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BD climate funds need single focal point

Speakers at a seminar on Monday urged the government to consider a transparent and inclusive national designated authority to attract international climate finance.
The seminar titled "Green Climate Fund, Country Ownership, International Climate Finance: Is Bangladesh Ready?" held in the city. It was organised by BAPA, BIPNetCCBD, CCDF, CSRL and EquityBD with the sponsorship of Oxfam and European Union.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD moderated it while Sayed Aminul Haque of presented the keynote speech.

Speakers said, the present climate finance is
little coordinated and the climate change strategic action plan is a neglected document, as the present focal point at the Ministry of Forest and Environment  has little authority over other ministries.

They said the country ownership should not be mere a government or bureaucratic ownership; it should be open for all affected community, media and other groups.

They cited examples that Indonesia and Philippines have already created supra coordination body like separate climate change commission and council, we must do it.

Dr Quazi Kholiquzzaman in his concluding remarks said that the country in fact should not be expecting much from foreign assistance in respect of climate finance although the country is continuously raising voice in international level. He said that there should be a national designated authority as a single supra coordination body in respect of climate planning, which is also a requirement of Green Climate Fund.

Published in The New Nation. 

Upcoming UNGA: Reducing inequality should be core agenda

Reducing inequality across the world should be the main agenda of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly where the post-2015 development goals will be discussed, said speakers at a seminar yesterday.

Countries failed to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set in 2000 to create a world without poverty and hunger by 2015. There are now more people who are hungry than what was in 2000, they added.

EquityBD orgained the seminar in the capital's Jatiya Press Club.

Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud said developed countries were responsible for the crises of climate change facing Bangladesh. "So we must make them pay us compensation," he said.

Stating that Bangladesh has been largely successful in reaching the MDGs two years ahead of the deadline, he said the challenge was to sustain the development and progress.
EquityBd Research Coordinator Barkat Ullah Maruf said the assembly's goals should be to control global arms and military expenditure while debts of least developed countries should be cancelled.

Published in The Daily Star.

 

Rights activists for increasing corporate & direct tax

bangladesh july 16 2013Rights activists here on Tuesday urged the government to lay emphasis on corporate and direct tax and take effective steps to cut corruption in the VAT collection procedure.

They made the request at a press conference organised by eight rights-based civil society networks at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital.

Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD read out the group's position paper at the press conference.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, Prodip K Roy of Online Knowledge Society, Jibanananda Joyanta of Surakkha O Agrogoti Foundation, Mejbah Uddin Ahmed of Jatiya Sromik Jote and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD also spoke on the occasion.

In the group position paper, Syed Aminul Haque said the value added tax (VAT) is regressive especially to the poor and middle class consumers.

He alleged that there is huge corruption in the collection of VAT that involves national and international companies.

"No foreign and multinational companies are found at the top of the list as VAT depositor. The contribution of VAT and other indirect taxes in internal revenue of Bangladesh is about 70 percent while direct taxes are only 30 percent... scenario in the developed countries is contrary to this," he said.

Aminul Haque said the contribution of direct tax is 33 percent in neighboring India and 31 percent in Sri Lanka. "The government of Bangladesh increased VAT rate to 15 percent while it is only 5 percent in Singapore, 7 percent in Thailand, 10 percent in South Korea and 12 percent in New Zealand."

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that according to Bangladesh Bank statistics, there are about 28,000 personal bank accounts in the country, each having more than Tk 1 crore.

But only 1000 people give income tax of more than Tk 100,000.

He said the government must lay emphasis on individual income tax and corporate tax.

Prodip K Roy said almost all the ordinary people pay at least Tk 50 per day as VAT while they buy essentials.

Published in The New Nation.

Civil societies call for effectiveness of Green Climate Fund

bangladesh june 15 2013Seven civil society groups on Saturday called for fairness and effectiveness of Green Climate Fund (GCF) after presenting 11-point demand in a press conference at the National Press Club, reports UNB.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL), Climate Finance Gover-nance Network (CFGN), Coastal Livelihood Ecology and Adaptation Network (CLEAN), Equity and Justice Working Group (EquityBD), Humanity-watch and Network on Climate Change-Bangla-desh (NCC-B) jointly arra-nged the press conference.

