The Consultation Demanded a Tri-party Relationship among NGOs, Government and Development Partners to Make Aid More Effective

Dhaka, 25 August 2010- A national consultation titled `Engagement of Civil Society in Aid Effectiveness’ has been held at the national press club in the city today. The consultation was attended by a wide range of civil society groups including NGOs, community organizations, women rights groups, research and advocacy organizations, trade union groups, academicians, human rights organizations, media and activists. Eminent economist Dr. Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman of Palli Kormo Sahayak Foundation, Dr. Piash Karim from Brac University, Mohsin Ali, coordinator of Governance Advocacy Forum spoke in the meeting among others. Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE and Convenor of the Aid Accountability Group (AAG) moderated the consultation.

The meeting suggested to reform the aid delivery management and architecture to create enabling environment for the civil society organizations to make aid more effective. Speakers also said that a tri-party coordination among government-NGO and development agencies is also indispensable to achieve the goals and objectives of the Paris Declaration and Accra Action Agenda, and this should be the integral part of aid and development cooperation.

Eminent economist Dr. Kholiquzzaman Ahmad termed bureaucracy as a major problem to work smoothly. He said, referring to the jute sector that conditionalities imposed by the World Bank, have already crippled the country’s economy. The country though facing huge challenges, its economy is getting less dependent over the years, and it can run without aid money if it is able to manage domestic resource and keep up the flow of remittances. He mentioned that if government can reduce corruption remarkably, the government can easily avoid the hassles of the aid money and conditions imposed by the donors. He further suggested that government should make long term independent economic plan valuing people’s opinion while it could easily make an `aid exit plan’ to make sovereign economy. However, he asked all parties involved in aid delivery and management to exercise their commitments they made in Paris Declaration and Accra Action Agenda. Dr. Kholiquzzaman also asked the policy makers to broadly discuss the `Joint Cooperation Strategy’ already signed by government and 15 development partners including World bank, Asian Development Bank, and DFID among others.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud presented the objectives of the Paris Declaration, and Accra Action Agenda, while he urged all civil society organizations to exercise transparent and accountable role in managing aid and implementing programmes at the community level. He said that Bangladesh has been working on Paris Declaration without consulting with the civil society that goes against the spirit of democratic ownership and principles of Paris Declaration. Government should also involve civil society in the evaluation process of Paris Declaration, which is being done by hired consultant.

Ahmed Swapan also said that Bangladesh has to pay 17 per cent of the annual budget as debt servicing which is more than double of the national health budget. Though the foreign aid contributes only 2 percent in country gross domestic product (GDP), the donor agencies exercise policy conditionalities against aided projects, which keep negative impacts on people’s livelihood, he said.  Referring to the role of NGOs, he said that only 4 per cent big NGOs gets 86 per cent of fund while rest 96 per cent NGOs gets 14 per cent. He claimed that big NGOs exercise more transparent and accountable role to make aid effective, which is mend for development effectiveness.

Dr. Piash Karim. Professor of Brac University urged to reform the aid architecture and suggested to build up new relationship with all stakeholders of the society for a democratic and sovereign economic power. He urged that development partners, NGOs and government should be accountable to the people whom the aid is mend for. He further said that aid is essentially part of political game of the capitalist rich countries while they provide the money as a form of loan and grant, with their own interest, to spread the market.  A true democratic practice reshaping political, cultural and economic relationship will work better for the nation and its people.

Mohsin Ali, the member of the management committee of Aid Accountability Group told that the governance structure should be decentralized with the participation of people in decision making process while the local government institutions requires intensive strengthening programme to act pro-people. NGOs and civil society organizations should also actively work with the local government institutions for development effectiveness.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, executive director of COAST Trust urged to form independent watch group to monitor government projects while he suggested creating independent commission and take regulatory measures for smooth functioning of the NGO sector in the country.

Zakir Hossain, the member of the Aid Accountability Group and executive director of Nagorik Uddog said that there should be a long term planning own by the people instead of donor-imposed policies. He urged government and donor agencies to disclose the aid agreements and make those public so that people and civil society can know the details to act properly.

Uma Chowdhury, the director of Supro and also the member of the AAG said to act transparently being accountable to the people. She demanded to cancel illegitimate debt that already made disastrous in environment and climate change, and urged donor agencies to exercise country system and the principles of Paris Declaration, which they committed. She asserted to play transparent role by the NGOs to make aid more effective for development results.

Among others, Badrul Alam of la via campecina, Manju Rani Pramnik from Supro, Sushanto Roy spoke on the meeting.

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