Asian Peoples' Movement on Debt and Development

A regional alliance of peoples’ movements, community organizations, coalitions, NGOs and networks



Rights activists criticise UN HLP report

Rights activists here on Tuesday criticised the United Nation High Level Panel (UN HLP) report on post-2015 agenda terming it 'lofty goal and empty bowl', reports UNB.

bangladesh june 4 2013The criticism came from a press conference organised by civil society right groups network EquityBD and VOICE at the National Press Club in the city.

VOICE executive director Ahmed Swapan Mahmud read out a written statement at the press conference.
Chief coordinator of Equitybd Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Farzana Akhter of VOICE and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD also spoke at the press conference.

The speakers said the UN HLP report has given overemphasis on free market and private sector financing for development and the report has not been able to strike a balance between private sector and public financing.

They said free market notion is responsible for reproducing poverty and global inequality and widening the gap between the rich and the poor, and mentioned that generically private finance always look for profit rather than growth with justice and equity.

Published in The News Today.

Budgetary allocation for climate strategy urged

bangladesh may 23DHAKA, MAY 23: Leaders of civil society climate networks and organizations on Thursday demanded integration of climate adaptation strategy in the national plan and forthcoming budget of the country.

They made the demand at a press conference held at the National Press Club in the morning. The leaders also demanded a review on the performance of two climate funds and raised questions on allocation and effectiveness of Bangladesh climate change strategic action plan (BCCSAP) and on the supremacy of the Ministry of Forest and Environment on it.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD moderated the press conference while Sayed Aminul Haque of EquityBD presented the keynote paper before the journalists.
Mizanur Rahman Bijoy of NCCB, Tapash Chakraborty of CSRL and Mainuddin Mahin of BKF were the other speakers. Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD delivered the address of welcome.

The civil society rights groups comprising Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) led by Oxfam, Climate Finance Governance Network (CFGN) led by TIB, Climate Change Development Forum (CCDF) led by BCAS, Bangladesh Indigenous People Network on Climate Change and Bio Diversity (BIPNetCCBD), Equity and Justice Working Group (EquityBD), Network on Climate Change in Bangladesh (NCCB), Coastal Development Partnership (CDP), Bangladesh Krishok Federation (BKF), Online knowledge Society (OKS), PRAN, VOICE, Nature Campaign Bangladesh, and Humanity Watch.

In his keynote paper Sayed Aminul Haque pointed out, in view of a UNDP report, allocation for climate in the national budget has been reduced down to 5.2 per cent from 7 per cent in the last three years where a number of projects have been included 28 out of 57 ministries and departments have only 1 or 2 climate projects each where inconsistently 9 of them have up to 102 projects.

Eighteen ministries and departments have no projects at all but the fact is, to build up a long term climate adaptation capacity in Bangladesh every ministry and department should have at least some projects to duly address.

Syed Aminul Haque adds, according to the same report, the government has implemented 1,316 projects in the last three years out of which only 3.2 per cent had strong relevance with climate adaptation while 8.6 per cent had significant relevance but in the remaining 87.6 per cent had little or somewhat relevance. This is quite conflicting with the long term goal of the government for mitigating the climate change.

Mizanur Rahman Bijoy said out of 107 projects from climate trust fund, a maximum of 26 projects has been allocated for Chittagong and 22 for Dhaka. But for the most climate impacted Khulna region only 9 projects have been disbursed, he added.

Tapash Chakraborty of CSRL raised question on the government response toward climate adaptation and integration for being much more rhetoric instead of being in real action.

He also demands to prepare the national budget through parliamentary process where demand should be identified by the climate affected people through their elected repre­sen­­tatives and discuss in the parliament to be finalized.

Published in The Independent.


Speakers against permitting money whitening facility in next budget

bangladesh may 4 2013Speakers at a discussion in the city suggested the government Saturday not to permit whitening of black and undisclosed money in the upcoming national budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014.

They think that such provision of illegal money whitening only encourages the unscrupulous people to continue doing their misdeeds. They also proposed to review the existing tax exemption criteria.

Equitybd, a network of right-based organisations, hosted the seminar styled 'Political economy of black money: undisclosed economy, national budget and resources mobilisation' at the National Press Club.

Member of Parliament (MP) Dr MA Mannan, prominent economist and also Professor of Economics Department of Dhaka University Abu Ahmed, Programme Director of ActionAid (policy and campaign) Asgar Ali Sabri, President of Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) Khwaza Moin Uddin and Zakir Hossain Khan of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) addressed the discussion, among others.

Equitybd researcher Ahsanul Karim presented a keynote paper while the chief moderator of the organisation Rezaul Karim Chowdhury moderated it.

Mr Mannan urged the election commission to withdraw the budgetary limitation on spending during elections for the aspiring parliament members.

Prof Ahmed said black money legalisation just promotes the country's corruption and irregularities that help generate more black money.

"Regrettably, the so-called whitening system allows dishonest people to legalise their illicit money by paying only seven to ten per cent tax, while the regular taxpayers need to pay around 20 per cent, which is frustrating for them", he added.

