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Press reports on Expert Group Meeting on Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs

The EGM was organised by CPD, Southern Voice (SV) in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign at Brac Centre Inn, Dhaka on 16 May 2015.

View more news reports on the event: Part I and Part II

 

Published in The Daily Star on Sunday, 17 May 2015.

Raise revenue for new development agenda
Analysts say at discussion on Sustainable Development Goals

Star Business Report

Analysts yesterday urged the policymakers of developing countries, including Bangladesh, to shore up efforts to raise revenue collection and accelerate investment and intra-regional trade to attain the post-2015 development targets.

The call came at the opening of a two-day Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Asian Partnership in Financing Sustainable Development Goals at Brac Centre Inn.

SDGs are the next global development agenda after the expiry of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) later this year.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue in association with Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals and the UN Millennium Campaign organised the discussion on financing SDGs.

There are 17 overarching goals and 169 targets in the SDGs compared to only eight goals in the MDGs, which mainly focused on the poor in the low-income countries.

The suggestions were placed noting the declining flow of aid from developed countries, and gradual reduction of aid dependence by a number of developing nations, including Bangladesh.

The context of financing changes fast with the falling dependence of developing countries on overseas development assistance (ODA), said Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD.Subsequently, domestic resource mobilisation, private investment and foreign direct investment will become vital in achieving the SDGs, he added.

Citing the past outcomes on financing, Bhattacharya said SDGs have to be financed mainly by domestic resources and not by ODAs. He stressed the need for enhancing revenue administration through modernised progressive tax systems, improved tax policy and more efficient tax collection.

To combat illicit financial flows there is a need to strengthen national regulation and international cooperation, he said. But ODA will still have roles, he said, adding that developed countries should fulfil their commitment to allocate 0.7 percent of their gross national incomes as ODA to developing countries.

Political commitment and institutional arrangement are also vital, said Bhattacharya, also the chair of the Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals network.

Sultan Hafeez Rahman, executive director of Brac Institute of Governance and Development, said the developed countries did not deliver on their commitments to give 0.7 percent of their GNI.

“Forget it. It has not happened and will not happen,” he said, while calling for an increase in domestic resource mobilisation. Private investment and foreign direct investment will be important during the process of transformation, he said, adding that trade can do a great deal for development and support the achievement of SDGs.

Arastoo Khan, member of Planning Commission, said engaging the private sector will be important in achieving the SDGs. Khan said intra-regional trade accounts for just 4 percent of total trade in South Asia. “That is not good at all,” he added.

Salman Zaidi, poverty global practice manager of the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific region, said the multilateral lender has been working with other development banks and the International Monetary Fund to frame a paper on the post-2015 agenda. Lee Yun-young, South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh, said public private partnership is important in promoting growth.

Robert Watkins, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, said the impact of the MDGs has been dramatic in Bangladesh and the country has been recognised, along with Cambodia, this year as the top performing LDC in MDG attainment.

Noting Bangladesh’s steady economic growth and poverty reduction, he however said reliance on this economic model widens income disparities and, in turn, also widens social, gender, rural-urban and regional disparities.

“This is not a theory — it is empirical. Bangladesh is in danger of development progress that benefits the rich while the poor are left behind.”

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the developed countries, including the US, should remove all restrictions on exports and allow free movement of people from developing nations, including Bangladesh, to help fight hunger and attain SDGs.

“I have seen in the newspaper that even today people are stuck in the middle of the sea — they were not allowed to get off from the vessels.”

Bangladesh would be able to attain development goals if the bar on the export and movement of people for jobs are waived, he said. The move will benefit both Bangladesh and the migrant recipient country.

“We are objectively moving forward to achieve our targets. Our approach is to sustain the growth.”

 

Published in The Financial Express

Plea to tap more internal resources to attain SDGs
Expert Group meeting begins

FE Report

Speakers at a meeting in Dhaka suggested Saturday that the poor and developing countries should mobilise more internal resources instead of depending on external assistance to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

They also called for tapping local and foreign investments, inter- and intra-regional trades and boosting internal revenue income to bankroll the SDGs, a new global development paradigm in post-2015 period.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), the ENDPOVERTY 2015 millennium campaign, and the Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals jointly organised a two-day expert group meeting on ‘Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs’, starting in Dhaka Saturday.

