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Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what UK aid programmes for Bangladesh relate to governance and human rights; and if he will make a statement. (90152)

Better governance is at the heart of DFID's programme in Bangladesh because it is key to delivering better services such as water, health and education to poor people. In turn, human rights—particularly the right to education, the right to water, the right to health and the right to security—can only be protected if governance improves.

Within the DFID programme a number of activities are specifically aimed at improving governance and human rights:

In partnership with Government of Bangladesh

(1) The “Governance Instrument1” is a programme which supports the Government-led anti-corruption programmes—initially in education and water supply—leading to improved governance and better quality services for poor people.

(2) Managing at the Top (MATT) 2 is a programme which promotes reform and builds management and administrative capacity within senior levels of the Bangladesh civil service.

(3) Police Reform Programme in partnership with UNDP, is helping put in place policing which is more responsive to the needs of poor and vulnerable people.

(4) Financial Management Reform Programme is strengthening public financial management systems in the Ministry of Finance and selected line ministries, so they are better able to provide accurate and timely financial information to Government policy makers and others.

(5) Reforms in Revenue Administration is building the capacity of the National Board of Revenue to administer tax legislation, particularly with regard to VAT and Direct Taxation.

In partnership with Civil Society

(1) Manusher Jonno Human Rights and Governance Programme is building the capacity of poor men, women and children to demand their rights and seek more accountable government.

(2) SAMATA is a non-government organisation which helps poor people secure land rights.

(3) Nijera Kori Social Mobilisation is an advocacy programme which promotes greater dialogue between the political elite and civil society, so that poor women and men can better understand and take part in decision-making processes.

(4) Transparency International, Bangladesh promotes greater transparency in the public, non profit and private sectors.

(5) Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust provides access to legal services, and promotes increased access to justice for poor Bangladeshis.

In partnership with Media/Political Governance

(1) BBC Sanglap is a series of debates on the BBC World Service Bangla service which provides one of the few spaces for open political debate in Bangladesh.

(2) Election activities. Elections are due to take place in January 2007. DFID is supporting civil society to undertake election monitoring, and prevention and monitoring of election violence.

DFID is committed to helping Bangladesh to become a more effective state, working with Government, civil society and citizens to improve governance and security; increase economic growth; improve public services and tackle climate change. The programme has a particular focus on protecting the rights of the very poorest.

We are in the process of finalising our new Country Assistance Plan for Bangladesh (2007 to 2013), at the heart of which will be support to improved governance (in line with the priorities set out in our recent White Paper).

1 Formally called “Unlocking the Potential: Supporting Government's Service Delivery and Anti-Corruption Activities”