He also criticised the government's unhealthy attitude towards increasing the common value added tax (VAT) that directly affects the underprivileged group of people.

"The government only mobilises 30 per cent of the state capital through direct taxing system while the remaining 70 per cent comes from indirect sources", he added.

He also said that the parliament must pass the Financial Reporting Act, which is fundamental to develop reliable audit reporting.

Prof Ahmed said multinational companies must be transparent in disclosing how much profit they are repatriating.

He also opposed the proposed 15 per cent VAT on all products and services in general saying that imposition of uniform VAT in general at the consumption level is frustrating.

The keynote presenter said the current annual capital flight is around $ 1.8 billion, which is much greater than the total annual foreign aid and loan of $ 1.2 billion.

Mr Karim said in South Asia, Bangladesh has the highest percentage of black money which is around 38 per cent of the total economy while in India it is around 23 per cent.

He suggested the government to review the existing tax exemption facilities that allowed its neighbouring India for 10 years' tax exemption of coal-fired power plant under Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL).

Besides, tax exemption of parliament members that allows benefit of importing tax-free vehicles for which the country is deprived of around Tk 10 billion in taxes.

Published in The Financial Express


CSOs for democratization of ADB

Bangladesh Apr 20 2013A network of several Civil Society Organizations has called for democratization of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at a press conference in the city on the eve of its 46th annual conference which started in the Indian capital Delhi yesterday.

They presented a nine-point demands and urged the Bangladesh delegation to pursue their action based on these conditions. Hasan Mehedi of Humanity Watch, Syed Aminul Hoque of EquityBD, Rahela Rabbani of Karmajibi Nari, Shamim Arfin of AOSED, Javed Khalid Pasha Joy of Initiative for Right View (IRV), Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul of BELA and Kazi Hafizur Rahman of Swabalambi spoke on the occasion. Mustaga Kamal Akanda of EquityBD moderated it.

The nine-point demands are: one vote for one member in the 67 members organization instead of vote based on investment size, ensuring people's participation in approving Bank funded projects, open access to information to ADB funded projects, stopping indiscriminate denationalization, stop commercialization of natural resource, bring pressure on raising prices of utility services, protest commercialization of climate issues; and stop imposing PPP to big projects at all levels and cancellation of the immunity given to ADB in 1973.

They said seven big countries control 51 percent shares of ADB and they impose decisions on other countries specially on small countries like Bangladesh to make them their victims.

This is not democracy and rather bear out unethical attitude. Zaved Khalid Pasha said, Bangladesh is implementing 263 projects financed by ADB and most of them have caused or are causing long term damages to the livelihood of the local communities.

Even according to the ADB's own evaluation, the Sundarbans Bio-diversity Conservation Project (SBCP) and Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project (KJDRP) are the examples of their failed projects although they cost hundreds of millions of Taka in local currency.

Syed Aminul Hoque of EquityBD said, ADB's pressure to increase prices of gas, electricity and fuel is bringing miseries to the poor and the farmers in particular. Its prescription for blanket privatization of the state-owned industries, privatizing the electricity and power sector, squeezing the public service sectors and promoting the shrimp culture are destroying the ecosystem.

Published in The New Nation.


Dhaka concerned over outcome of climate change conference

bangladesh dec 17 2012Bangladeshi climate network Monday expressed its frustration over the outcome of the recently held global climate change conference (COP-18) terming it 'more inactive and injustice for combating climate change.'

The platform of the country's seven organisations involved in climate activism highly emphasised on appropriating climate negotiation as a part of the country's foreign diplomacy.

Their comments were made at a press conference held at the National Press Club in the capital titled "Doha Gateway: In Between Life and Death" dedicated to the COP-18 that was held between November 26 and December 09 last in Doha, Qatar.

The network includes Bangladesh Poribesh Andoloan (BAPA), Climate Finance Governance Network (CFGN) under the Transparency International Bangladesh, Bangladesh Indigenous People's Network for Climate Change and Bio-Diversity (BIPNetCCBD), Climate Change Development Forum (CCDF), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL), Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD) and Network on Climate Change Bangladesh (NCCB).

The activists and experts of the network termed the Doha Climate Conference outcome as 'climate injustice for climate vulnerable countries like Bangladesh'. "It has also given developed countries opportunity to remain inactive considering finance transfer and carbon emission issues," they said.

NCCB coordinator Mizanur Rahman Bijoy presented the keynote which mentioned several fundamental weaknesses in Doha outcome.

The paper criticised the commitment by the developed countries to reduce carbon emission only by 18 per cent and termed it as unscientific as earlier commitment was to reduce carbon emission by 40-45 per cent from the 1990 level.

"It means the planet is, in fact, reaching an increase in temperature by 4 degree Celsius by the end of this century, which will bring a catastrophe beyond our imagination".

Climate specialist and executive director of Centre for Global Change (CGC) Dr Ahsan Uddin Ahmed mentioned the COP-18 as a tiger without nails and teeth.

Dr Ahsan emphasised on appropriation of proper climate adaptation programmes by Bangladesh with her own funds to avoid unnecessary interferences.

Published in The Financial Express.