The current development paradigm-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)– set by the United Nations will expire in December 2015. After the expiry, the UN will finalise the SDGs aimed at making the world hunger-free and socio-economically strong.

Development experts, researchers, academicians, policymakers and private entrepreneurs are taking part at the expert group meeting in Dhaka.

At the opening session, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, South Korean Ambassador in Bangladesh Lee Yun-young, UN Resident Coordinator Robert Watkins, UN Millennium Campaign Deputy Director (policy) Sering Falu Njie, Member of the Planning Commission Arastoo Khan, former Director General, South Asia Department of the Asian Development Bank Dr Sultan Hafeez Rahman and the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice Manager Salman Zaidi spoke on the occasion.

Presided over by CPD Execute Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman, its distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya presented a keynote paper at the function.

The planning minister said Bangladesh needs to raise earnings from its internal taxes in addition to official development assistance (ODA) from external sources as the country has a lowest tax payers’ base compared to the capable persons.

“Everybody “Every capable person should pay taxes in the country. The revenue income is imperative to develop its infrastructure and cut hunger,” he said.

The Bangladesh government has taken a policy to bring all the capable persons under the tax-net in a bid to raise its tax-base, the planning minister said.

He urged the developed countries to open up manpower export market so that developing countries like Bangladesh could reap their current benefit of population dividend.

Former finance minister M Syeduzzaman said the poor and developing countries should not wait for Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries’ Official Development Assistance (ODA), committed at 0.7 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). They should rather mobilise their local resources, he added.

He believed launching of the China-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will be very much helpful for the Asian countries to bankroll the SDG agenda.

Dr Debapriya said ODA to the South and South East Asian countries is falling. “The countries should give more emphasis on boosting local resources through raising income from remittances, expediting intra- and inter-regional trades, and boosting investment.”

Mr Sultan Hafeez Rahman said: “I don’t think that ODA is much helpful for  development of a country. Rather, the countries using their own resources should have own policy to develop themselves.”

He suggested the countries to mobilise resources from their internal sectors which could be a best input for their development.

He urged the Bangladesh government to boost tax-GDP ratio as this is one of the lowest in this region.

The Korean ambassador said Bangladesh should do some reforms in its rules and regulations.

The public-private partnership (PPP), training of migrant workers and economic reforms would be helpful for the country to facilitate increase of its resources, he added.

Mr Arastoo Khan said ODA is still necessary for the country. The OECD countries should keep their commitment to provide 0.70 per cent of their GDP as ODA for the poor countries.

Ex-president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) Asif Ibrahim urged the World Bank to provide soft loan to private sector enterprises which could be helpful for ensuring the SDGs.

 

Published in New Age

Domestic resource mobilisation, FDI key to financing sustainable dev
Experts say at discussion

Staff Correspondent

Experts and policy makers on Saturday stressed on focusing on domestic resource mobilisation, domestic and foreign direct investment, public-private partnership and intra-regional trade for financing sustainable development in the countries like Bangladesh and other South and South East Asian nations.

Political commitment, policy and institutional reforms in these areas are urgent needs to materialise opportunities in development financing particularly in implementing sustainable development goals, they said at an expert group meeting on Asian partnership in financing sustainable development goals.

They also said that developed countries under the platform of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development should also fulfil their commitments of giving 0.7 per cent of their gross national income as official development assistance to developing countries by 2020.

Centre for Policy Dialogue, Southern Voice on Post-MDGs and New York-based UN Millennium Campaign jointly organised the meeting at the BRAC Centre Inn in Dhaka.

The suggestions from the meeting will be placed before the third conference on financing for development to be held in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia in July.

The United Nations is going to approve the proposed SDGs in September.

‘Revenue generation at an increased rate, private investment, foreign trade particularly intra-regional trade and remittance will become more important in coming days in financing development programmes amid reduction of dependency on ODA [official development assistance] in the countries,’ CPD distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said in the keynote presentation.

So, the countries like Bangladesh and other South Asian nations, which still have weakness in attracting FDI, domestic private investment and intra-regional trade, should emphasise on these areas, he said.

He, however, urged the 34-member OECD countries to fulfil their commitment of allocating their 0.7 per cent GNI to the developing countries though the contribution of ODA has been decreasing over the years in developing countries.

Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said political commitment, strong institution and good governance were needed to implement the SDGs.