Mostafa Kamal Akand of EquityBD moderated the press conference while Nuzhat Imam of CSRL, Mohua Rouf of CFGN and Sharifuzzaman Sharif of Nagorik Sanghati addressed the programme. The chief executive of Humanity watch Hasan Mehedi read out the written speech before the press.

The groups informed that Green Climate fund (GCF) is still ineffective after three years of its formation in 2010 and yet to assist the vulnerable countries.
Negligence of Annex-1 countries is mainly responsible for this stranding situation as they pledged 30 billion dollar as First Start Finance (FSF) in 2010-12 period but provided only 5.7 million USD.

It is agreed that all climate finances will be 'New and Additional' but now the Annex-1 countries are trying to add their Official Development Assistances and other bilateral funds in the GCF.

The speakers demanded cancellation of World Bank as Trustee of GCF because it spent more than 24.5 percent money of GCF just for their office expense while the money was only for the poor and affected people of the vulnerable countries.

The group leaders said in the press conference that, according to all the official reports on Climate Change, including UN one, Bangladesh is one of the worst affected country but they made Bangladesh and alternative member of Zambia in the stiring committee of Green Climate Fund.

They mentioned that it is the diplomatic failure of the government of Bangla-desh and if Bangladesh fails to establish professionalism, transpa-rency and accountability in international level and to end corruption it will be hard for Bangladesh to take lead in this sector in future.

The speakers also urge the GCF to be activated by the upcoming meeting in Korea during 26 - 28 June, 2013.

Published in The News Today.

 

 

Environment rights groups want climate commission

bangladesh june 12 2013DHAKA, JUNE 12: Environment rights groups said on Wednesday that the climate change adaptation planning has barely been integrated into the national budget 2013-2014. A national climate commission should be formed for appropriate integration of climate adaptation, which is necessary for the country's survival. They were speaking at a press conference on "Budget 2013-14 does not comply with climate adaptation", jointly organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan (BAPA), the Climate Change Development Forum (CCDF), Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL), Coastal Development Partnership (CDF), Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (EquityBD), Network on Climate Change Bangladesh (NCCB), VOICE, PRAN and HumanityWatch.

Mostafa Kamal Akanda and Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD, Farzana Akhter of VOICE, Mizanur Rahman Bijoy of the NCCB and Atiqur Rahman Tipu of the CDP spoke on the occasion. Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD moderated the press conference.

Syed Aminul Haque, reading out from a keynote paper, described agriculture and healthcare as most important areas with regard to climate adaptation.

He pointed out that the government has reduced the budget allocation for the two sectors this year, compared to the previous year.

This year's budget allocation for the agricultural sector has been reduced by 20 per cent. The healthcare sector's budget allocation amounts to 4.2 per cent of the total budget, compared to 5 per cent last year.

Syed Aminul Haque termed the government's Bangladesh Climate Change Strategic Action Plan (BCCSAP) as a mere standalone document, which has barely been integrated into the Sixth Five Year Plan of Bangladesh.

He cited a UNDP study that 88.6 per cent of the government's allocation towards climate planning during the last three years has hardly any relevance.
He added that only 3.8 per cent of this amount is directly related to climate change issues, while 8.6 per cent is significant in terms of climate planning.

Atiqur Rahman Tipu mentioned that a single ministry cannot act to pursue or coordinate among other ministries, so the BCCSAP and the BCCTF have not been much effective. He said the country needs a national climate commission as in the Philippines.

Farzana Akhter said women are the worst victims of climate changes, adding that the government should prioritise budgetary allocation in the health sector on women-related issues.

Mizanur Rahman Bijoy said there are allegations of corruption and lack of coordination regarding the management of the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF).

Published in The Independent.