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The Financial Express

Hygiene, sanitation to get priority in next budget: Minister

| Updated: November 27, 2020 19:46:32


Evaly and Fianancial Express Evaly and Fianancial Express
File photo of Planning Minister MA Mannan File photo of Planning Minister MA Mannan

Planning Minister MA Mannan on Thursday said public funds would be spent on the low-income people from now, targeting the specific goals.

"From now, we will monitor where the public fund is going. We will also monitor spending of the public-taxed money to ensure the quality development of the country," he said at a virtual discussion on "fair budget allocation for water, sanitation, and hygiene."

Ahead of the Asia-Pacific Finance Ministers' Conference slated for December 2, the Development Journalists Forum of Bangladesh (DJFB) and local development organization, DORP, jointly organized the discussion.

Member (Senior Secretary) of General Economics Division (GED) Dr. Shamsul Alam presented a keynote paper on the occasion.

Mr. Mannan also said the government did not lack for money, but it would be spent targeting the goals from now.

Out of the targets, the allocation for water, sanitation, and hygiene would get top priority in the coming national budget, he said.

"We have set a target to become a developed nation. So, quality power and water supply will be the key introduction of a developed nation. We have already moved forward a lot. But it is not enough. We have to go ahead more," Mannan said.

He added: "You know that our prime minister had the vision to ensure all urban facilities in rural areas. We are working on it. For this reason, water supply, sanitation, and hygiene are very imperative for fulfilling her vision."

"Although the government could not lift the budget allocations within a year for its fund constraints, the WASH sector will get the highest priority in the budget allocations from the coming year," the planning minister said.

Dr Shamsul Alam in his presentation said the government was giving the highest priority to WASH in the 8th five-year plan.

"We will ensure safe drinking water, create more water-bodies, supply quality water, excavate more ponds, supply piped-water to rural areas, and ensure improved latrine in the next development plan," he said.

The government in Delta Plan 2100 has already set a target to excavate more than 4,000 ponds across the country.

"Dredging the rivers only facilitates the water flow to the sea. But if we do not dig the water bodies, we cannot get water supply after the rainy season for our agricultural use and other purposes," Dr Alam said.

The GED member suggested formulating appropriate pricing policies on water and establishing a Water and Sanitation Regulatory Authority for maximum use of water.

Joint secretary of Local Government Division Imdadul Haque Chowdhury said the government was reviewing the existing sanitation strategy 2014 for ensuring quality WASH services in Bangladesh.

The strategy could be updated by March next year which would help the country a lot in ensuring quality sanitation and hygiene, he added.

The government was also working to ensure the hygienic and healthy menstrual period of women, Mr Imdad said.

South Asia Representative of SWA and Research Director of DORP Jubair Hassan said WASH is highlighted under the SDG-6 of the United Nations.

So, the government should enhance its budget allocation to ensure safe water supply, sanitation, and hygiene across the country, he added.

DJFB president FHM Humayan Kabir, WASH Specialist at UNICEF Mohammad Monirul Alam, Grounds Manager of the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids Abdus Salam Mian, Deputy Director of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) Alamgir Hossain and Representative for Water Aid Bangladesh Ranjan Ghosh also spoke on the occasion.

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