SUPRO Pre-Budget Seminar 2012
SUPRO demands Decentralized, Pro-poor and Participatory Budget
The national budget is a reflection of government priority and policies. SUPRO believes that establishment of domestic ownership over development policies will be one of the most important prerequisites for successful implementation of pro-poor policy reforms and good governance in the context of Bangladesh. Through proactive engagement of the civil society and stakeholders in the process of policy design and implementation could pay high dividends in terms of successfully addressing the challenges of eliminating the poverty and inequality in Bangladesh.
Budget is for people. So undoubtedly it should reflect peoples’ desire. SUPRO- Campaign for Good Governance hold talks with the locals of 45 different districts of the country to know their demands where many sectors like education, health, economic development, agriculture etc. has made it to the list.
Sushahner Jonny Procharavizan-SUPRO is working to make sure participatory budget since 2003 in Bangladesh and in connection with that in this year SUPRO organized a national Pre-budget Seminar on 11 May 2012 at Dhaka Reporters Unity, Dhaka, Bangladesh. In that seminar, representatives of SUPRO network, SUPRO-Dhaka Campaign Group, Budget Alliance Group members, other like minded civil society organizations, members of parliament, journalists and other stakeholders were attended. SUPRO General Secretary M A Quader moderated and chaired the seminar where SUPRO Coordinator Mousumi Biswas delivered her welcome speech. Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, Coordinator-Training & Capacity Building and Saif Uddin Ahmed, Campaign Coordinator jointly presented the pre-budget discussion paper at the seminar in which all the demands related to the budget illustrated accordingly.
Honorable Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh National Parliament, Colonel (Rtd.) Shawkat Ali, MP was present in the seminar as the chief guest. He said that since the masses want the government to respond to their necessities and expectations, the budget should comprise contemporary issues. Amongst all other guests especially Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SUJON) Secretary Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar said, the masses are being deprived of the budget's benefits due to corruption and mismanagement. Moreover, the budget is not decentralized, meaning the local governments cannot spend it as per their requirements, he added. “The benefit of the masses will be ensured if transparency and accountability is attained through decentralization of the budget,” he said. Dr. Majumdar also criticized the proposal to reduce corporation tax, stating that income disparity is on the rise despite the economy's gradual growth. Former state minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Abdul Mannan said the government could not serve people because it has to spend a major portion of the budget in paying out interests of foreign loans. He suggested the government to come out of this practice bring all eligible incomes under the tax net and increase the budgetary allocation in agriculture, education and health sectors. Honorable MP Golam Faruk Khandaker Prince said, “Management is a big problem. We are all involved in some form of corruption. What is the use in blaming the government?” He also expressed his concern over the presence of such a low number of taxpayers in the country. Honorable MP Al-Hajj MA Jabbar said, farmers are being deprived of the just prices of crops and not benefiting from the insufficient number of government projects. Development worker from Bulgaria Ms. Darina Ch Kadunkova attended the seminar and said in her speech that national budget of any country should be formulated with the consultation of all stakeholders and on the basis of people’s participation.
SUPRO Executive Board Member Manju Rani Pramanik, Sharifa Khatun and KGM Faruque, National Council Member Mustafizur Rahman Khan, M.A. Salam, Shamima Akter Moonmoon, Hosne Ara Hasi, was the active participants in that program. District Secretaries Abdul Halim, Moynul Ahsan Munna, Anisur Rahman Biton, Jahid hossain, Dipendra Nath and other district members and representatives also attended in the seminar. All the participants discussed on the issues related to the upcoming budget 2012-13.
The demands raised in the Seminar are as follows:
- Initiate immediately to formulate/implement purposed district budget.
- Ensure budget allocation of 20% in health sector and 10% in education sector.
- Stop privatization of health sector ensuring mass people associability through increasing budget allocation.
- Increase subsidy in agriculture for more production, bring marginalized and landless farmers under direct subsidy coverage.
- Allocate proper budget and take proper action-plan to build up a sustainable agri-system at Chor, Haor, Hill-track, Northern and Coastal Area.
- Ensure actual beneficiaries under Social Safety-net Program.
- Increase production of electricity under public sector rather than private company and make control of PDB over DESA, DECO and REB.
- Government will take initiative to decrease the indirect tax especially VAT and increase the direct tax for all.
- Government will initiate to ensure right to access and information in education curriculum and it should be more scientific and time usual for all students.
- Government will initiate for development of communication system rather than private sectors’ initiative.
- Increase budget allocation on poor friendly communication/vehicles like railway and naval route and be aware not to let World Bank and IFIs to interfere over communication system.