In the SASF Sushasoner Jonny Procharavizan- SUPRO played a significant role through organizing number of events including seminars, rally and plenary sessions in the SASF, Dhaka focusing on various national and international issues. Some of these programs were organized in partnership with Tax Justice Network (TJN), JSAPMDD.
A colorful rally was held in festive mood on the eve of South Asia Social Forum-2011 opening on 18th November 2011, 3.00 PM which started in front of National Museum, Shahbagh and ended at the premise of National Shaheed Minar Via Press Club. An inaugural ceremony was held at National Shaheed Minar Premises. SUPRO, Budget Alliance Group, Dhaka Campaign Group along with many other NGOs, CSOs and activists participated in the rally with much enthusiasm.
Seminar on ‘Debt situation of Bangladesh’
SUPRO organized a seminar on ‘Debt Situation of Bangladesh’ in SASF on 19th November 2011, 2 PM to 5 PM at Central Gallery, Department of Botany, Dhaka University. In the seminar the speakers discussed about the impact of conditional foreign loans on the poor that impair their accessibility to essential services and about the importance of avoiding it.
Matti Kohonen from TJN emphasized on small scale projects rather than bigger construction projects with borrowed money. He criticized the conditions on loans and policy of loan providing organizations which is contradictory with development. Riad Chowdhury, Associate Professor, NAEM, said loan limits the power of decision making of loan taking country. He recommended need assessment and proper negotiation before taking loans; as well as, monitoring and supervision on loan utilization, proper distribution, transparency and accountability.
Among other discussant Dr. Attiya Waris, Vice Chairperson,TJN said, if the corporate tax can be collected properly the government will not require any foreign loans for national budget. Mohiuddin Ahmed, Writer and Researcher moderated the seminar and Harun Or Rashid Lal, Vice Chairperson, SUPRO presented the keynote paper. Among others, Abdul Awal, Chairperson, SUPRO; Sankhanath Bandyopadhyay, CBGA, India; Manju Rani Pramanik, National Committee Member, SUPRO and Uma Chowdhury, Director SUPRO spoke in the event.
Seminar on ‘Tax Governance and Essential Services’
On 21st November SUPRO organized a seminar on ‘Tax Governance and Essential Services’ and launched the research report titled ‘Tax System of Bangladesh’ which was jointly organized by SUPRO and Tax Justice Network (TJN) at the conference room of Business Faculty, Dhaka University at 10 AM to 1 PM. Uma Chowdhury, Director, SUPRO gave the opening speech and welcomed all the guests and participants and Abdul Awal, Chairperson, SUPRO moderated the seminar and report launching ceremony. Kazi Shafiqur Rahman, Coordinator, SUPRO presented the summary of the research report. Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, economist and former adviser of caretaker government was present as key discussant and in his speech he stressed on three issues regarding tax in Bangladesh: a) Transparent and accountable governance system, b) Pricing of essential services considering the poor people’s financial ability and c) Subsidizing the essential services for poor people’s easier accessibility. He recommended establishment of a commission for determining the prices of essential services. In the seminar Colonel Shawkat Ali MP, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament was present as chief guest. In his speech he discussed the issue of unjust interference of IFIs over government policy and importance of taxation. He said that loan dependency makes the government dependent on loan providers in policy making. Matti Kohonen, TJN, Dr. Attiya Waris, TJN, who are two of the researchers of the study ‘Tax System of Bangladesh’ were also present in the seminar. They discussed about the different aspects of the report i.e. methodologies, key findings. From the findings, they told that in Bangladesh regressive tax system is more evident which directly affects the lives of poor people. They also emphasized that the government does not provide adequate essential services to poor though it collects tax from them. Lidy Nacpil of JSAPMDD emphasized on social awareness on taxing for ensuring tax justice. Among others, Dr. Keshob Khadka, Professor of Economics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Sankhanath Bandyopadhyay, CBGA, India; Udbhab Prashad Pyakurel, researcher, Nepal; Dr. Binay Kumar Kushiyait, economist from Nepal; and SUPRO National Committee Members Manju Rani Pramanik and Madhab C. Dutta were also present.
Seminar on ‘Climate Justice’
Another seminar titled ‘Climate Justice’ was jointly by organized SUPRO and JSAPMDD on 21st November, 2 PM to 5 PM at Dhaka University Premises, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Zakir Hossain, Nagorik Uddok, moderated the seminar and Uma Chowdhury, Director, SUPRO gave the welcome speech. Abu Ala Mahmudul Hasan, Deputy Director, SUPRO presented the keynote paper of the seminar.
In the seminar, the speakers blamed the industrialized countries for their excessive carbon emission which is causing global warming and climate change. They argued that, poor countries are most vulnerable to climate change despite their negligible contribution in climate change and the rich industrial countries are fully responsible for the damages occurring in the poor countries. So they demanded compensation from the industrialized countries for the climate change induced damages. Md. Golam Rabbani, Research Fellow, BCAS pointed that justice should not be based on nationality rather it should be for ‘victims’, for ‘humanity’ and for ‘commitments and compliance’. He said no ‘legal binding’ for compensating the victim countries has been made yet and for this, the responsible countries are being able to escape from providing their promised compensation. ‘There are no political boundaries of the impacts of climate change and that is why climate justice cannot be justified based on country or political boundaries’ said Mr. Saroj Dash, Climate Change specialist from Concern Worldwide. Dr. Saiful Islam, Assistant Professor, IWFM-BUET described Bangladesh’s vulnerability to climate change due to its geographical location in his speech.
Sankhanath Bandyopadhyay, CBGA, India; Manju Rani Pramanik, Mostafizur Rahman, Daisy Ahmed, and Madhab C. Dutta, National Committee Member, SUPRO; Dr. Binay Kumar Kushiyait, economist, Nepal were also present and discussed in the seminar.
Besides organizing seminars SUPRO also participated in organizing plenary sessions titled ‘‘Essential Services and Public Rights: South Asian Perspective’ Jointly with EQUITYBD and SHARP on 20.11.2011, 2pm-5pm and The Crisis of Global Capitalism: How to Build New Economic Order, Jointly With VOICE, on 19.11.2011, 10am-1pm 5pm. In the first programme, speakers emphasized on the duty of the government to provide essential services and keeping it out of privatization. They said privatization will only yield profit for the corporations and rich but the poor will be deprived of their basic needs and rights. Lidy Nacpil of JSAPMDD, Faruk Tahir from Pakistan, Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Mahbubur Rahman, Shawkat Ali of SHARP, Keshab Khadka of Nepal, Matti Kohonen of TJN were speakers, among others, in the session. It was co-moderated by Abdul Awal, Chairperson, SUPRO and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Coordinator, EquityBD. The programme started with the welcome speech of Uma Chowdhury, Director, SUPRO.
‘Social Fair’ was organized at the Dhaka University premise during 19-22 November 2011 where many NGOs and CSOs participated as a part of celebrating South Asia Social Forum 2011 to share views and issues among themselves; as well as to sensitize the visitors on their concerned matters. SUPRO participated in the fair in a dynamic manner, decorating the stall with various publications, showing documentary and briefing the visitors.
Closing rally and Dhaka Statement
On 22nd November a closing rally was held which started in front of National Museum and ended at TSC, Dhaka University. At TSC the participants of SASF including SUPRO and other organizations and activists gathered for the closing ceremony where ‘Dhaka Statement’ was announced.