He also said that though the dependency on ODA had been reducing over the years, Bangladesh needed more ODA in coming years for financing SDGs.

He also urged the developed countries to remove restrictions on sending manpower from Bangladesh to those countries.

Former finance minister M Syeduzzaman emphasised on PPP as an effective financing tool for implementation of SDGs.

Planning Commission member Arastoo Khan said that though the government was giving stress on domestic revenue generation for development financing, ODA was still needed to meet huge financing gap particularly in climate change financing.

World Bank’s poverty global practice manager for East Asia and Pacific Region Salman Zaidi said that the countries should focus on PPPs for infrastructure financing.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development executive director Sultan Hafeez Rahman said that FDI and foreign trade could play a critical role in development financing for Bangladesh.

Business Initiative Leading Development chairman Asif Ibrahim said access to finance at affordable rate for the private sector from international financing mechanism was important to boost investment in the country.

United Nations resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh Robert Watkins emphasised on developing domestic human resource, generating employment and enhancing intra-regional trade and regional cooperation for achieving sustainable development.

Korean ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Yun Young, Swedish ambassador Johan Frisell, UNFPA country representative of Argentina Matavel Piccin and UN Millennium Campaign deputy director Sering Falu Njie spoke, among others, at the meeting.

 

Published in Dhaka Tribune

Local resource stressed for SDGs

Tribune Report

Domestic resource mobilisation is the anchor of financing the post-2015 agenda, also known as sustainable development goals (SDGs), local and foreign experts said yesterday.

Apart from this, factors include ODA (Official Development Assistance), intra-regional trade, aid for trade, duty-free and quota-free access are also important for achieving SDGs by 2030 set by the United Nations.

The suggestions were made in the opening session of Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Southern Voice, in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign in the city yesterday.

The EGM explored possible sources of finance and other means of implementing SDGs in the Asian context to prepare an integrated report to be presented at the international conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa scheduled for sometime in July this year.

CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman moderated the event while a galaxy of experts both from local and foreign countries spoke.

Speaking as the chief guest, Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal agreed on the necessity of domestic resource mobilisation for financing implementation of SDGs, saying: “We have to have some reforms in taxations to increase tax to GDP ratio. The loopholes in this should be plugged properly.”

Urging developed countries to withdraw restrictions on people’s movement from country to country and exportable goods, he said. “In order to help achieve SDGs, Bangladesh should allow its manpower and its products to be exported without any restrictions so that we can use our own resources at maximum level,” he said.

Dramatic transformation has taken place in the world’s landscape on humanity when there were no restrictions on people movement from one country to another over the last 200 years, he said.

“Taking advantage of this, America, Singapore and Malaysia were built. But now many countries even America put restrictions on people movement and goods, holding back prosperity of economic growth of developing countries.”

Describing the country’s impressive economic growth and other social indicators over the years, he said now Bangladesh’s target is to bring down poverty below 9% from the existing 24% and extreme poverty to 7% from 18% by 2021.

“By 2030, the country will be absolutely free form hunger as healthy macroeconomic factors are the signs of that.”

Executive Director of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) Sultan Hafeez Rahman said ODI is falling because developed countries are not in position to support due to economic recession.

Putting emphasis on domestic private investment and FDI for financing development, he said contexts in developing countries have changed and it is much harder to make them accept things they do not necessarily find relevant to their interests.

UN Residential Coordinator Robert Watkins said the world is going to prepare for the next phase of development agenda for sustainable developments.

“What we saw in MDGs is completely absent such as governance and job growth.”

He termed BCIM initiative innovative concept for regional benefit, saying that Bangladesh’s growth largely depends on remittance, RMG and agriculture, which together constitute largest share of the country’s GDP.

Robert added that remittance is relied on other countries and RMG on low-skilled workforce, and agriculture employs 45% of labour force.

But this not sustainable for long term, he warned.

“I fear that Bangladesh is in development danger to benefit the rich and the poor are left behind that suggests that economic growth is actually two sides of same coin. Economic growth with equality is the core development agenda of the past and for the SDGs. This should be addressed,” he said.

Korean Ambassador to Dhaka, Lee Yun-young, described Korea’s experience on how the country transformed itself from a foreign aid recipient country to a donor country within the past half century.

