National Budget for the Ultra Poor - An analysis of Allocation and Effectiveness

It is widely recognised that the poor lack adequate capacity to participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy. This is particularly true for the poorest of the poor among the poor. As a matter of fact, significant constraints that impede the ability of the poor to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the mainstream economy also severely limit their ability to escape the clutches of poverty. As is known, in the recent past, successive governments in Bangladesh has put poverty alleviation at the core of their development efforts. Pro-poor growth and poverty alleviation in Bangladesh are being pursued through various policy initiatives and concrete actions. Evidence suggests that over the past years Bangladesh has been able to achieve impressive results in terms of poverty mitigation and alleviation. However, experience also bears out that reaching the ultra poor in this process has proved to be a specially difficult task. A key strategy in addressing this particular challenge was to deploy fiscal-budgetary measures as part of the national budgets of the country. In this context, allocation for social safety net programmes (SSNPs) in the budgets has played an important role in directing and targeting assistance to the very poor in the society. Nonetheless, reaching the poorest sections of the poor has remained a difficult enterprise. Indeed, addressing the concerns of the ultra poor, in a sustainable manner, remains a continuing agenda in Bangladesh.

It is in view of this that the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) undertook an exercise to examine and evaluate fiscal measures in support of the 'ultra poor' in the national budgets of Bangladesh. Based on this analysis, the purpose of the study was to identify modalities which were best equipped to address the concerns of the ultra poor and to advance their interests. Indeed, this study reflected CPD's sustained interest, and was in continuation of CPD's manifold activities undertaken as part of its thematic research area titled Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice.