOs.
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IMG_2043_IndexRight Groups on Bangladesh SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) VNR (Voluntary National Reporting) in UN HLPF (United Nation High Level Political Forum)
Dhaka, 8th July 2017. Today twenty one right based civil society, farmers and labors organizations and networks in a press conference held at National Press Club Dhaka said that strengthening democratic institutions like inclusive election, decentralized local government, freedom of information and assembly is fundamental to achieve sustained SDG and peace in Bangladesh. They have organized the press conference on the eve of Government of Bangladesh is going present SDG VNR in upcoming UN HLFP which will be held in New York during 10 to 19th July 2017. The press conference title “Inequality is the priority to act immediately: Global community must endorse its obligation of global partnership to assist countries fighting poverty, inequality and climate change” was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, other speakers are AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC, Rafiqul Islam of DUS, Aminul Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Badrul Alam and Jayed Iqbal Khan of BKF, Mostafa Kamal Akhanda of COAST and Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD.
The group includes, ARPAN, BAFLF BKS, BKF, BNNRC, CDP, CLEAN, COAST, DDJ, EquityBD, GCAP, JSJ, NRDS, OKSociety, PRAN, SDO, SANGRAM, SDG Watch Bangladesh, SUPRO, Uddipon, and Voice of South Bangladesh.
On behalf of the group Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD elaborated five points demands and concern in this regard which are (i) Regional disparities and inequalities should have priority concern, (ii) Eliminate loopholes in resource losses from our countries : act against illicit flows, (iii) Take a balance approach in respect of infrastructure for Growth and Protection : people need to be protected from climate fall out, (iv) Bangladesh is innocent victim of climate change : international communities have obligation to take responsibilities of climate displacement, and (vi) Strengthening democratic institutions should be the key for achieving SDG.
AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC said that there are lack of coordination among agencies which is causing wastage of development budget, he also said that Bangladeshi coastal area have to be protected first otherwise Dhaka will not be saved. Rafiqul Islam of DUS said that 40 % of coastal area are fully unprotected, on the other hand cyclone increases four fold, he also said to gain food self-sufficiency coastal land have to be protected first. Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust said that, government must show tangible actions that they are sincere to stop illicit flow, as Bangladesh is one of the top countries where illicit flow is high; he also said that confrontational politics is responsible in this regard.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD and the moderator of the press conference said that, government of Bangladesh should not show or express self-complacent attitude especially in international forums, and the government must tell the truth to the international community that without international cooperation Bangladesh alone cannot stop the illicit flow and it is the developed countries who are responsible of climate catastrophes in here so they have obligations to take responsibilities.
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IMG_1617_Index15 June 2017. Today in a human chain, 30 right based CSOs have called to government to develop appropriate national protection policy for saving state’s asset and valuable information before any contracting or agreement with profiteering E-Commerce Giant like Alibaba (China) and Amazon.com (US Company). They have also criticize and protested on current initiatives of government Postal & Telecom Division with Alibaba and Amazon.com on so-called e-commencing and concerned that this contracting without any protection policy would be wider of information out flow and resource repatriate rather making profit. They urged govt. to cancel the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) immediately and develop policy for greater interest of state. Regarding the issue of E-Commerce, they have put forward some specific demands are; i. Any bi-lateral agreement or contract related to e-commerce by govt. or state departments will have to make the public, ii. Government must consider the people’s rights and national security issues especially human & information security before going to agreement with e-commerce activities and iii. Govt. will initiate CSO discourse on this issue through participation of expert, academician, media and mass people to build national consensus and developing appropriate protection policies.
The human chain titled “Civil Society called to Develop National Protection Policy before any Contracting with Amazon and Alibaba” is leaded by EquityBD and moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD, where spoke by many other representatives among more than 30 participated civil society organization and individuals.
Among the speakers, Syed Aminul Hoque of EquityBD said that Bangladesh is very premature country and we have less, in fact no capacity to face long term negative impact of such e-commerce or online business. Such context, MNCs (Multinational Companies) will get chance to establish their monopolistic business that ultimately looser our country’s economy through tax evasion, resource repatriation and our people & consumers. He urged government to understand the e-commerce issues taking time and develop appropriate protection policies.
Abdul Kader Hajari (Executive Director-Arapn) said that e-commerce is not our issue, this is rich countries like USA, EU and Chinese issue because they have developed hi-tech business. Our issue is sustainable development and reducing poverty. So that we need to create industrialization, create employment but so called e-commerce process will hinder these development issues and increase poverty indeed. Our government should avoid and go with very carefully but that not happen at present.
Nurul Amin (Secretary Jatio Sramik Jote) said that government is facing huge challenges to crate employment whereas e-commerce will facilitate the reverse. Introducing e-commerce will contribute of losing existing job and create new unemployment. We already observe threat for our small scale mass-transport system (e.g. auto rickshaw, CNG etc.) due to giving approval for “Uber” (An online global transport company) to do business in Dhaka and other cities. He demand to review the agreement with Uber. Mr. Subal Sraka of Landless Somiti opined to strengthen govt. institutional capacity to introduce e-commerce by own initiative rather invite foreign profiteering companies that may benefit us.
Moderator said that Bangladesh has a vision to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 that would be impossible if e-commerce facilitates through profiteering MNCs. He opined and call government to save peoples’ rights through saving information and people’s asset.
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IMG_1469_IndexOn 06 June 2017. Today in a press conference, 14 rights based citizens’ and farmers organizations protested the inadequate allocation for agriculture in proposed national budget for 2017-18 fiscal year. They demanded at least 20% of the total budget for this sector to ensure food security and climate resilience agriculture. The proposed budget for agriculture is very insufficient and it’s reflecting the government strategic failure in case of long term climate resilient sustainable agriculture to ensure national food security, they opined. The farmers organizations placed some specific demands in this regard, such as: i) Budget allocation for agriculture must be increased specially to fight climate change impacts that ensure sustainable food security, ii) Subsidies will have to increase with effective manner and commensurate with current context of global competitiveness and to save marginal farmers, iii) Government must take necessary initiative to ensure fair price of agriculture product through formation of national Price Commission, iv) Impose ban on so-called hi-breed and GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) seeds and v) Introduce agriculture education for farmers that can facilitate them to practical knowledge for climate adaptive agriculture.

The press conference titled “Effective budgetary allocation must be ensured for climate resilient agriculture” was moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand, Assistant Director of COAST Trust and key note was presented by Syed Aminul Hoque, Secretary of EquityBD. Among others Mr. Badrul Alam, President Bangladesh Krishak Federation, Zayed Iqbal Khan, president of Bangladesh Krishak Federation (Ji) also spoke at the press conference.

Syed Aminul Hoque said, there are clear confusion between the sympathy to the agriculture shown by the Finance Minister and the allocation he has made for the sector. The budget speech recognizes that, our economy depends on agriculture and 45% of our population depend on this sector for their livelihood. For the livelihood of 45% of the population, only 3.4% of the total budget has been allocated. In ADB it is only 1.2%! This type of inadequate allocation is suicidal for our food security. Reducing subsidies makes our marginal farmers vulnerable and falling into hardship condition to survive in global competition. He demanded effective policies for fair access to subsidies for the marginal farmers.

Mr. Badrul Alam said, our population is increasing and the agriculture growth rate is decreasing. Government is talking about increasing production by providing good quality seeds to the farmers. But allocation for the BADC does not reflect such plan of the government. Badrul Alam Said, the budget speech opts for imposing tax on rice import to ensure fair price for the farmers. But this is not enough, to ensure fair price the process and iliy of rice collection form farmers must be changed. Rice must be collected when it is with farmers hand. A national fair Price Commission is must to ensure just oroce of farmers’ production. Zayed Iqbal Khan Said, to save our agriculture we need to save the land. In every year about 10 lakh people are losing their almost everything due to river erosion. We demand special allocation in proposed national budget for protection of farmers from river erosion, tidal surge and sea level rise.
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IMG_1104_IndexToday 31 May 2017, a group of 30 Rights Based Civil Society Network protested the government initiative to review the BCCSAP-2009 (Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan-2009) by engaging foreign expert. Besides, they also demanded review of the BCCSAP-2009 by appointing local consultants (those are internationally recognized) with following inclusive process.
The press conference titled “BCCSAP-2009 Review: Must be done by local consultants and Inclusive Process” was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, Syed Aminul Hoque from the same organization presented the key notes on behalf of the networks. Among others, Mr. Mizanur Rahaman Bijoy of Network on Climate Change Bangladesh, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Mr. Prodip K Roy of Center for Sustainable Rural Live livelihood and Motaher Hossen of Bangladesh Climate Journalist forum spoke at the event.
In the key note presentation, Syed Aminul Hoque said, as a condition of donor financial support, so called foreign experts are being involved in this review process, those have no experience on country’s climate context, peoples’ demand and future government strategies in this regard. So, we are worried that, it will hamper the country’s interest, if they are involved with this review process. Aminul Hoque also placed a few demands to make the government review proposal effective and country interest bearing. Those are; i. BCCSAP Review must be done following inclusive process with mass participation, ii. Review should focus coastal vulnerability and their survival strategy that means adaptation should be focused as priority, iii. Mitigation action must be limited in reviewed BCCSAP considering the reality of GHG (Green House Gas) emission and by no means will force or create pressure for vulnerable people and iv. The reviewed BCCSAP will be consistence with country’s other long term development policies like 7th Five year Plan and SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) targets.

Mizanur Rahaman Bijoy said, BCCSAP is a state document and it was declared as a living document during its development. So, our government will have to own this and it must be reviewed with the participation of climate vulnerable people, political leaders and CSOs. Hiring so called foreign experts is not an appropriate strategy in this regard.
Aminur Rasul said, there are needs to ensure necessary coordination among the ministries to make an effective review of our BCCSAP, because this is an important document for international assistance and all ministries somehow have responsibility and will have to implement program related with climate change at present and future.
Prodip.K. Roy said, we have done PRSP (Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) by foreign consultant, but didn’t get good result. In case of developing planning document like BCCSAP, we should not go for such mistake again that will damage us and our interest.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD said that we have enough internationally recognized Bangladeshi consultants those are able to do it very effectively. He urge to government to facilitate country driven process for BCCSAP review.
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IMG_0938_IndexDhaka, 21 May 2017. Today 14 rights based citizens’ and farmers’ organizations demanded 20% of the upcoming national budget for agriculture. They also opined that, reducing agriculture subsidy based on the prescription of the WTO, IMF and others will be suicidal towards achieving self-reliance on food and in ensuring food security. They also placed 7 specific demands to consider in the upcoming budget form a press conference held in the National Press Club today. Some key demands are i) Allocation for agriculture should be at least 20% of the total budget. ii) Subsidy for agriculture must be increased, effective utilization of that subsidy must be ensured. iii). National Price Commission is a must to ensure just price for farmers. iv). Ban of import of harmful foreign seeds and promotion of local seeds, and v) Special attention to bring back the golden era of jute.

The press conference titled, “We demand 20% of the budget for agriculture: Reducing Subsidy for Agriculture will be Suicidal for National Food Security” was moderated by Mustafa Kamal Akand, Assistant Director of COAST Trust. Among others Syed Aminul Haque, Secretary of EquityBD, Badrul Alam, President Bangladesh Krishak Federation, Sajeda Begum, President of Kendriy Krishak Moitri, Zayed Iqbal Khan, president of Bangladesh Krishak Federation (Ji) also spoke at the occasion. On behalf of the organizers, Md Mujibul Haque Munir, Assistant Director of COAST Trust presented the group’s position paper.

In the position paper, Md. Mujibul Haque Said, more than 50% of the total populations of Bangladesh depend on agriculture for livelihood, about 45% of total labour force are engaged in this sector. But the growth rate of agriculture is declining almost every year. In 2010, the growth rate was 6.5% and it is 2,6% in 2016. Rapid shrinkage of agricultural land (1% per year) and rapid urbanization (12% in each year) are making the sector vulnerable. So, to make Bangladesh self-reliance in food allocation for agriculture must be increased proportionately. But allocation for agriculture in the national budget is declining on a regular basis. Allocation for agriculture in current budget is only 4.30% of the total budget. Last year budget for the agriculture ministry was 5.12%. So, agriculture gets 0.82% lower allocation compared to the previous year budget. This trend must be changed. About 20% of the total budget should be allocated for agriculture.

Syed Aminul Haque said, WTO, IMF and other international agencies are forcing to reduce the subsidy in agriculture. According to WTO Nairobi decision developing countries will remove subsidies within 2023, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and net food-importing countries will do that within 2030. It means countries like Bangladesh has to stop all its supports towards agriculture. Exporting rice is a very dangerous decision for Bangladesh. If rice is considered as an export item, Bangladesh will not be allowed to provide subsidy even in rice cultivation which will be very much suicidal for us.

Badrul Alam Said, we demand Just Price Commission to ensure just and fair price of the farmers’ production. Farmers are not getting just price of the products due to faulty market mechanism. Middlemen are capturing all the benefits of the hard work of marginal farmers. The time of the paddy collection from farmers must be changed.

Zayed Iqbal Khan Said, to save our agriculture we need to save the land. In every year about 10 lakh people are losing their almost everything due to river erosion. We demand special allocation for the protection of farmers from river erosion, tidal surge and sea level rise.

Sajeda Begum said, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries due to climate change. Our farmers must be provided capacity building support so that they can face the challenges of climate change.
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EquityBD Secretary Office observes the International Mother Language Day today to pay the profound honor to the Martyrs in 1952 who sacrificed their lives...