Budget discussion

Dhaka, 15 May 2010. No issue is more vital to country’s economic growth than its ability to secure clean and alternative energy sources as the current fossil fuel based energy sources are being considered as the main driver of global warming and climate change, moreover the stocks of fossil fuel are running out and becomes politically and economically costly. Speakers and policy maker of the political parties commented unanimously in an EquityBD organized seminar title “Fossil fuel less economy and national budget 2010-11” held at the Press Club Dhaka today.
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Equity and Justice Working Group Bangladesh (equitybd) organized this seminar, where Syed Aminul Haque of made the keynote presentation title “Is irrational greed of fossil fuel is leading us to the country more indebted and captive to the private sector and multinational companies”. Mustafa Kamal Akanda and Md.Shamsuddoha of EquityBD moderated and summarized the discussion. Country’s eminent economist and Chairperson of PKSF Dr Quazi Kholikuzzaman was present in the seminar as the chief guest, while AL lawmaker and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Major General (Rtd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan MP; Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Agriculture Ministry Shawkot Momen Shahjahan MP; BNP lawmaker and opposition chief whip Mr Joinul Abedin Faruque MP, Shamsuzzaman Dudu Emranul Haq Chowdhury of UDDIPAN, and Atikul Islam Chowdhury of COAST spoke in the seminar.
In the key note presentation Syed Aminul Hoque said, the county does not have a well developed energy policy, thus the issue of attaining sustainability in energy is still ignored. He asked the government to prepare an integrated energy policy focusing renewable energy sources, rational use of energy and with rational use of subsidy. He mentioned that efficient use of energy is also depending upon decentralized governance, expansion of digital technology. He also noted that per capita foreign loan in US $ 150 now wherein in power sector it is per capita US $ 5.5, debt servicing in revenue budget 20 %. He quoted the examples from Philippines and Indonesia, where during autocratic regime erratic loan taking for augmentation in power sector make those countries huge indebted and which is now around 70 to 80 % of revenue budget.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, Major General (Rtd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan MP said attaining energy security is the top priority of the current government. If we can not meet the increasing energy demand the country would suffer slow economic growth, but we must look for alternative energy sources rather than the coal and gas as less use of fossil fuel is becoming a global concern due to climate change.
Whip of the opposition in the parliament BNP policy maker Mr Joinul Abedin Faruque said to make country energy secure all the political parties should work together to develop a long term energy policy on the basis of country’s potential energy sources like solar, wind etc. Another BNP lawmaker and adviser to the BNP Chairperson Shamsuzzaman Dudu said energy crisis is nothing new for Bangladesh. But in the recent years people have been suffering most out of energy crisis but we are not taking appropriate policy measures to address the issue, we are blaming each other, which should not the attitude of the people’s representatives.
Chief Guest to the Seminar Dr Quazi Kholikuzzaman said presently, although, country’s major critical concerns are to attain food security and water security, but these could not be achieved unless we could achieve energy security. Attempting to develop an energy policy is a critical task; reduced energy consumption for poor countries would reduce human security, increase poverty and threaten food security- he added. He emphasizes development of a holistic energy policy through integrating all potential energy sources, including the renewable ones.

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indexDhaka 12 june 2008: Equity and justice working group organized a post budget dialogue on the proposed national budget of Bangladesh of 2008 – 2009 FY. This dialogue was to facilitate people’s expectation to fed in to the proposed one. A number of civil society organizations , representatives of different professional group , representatives of leading political parties were participated in the dialogue and put forward their concern to make national budget pro poor and growth oriented wherein people would have equitable and justified access to the resources. Among others, Mr. Rashed Al Titumir of Unnayan Onneshan, Mahmudur Rahman Manna of Bangladesh Awami league, Samsuzzaman Dudu of BNP, Golam Mortoza editor of Saptahik, Ahmed Swopon Mahmud of Voice , Maliha Shajahn of APIT, Sharif –e- Kafi of BDPC were present and expressed their views and thought to make the budget pro- poor.

Syed Aminul Hoque in his key note presentation on proposed budget said; although the budget proposed increased amount of allocation to social safety net projects and to other prime sectors like agriculture but these subsidy likely to benefit urban middle class and rural elites. Syed Aminul commented Social Safety Net dominated budget as the budget of relief oriented and to satisfy immediate needs not really looking at the long term measures of poverty reduction. The proposed budget is heavily relied on deficit financing from the external sources, which will make country more indebted to the international financial institutions. Syed Aminul pointed that the government could follow the recommendations of Public Expenditure Review Commission, which has been framed while 4-party alliance was in power. Again, analysis of the implementation of previous year’s budget shows that expenditure in service and human development sectors like health and family Planing power and energy etc. was comparatively less than the other sectors like defense, public works etc, which is increasing human poverty as well as widening rural-urban as well as rich-poor gap.

In the open discussion many of the discussant indicated power and agriculture subsidy as discriminatory and unjustified while around 90 percent of these subsidy is spent to satisfy luxury of urban people. Speakers in the dialogue demanded withdrawal of fossil fuel subsidy from the non-agriculture/ non-productive sectors. They also proposed several specific recommendation to reduce fossil fuel dependency; like-

[#]Obligatory utilization of energy efficient bulbs
[#]Fixing air condition at 26 degree temperature
[#]Car free day in a week
[#]Limited and controlled utilization of government vehicles
[#]Proportion of solar energy
[#]Making public transport system convenient and friendly
[#]Ban on the import of high CC cars

he speakers also opposed the present concept of attaining food security as this concept undermines peoples’ rights on production system, farmers’ indigenous knowledge and make farmer dependent on multi-national companies for agricultural inputs.

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