More allocation is needed in the health and environment sectors in the proposed budget as the crisis is deepening in the health sector while Bangladesh is largely vulnerable to climate change, experts observed.
They also said that the country needs to change its focus from a one-group economy to a multi-group economy, and thus we need to focus on the use of technology in agriculture and the production of environmentally friendly seeds and crops.
And, the scope of more research needs to be further expanded to this end, they added.
Speakers made those remarks while addressing a budget discussion titled “National Budget 2021-22: Health and Environment Perspectives” organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) on Thursday.
Bidhan Chandra Pal of BAPA presented the keynote paper where he said “We have not found any clear reflection on many issues related to environment and health in this year’s national budget. We have not noticed any real plan or financial allocation in these matters.”
He suggested in his presentation to increase the capacity of institutions in agricultural research and expand the scope of research and ensure fair prices of agricultural products produced by the local farmers.
He suggested providing free healthcare to all under the age of one year and above 65 years, ensuring 4 rivers and canals around Dhaka free from pollution and occupation.
He also suggested taking short and long term projects to protect the natural environment of the vast Haors and low lying areas of the country as his study fears that if the current trend of global warming continues, 17 per cent of people may need to be relocated in Bangladesh.
M. Zakir Hossain, former WHO county advisor and BAPA member who chaired the event, said the gas we produce by burning coal, petrol, polythene and plastic not only increases global warming, but also one of the leading causes of cancer in the human body.
Nowhere in the world can we consider only GDP growth as social, spiritual and environmental development anymore, he added.
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Atiur Rahman, however, appreciated the culture of budgeting separately including for the environment by the government.
Public health expert Prof Rashid-E-Mahbub said “there is no excuse for ignoring the issue of the environment for human illness. Pharmaceutical companies will benefit by curing the disease, but there is no alternative to keeping the environment safe in order to prevent the disease.”
Prof Anu Muhammad pointed that projects those are destroying the environment of the country cannot be development projects in any way. He proposed to increase the budget in the sectors of environment, health, education and employment.
Speakers also proposed to allocate more in the budget to improve women’s health and increase taxes on tobacco.