Increasing the amount of allowance and coverage in social safety net programme will not much help reduce poverty. It rather encourages dependence on others and promotes corruption. Only creating income opportunities for the poor communities will help them stand on their own feet, reducing poverty in a sustainable manner, observed speakers today on Tuesday at a seminar on the national budget recently proposed in parliament.
BRAC Research and Evaluation Division and Advocacy for Social Change department jointly organised the event titled ‘A review of national budget 2016-17’ at the BRAC University auditorium at Mohakhali.
Former advisers to caretaker government economists Dr Akbar Ali Khan and Dr Mirza Azizul Islam were key speakers, while Research and Evaluation Division director Professor Abdul Bayes gave the key presentation. Advocacy for Social Change director KAM Morshed moderated.
In welcome speech KAM Morshed said, since 1972 BRAC has been working to reduce poverty. In continuation of its work the seminar was organised to review how this budget will influence the economic development and social empowerment of the poor communities.
The keynote presentation gave a brief review of different aspects of the proposed budget, including its size and volume, deficits, tax structure and its various limitations in the light of Vision 2021 and Sustainable Development Goals. The keynote also gave eight recommendations, including strengthening of GO-NGO partnership in budget implementation, creation of taskforce to guide and monitor ADP implementation, increased allocation for social and health sectors, adoption of agriculture-friendly policies and increased agricultural investment.
Highlighting the successful cooperation between BRAC and Bangladesh government in different sectors, Professor Bayes said the organisation has proved to be a tested partner of the government since the 1970s. Oral rehydration programme in the 1970s, child vaccination in 1980s and TB control programme, loan programme for tenant farmers, programme to reduce ultra poverty in the post-1990 period are some of the programmes implemented successfully where the government partnered with BRAC.
He further observed that the government should bring NGOs into further partnerships to ensure successful implementation and evaluation of the programmes in development sector under 2016-17 budget. It will help reduce red-tapism and increase cost effectiveness.
Dr Akbar Ali Khan said, ‘It is not sufficient to allocate money only, there has to be projects. Then effectiveness must be ensured and corruption checked through strict monitoring. If we finish the education budget paying the recruitment of more teachers and their salary, where the money should come from for improving the quality of education? It is not enough for a budget to become ambitious only, it has to be implementable also’.
Dr Mirza Azizul Islam said, ‘The minister in his budget speech mentioned the goal to establish an equity-based society. But the major part of our budget comes from taxes. In this budget [proposed 2016-17 budget] indirect taxes occupy 61 per cent, which will increase pressure on the low-income groups. According to the World Bank, except childcare the public expenditure in health sector benefits more the well-off than than the poor’.
The speakers also answered to the questions of the media and other guests at the seminar.