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'Evil forces' create barriers to implementing policies in BD

Says Qazi Kholiquzzaman

FE REPORT | June 11, 2024 00:00:00

Eminent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said on Monday that "evil forces" create obstacles to implementing various policies in Bangladesh.

He said certain measures taken to control inflation proved ineffective in Bangladesh, unlike their success in other countries.

"In Bangladesh, these 'evil forces' are pervasive," Dr Ahmad said. "They exist in the potato market, the betel leaf market, the dollar market and even the labour market, as recent events have demonstrated."

"We have gained a lot. To continue the progress, we must overcome these 'evil forces'," he said.

Mr Ahmad was speaking as the chief guest at a post-budget roundtable discussion titled 'Water and Sanitation in Climate Change: Budget 2024-25 in Perspective', organised jointly by the Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF), Helvetas Bangladesh and the Development Organization of the Rural Poor (DORP).

ERF President Refayet Ullah Mirdha presided over the event, while its Executive Member Syful Islam moderated the discussion.

Mahfuz Kabir, research director at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), presented a keynote paper. DORP Chairman Mohammad Nurul Amin and its Founder and CEO AHM Nouman also spoke.

Mr Ahmad, also president of the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA), said, "In the current budget, the target was set to keep the rate of inflation at 6.0 percent but the rate did not go down, it increased."

After the budget for the next fiscal year was announced, the inflation rate rose further to nearly 10 per cent, he said.

"For the next fiscal year," he said, "the inflation rate is targeted at 6.5 per cent and fiscal growth at 6.75 per cent. I do not understand how the targets will be materialised."

Dr Ahmad compared Bangladesh's red-hot inflation rates to India's much lower rates, adding that even Sri Lanka successfully reduced theirs.

Mr Ahmad emphasised the need for ensuring quality implementation of the budget and said in the first nine months only 27 per cent of the budget is being implemented while in the last quarter of a fiscal year the majority portion of budget is implemented. "I don't know what magic is there in this case."

He said Bangladesh will have to ensure zero tolerance on corruption to make progress. "Two big fishes have been caught now and a process is underway to bring them under trial. I hope the trial will continue until the end."

Mr Ahmad criticised raising of dollar price by Tk 7.0 at one-go since it has severe impact on the economy and the common people.

He suggested for ensuring proper spending of budget which has been allocated to face climate change impacts, sanitation, and water issues.

Mahfuz Kabir in his presentation said in the proposed budget the government kept Tk 96.31 billion for water and sanitation projects. The per capita WASH budget for four largest cities is Tk 3,463 while for other areas it is only Tk 555 which is very scanty.

Demanding for raising allocation rationally, he said, "People in many rural areas need to walk miles to collect safe drinking water."

DORP Chairman Mohammad Nurul Amin and Founder AHM Nouman emphasised the importance of taking up large-scale projects to secure a safe water and sanitation system for the people.

Citing a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey report, Mohammad Zobair Hasan, DORP deputy executive director, said unsafe water and sanitation contribute to 167 deaths per 100,000 people annually.

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