Today 22 June 2019 in a seminar at CIRDAP auditorium Dhaka , civil society organizations and climate networks have criticized government for Ignoring Climate Finance requirement in national budget 2019-20. They made demand to government to increase climate finance in 2019-20 fiscal year effectively for climate infrastructure development to protect and saving millions of climate vulnerable people in coastal areas. They also demanded to strengthen the BCCTF (Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund) operations through revise of policies with provide sufficient money.
Seminar is “Ensure Priories and Adequate Budget Allocation Protecting Coastal Communities” chaired by Mr. Zafar Alam MP (Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change), Mr. Quamrul Islam Chowdhury as special gust. The event moderated by Mr. Mustafa Kamal Akanda, Asst. Director of COAST Trust. Key note presented by Syed Aminul Hoque from same organization. Apart Mr. Rafiqul Islam, Director (Federation of NGOs in BD), Mr. Badrul Alam, President-Bangladesh Krishak Federation, Mr. Nurul Islam Chowdhury, Environmental Activist and Cox’s Bazar Correspondent, New Age, Prodip Kumar Roy, CSRL, Bangladesh and many other stakeholders from civil society organization, climate network form different corner form coastal areas spoke on the issues.
Presenting the key note, Syed Aminul Hoque said that government has been including ministries under climate financing process those good but do not allocating sufficient money as per requirement in view of climate vulnerability. He criticized the proposed budget allocation BDT 23,785 corer (4.5% of total budget) very poor and just separated the figure from traditional budget following some criteria under climate fiscal framework. Rationally he made five specific demand as i. Proposed climate budget need to revise in view of BCCSAP (Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009) projection and increase allocation accordingly at least 02 percent of GDP, ii. Special allocation ensure for Coastal districts based on their vulnerability and adaptation priority, iii. Highest allocation to be made for climate protection infrastructure like Embankment & shelter, vi. Govt. will have to strengthen the BCCTF operation giving sufficient money with revision of policies and v. Engage local people and MPs (Member of Parliament) to monitor budget implementation progress.
Prodip Kumar opined government has proposed climate budget without any proper planning and assessment and urgent adaptation requirement in coastal areas. That’s proposed budget do not address the adaptation priorities those elaborated in BCCSAP (Bangladesh Climate change Strategy action Plan), SDGs requirement and the 7th five year plan. He demand to prepare NAP (National Adaptation Plan) as urgent set adaptation priorities and ensure budget accordingly to support adaptation.
Mr. Nurul Islam Chowdhury said due to climate change impact thousands of people displaced and leaving their home from coast and move to the urban with socio-economic hazard and create crisis. But government Social Safety Net program (SSNP) do not address properly due to the program politicized. He urged government to bring these people identify as climate vulnerable and include SSNP.
Mr. Zafar Alam MP opine the embankment is first for coastal protection and budget is insufficient in fact. We will discuss with our parliamentary committee meeting and also propose to the parliamentary session for budget increase if there scope for me.
Mr. Badrul Alam, Quamrul Islam opine and recommended govt. to push people in implementation process and involve MPs (Member of Parliament) for periodical monitoring on local level development progress.
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Dhaka, 17th June 2019: Today EquityBD, a network of right based civil society, labor and farmer organizations, organized a press conference to give reactions on budget 2019-20 titled “Expanding Tax Area Hardly Increase Tax Revenue: Political Willingness of Public to be Enhanced First.”
Speakers expressed concern on the enhanced trend of capital transfer, black money, and default loan and bank charges of the country. They also urged for priority measures on fixing those basic issues by establishing a financial governance. Enhancing accountability of government agencies related to essential services, through establishing complaint response mechanism, citizen charter, and code of conduct of the government employees at the recipient level, the speakers demanded. The speakers urged for grass root public hearing facilitated by the concerned Member of Parliament (MP) so that the political willingness of public rises up and a culture of accountability in the front line is established. This is how the tax revenue could be enhanced and help the country to achieve vision 2021 and 2041.
