Speakers have urged the government to specify an allocation for the urban poor program in the FY19 national budget in order to address residential, social, and youth employment issues by expanding urban community development by the ministry of social welfare.
They also recommended that more funds be allocated for the Local Government Division, so that they can in turn allocate adequate funds to the city corporations and municipalities of the country to execute projects to provide health, water, sanitation, and housing facilities for the urban extreme poor.
The recommendations were made at a national dialogue titled “Proposed budget 2018-19: Expectations of poor people and social secure need program,” organized by the All Party Parliamentary group (APPG) at the National Parliament Media Centre in Dhaka.
Speaking as the chief guest, President of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Finance Ministry Dr Md Abdur Razzak said the government had given importance to reducing poverty in the proposed budget, which was positive. “In FY19, Tk64,656 crore has been allocated for the social safety net program, which is 13.92% of total budget and 2.55% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In FY18, Tk54,205 crore was allocated for the program, which was 13.54% of total budget and 2.44% of GDP.”
However, Dr Razzak also said the budget needed more focus specifically on the urban poor, as the environment in which they lived was not as healthy as that of the rural poor.
“Two important ministries directly involved in addressing the issues of the poor and vulnerable populations (the Social Welfare Ministry, and Women and Children Affairs Ministry) have higher operating costs than their development budget,” he added
All Party Parliamentary Group Chairman Md Israfil Alam, who presided over the program, said urban poverty would not be a problem for Bangladesh in the future, as the country was successful in poverty reduction.
“A total 5,700 people from 19 communities will directly benefit from housing for slum dwellers in Comilla, Sirajganj and Narayanganj town if the recommendations are accepted,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jatiya Party MP of Mymensingh 8 Fakhrul Imam said good governance was necessary to effectively reduce poverty.
“Our GDP target is set at 7.8% for the current fiscal year, whereas it was 7.6% in FY18. The general poor of the country will not get any benefit from this GDP growth, but money launderers will. Theft must be stopped at every department and ministry. Lists are made for the distribution of goods for the poor, but these people don’t get these properly due to corruption,” he said.
MP of Panchagarh-1 Nazmul Haque Prodhan, Awami League MP Sanjida Khanam, former secretary of the Local Government Division ASM Mahbubul Alam, and Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat Research and Education Officer Md Ali Akbar were present at the program, among others.