VOICE is a rights-based, activist organization working mainly on the issues of food sovereignty, aid effectiveness, economic justice, and the right to information and communication, both in Bangladesh and on a global scale. By building a broader constituency of alternative voices to the ‘mainstream development discourse’ through research and public education, VOICE is taking a stand against unjust and undemocratic practices.


Bangladeshi NGOs respond to the World Bank's disclosure policy review

By farjana - Posted on 23 May 2009

22 May 2009

A consortium of civil society representatives met to discuss access to information at the World Bank in Bangladesh on May 20th.
 
Article 19-Bangladesh, the Bank Information Center and VOICE, an IFI research and advocacy organization, convened a meeting of various civil society groups to solicit feedback on their collective experiences with the World Bank’s information disclosure practices in the context of World Bank country projects.  About 90 civil society representatives attended the May 20th meeting in Dhaka which included political activists, representatives from a variety of NGOs, trade unions, human rights and women groups as well as journalists and communications organizations.  Prominent academics and experts were in attendance, including Justice (retd) Mohammad Golam Rabbani who presided over the meeting.  Proposals and concerns with regard to the information disclosure policy as well as suggestions for an improved policy will be conveyed to the World Bank.

Civil society suggestions and observations

WB accused of hiding info on its projects

By farjana - Posted on 22 May 2009

The World Bank does not provide any information on its projects in Bangladesh, obstructing stakeholders’ access to information in areas such as project agreement, implementation and monitoring, said participants in a consultation meeting.
They demanded public disclosure of all information related to WB projects as well as its funding procedures.

The meeting, held at the Dhaka Reporter’s Unity on Wednesday, was organised by research and advocacy organisation Voice and the Bank Information Centre. Former Appellate Division Judge Golam Rabbani presided over the meeting.
In his keynote speech, the Voice executive director, Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, said according to the WB’s Inspection Panel Annual Report, there were allegations of lack of transparency, even violations, of its disclosure policy, he added.
He cited violations of the disclosure policy in a significant number of cases.

BRAC University professor Dr Piash Karim said the World Bank was losing its legitimacy worldwide because of imposition of neo-liberal conditions on the states.
Accusing the World Bank of taking advantage of the global financial crisis, he said it was eager to expand its lending base. He demanded that the World Bank’s lending policy and the project agreements should be made public so that people could voice their opinions on the project documents.

VOICE organized a consultation on World Bank Disclosure Policy

By farjana - Posted on 20 May 2009

May 20, Dhaka [The participants of the consultation allegedly said that the Bank didn’t provide any information on the project they undertook in the country and categorically it impedes the access to information at all levels including project agreement, implementation and monitoring levels.  The consultation was held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity today jointly organized by VOICE, a research and advocacy organization and Bank Information Centre. The consultation was presided over by Justice (Retd)  Mohammad Golam Rabbani.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of Voice read out the key note paper while he citing the example from the World Bank's Inspection Panel Annual Report, said that Bank suffers with the problem of access to information within several World Bank-financed projects. There are allegations of lack of transparency, and even violations of its own disclosure policy according to recently published Inspection Panel Report, he told. Ahmed Swapan also said that alleged violation of the Bank’s disclosure policy was raised in 22 of the 52 cases, which equates to 42 percent of all cases brought to the panel since its 1993 inception.

A consultation on World Bank`s Disclosure Policy

By farjana - Posted on 13 May 2009

VOICE is going to organize a Consultation meeting on ‘World Bank’s Information Disclosure Policy: People’s Voice and Propose Greater Transperency and Accountability’.

Date: 20 May 2009
Time: 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Venue: VIP lounge of Dhaka Reporters Unity, (8/4-A Topkhana Road, Segunbagicha)

The objectives of the consultation are to raise critical awareness among citizenry and also to prepare a set of recommendations for further improvement of the Disclosure policy to ensure greater transparency and accountability to its constituencies.
Noted that World Bank is going to revise its Disclosure policy and it has already posted an Approach Paper titled Toward Greater Transparency: Rethinking the World Bank’s Disclosure Policy in its external website.

Please contact us for more information! (email: ahmed.swapan@gmail.com, Mobile: 01711-881919)

Bank watchdog calls ADB response to financial crisis a sham

By farjana - Posted on 04 May 2009

Deep concerns about high risk offshore private equity portfolio

4 May 2009, Bali - The largest Asian NGO network monitoring the ADB today slammed the bank's response to the financial crisis, calling it "a dangerous plan to unleash massive infrastructure funding while reducing environmental and social oversight."

According to Red Constantino of the NGO Forum on the ADB, "the bank is proposing a blinkered, business-as-usual program that will not prevent developing countries from sliding back into poverty but instead is likely to cause environmental destruction and social dislocation."
 
