I thank you, Mr. President, for taking the initiative of forming a UN Alliance for Poverty Eradication. Bangladesh is happy to participate in this timely initiative, and to contribute to its work.
The unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID 19 is projected to push millions of people to poverty. We had embarked on the journey to implement the SDGs to fight against poverty. Sadly, in many of our countries, SDG implementation plans are put on hold as we are diverting our limited resources to meet emergency health needs.
Against this worrisome backdrop, collaboration for poverty eradication takes a new meaning. We have to take the path of a sustainable recovery from that pandemic that would complement our efforts to eradicate poverty, by ensuring food security and strengthening public health systems.
Bangladesh succeeded in achieving significant progress in reducing poverty, which is now about 20.5%; and extreme poverty is down to 10.5%. This was possible due to our ambitious development plans and people-centric policies premised on a ‘whole of society’ approach to leave no one behind as the country made progress. However, we are concerned that the impact of the pandemic, particularly the disruption in global supply chain and low remittances are going to slow down our rapid progress and push people to poverty.
Poverty eradication, therefore, would be the cornerstone of Bangladesh’s post COVID recovery plans. To keep the economy alive and to support our people in difficult situations, extensive stimulus packages have been announced by the government, equivalent to 3.7% of our GDP for the immediate, short and medium terms. These would go towards supporting the industries and agriculture sectors which have played the most significant role in reducing our poverty.
One of our key development strategies is to address inequality through social safety net programmes, decent work and financial inclusion of the vulnerable groups in the form of cash and food reliefs, wage-employment, training, savings and community support. That has also been the strategy guiding our Covid response programmes for the most vulnerable groups in society.
Soft loans are being given to SME entrepreneurs, and these are expected to contribute to poverty alleviation. RMG workers, made up mostly of women, and one of the groups hardest hit, are being supported to compensate for job and income loss. Significant provisions have been made in the budget for training of youth and women in alternative income generating activities.
We will also continue to emphasize on the use of ICT to ensure inclusion of the marginalized people in our COVID 19 recovery to complement our development process. We have good experience and practices to share in this regard, especially in the field of mobile and remote banking and agro marketing.
Our Covid recovery plan will not divert our attention from our consistent investment in the climate adaptation and resilience building as climate change exacerbates poverty by increasing people’s vulnerability.
I would like to conclude by saying that our poverty eradication efforts are now intertwined with our post COVID recovery plans. While we are making best efforts, our success would largely depend on how effectively we can forge strong partnership at the multilateral level and with our development partners. We believe that the Alliance for Poverty Eradication will provide us the platform to explore such partnerships and find new and effective ways in our struggle against poverty. The alliance should be inclusive, and have the participation of all stakeholders. The private sector would also have a critical role to play in the fight against poverty. And I agree with you, Mr. President, that in doing so, we should harmonize efforts with existing mandates and mechanisms. We will be happy to take on any responsibility to take forward the objectives of this Alliance.
I thank you.