Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has recommended that there is no reflection of implementation of committed action plan by the Government of Bangladesh towards the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in the allocation for Information and Communication technology (ICT) sector of the proposed budget of 2007-2008.
The strategy had been taken in the PRSP to increase the access to ICT for disadvantaged groups and accordingly telecentres will be established at different places of upazilas to provide all sorts of information such as agriculture, food, education, health etc. and to promote use of ICT in disaster management and risk reduction and increasing capacity of the poor to manage disaster. But no reflection has been seen in the proposed budget.
According to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Action Plan the Government committed that internet connection will be provided to the students of schools and colleges. But due to lack of allocation in the budget in this regard, the ICT movement will be obstructed,
BNNRC recommends to the Government to withdraw all kind of duties and Value Added Taxes (VAT) on computer and accessories, cartage, internet services, camera, mobile phone, SIM card, laminating machine, photocopy machine, and solar home system etc.
BNNRC seems that the Government should promote the nation to use open source software instead of pirate software and allocation will be needed in this purpose, so that the whole nation will be stopped from a pirate culture.
It has been observed that budget of the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been formulated based on some institutions, which impact will not contribute directly to the lives and livelihood of the poor. Otherwise, due to impose of 10% duties on computer and its accessories and also including 15% Value Added Tax (VAT), the price of computer equipment must be increased up to 25%. As a result, the access to ICT of rural people will be hampered very seriously. Finally, the commitment of the Government to the people of the world regarding reducing digital divide will become a nightmare.
BNNRC seems that importance should be given on ICT what directly will play role on the lives and livelihood of the poor people during formulating the budget and fund must be allocated accordingly. It should be keeping in mind that access to ICT is not a privilege, it has become a basic human rights and it should be done towards reducing information divide/ knowledge divide between urban and rural.
Besides including these in the budget, BNNRC suggests to ensure the permission for Community Radio, to enact Right to Information Act, National Broadcasting Policy, 2003 (Draft) and allocation of 10% phone for income less people of rural area according to Telecom Act, 2001.