Focusing on poverty reduction
Wednesday, 04 June 2008

Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper that must focus the people’s hopes and aspirations is naturally being delayed due to lack of a consultation for absence of a political government in the country. Let the next political government adopt the full-fledged PRSP as the general election is due in next six months, eminent economist Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud told a recent consultation. General Economic Division of the Planning Commission organised the two-day consultation, beginning Sunday, on the first draft of the second PRSP for a period of FY09-11. The millennium development goal to halve poverty bears no significance, as yet, for Bangladesh in the absence of a concrete target. The problem is further aggravated since there are no established or acceptable benchmarks based on which the progress may be assessed.   The first target of the development goal is to ‘halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day’ according to the UN Millennium Project. The official website mentions that the ‘dollar a day’ poverty line corresponds to dollar in Purchasing Power Parity terms and not nominal dollars. The Purchasing Power Parity is a rate of exchange that accounts for price differences across countries, allowing universal cross-country comparisons of real output and incomes. Parity dollars signify equivalent purchasing power in the domestic economy of the United States. In fact, PRSP needs people’s approval through parliament. This is because the document acts as guidelines for donor assistance. We still remember how a minister and senior economists blasted the development partners for imposing separate conditions under different aid programmes even after formulation of the full-fledged poverty reduction strategy paper. External partners neither prioritise the country’s own necessities, nor move in the direction of mutual accountability of utilisation of aid funds.

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