11:00 PM, October 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, October 18, 2009

No alternative to democracy for poverty alleviation

Speakers say at seminar

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Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh spends a meagre amount on social safety net programmes to alleviate poverty, and this too meagre amount also does not reach the hardcore poor as there is no accountability in its distribution process, said the speakers at a seminar yesterday.
They said around Tk 1176 crore has been allocated in the current budget for social safety net programmes like Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) and 100 days employment generation programme with Tk 420 as per head allocation.
The seminar titled 'The hardcore poor of Bangladesh and the social safety net programmes' was organised by Governance Coalition, a platform of 43 non-government organisations, as part of the 'International Day for the Eradication of Poverty' at Cirdap auditorium in the city.
The speakers demanded a fresh list of destitute people who are eligible for Vulnerable Group Feeding Cards and proper budgetary allocation compatible with their number.
Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Economic Association, said Bangladesh must cut down the number of people who require the support of social safety net programmes.
He however said climate change and natural disasters are the major setbacks in achieving the goal of poverty alleviation.
A coordinated programme must be taken keeping in mind these setbacks, he added.
According to FAO, currently about 45 percent population in Bangladesh are below the poverty line while around 20 percent are hardcore poor.
But because of recent hike of food price and natural disasters, around 75 lakh more will join the population below the poverty line.
Minar Pimple, head of Asia and Pacific United Nations Millennium Campaign, said development plans should be above any party politics and there is no alternative to democracy in implementing plans for poverty alleviation.
Former Justice Golam Rabbani said participation of the poor is necessary in social safety net programmes.
They should be able to say what they want and how they want, he added.
Mahbub Ara Begum Gini MP, Meher Afroz Chumki MP, Moyeen Uddin Khan Badal MP, Manisha Biswas of UNMC, and Mohsin Ali, coordinator of Governance Coalition, also spoke at the seminar.
To mark the 'International Day for the Eradication of Poverty' Youth Ending Hunger Bangladesh, a volunteer youth organisation of The Hunger Project, also formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion the speakers laid emphasis on turning the youth into national assets.
They also underscored the need for educating the nation.
The youth must take the lead to free the country from illiteracy, they added.
The speakers also pointed out that about 44 percent of total population in the country are still illiterate.
Students of Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University, Eden College, Badrunnessa College, Titumir College and World University took part in the human chain.
Economist Anisur Rahman, Entrepreneur Tajima Hossain Majumder, Deputy Director of The Hunger Project Nasima Akter, Programme Manager Swapan Kumar Saha, and Coordinator of Youth Ending Hunger Majedul Islam also addressed the human chain.

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