The NGO Forum on the ADB also released a scathing report detailing the ADB's high-risk low-return foray into private equity funds and pointed to the potential large-scale misuse of the 200 percent capital increase the ADB recently secured.
"The ADB's handling of its private equity funds is scandalous and presents a material risk not only to the ADB but to project affected communities and the environment," said Stephanie Fried of Environmental Defense Fund.

ADB Slammed in International People`s Tribunal

By farjana - Posted on 03 May 2009

3 May Bali: During ADB`s 42nd Annual General meeting taking place in Bali, Indonesia from May 2-5, 2009, civil society and NGOs from around the world meet together and demonstrate against the project and policies of Asian Development Bank. As a part of programmes, a two days long Asia Pacific People`s Tribunal is being held in Udayana University, Bali while witnesses testify how ADB has violates the rights of the people of the region.

The international tribunal was organized by Indonesian civil society network INFID, Indies, Asia Pacific Research Network, IBON Foundation, Philippines associated with more than thirty organizations from the region including VOICE, Bangladesh.

The multilateral lender has been charged with gross violations of economic, social, and cultural rights of the Asia- Pacific region; civil and political rights; and peoples’ national sovereignty and right to self-determination.

Bank watchdog raises alarm on ADB’s general capital increase

By farjana - Posted on 03 May 2009

NGOs warn that increased funds will equal increased harm

2 May 2009, BALI – The NGO Forum on the Asian Development Bank today challenged the multilateral bank’s move for a general capital increase (GCI), calling it irresponsible and dangerous.

Forum Annual Meeting kicks off

By farjana - Posted on 30 April 2009

28 April, Bali – The NGO Forum on ADB officially opened its Forum annual meeting (FAM) today at the Palm Beach Hotel & Resort in Bali, Indonesia.
Over 70 participants representing different organizations from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, the United States, Australia, and the Netherlands attended the first day.

The first session dealt with big picture issues. Pieter Jansen of BothENDS talked about the ongoing financial crisis from the European perspective.   He compared the situation before the financial crisis and after the crash. He further said that the removal of controls over the financial sector has made the financial institutions masters of economy instead as its servants.
Stephanie Fried of the Environmental Defense Fund delved on private equity funds (PEF) which promotes secrecy in the middle of the global financial crisis. Though there is an international push for the re-regulation of financial architecture and an increase in transparency measures due to the global financial crisis, she said the ADB has proposed the further deregulation of risky investments and weakening of its Safeguards Policy. She said that PEFs are a key component of the ADB’s private sector development strategy.

What’s on in Bali

By farjana - Posted on 28 April 2009

Bali, a name of dream, it is also said that if you ask ‘a Balinese what heaven is like, he would say, just like Bali, without the worries of ordinary life. They want to live in Bali, to be cremated in Bali when they die, and to reincarnate in Bali’.
Only a few days in hand, while Asian Development Bank`s  42th Annual General Meeting is going to be held in Bali. In the eve of AGM there are hundreds of people including honourable Ministers, Government official’s social activist, women leaders, human rights activists, environmentalist and economist, around the globe are heading to Bali. Everybody has enormous curiosity around the AGM of ADB.  It is known to all that ADB, a lending agency in the region, is criticised for their role and economic policy in Developing Member Countries also now recognized one of the main player for climate change!

NGO Forum on ADD, an ADB watcher, one of the renowned civil society network based in Manila, who is critically observing and monitoring ADB`s policies and projects. Every year during ADB`s AGM, Forum organizes its AGM. Likewise, from 28th to 30th April 2009 Forum is organizing its AGM in Bali. There are more than 75 participants from different organization are participating in the Forum general meeting.

ADB criticised for anti-poor attitude and policies

By farjana - Posted on 19 March 2009

Speakers at a discussion meeting on Wednesday strongly criticised the Asian Development Bank’s policies and projects for their ‘negative impacts’ on people’s lives and livelihoods.

They also lamented the Asian Development Bank’s Long Term Strategic Framework (LTSF) for 2008-2020 for its ‘anti-poor’ stand and demanded strong resistance against ADB’s policies that are biased toward private sector-led development.
The discussion was jointly organised by ‘Voice’, a research organisation, and NGO Forum on ADB in the WVA auditorium.
Civil society organisations’ members, trade unionists, farmers’ organisations’ representatives, NGOs, students, activist groups and civil society actors attended the seminar, moderated by Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of the Voice.
Towhid Ibne Farid, coordinator of ActionAid Bangladesh, said that in the face of the global financial crisis and climate change, civil society actors should come together to fight the dominant role played by the international financial institutes including the ADB.
Highlighting the Southwest Integrated Water Resource Management Project, he alleged that ADB had not complied with its safeguard policies and thus violated the people’s right to development. He also demanded redesigning of the project in consultation with the affected communities.