The press conference was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD while the positon paper is presented by Ahsanul Karim of COAST Trust. Among others Sayed Aminul Haque of EquityBD, Salahuddin Bablu of Economic Reporters Unity (ERU) and Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishok Federation spoke in the press conference and welcome address is given by Mostafa Kamal Akhanda of COAST Trust.
Ahsanul Karim of EquityBD said during presenting the position paper that the essential services have to be reviewed and accountability should be enhanced at all level especially in education, health and other essential services. Standard ratio of allocations especially in education and health still low in comparison to UNESCO and WHO standard. It is also important to review different fee system in Banks along with urging interest rate to be kept within single digit. Bangladesh is a still a topline country in capital transfer or illicit flow of money while India have reduced this in the last few years, he added. He proposed the measures for enhancing public accountability and willingness to pay taxes.
Sayed Aminul Haque of EquityBD said that budget implementation should be reviewed in parliament on quarterly basis. He proposed MPs should facilitate open public hearing on tax revenue collection their constituencies and should also listen to why public have apathy toward giving taxes.
Salahuddin Babul of ERU said that MPs’ hardly have participation in budget preparation though they have to fully comply with the principle of Budget with Public Representation. He reiterated the fact that VAT is always regressive although it is easy to collect while in developed countries income and property tax i.e. the direct taxes are more emphasized. He also said that the burden of deficit budget always goes to the public.
The moderator Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that one of the state principle of Bangladesh is socialism which is the dream of our father of nation, where principle of equality, redistributive justice and social welfare nature of state is fundamental, there by its require unhindered accountability to the public, the budget process hardly reflect the spirit.
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Dhaka, 14th June 2019. Yesterday, 13 June 2019, the Daily Samakal organized a roundtable title called “Human Dignity to Rohingya People: Bangladesh Perspective” in cooperation with COAST, an NGO working in Cox’s Bazar, and sponsored by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The roundtable was held in the Hotel Westin, Gulshan. The roundtable was moderated by Mr. Mustafiz Shafi, Acting Editor of the Daily Samakal and Mr Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, the Executive Director of COAST.
The country’s leading human rights and civil society activists, including Mr Syed Abul Maksud, Ms. Shirin Haque, Barrister Manzoor Hasan, Mr Nayeem Gowhar Warha and Mr Asif Munier spoke at the occasion alongside Mr Mohammed Abul Kalam NDC Additional Secretary and Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner, Mr Steven Corliss, UNHCR Bangladesh Representative, and Mr Abu Morshed Chowdhury President of Cox’s Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Mr. Mujibul Hague Munir of COAST presented the key note questions to the participants.
In the course of the discussions, speakers suggested alternatives to the current response, including multi-year planning for the response, while repatriation continued to be delayed and the crisis became more protracted. They also urged for ensuring continued human dignity of the Rohingya by allowing them more formal education and engaging the Rohingya people so they can engage meaningful and productive activities and do not become idle.
All the speakers, especially Mr. Mohammed Abul Kalam, rejected the prevailing negative perceptions of Rohingyas. In his experience of dealing with this crisis from the start, he said that they are normal, religious, law abiding people, but they have been the victims of atrocities and negative propaganda systematically propagated by the Myanmar regime. He said it was important we speak about the situation accurately and based on facts. Mr. Steven Corliss, the UNHCR Country Representative said that root cause of Rohingya refugee’s displacement and the solutions to this crisis lies in Myanmar. He also noted the exceptionally generous response of the Bangladeshi people and suggested we needed to keep a distinct focus on supporting affected host communities to ensure peaceful social cohesion as the response continues. Mr. Sayed Abul Maksud, renowned Ghandian and Columnist, urged us to keep the human spirit that the nation and our Honorable Prime Minister has shown in opening our boarder. He noted that it is our national responsibility to keep the spirit.
Ms Shirin Haque of Narripakkha said that Rohingya children and adolescents should be provided higher education and Rohingya women, critical to their futures. They could be give health care training and be engaged in productive work, so that they are less likely fall prey to traffickers and religious fanatics. Barrister Manzoor Hasan of BRAC University pleaded for Rohingya people’s voice in the decision making. He also urged for education and productive technical education to the Rohingya youths, who constitute more than half of the refugee population. Mr. Abu Morshed Chodhury President Cox’s Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the Rohingya population should be considered as being able to contribute to the market and as a productive force and as potential to boost Cox’s Bazar economy.
