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Strong local govt seen vital for tiding over aid dependency

By voice - Posted on 10 July 2008

Staff Reporter, 10 July 2008
Participatory democracy, capacity building of politicians as well as public administrations, strong local government and long-term commitment can make Bangladesh an aid non-dependent country.

Donors will come to the country as visitors to see how we developed if, we pay taxes regularly, our government keep us informed about the state policies, our foreign remittances are utilised for the benefit of the poor and our local government develop into a strong force to mobilise local resources, said Dr Kazi Kholikuzzaman Ahmed, president, Bangladesh Economist Association.

It this regard partnerships among civil society organisations, government and non-government organisations are imperative, he also said.


He was speaking yesterday at a multi-stakeholder national consultation programme participated by representative from both the donors and recipients at National Press Club.
Titled on 'Paris Declaration and Aid Effectiveness', the programme was jointly organised by VOICE, Aid Accountability Group, and The Reality of Aid.
Economist Dr Atiur Rahman, Bo Sundstorm, Head of Corporate Business, DFID, John Molar, Charge d'Affaires, Danish Embassy, Kate Krockenberger, International Health Partnership, World Bank, Ahmed Swpon Mahmud, executive director, VOICE, and Mohsin Ali, executive director, Wave Foundation, spoke among others at the discussion.
World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are releasing aids imposing conditions. They are violating the Paris declaration. They are not patience. They want to get the things done by them and very quickly, Dr. Kholikuzzaman said.

John Molar said, donor agencies, just have to assist. We are not implementing anything. We are no better than national institutions. I think it should be understood.
"I am not only concerned on Danish assistance. My concern is over Bangladesh and its people", he said.

"You should ask the government how it is spending the funds. You should have efficient administration. I realise, donors cannot make a change, unless it is Bangladesh people," the Charge d'Affaires also said.

Many donors have lot of resources, but they have their own demands. How will you manage if you had weak government? He asked.

"There is no long term institutional capacity building process in the country. You need to have good manager. You all know you have few people to take a decision. There is no dedication in decision making," Molar also said.

We need to see strong local governments. Without strong local government you can developed, he said.Referring his country the Danish Charge d'Affaires said, our politicians came from workforce. We do not develop our country with influential people. So, people have to get organise to raise voice.

Regarding different privatisation process in the country he said, you can not develop by privatisation. Socio economic development is not possible by private forces. You can not make private everything, but there should be a connection between government and private bodies.
About the conditions of donor agencies while releasing funds he said, "Conditions are nothing but to build a partnership. But it is the policy makers who will negotiate. So, civil society, policy makers should have the capacity or skill to negotiate."
He emphasised on participatory democracy. Without participation of all you cannot identify the problems of common people. And nothing can be achieved without long-term commitment, he said.
Kholikuzzaman said, Bangladesh lost its dignity. Our brain is always prepared to receive aid. Overnight change is not possible. It is not possible to wipe out corruption or to establish good governance in a day. We have to work on it, he said.
Bo Sundstorm highlighted the key development challenges in Bangladesh and how we can make development cooperation more effective.He referred political instability, state of emergency and caretaker government as challenges of development.
In a paper he termed 2008 a crossroads, due to uncertainty about elections, security and stability. Complex linkage between climate change, population growth and demographical changes (urbanisation), growing economy, inequality, growing demand for public services and food security, are the key trends and challenges.
He said, aid is less than two per cent of country's economy. So, Bangladesh is not an aid dependent country. But its weak political ownership, weak institutional set-up and capacity and lack of monitoring and dialogue are the major challenges.
Bo Sundstorm termed elections in December 2008 key event for Bangladesh to go into the next steps.
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, agreed in March 2005, establishes global commitment for donor and recipient countries to support more effective aid in context of a significant scaling up of aid.The intention is to reform the delivery and management of aid in order to improve its effectiveness.