Former Governor of the Bangladesh Bank Dr Salehuddin Ahmed has said that democratisation of the national budgetary process was critical for a non-discriminatory society.
"Although the share of the budget supply comes mostly through indirect taxes, there is no reflection of public opinion and needs in the formulation of the national budget," said Salehuddin while speaking as the chief guest at the virtual Grand Finale of the Budget Olympiad 2020 on Monday.
Ensuring transparency and accountability of the budget and ensuring public participation in the formulation and implementation of the budget process, will further advance the overall development of the country, he added.
He also said the national budget was not only to raise and spend government money, but also to bring the benefits of development to all. However, in Bangladesh, this is not reflected in the implementation of the budget policy. We need to focus not only on growth, but also on establishing good governance, banishing corruption and overall socio-economic development of the people to ensure people's participation in the budget.
Democratic Budget Movement (DBM), Participatory Research Action Network (PRAN) and ActionAid Bangladesh jointly organised the event.
Director, Centre and Policy Dialogue of Dhaka University, Professor Kazi Maruful Islam, said it was crucial to inculcate the practice of questioning the among the youth. Budget Olympiad is successful in this regard, and these young advocates should continue to ensure accountability by questioning the allocation of the country's budget and whether it is being spent fairly.
Director, ActionAid Bangladesh, Asgar Ali Sabri, hoped the Budget Olympiad and its participants would play a role in empowering those who can raise their voices and uphold the values of DBA.
Convener of the Budget Olympiad Committee, eminent economist Professor MM Akash, chaired the event and opined that the citizenry has every right to know if the money they are giving to the government is being spent properly, and should also be able to freely express their views. Decentralisation of the budget is necessary to ensure a participatory budget. Youth engagement and dialogue can play a crucial role in replacing these ideas and demands.
Aiming to inspire budget advocates across the country, DBA has been organising Budget Olympiad since 2017. Around 4,000 students from more than a hundred educational institutions across the country participated in various rounds of the competition this year.
Golam Kibria Limon of Rajshahi University became the champion in Budget Olympiad 2020. The first and the second runners-up were Arifujjaman Uzzal from Khulna University and Shamsuzzaman Raju from Chittagong University respectively. The winners of the regional stage and the top ten winners of the final stage were also announced during the ceremony.
Secretary of Budget Olympiad, Nurul Alam Masud; Director, CARE Bangladesh, Amanur Rahman; Secretary, DBM, Monowar Mostafa; Joint Secretary, DBM, Sekender Mina Sumon, participated in the event among others.