It is possible to collect Tk50,000 crore in zakat (Islamic almsgiving) in Bangladesh every year, speakers said at a webinar held on Tuesday.
The Center for Zakat Management (CZM) arranged the international panel discussion on "Zakat-based Poverty Alleviation and the Human Development Program" to share its experience about how zakat can be used as an effective tool for economic empowerment and developing the living standards of the underprivileged section of society.
Addressing the event, CZM chairman Niaz Rahim said, "CZM has served more than a million underprivileged people with direct intervention in their: livelihood and enterprise development, scholarship programmes, healthcare services, education support, emergency assistance, vocational training, and awareness-building initiatives."
Dr M Ayub Miah, chief executive officer of CZM, presented the keynote paper at the programme, moderated by Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairman of Brac and the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC).
In the presentation, Dr M Ayub Miah observed, "Poverty should be considered the result of multidimensional conditions and therefore, the mission of poverty eradication must be incorporated with a series of interrelated, and mutually reinforcing, activities. This should be done in an integrated way so that one activity can take care of others and finally secure sustainability of economic growth in the lives of the poor."
Jeebika Programme was launched as an innovative and comprehensive intervention for poverty eradication in front of the backdrop of traditional zakat distribution practices and culture, he explained.
"We have a huge opportunity to collect zakat because of large untapped zakat and waqf resources in the country. From a study in 2009, it is possible to collect zakat of Tk30,000 crore from Bangladesh every year. Now this amount is more than Tk50,000 crore," he added.
He also said, "CZM has been executing such a participatory process of empowering the poor with assets and capacities, and helping development of their own organisations: giving access to financial and technical resources, supporting education, creating access to basic services, re-installing and practicing socio-religious values and cultures, and introducing social awareness programme activities under a single umbrella."
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, in his concluding remarks, said the CZM needs to build up a corps of trained manpower for the sustainability of zakat-based institutional framework and programmes.
He put emphasis on disseminating the concept of the Jeebika Programme as a new frontier of financial empowerment of the poor to a global level.
The speakers also said that zakat and waqf should be incorporated in the policy documents of national development planning.
Several scholars from home and abroad were present as discussants.