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25 November, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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For quality spending in the social sectors

The spending in the social sectors often are underestimated for their worth. But the same are critically important for making sustainable economic advances in the long run. Therefore, impartial, incorruptible and efficient spending in these sectors is very important
Md Amin Ibrahim

Resources are scarce and there are competing demands on these resources by different sectors. Bangladesh for some years have been allocating a lion’s share of the country’s budgeted resources on education. But allocations are one thing while the manner of spending them is another.
   The growingly higher allocations on education over the years are noted to be going mainly to maintaining routine services in the education sector such as on meeting the needs for higher salaries of teachers and the administrative staff. It needs an assessment how much has been going to creation of physical or infrastructural facilities like buildings, laboratories, etc. to add to real capacities in this sector.
Increasing the spending on a sector specially on one as vital as education creates the expectation of a similar   enhancement of the payoff or returns from it.  For example, in the context of Bangladesh, satisfaction need not be taken that higher allocations and  spending  on education is leading to advancement of the underlying objective behind such spending : the creation of quality human resources or even human resources in general.
Technical education remains a particularly neglected area.  A great deal of the resources spent on education are wasted on creating only generalists who can have little application in churning the wheels of a modern economy.  Redundant forms of education are allowed to flourish at the cost of highly deserving greater allocations to forms of education that have a direct relationship to producing manpower suited for different fields of the economy. Thus, the challenges are definitely not showing increased spending on education in figures or on paper only but to channel such spending in a way that human resources can be created.
Spending on health has been at the top of allocations for a long time. But it cannot be said that services in the publicly run medical and health care   system has improved signifi­cantly over the years. Therefore, it is important to go for improving efficiency in the publicly run medical and health care facilities. It is not that the number of such facilities is insufficient. But it is the standard of service or care in them which falls far short of the expectation.
Besides, it is also a pressing need to increase spending to  create awareness among people about the preventive sides to  major diseases and also about nutritional needs. Targeted  spending is necessary to increase health and nutritional awareness. Programmes such as large scale distribution of nutritional supplements and advice should be introduced. The population control and related services also call for higher spending as well as the greatest care to ensure true efficiency in their operations.
Government in recent years has been also allocating higher and higher sums in national budgets for the so called social safety net programmes. These programmes range from direct doles to poorest of the poor, for enhancement of various allowances for disadvantaged groups in the population, to relief and rehabilitation activities, etc. But media reports are also noted that in many cases the beneficiaries of these programmes are not individuals who deserve to be so but are included for their links to ruling party potentates at different levels. Thus, we may say that many highly deserving beneficiaries are being bypassed. Needless to say, for these programmes to cover the greatest number in actual need, it is imperative to run them incorruptibly and impartially above any sort of political considerations.
However, summing up, we may say the spending in the social sectors often are underestimated for their worth. The same may not immediately reflect value in the form of tangible output. Health gains or vitality of the workforce and creation of human resources are intangibles that form over periods of time and their impacts are not readily noted. But the same are critically important for making economic advances over the long run. Therefore, appropriate and efficient spending on them is very important.

The writer  is a researcher on developmental issues

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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