Yes to pro-poor policies | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 25, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 25, 2008


Yes to pro-poor policies

There can be no alternative

WE applaud the pro-poor policy proposals put forward by the finance and planning adviser in a recent discussion on the upcoming budget, and sincerely hope that the plight of the poor that was the adviser's main focus in his address is reflected in full in the upcoming budget. Such measures are exactly what the economy needs at this moment, and there can be no substitute for them if we wish to survive the current world-wide food and oil price hikes.
It has long been pointed out that there is not a great deal that the government can do to bring prices down, and indeed the price of rice in Bangladesh is among the lowest in the world. But, so, too, is the purchasing power of the people.
However, in terms of helping farmers and ensuring agricultural inputs, the government has done a good job, evidence the bumper harvest of boro rice, potatoes, and wheat. Thus it is heartening to see that the government has every intention of continuing with agricultural subsidies and other steps that have proven reasonably effective.
In addition, much needs to be done on the increasing income and employment opportunity side that will put more money in the people's pockets and allow them to survive the price hike better. To that end, government guarantee of a job for 100 days or cash money for each family is an excellent move. In addition, schemes such as VGF cards and subsidised sales at BDR shops have also proven effective, and it is good to see the adviser pledging to continue these measures and others with a similar focus.
The government focus on alleviating the misery of the poor is a salutary one. The fact that many of the ideas might not be at one with outside prescriptions for what ails the economy is also a welcome sign that the government has chosen the path of pragmatism and acting in the national interest, and, more specifically, the interest of the poor of the country. Now all that remains is to ensure that the budget reflects the substance of the adviser's pledges. We fully expect to see that it is so.

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