Vol. 11, No. 2,553 - The American Reporter - January 5, 2005

Reporting: Bangladesh

by Syful Islam
American Reporter Correspondent
Dhaka, Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Speakers at an international conference on Tuesday criticized the rich countries, especially the United States, saying that the scenario of implementation of "poor and rich country partnership" to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) has frustrated the poor countries.

They said that the U.S. spends 0.14 percent of their gross national production to help the countries in the world but they spent five times more than that of the amount in Iraq war.

A special advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, said that the U.S. has spent about $200 billion in Iraq war. He criticized the World Bank and International Monitory Fund (IMF) and such other donor agencies for their directives on the poor countries budget and other activities.

"It was not a good decision for the donor agencies to interfere with such activities of any country and the poor countries should protest it," he remarked.

The special Advisor to the UN Secretary General also said that the IMF and the World Bank should not give any direction in terms of policy making of Bangladesh.

"The donors always think small and if any client state tries to think in a big way, they oppose that and put in impediments on the way," he said.

Terming the Interim-Poverty Reduction Strategic Paper (I-PRSP) of Bangladesh as highly tactical, Sachs said that it was not reflecting the real scenario or the real method of implementation of the goal.

"It was not a correct initiative that in I-PRSP, government has promised that the size of the government would be compact, as it was direction from the United States," he added.

He emphasized the use of the natural resources of Bangladesh, saying that Bangladesh should not export its natural gas but should invest it to meet the demand for power.

The three-day international conference titled "Emerging global economic order and developing countries" was organized by the Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) at Osmani Memorial Hall.

The first session, titled "Millennium development goals: reality and prospects" was chaired by former Finance Minister S. A. M.S Kibria.

Former Governor of Bangladesh Dr. Mohammad Farasuddin said that instead of reminding the rich countries to act as assured, "Wouldn't it be better to reduce the debt burden?"

In his concluding remarks, Kibria said, "We would not be able to reserve achievements if the problems of good governance were not resolved."

Bangladesh is now as much divided on socio-economy and political issue that obstructs the development of whole economy, he observed.

In the second session, titled "Globalization, inequality and poverty: theory and evidence" professor of the London School of Economics and Political Science Robert Hunter Wade by and large critiqued the existing new liberal paradigm in the world. He presented the arguments of the those in favour of the new-liberal politics and deliberated on the possible flaws and loopholes of the school of thought.

Those in favor of globalization, dictated by the new-liberal school of thought, often present three pieces of good news, which Wade refuted. Between 1980 and 1990 the number of people living below the poverty line have decreased from 1.4 billion to 1.2 billion. Wade pointed out that the method of collecting such data was not a standard one across the countries.

"Depending on the period in question the household expenditure and income of a certain family could vary dramatically," he said. Referring to India, he said that if the period in question were decreased to a week from a month, the number of people living under the poverty line would decrease by 175 million.

The chairman of the session, professor Anisur Rahman said "The poor do not have linear demands. They have always demonstrated a set of multiple demands no matter what their condition. Hence it is a wrong idea to feed the poor first. I would rather that they be allowed to enjoy a fair share of the world and the boons of what we call civilization."

Copyright 2005 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.