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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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