Indigenous community leaders demanded that the budget allocation be increased to a total of Tk4,000 crore
Leaders of the indigenous communities have expressed dissatisfaction with the allocation for them in the proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
During a press briefing jointly organized by Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), and Kapaeeng Foundation at National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday, indigenous community leaders demanded that the budget allocation be increased to a total of Tk4,000 crore. This includes Tk2,500 crore for indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), and Tk1,500 crore for plainland indigenous people.
In the proposed budget for 2019-20 fiscal year, the government has proposed an allocation of Tk1,194 crore for the Ministry of CHT Affairs, and included a special allocation of Tk50 crore for plainland indigenous people.
Addressing Thursday’s press conference, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong said: “Considering there are 300,000 plainland indigenous people, the per head allocation for them comes out to just Tk250. How much development can be done with just Tk250 per person?”
Although the Tk50-crore allocation for plainland indigenous people is higher than the previous budget allocation, which is Tk40 crore, the increase is insufficient when considering inflation, Sanjeeb further explained.
He also said the proposed budget did not include an allocation for a separate land commission for the indigenous communities, as promised by the government in their 2008 election manifesto.
The indigenous leaders also put forth 14 recommendations at the press conference, which include calls to increase the budget that is based on the population of indigenous people, a special allocation for bank loans to indigenous farmers and entrepreneurs, and an allocation for primary education in indigenous languages.
Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD, said there was scope to amend the budget, and it needs to reflect the CHT Accord.