Right after Korean war in 1961, he said, Korea received more than $2m foreign aid and economic growth remained stagnant at 3.6% on an average during the period.

Then, the Korean government felt the necessity of mobilisation of domestic resources and took an institutional reforms to establish national tax service and introduce VAT system, he said.

 

 

Published in The Independent

‘Remittance, foreign trade crucial’

Staff Reporter

ASIA’S DEVELOPMENT

Investment in individual sectors and revenue from domestic sources have been playing a major role in executing development plans in developed countries, which is still weak in Asia. To achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs), remittance, foreign trade, intra-regional and global trade is highly important, along with the development of legal infrastructure and economic institutes within regional countries. Experts came up with these observations at a group meeting on “Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs” in the capital yesterday (Saturday). It was organised jointly by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), End Poverty and Southern Voice.

They said dependency on foreign donations has been decreasing with the rapid change of trend in all the South Asian countries. But the importance of foreign investment is still very high for the developing countries, as they are going through various crises. If the stakeholders of the South Asian countries do not address these issues, they would face a high economic risk during any global economic crisis, as all countries are now widely involved in  global economy.

Argentina Matavel Piccin, representative of UNFPA, Bangladesh, said a people-oriented financial policy should be implemented in the South Asian countries to achieve SDGs. In addition, she said the Government of Bangladesh should focus on investing for the development of adolescent and youths, impose a flexible taxation policy and accountability in case of foreign funding implementation in the country to achieve SDGs.

Robert Watkins, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, said building up intra-regional trade will bring benefits not just in trade, but will also enhance exchange of knowledge, technology and culture, mobilising of domestic products, mobility of people, generate employment using local brands, build up regional cooperation and also SME trade.

He said regional trade would reduce reliance only on European trade markets and governments of South Asian countries should focus on social development for human sector, increase good governance and job growth, address climate change issues and finance for development.

“To generate revenue, the Government of Bangladesh needs to pay more attention to taxation and private sector investment. Seven million people in Bangladesh are eligible for tax, but only one million are paying tax. This is one of the major barriers of financial growth of the country. We need more productive people, and more tax payers, structural change of economy, social, gender and regional issues to achieve SDGs” he added.

AHM Mustafa Kamal, minister for planning and chief guest, said donors should consider maximising foreign investment in the country.

“We have a plan and objective policy to achieve SDGs, and our target is to make the country hunger-free within 2030. The maternal mortality rate has decreased and vaccines of deathly diseases are available. We are investing in education, infrastructure and social safety and inclusive growth to establish a sustainable economic growth in our country,” said the minister.

Talking about the internal revenue of the country, the minister said methodology of tax is going to change in the upcoming budget, as everybody should come under tax.

Debapriya Bhattacharya, chairman, Southern Voice on Post-MDG International Development Goals and Distinguished Fellow, CPD, and Mohammad Afshar Ali, research associate, CPD, presented an analysis of trends and framework issues on Global Partnership for Financing Post-2015 Agenda in Asia.

 

Published in BSS

Domestic resource mobilisation key to achieve SDGs – experts

Bangladesh has shifted its reliance from Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to domestic resources, but the cpuntry requires focusing more on streamlining its efforts to expedite internal resource mobilisation for financing development projects to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The country also needs to enhance focus on revenue generation, foreign direct investment (FDI), private investment, remittance, export and intra-regional trade for financing development in the evolving scenario.

The recommendation came at the Expert Group Meeting on Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs, organised jointly by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Southern Voice (SV) in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign at Brac Centre Inn in the capital city.

Addressing the inaugural session, planning minister A H M Mustafa Kamal said the government had attached priority to internal resource mobilisation, with developing domestic human resource, generating employment and enhancing intra-regional trade and regional cooperation.

Robert Watkins, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bangladesh was the special guest at the inaugural session.

Presenting the keynote paper, CPD Distinguished Fellow and Chair of Southern Voice Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya recommended developing a regional monitoring mechanism and an accountability framework to track progress of the SDGs and harmonise the ongoing efforts in financing for development.

CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman made the welcome remarks at the opening session.

Sering Falu Njie, Deputy Director, Policy, UN Millennium Campaign chaired and moderated the session, participated by economists, diplomats and experts from home and abroad.

Falu Njie said the recommendations of this seminar would be referred to the upcoming third conference on Financing for Development (FfD) to be held in Addis Ababa in July 2015.

