Dhaka, Mar 19 (UNI) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today called on the international community, including oil-rich countries, to increase support to Bangladesh to cope with global price shocks, while strengthening its democratic system.
UNDP quoting its Administrator Kemal Dervis, who wrapped up a three-day visit to Bangladesh on Monday, issued the call simultaneously from Dhaka, New York and Bangkok, an official of the UN here said.
During his trip, Mr Dervis met with high-level officials, including leading economists and discussed international commodity price shocks and their consequences for the poorer, food importing countries of the world, like Bangladesh.
A UNDP release said rising food prices were a big concern for most people in Bangladesh, where roughly 40 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line, and poor households spent nearly 70 per cent of their income on food items.
In December, annual food inflation in Bangladesh reached 16 per cent, and prices of the most important essentials, like rice and oil, increased more than that in the last year.
''The real issue is protecting the vulnerable from these shocks,'' said Mr Dervis. ''The international community cannot leave these huge world events unattended,'' he added.
Mr Dervis noted that Bangladesh stands at an important moment in its history. ''It is determined to build stronger democratic institutions and deeper practices of democracy. At the same time, it is facing enormous challenges, such as rebuilding after the devastating floods and Cyclone Sidr and responding to global price shocks,'' he said.
The UNDP administrator called on the international community to do more for Bangladesh. ''Support from oil-rich countries, as well as other donors, could have positive benefits for Bangladesh and other lower income countries,'' he said.
''What happens here is particularly important to the people of Bangladesh, but a successful democratic Bangladesh that can overcome political and economic difficulties is an example to other lower income countries, to the Muslim world, and many other countries facing similar problems,'' he added.
During his visit to the country, Mr Dervis travelled to Jhalakati and Barisal, south of Dhaka, to visit UNDP-supported projects.
He toured a voter registration centre where digital technology will prevent electoral fraud in the upcoming election, and a project to help slum dwellers create small businesses and build clean water sources and sanitation facilities.
''I had an opportunity to see with my own eyes the resilience of the people here in the face of considerable economic hardship,'' he concluded.
UNI XC RJ RS1139