Job scheme restarts next fiscal year

Adequate funds will be allocated in the budget for the next fiscal year to ensure smooth running of the 100-Day Employment Generation Programme (EGP) designed by the caretaker government to support the ultra poor, said Food and Disaster Management Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque yesterday.

However, following huge corruption and irregularities, the Tk 2,000 crore programme launched on September 15 last year was suspended in November.

“Before running the programme again, the government is now reviewing it to ensure transparency and accountability so the poor and vulnerable groups benefit from the programme,” Razzaque said.

Speaking at a workshop on “employment generation programme” co-organised by the ministry and the World Bank at Cirdap auditorium, the minister said the income-generating programme proved successful in Monga-prone areas.

But inadequate time for preparation to launch the programme, faults in selecting the beneficiaries, a lack of transparency in its activities and weak monitoring led to the irregularities to some extent, Razzaque said.

“The government is convinced of the positive outcome of the 100-Day EGP. However considering the present situation of markets and availability of resources, the government is planning to implement the second phase of the programme in October or November this year,” he added.

Of Tk 1,200 crore allocated for the first phase, around Tk 915 crore was spent on 1,01,059 projects across the country.

A total of 19,97,075 people worked under the projects, according to food and disaster management ministry statistics.

Among others, World Bank Country Director Xian Zhu and Secretary to the Food Ministry Mokhlesur Rahman spoke at the workshop.

“The recent 100-day employment generation programme is an important addition to the government’s existing set of safety net programmes,” Zhu said.

“However, it is very important to ensure transparency for the safety net programmes to prevent the problem of leakages,” he said.

Zhu said the World Bank is also keen to provide more financial and technical support to the government in expanding and improving Bangladesh’s social safety nets.

Dr Razzaque was critical of the donors, saying that only 44,000 tonnes of food came in aid during the food crisis against an expected 400,000 tonnes.

“We want the donors to come next time with support for this scheme (EGP),” he added.

Source: The Daily Star, 06 April 2009


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