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     Volume 6 Issue 24 | June 22, 2007 |

   Cover Story
   Photo Feature
   In Retrospect
   Dhaka Diary
   Book Review

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Ambitious Budget
We have set a target to generate sufficient electricity by the year 2010 in order to reach a level where there will be no load-shedding according to the finance adviser Mirza Azizul Islam. Amid protests from former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who questioned whether an interim government has the right to declare the budget, the Caretaker Government has successfully sketched out a budget keeping an eye on the current development priorities, such as tackling inflation, spending on power infrastructure and supporting agriculture. This is the first time that public opinion has been taken into account. This is the first time that the power sector is a priority. Another welcome decision is to put pressure on the telecommunications companies to bring their share into the capital market. Many of us are praising this budget for giving more subsidiaries to agriculture especially on diesel and fertilizer. Despite all of this, however, there are some issues that need more consideration. For example when one takes a closer look at resource distribution it shows that the agricultural sector has been allotted 5.6% where military got 5.8%.
In a poor country like Bangladesh people appreciate the budget if they can buy their utensils at a cheaper rate than the day before yesterday. But due to the strong power of the syndicate it is often difficult to bring down the prices. No doubt the budget is filled with lofty goals but a good collection of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), accountability of the various departments and the overall implementation will expedite the hope of a load-shedding free Bangladesh. We are eagerly counting down for this audacious moment.
Shakawat Hossain
Deparment of Accounting
Govt City College, Chittagong

Do Businessmen Patronise Consumerism?
Do our businessmen patronise consumerism or ignore it? It seems that they ignore it. There is not a single reason to believe that businessmen show any interest in protecting consumers' rights. Many businesses, such as Grameen Phone, are exploiting consumers by charging high prices. Now the company has been compelled to reduce their prices somewhat because competing companies charge lower for their calls. Despite the decrease in their charges Grameen Phone's prices are still higher than any other mobile phone company. It seems to me that the businessmen of our country have the sole mission to gain profit regardless of consumer's rights. It is high time that these businessmen start creating an environment that actually serves the consumers and gives them their money's worth. They should not forget that it is the consumers who ultimately provide them with their income and profits. Wouldn't it be logical to serve their interests as well rather than always trying to exploit them?
Farhad Kabir
By email

Accountability and Transparency
Freedom of information is essential when trying to ensure that a nation is heading towards excellence in every respect. In order to make the country more democratic, the right to information can be exercised without restraint by the people of all walks of life.
I enjoyed the cover story 'The Fight for Information' by Nader Rahman in SWM on June 8, 2007. If every public figure is transparent and accountable all doors to corruption will be closed forever. In this utopian concept citizens will be strengthened with the will to aspire for a better future.
The 2002 draft on the Right to Information Act should be turned into an ordinance very soon so that a country like Bangladesh can bring about positive changes.
If the Right to Information Act is turned into an ordinance, real democracy, the most coveted form of government, will be established. We do not want to see our loving motherland holding the crest as the most corrupt country in the world any longer.
Mohammad Shafiqul Islam
Lecturer, Department of English
Metropolitan University, Sylhet


I would like to thank SWM and Nader Rahman for the well-timed and enlightening cover story 'The Fight for Information'. In fact, it is a very important issue for a developing country like Bangladesh. There's no doubt that we are standing at a critical juncture in Bangladesh's history, a time when we are fighting against corruption to make 'Sonar Bangla' a dream come true.
Good governance requires an accountable government, an independent judicial system, freedom of thought and expression, a people-oriented accountable bureaucracy and, of course, the rule of law. The accountability and transparency of a government will be ensured when the people's right for information about all its activities are established. A government run by the money of citizens of a particular country has the responsibility to inform what it is doing with this money. It's a fundamental right. And we know that democracy aims to protect the fundamental rights of the individual. What, then, is the problem with establishing the Right to Information Act? Corruption and poverty are two parallel problems of our national life. I think that freedom of and access to information related government Aactivities can be an effective way to minimize those problems. The interim government should establish the act as soon as possible.
Jewel Rana, Sohan
Faculty of Agriculture, BAU

Mohammad Ashraful: Big Challenge Ahead
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has taken a very brave decision by appointing young Mohammad Ashraful and Mashrafee Bin Mortaza as captain and vice captain respectively until this September. Only time will tell whether this new decision by BCB will yield a positive outcome for Bangladeshi cricket. However, I must say this is a very timely and courageous decision made by BCB since our outgoing captain Habibul Bashar was totally lacking both in the confidence and form needed to lead the side. The team was in desperate need for someone who is not only talented and confident but also capable enough to lead the team under trying circumstances. Since Ashraful has had previous experience of captaining i.e. Under 19, A team etc, I feel this is the right time to give him the chance of leading the national team. The question to be asked here is whether Ashraful himself is ready to take up this new challenge? So far from news reports, it seems that that Ashraful is ready to lead the team, but he must keep in mind that it's going to be very difficult to lead an emerging team such as Bangladesh. The job is not easy at all. Moreover, in order to gain respect from his team as well as his opponents, as a captain Ashraful has to score runs consistently, which he has not been able to do so far. Last but not least he has to learn to speak fluent English in order to be able to communicate with the media. We know his English is very poor but he has to try and improve it. We expect to rediscover our most talented batsman Mohammed Ashraful as a mature and sensible captain in the days to come. Wishing our new captain all the best and I believe that the beginning of this new Ashraful-Mashrafee era will bring glory for our cricket.
Nazmus Saquib
Basabo, Dhaka.

Welcoming the Comics Page
I would like to thank SWM for adding comics and also Sharier Khan for his endeavour. I hope it continues without disruption. I also hope the SWM would consider adding pages for readers who are interested in writing poems, short stories etc.
Ashim Kumar Paul
Department of English
Govt. Edward College, Pabna

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