To improve the overall living standard of people with disabilities, it is necessary to increase the allocation in the national budget and ensure the active participation of people with disabilities in budget formulation.
Speakers said this on Monday (15 March) at the virtual roundtable meeting on "Disability-Inclusive Budget: Current Perspectives and Recommendations."
The speakers said that people with disabilities are not a burden to society. Through education and training, they need to be turned into assets. Bangladesh needs to ensure their rights, not pity them. The Disability Protection Act 2013 must be implemented, the speakers added.
The event was jointly organised by The Business Standard, Kaler Kontho and Action on Disability and Development International Bangladesh (ADD International Bangladesh).
Local Government Minister Tajul Islam spoke as the chief guest during the discussion. He said that the government strongly believes in a culture of inclusion to move forward.
"In Vision 2041, people with disabilities are being given many advantages. There will be ups and downs but we will try to move forward. And, if we look at the overall development of Bangladesh in the last decade, you will see that there has been a lot of improvement," Islam added.
Hamidul Haque, director of the National Disability Development Foundation, in his speech, said that the implementation of the law for people with disabilities in Bangladesh can make the country a more just place for them.
"An action plan has been adopted to implement the law and the responsibility has been distributed. If the local government institutions can be strengthened through various discussions, then it is possible to take practical initiatives to improve the living standards of the people with disability," Haque added.
Country Director of ADD International Bangladesh Md Shafiqul Islam chaired the event while Deputy Chief Reporter of Kaler Kantho Tawfiq Maruf presided over the function. Arafat Sultana Lata presented the programme in sign language.
Shafiqul Islam, country director of ADD International Bangladesh said, "We have always been active in the development of the people with disabilities so that they can empower themselves to realise their rights."
"Every year we do a budget campaign which gives us an idea about the type of budget people with disabilities want to see. Then we exchange views about those issues at the national level. I believe that through dialogue, change is possible so we hope to keep the discussions going," he added.
Zahirul Islam Mamun, president of SWID Bangladesh, said that the budget should be allocated in light of the rights mentioned in the Disability Protection Act 2013.
ADD International Bangladesh Field Operations Manager Md Rafiquzzaman Bishwas presented an article during the event. He said that ADD International Bangladesh has been recommending national and local level budget campaigns since 2018 in collaboration with the European Union at the field level.
Various recommendations – including allocating a sufficient budget in the next financial year for providing rations and stipends to students with disabilities, to bring them under the education net – were made at the virtual discussion.
Among others, Amrita Regina Rosario, country director of Sightsavers International; Golam Faruk Hamim, head of programmes at ADD International Bangladesh; Mollah Albert, executive director of Access Bangladesh Foundation; and Salma Mahbub, general secretary of B-Scan spoke at the event.