Expressing frustration as the proposed budget failed to meet their expectation, speakers demanded to increase budget allocation for the indigenous community to Tk 4,000 crore.
In last fiscal, the government allocated Tk 1,309 crore for the ministry of Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) affairs, whereas about Tk 1,194 crore is proposed for the ministry in the 2019-20 budget.
“On one hand, we’ve seen [government] bragging over investment of thousand crore taka for development and on the other, lamentation of indigenous people. This is not the way to create a democratic and equity-based state,” said Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum.
He was speaking at a press conference organised jointly by Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) and Kapaeeng Foundation at Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Demanding revision of the proposed budget, Sanjeeb said, the allocation for the indigenous people of Chattogram Hill Tracts and plain lands should be increased to Tk 2,500 crore and Tk 1,500 crore respectively.
There is no direct allocation for the indigenous people of plain lands. However, a special allocation of Tk 50 crore has been proposed in the budget for 20 lakh indigenous people of plain lands, said Sanjeeb.
He said, “If we do math, the per head allocation for these people stands at Tk 250. What kind of development can be done with Tk 250?”
ALRD’s Executive Director Shamsul Huda said the budget should reflect the implementation of CHT Accord.
“The government has pledged to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). One of the goals is leaving no one behind, but we’ve not seen any significant allocation for indigenous people,” he said.
Chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation, Rabindranath Soren, said the state has always “deprived” indigenous people.