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bangladesh oct 10 2012Rights and development activists on Tuesday demanded women's participation in climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes.

They made the demand at a press conference organized by the National Committee on Observation of the International Rural Women Day at the National Press Club in the city on the occasion of the International Rural Women Day.

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voice sept 29 2012[Dhaka, 29 September 2012] Speakers urged the government of Bangladesh to ensure that the right to freedom expression and opinion is upheld on the Internet in a public dialogue held at Dhaka's press club earlier today. Speakers included Afsan Chowdhury, executive editor of Bdnews24.com; Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, editor in chief and CEO of Boishaki Television; Mostafa Jabber, IT specialist; Akhtaruzzaman Monju, chairman, ISP Association; Tahmina Rahman country director, Artcile-19; Seleem Samad, eminent journalist; and Golam Mortuza, editor, Saptahik. The dialogue on freedom of expression on the internet was organized by VOICE and Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE moderated the occasion.

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Bangladesh Sept 15 2012Criticising the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for pursuing discredited tax policy in Bangladesh, civil society members at a discussion on Saturday urged the government to reconsider new VAT (Value Added Tax) law 2012, which has been prepared to fulfill the IMF conditions, reports UNB.

Although the VAT (Value Added Tax) bill is supposed to be passed in the current parliament session, the prominent citizens said the VAT is regressive to poor, and in respect of taxation policy there should be emphasis on direct tax to reduce tax burden on the poor.

EquityBD, a civil society network of rights groups in Bangladesh, organised the discussion titled 'Revised VAT law 2012 to fulfill IMF Conditionality, a Review: Domestic Resource Mobilisation, VAT and Tax Justice' at the National Press Club in the city.

Moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, the discussion was addressed, among others, by president of Bangladesh Tax Law Association Saha Zikrul Ahmed, MP, Dr Abu Ahmed of Dhaka University, economist Dr. Romoni Mohan Debnath, Zakir Hossion Khan of TIB (Transparency International Bangladesh), Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara, Mahbub Hasan of Coastal Development Partnership, Ahmed Swapan of VOICE and Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD.

Ahsanul Karim and Syed Aminul Haque of EquityBD jointly delivered keynote presentation on the occasion.

In the key note presentation, EquityBD has mentioned that the key difference in law of 1991 and VAT law 2012 is that the new law has a definition to cover all items related to consumption, which could potentially impose VAT on the essential commodities needed by the poor.

EquityBD has demanded to differentiate the definition, especially to keep essential commodities out of the scope of the new law. At present, 37.30 percent internal resource is mobilised from VAT, while in a developed country like New Zealand it is only 12 percent.

It has referred to a research which shows that IMF did the same thing in African countries, but in fact it was not possible to attain the expected tax GDP ratio. They cited a research case study from South Africa which claims that while higher income groups pay only 7 percent, poor families have to pay 10 percent.

The rights group has also shown statistics in Bangladesh according to which the richest families pay only 10 percent while poor families pay 20 percent in VAT.

Published in The News Today.

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Bangladesh August 14 2012Rights activists at a human chain on Tuesday demanded the government ensure transparency in disbursing funds to NGOs from the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF).

They said a speculation is there that the government may distribute funds among NGOs from the trust fund but the civil society has not yet got any information about that.

Seven civil-society climate networks and 10 non-government organisations (NGOs) organised the human chain in front of the National Press Club in the city.

Mustafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD, Prodip Kumar Roy of Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood, Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishak Federation, Mahbub Haque of Bangladesh Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mizanur Rahman Bijoy of Network on Climate Change Bangladesh and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD, among others, spoke at the human chain.

Prodip Kumar Roy said the government had declared to provide climate funds to 53 NGOs in March 2011 and later postponed it amid criticism by the media and the civil society.

In September 2011, the government, in a circular, said it will form a committee to review the decision.

Mizanur Rahman Bijoy said the government, in fact, has no criteria and policy to deal with the NGOs.

He demanded a concrete bottom-up policy in this regard and must select NGOs based on fair governance, existence and proven commitment.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said the government must not lose the opportunity to set a good example in providing funds among NGOs.

He said all climate funds, especially Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF) and Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF), should be brought under a single channel, which should an autonomous foundation with democratic ownership where board will be represented by government and opposition, civil society and media. – UNB

Published in Daily Sun

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bangladesh july 3 2012Protesting the unjust debt and foreign aid as well as the undue interference of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Asian Development Bank (ADB), Sushasoner Jonny Pracharavizan – SUPRO organized a Human Chain on 3 July, 2012 in front of the National Press Club.