The participants said that countries in South Asia and South East Asia shifted reliance from ODA to domestic resources for financing development, but yet to strengthen their institutional frameworks for coordination.

Lee Yun-young, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Bangladesh shared the Korean experience of increasing domestic resource mobilisation and self-reliance in the post-war period.

Among other discussants, Arastoo Khan, Member, Physical Infrastructure Division, Planning Commission observed that the government has favoured increasing private sector investment and the reliance for financing is shifting from ODA to domestic revenue mobilisation. According to Dr Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), domestic private investment, FDI would play the most crucial role for financing development.

He also observed that contexts in developing countries have changed and it is much harder to make them accept things they do not necessarily find relevant to their interests.

Salman Zaidi, Poverty Global Practice Manager, East Asia and Pacific Region, the World Bank noted that ways for backing the SDGs in country context should include crowding finance from private sector, putting focus on PPPs, investing in data etc.

Dr Simrit Kaur, Professor of Public Policy at University of Delhi noted that South Asians are high on savings and ways should be explored to mobilise the savings for financing.

Asif Ibrahim, Former President, DCCI, urged to scale up public finances and a change in mindset to invest in green businesses. Bangladesh needs access to green funds at a very affordable rate, he added.

Argentina Matavel Piccin, Country Representative, UNFPA felt that financing should be people-centric and the focus should be on its utilisation. She emphasised investment in youth, women and health and human resource.

The floor discussion was also participated by ambassador of Sweden Johan Frisell, former finance minister M Syeduzzaman, visiting fellow of RIS, New Delhi, India Dr Milindo Chakrabarti, IBON International manager, Philippines Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo, Child Rights Governance Director at the Save the Children Hagar Russ and Additional Secretary of Economic Relations Division Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui.

 

Published in Daily Sun

Experts for mobilising internal resources to finance SDGs

Staff Correspondent

Experts for mobilising internal resources to finance SDGs Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal attends an expert group meeting on Asian Partnership in Financing SDGs at Brac Centre Inn in the capital on Saturday. The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and the Southern Voice (SV) jointly organised the two-day event in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign.

In the context of falling official development assistance (ODA), the developing and low-income countries have to mobilise internal resources to implement post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The recommendation came at an expert group meeting on Asian partnership in financing SDGs held in the city on Saturday. For doing so, private and foreign investments, remittance and intra-regional trades will be the key to meeting the development financing needs of these countries in the coming days, observed the development experts. Besides, international and regional economic and political institutions must be functional so that the countries benefit from intra-regional trades. Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Southern Voice (SV) jointly organised the two-day event in partnership with the UN Millennium Campaign. “Excessive dependency on foreign aid is declining in Asia nowadays. The low-income countries will be more dependent on internal resources in the coming days as any headwinds to developed economies will destabilise theirs also,” commented Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD. The event was a preparatory meeting for the country prior to joining the ‘Third Conference on Financing for Development’ slated to be held at Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in the mid of July to discuss financing mechanism for post-2015 development agenda. Low-income nations are now concerned about the financing aspects of SDGs as some important goals of MDGs could not be implemented as developed nations failed to provide the committed 0.7 percent of their GDP to help implement MDGs. Debapriya recommended developing a regional monitoring mechanism and an accountability framework to track progress of the SDGs and harmonise the ongoing efforts in financing for development. “The government has attached priority to internal resource mobilisation, with developing domestic human resource, generating employment and enhancing intra-regional trade and regional cooperation,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, chairing the inaugural session, Robert Watkins, UN Resident Coordinator, said Bangladesh’s growth is tremendous, but its economy might not be sustainable as it largely dependent on remittance, RMG export and agriculture. Remittance inflow and RMG exports depend on stability in the global economy, he explained, adding that the country’s tax net is very small as only one percent people pay taxes here. In reply, Kamal said the country’s revenue growth is 19 percent, but it still needs ODA to feed development needs. He also called upon the developed countries to allow manpower exports from Bangladesh so that remittance flow can increase. The participants said that countries in South Asia and South East Asia shifted reliance from ODA to domestic resources for financing development, but yet to strengthen their institutional frameworks for coordination. Lee Yun-young, Korean Ambassador in Bangladesh, shared the Korean experience of increasing domestic resource mobilisation and self-reliance in the post-war period.

 

 

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