5Y plan to replace PRSP in 2 years: Muhith
Sunday, 01 November 2009

Finance minister Abul Mal Abdul Muhith told parliament Sunday that the government is looking to reintroduce a different kind of five year development plan than in the past, to replace the PRSP development model in two year's time.

In a parliamentary discussion on the revised Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, the minister said the new five year plan would be "indicative" rather than prescriptive.

Muhith's comment came in response to the demands of some Awami League MPs for immediate reintroduction of a "pro-people five year plan" dropping of the "donor-dictated PRSP" before the latter's term expires.

They criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for their role in steering the development activities in Bangladesh during the last 38 years.

"We believe that it was not a good decision to move away from five-year plan," Muhith told parliament in response to demands raised of the ruling party MPs.

"But we cannot introduce a new five year plan in the way we used to do in the past. It will rather be indicative in nature," he said.

The ruling Awami League in its election pledges vowed reintroduction of the five-year plan as an instrument to ensure poverty reduction and development in the country.

The five-year economic plan was a strategy promoted by the Soviet Union-led socialist block during the cold war.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, successive Bangladesh governments since 1991 guided economic activities and development efforts according to the prescriptions of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The government on Sunday, for the first time, placed the draft PRSP in parliament for discussion before adoption as a development strategy for the coming two fiscal years—2009-2010 and 2010-2011.

The government is looking to introduce the five-year plan from 2011-12.

"The PRSP which came to us was prepared by the caretaker government. I tried to remodel it as per our outlook," said Muhith.

He said the government would translate the PRSP in Bangla too for feedback from the public.

Muhith also defended the free market model replying to a comment of Hasanul Huq Inu MP, who spoke against a free market economy.

"You cannot see off the free market economy. It will exist. A free market economy inspires individual creativity," said the finance minister.

But, he added, it was the government's duty to intervene in the market economy when necessary for people's sake.

Suranjit Sengupta MP said the Awami League could not implement the PRSP prepared by the interim administration and the previous BNP government.

"You have given us a document prepared by bureaucrats and NGOs. This document is aimed at fattening the advisers," Sengupta told Muhith.

Muhith said the planning ministry went to political advisers, rather than bureaucrats, for revising the PRSP, and only took suggestions of NGOs rather than let them 'dictate' policy.

But Sengupta said, "Give us a five year plan. Don't give us the PRSP."

He also criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for making "40 percent of the population poor" through their prescriptions.

Another ruling party MP, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, said the government could not implement the bureaucracy-dominated poverty strategies.

"The bureaucrats don't see themselves as servants. Instead they consider themselves the peoples' masters."

"Without a corruption-free administration poverty cannot be eradicated," said Selim.

He also demanded introduction of the five-year plan.

Idris Ali said the World Bank and IMF would not fully support the government's development efforts no matter how efficiently it tried to carry out the strategy.

"In some way, they will always be controlling the rope," he said.

"We have to introduce the five year plan model for our own development efforts," said Idris.

Abdul Matin Khasru, Rahmat Ali, Sharirer Alam, Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, Tarana Halim, Dhirendro Nath Shambhu, Shahin Monowara Haq and A K M Mayeedul Islam also spoke.

Source: bdnews24.com

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