Proposed nat'l budget fails to meet its expectations
Speakers at a press conference yesterday said the proposed national budget for 2008-09 fiscal has failed to meet the expectations of the water supply and sanitation sector.
They said this sector needs to be brought under a separate budget line in the national budget.
The press conference was organised by the representatives of the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity to make an analysis of the fund allocation in the draft national budget for this sector.
Country Representative of Water Aid Bangladesh, Dr Khairul Islam presented the keynote paper in which he urged the government for specific allocation in the budget for local government bodies to manage water supply and sanitation.
He said the approved social development programme shows Tk 2674 crore as annual sector investment requirement, but the ADP (Annual Development Programme) allocates only Tk 774 crore.
This allocation is 29 percent of the total requirement, he said, urging the government to take initiative to bridge the huge gap of allocation in this sector.
Eminent economist Dr Abul Barakat, who was present at the press conference, said, "Fifty percent of the total population is at the risk of arsenic contamination, and poor people are more vulnerable to this contamination."
He urged the policy makers, politicians and civil society members to rethink about the budget for water supply and sanitation.
Dr Barakat suggested the government to impose supplementary duty on tobacco and tobacco products to manage funds for water supply and sanitation sector.
The government can earn Tk 500 crore more each year from this enhanced duty, he said with a call for discarding some unproductive projects to manage the budget deficit for water supply and sanitation.
The speakers however said the approval of 20 percent ADP allocation for meeting the sanitation needs of the hardcore poor is a very timely and progressive step of the government.
They stressed the need for proper monitoring and evaluation system to implement the decision.
They said efforts have to be made for arranging more funds, otherwise there is every possibility that the country will miss the national water supply and sanitation target.
The speakers said the process of formulating the national budget should be more transparent and accountable to the people.
To achieve this objective, they urged the government to ensure massive community participation in it.