The government allocated Tk25,124.98 crore as climate budget this year
The government is failing to spend the huge allocation in the climate budget even though Bangladesh is a pioneer among climate vulnerable nations allocating a separate budget since 2018, experts have said.
They were speaking at a virtual discussion titled “Stakeholder Consultation on Bangladesh Climate Budget FY 2021-22” arranged by ActionAid Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The climate budget is a comprehensive budget that the government proposes to include to mitigate climate change through 25 ministries. This year, the government allocated Tk25,124.98 crore in the fifth climate budget.
Prof Mizan R Khan of North South University, said the allocations were still based on political power rather than necessity, which is why many vulnerable regions had been overlooked.
“The budget has a political aspect and that's why despite being amongst the most vulnerable regions Khulna and Rangpur have received lower allocations in it.”
He also said the country’s policies were commendable but implementation became a challenge because of the lack of communication with the people.
“Our National Adaptation Plan (NAP) must be based on local and regional needs. It has to be the leading document to tackle climate change. Cooperation among local governments, business leaders, and the community are essential. Otherwise we cannot go very far with the adaptation policy,” he added.
An Organization for Socio-Economic Development (AOSED) Executive Director Shamim Arfeen complained about how difficult it was for development workers to collect information from the government authority on budget expenditure.
“Most of the time, local government officials do not know which project is being implemented from the climate allocated fund. Moreover, they are extremely reluctant to share any financial information. Transparency is essential about expenditure in this sector. People need to know where this money is going,” Shamim added.
Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, stressed urban preparedness to tackle climate change.
She said: “The effect of climate change is not limited within the adverse areas anymore. People will be driven more towards the cities than ever, which is a reality.”
She suggested that the cities need to be prepared to take people in who are coming out of displacement.
“Urban governance needs to be strengthened, to accommodate people. We cannot wait to be reactive because our children, youths and women will be most affected by climate change,” Farah Kabir added.
Mosammat Ferdousi Begum, deputy secretary (Budget and Audit) of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, said information related to expenditure rested on the government’s Audit Department.
“However, you can always apply for information under the Right to Information (RTI) to our Information officer,” she added.
Explaining her ministry’s initiatives, Ferdousi Begum said: “A project is being implemented to increase reproductivity among the women of the coastal region in Khulna and Satkhira. We are trying our best despite our limited resources to make the budget more gender-inclusive. A project is set to go to the Planning Commission regarding the impact of climate change on women very soon.”
Tanjir Hossain, program Lead of Resilience and Climate Justice of ActionAid Bangladesh, moderated the virtual discussion.