Mr. Julfikar Ali Manik of New York Times and Boishakhi TV and a long-term researcher on the Rohingya issue said that government must learn from the past and should have a long-term plan for the situation. Mr. Asif Munier, the Refugee and Migration expert said that, Bhasan Char or other similar projects will not solve the problems, as it is a protracted crisis, and the government must prepare multiyear planning needed for a comprehensive response. Mr Nayeem Gowhar Warha of Disaster Forum said that, government must consider track two diplomacy engaging civil societies, and for a possible third country options, including through labor migration opportunities and resettlement. Ms. Sheuly Sharma of Jago Nari Sangsta of Coxsabzar said that Rohingya women is desperate to see their future, which can lure them toward traffickers. Mr Mustafiz Shafi of Samakal said that, as a nation we should be united on the issue and we need to keep up our spirit that Bangladesh is a humanitarian state.
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Dhaka, 30 May 2019: Right Groups brought out a Human Chain in front of the National Press Club today demanding big polluters to be held accountable to protect the fish reserve and natural ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal and to exempt the poor and marginalized small scale fisher folk from the 65 days of fishing ban.
COAST Trust and Bangladesh Fish Workers’ Alliance (BFWA) jointly organized the protest event. Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust moderates the speech session while it was concluded by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Chief Moderator of EquityBD and executive Director of COAST Trust. General Secretary of BFWA Mujibul Huq Munir presents the keynote speech while Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST Trust, Badrul Alam and Rehana Akter of Bangladesh Krishok Federation spoke.
While presenting the keynote demands, Mujibul Huq Munir of COAST Trust said, small scale fisher folks who catch fishes from the sea with very small boats can’t harm the fish reserve or the natural ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal. They should have been exempted from the 65 days of fishing ban. But the big polluters who are the real threat for the sea and its biodiversity are hardly held accountable by the policy.
13 point recommendations is raised from the event on the issue of 65 days fishing ban that include: (1) small-scale and poor fisher folk should be exempted from the ban, (2) big polluters including oil spill, shipyards, plastic pollution, trawlers and pirates should be hold accountable to preserve the sea resource; (3) Minimum 8,000 Taka per fishing family should be given as compensation during the ban; (4) Foreign fishing boats and trawlers should be checked and stopped to enter into the Bangladesh territory during the ban; (5) All fisher folks should be registered and categorized and other demands.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust said in his speech that 40 kg rice for 65 days of fishing ban as a compensation is a farce. Every poor fishing families should get at least 8,000 Taka per month during this fishing ban. He also said, fisher folks of Odisha and Tamilnadu are compensated 5,000 Rupees per month during this kind of ban period.
Rehana Akter, the vice president of Bangladesh Krishok Federation said, all the fisher folk including the poor fishing labours should be officially enlisted so that they could be easily identified for compensation to avoid corruption and duplication. She added, risk incentives and insurance for the sea going fisher folk should be introduced.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said while concluding the event, poor fishing community are only 4% responsible for the ecosystem destruction in the Bay of Bengal and they are the only sufferer of the fishing ban. The polluters of 96% including plastic pollution, shipyards, oil spill are hardly addressed. He added, The benefit of the ban will hardly serve them. We need poor-friendly policy to deal with this kind of issues.
Badrul Alam of BKF said, around 246 big fishing boats with trawl nets catch fish from the Bay of Bengal and they pull out everything from the ground under sea including smallest fish, flora and fauna. This normally should be fishing 40 meter deep sea, though they are taking advantage of low monitoring and fishing in the shallow area.
Barkat Ullah Maruf said in his speech, during the last 4 years 1.5 million liters of oil are spilled in the upstream of Bay of Bengal and every year 6 thousand ton of plastic waste are dumped into the Bay of Bengal from Bangladesh and India. To save the ecosystem of the Bay of Bengal, this should be addressed, not the ban for poor fisherfolk.
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